Critics’ Picks

Sebastián Romo, Límite!, 2003, museum board, dimensions variable.

Sebastián Romo, Límite!, 2003, museum board, dimensions variable.

Mexico City

“Transcripciones”

Museo Universitario del Chopo
Dr. Enrique González Martínez no. 10 Col. Santa María la Ribera
November 6, 2014–February 15, 2015

Writing is not an innocent act; it carries weight that can be both aesthetic and confrontational. “Transcripciones” at Museo el Chopo draws from the writings of the prolific Salvador Elizondo, well known in twentieth-century Mexico for his multidisciplinary and literary approach, to build a comprehensive exploration of how contemporary artists use written alphabets in converging and diverging interdisciplinary practices.

With twenty-seven remarkable artists’ works on view, the exhibition unites video, tapestry, sculpture, and drawing to touch upon various ways in which the physical act of writing can make a personal and aesthetic claim. “Transcripciones” sets the stage by opening with a small series of works on paper titled Ejercicios Ideográficos (Ideographic Exercises), made around 1965 by Elizondo himself, in which Chinese characters, as the title suggests, serve as gestures toward cryptic ideas and concepts known only to the artist. From the beginning it is clear the exhibition does not seek to analyze the words themselves but rather literally explores transcription in verb form: an action that has meaning as a performative gesture.

There are moments in which the exhibition cultivates microconversations between works. Pieces such as Limite!, 2002, by Sebastian Romo and lang-scape, 2014, by Victor del Moral touch upon political ideology, though not in direct conversation with one another. The show is tightly contained but provides welcome opportunities to observe how the individual artistic voices vary even though writing is the main component of their work. “Transcripciones” is a massive undertaking, and for an exploration with such a broad theme spanning so much of contemporary practice, it should be.