Abraham Cruzvillegas

Abraham Cruzvillegas discusses La Galería de Comercio

Left: View of Stick 'em Up: The Sticker Club at La Galería de Comercio, March 11, 2010. Right: Fred Alvarado.

Abraham Cruzvillegas, known for using handmade and found objects in his sculptures, inaugurated La Galería de Comercio last month in Mexico City. This nonprofit temporary “street space” will present several one-evening events over the course of this year, which will be documented on a blog. Here Cruzvillegas discusses the project and his focus on public space and collaboration.

I DECIDED TO CREATE La Galería de Comercio to answer a personal question: I wanted to know what was going on in Mexico City after a few years of being away. Its name is based on where it is located––on the northeast corner of Comercio and Martí streets in the district of Escandón, the neighborhood where I currently live. Nuria Montiel, who is the director of La Galería de Comercio, is providing her talent, energy, and opinions as an artist, as is Sofía Olascoaga, who is also an artist and an art educator.

I began by inviting younger artists to do various projects on the street, but I’ll invite some friends from abroad, too. It’ll be a place to meet and work freely, and it won’t have any of the dynamics that burden commercial galleries and institutions. The gallery will present one-night events. It will not deal with commodities, but instead with experiences.

Most of my work is informed by my experience of growing up in Ajusco, which is in the rocky lands south of Mexico City. Ajusco started off as a shantytown. Immigrants from the abandoned fields in the countryside eventually moved to the city or began to live on the outskirts. It was during the very festive but slow process of building my own house with my parents, relatives, and neighbors, sharing time, enjoying, and working together, that I understood that the word community is at the epicenter of my work and ideas about art.

Fighting for basic services––like water, sewage, and electricity, in addition to gaining the legal property of the land––was a strong educational stage in my life. So the importance of neighborhoods has affected my perception of life, work, friendship, and celebration. Through the autoconstrucción [self-construction] of my house I learned how to deal with myself as a part of something, as a fragment of a whole that must be seen as organic, chaotic, delirious, and political.

The gallery is near a popular market, behind a primary school and a skateboarding park, and it faces a bar named El Fuerte de la Colonia––so it’s a very alive and effervescent place. I like this area very much because it’s so real. It’s an old neighborhood, with many stores, churches, restaurants, and schools, and it’s the best location because my main goal is to approach ordinary people in the street, to interact with everyday life, and not to pretend or to add or change anything besides what is already there.