Critics’ Picks

View of “Inhabiting the Collapse,” 2022.

View of “Inhabiting the Collapse,” 2022.


Cynthia Gutiérrez

Museo Cabañas
Cabañas #8, Plaza Tapatía Zona Centro,
February 5–May 22, 2022

The eighteenth-century colonial hospice that houses the Museo Cabañas provides a rich backdrop for an artist who works with archaeology and material history. Guadalajara-born artist Cynthia Gutiérrez seizes on this context for her exhibition “Inhabiting the Collapse,” which presents fourteen recent projects that underscore the jarring contrasts among museological displays, modernism, and Indigenous history and pick apart the complex cultural bricolage that is contemporary Mexico.

The installation Marcha de Tierra (March of Earth), 2019, is composed of pyramid-shaped mounds of broken pottery of varying attributes and origins, all in shades of reddish brown. The trope of piling materials into a corner is a familiar one, evoking artists such as Robert Smithson and Felix González-Torres. In Gutiérrez’s work, this display tactic fuses archaeological relics with the visual vocabulary of Conceptual art. The earth tones read like ground beneath our feet, the fertile field of a future that is still tethered to a long and inescapable history. The series “Sepulcros Modernos” (Modern Sepulchres), 2019–20, also makes reference to mid-century artistic practice. By inserting swaths of traditional-style textiles—both industrially produced and woven on looms—directly into the harsh geometries of Judd-like pedestals, Gutiérrez emphasizes material difference while also pointing to the chromophobia of the white cube.

Mounted on two exterior walls of the courtyard, the installation Trayectorias III (Trajectories III), 2022, consists of three hundred arrowheads carved from obsidian. Believed to be a gift from the gods, this rare volcanic glass was used by Aztecs in central Mexico to create blades and ornaments. Embedded into the colonial hospice, these Indigenous tools exact a quiet vengeance on the Catholic structure.