Fabiola Iza

  • slant December 11, 2020

    Switching Gears

    AS ELSEWHERE, the impact of social distancing on Mexico City’s artistic activity has been relentless. This year, the closest thing we have to the city’s annual Gallery Weekend, a hectic, weeklong affair canceled due to Covid-19, is the novel initiative “Museo Autoservicio” (Self-Service Museum). Conceived by curator and Mexican modern art scholar Daniel Garza Usabiaga, the project’s first outing, titled “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” and on through December 20, appoints itself (falsely) as “the first-ever drive-thru exhibition.” Installed in the underground parking lot of

  • Diego Pérez

    An unusual tension between sand and stone propelled Diego Pérez’s exhibition “Historia de arena” (History of Sand). Pérez used sand to make three maquettes (Mesa infinita [Infinite Mesa] 1, 2, and 3, 2020) that evoked archetypal edifices with staircases leading to the sky. The material also featured prominently in two photographic series—“Apuntes para la mesa infinita” (Notes for Infinite Mesa) and “Apuntes para la mesa infinita. Vista panorámica” (Notes for Infinite Mesa: Panoramic View), both 2020—that portray stepped pyramids vaguely resembling those of ancient Mesoamerica in the form of

  • picks July 02, 2020

    Camel Collective

    This online exhibition, a nine-minute video essay titled Gated Commune, 2018, is an unsettling sendup of modernist problem-solving that befits our dystopian moment. Over grainy black-and-white footage of insects, polluted landscapes, and melting icecaps, a female voice-over flatly recounts the attempts of two camps—“the futurists” and the “neo-primitivists,” stand-ins for the avant-garde as a whole—to organize cities that seemingly invoke Situationist concepts like psychogeography and unitary urbanism, or others that could be closer to Yves Klein’s zones of immaterial pictorial sensibility.

  • Beatriz Zamora

    Determination is the backbone of Beatriz Zamora’s practice: Since 1977, she has devoted her career exclusively to “El negro” (The Black), a continuing monochromatic quest. Defined by the artist as “a cosmic theory,” the series is grounded on the conception of the color black as an absolute. This formulation, drawn both from physics and from mysticism, engages with the color as a primordial source of life and silence—an originary void. The result has been more than three thousand black abstract paintings that, for evident reasons, have sometimes been reductively compared to the pictorial language

  • picks February 04, 2020

    “Emiliano. Zapata despues de Zapata”

    Mónica Castillo’s Plato de Zapata (Zapata’s Dish), 1987, depicts the severed head of Emiliano Zapata, the worshipped agrarian leader of the Mexican Revolution, served on a platter surrounded by forks and knives. In a country where the past is idealized to such extent that it becomes fixed, its (male) protagonists turned into secular saints, the vision is, to say the least, a strident one. However, in this exhibition—whose discourse has been blunted by histrionic protesters—curator Luis Vargas Santiago successfully argues that Zapata’s popularity eclipses his untouchability: Culling over one

  • François Bucher

    The Greek word logos—reason, discourse—stands at the core of the Western conception of the world, denoting the rationality through which reality is shaped or perceived. François Bucher’s exhibition “Contact—(cosmic background noise explorer)” welcomed visitors with Logos, 2017—the word spelled out in white neon letters, hanging upside down. One could read the text right side up only through its reflection in a puddle of water: The unlit room where it was displayed had been carefully flooded. The space between the word and its mirrored image, like a gap between dimensions, was the perfect prelude

  • picks November 13, 2019

    Magdalena Fernández

    A visit to Magdalena Fernández’s retrospective feels like taking a quiz on modernist abstract art—her works echo that era’s compositions and motifs, summoning such icons as Malevich, Mondrian, Lygia Clark, and Gego. The pieces on display, however, which span the eleven most recent years of Fernández’s career, elude our expectations for appropriation art. Take 1iHO008. Homenaje a Hélio Oiticica (1iHO008. Homage to Hélio Oiticica), 2008, an immersive video installation in which the blue squares and rectangles from said work, projected onto all four of the gallery’s walls, slowly pace around the

  • “The Gaps of Water: Recent Indigenous Art from Mexico”

    Mexico, according to the anthropologist Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, struggles to reconcile the two poles of its identity: Imaginary Mexico, which adheres to the Western project and seeks to propel it, and Deep Mexico, constituted by a resistant social base made up of the peoples who incarnate Mesoamerican civilization. This persistent conflict is reflected in the country’s contradictory attitudes toward the material culture of its indigenous peoples: While pre-Columbian artifacts are cherished as national treasures and exhibited with great fanfare in museums, the contemporary artistic output of

  • picks June 14, 2019

    Cosima von Bonin

    Cosima von Bonin, as most familiar with her art already know, works from her bed. From there, she undertakes a collaborative process with craftspeople, modeling artists, musicians, and, in this case, her gallerists to bring her works to fruition. “Shit and Chanel,” her first exhibition in Mexico, could well be the materialization of a collective nightmare: The artist has filled the gallery with plush animal figures in comical situations of entrapment—physical, psychological, or otherwise.

    The show takes as its point of departure an anxiety-ridden GIF, in which Daffy Duck tries to avoid being

  • Helen Escobedo

    Most narratives of Mexican art from the late 1960s through the early ’80s focus on the collectives known as Los Grupos and describe an almost caricatural display of macho anti-institutionalism and political commitment. These dominant histories overlook the work of contemporaries who shared those groups’ critical views but expressed them with a lighter touch, among them Helen Escobedo (1934–2011). This exhibition, “The Potential of Sculpture,” delicately shattered such historical clichés, bringing together more than seventy newly restored works—maquettes, sculptures, paintings, drawings, and

  • picks March 25, 2019

    Daniel Monroy Cuevas

    In the inferno that engulfed Mexico’s National Film Archive in 1982, Daniel Monroy Cuevas has found a fertile context to explore the paradoxical relationship between fire and image-making processes. While his previous work has dealt with the unfolding of the actual conflagration—its beginning behind a screen, which happened to be showing a fire scene, and incineration of most of the archive’s holdings—Monroy Cuevas’s latest exhibition obsesses around the loss of a series of drawings from 1932 by filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, fated to burn in the same event.


    The twenty-nine prints on display

  • picks February 18, 2019

    “Modos de Oír”

    Marcel Duchamp’s early-twentieth-century plaint about the deeply retinal nature of art doesn’t seem to resonate in present-day Mexico, whose art scene can feel awash in visuality. Attempting to counter the situation, Laboratorio Arte Alameda and Ex Teresa Arte Actual have conducted a joint survey that engages entirely with sonic phenomena.

    “Modos de Oír” (Ways to Listen), which maps the national production of art-and-sound couplings, is vast, embracing sound art, electroacoustic music, sound-activated sculptures and low-tech devices, radio art, historical voice recordings, and more. At Ex Teresa