Critics’ Picks

Marta Palau, Cascada (Waterfall) (detail), 1978, nylon, 11 1/2 x 20 x 9'.

Marta Palau, Cascada (Waterfall) (detail), 1978, nylon, 11 1/2 x 20 x 9'.

Mexico City

“Recursos Incontrolables y Otros Desplazamientos Naturales”

Museo Universitario Arte Contemporaneo (MUAC)
Insurgentes Sur 3000 Centro Cultural UniversitarioDelegación Coyoacán
November 26, 2008–June 30, 2009

Recursos Incontrolables y Otros Desplazamientos Naturales” (Uncontrollable Resources and Other Natural Displacements) presents a selection of works from the collection of the recently opened Contemporary Art University Museum in Mexico City. More complex than a typical show, the exhibition explores the discourse surrounding Mexican art, with documents and curatorial work by the recently deceased art historian and critic Olivier Debroise. Over thirty works—including videos, photographs, paintings, drawings, and installations made over several decades—evince the contrasts between nature, left intact, and the practice of art, when understood as a mechanical act that distorts the order of things.

In particular, Marta Palau’s installation, Cascada (Waterfall), 1978, depicts flowing water by means of nylon bands and underscores the boundaries between nature and artifice. Grupo SEMEFO’s Mineralización estéril (Sterile Mineralization), 1997, is a pyramidal showcase with human ashes taken from public morgues of Mexico, a metaphor for the relationships between art, life, and death. A video by Mario García Torres, Open Letter to Dr. Atl, 2005, presents a reproachful missive, written to the Mexican painter Gerardo Murillo (also known as Dr. Atl), in the form of subtitles on an 8-mm film of the Barranca de Oblatos canyon in Guadalajara. With the letter’s rebukes juxtaposed against the pristine landscape, García Torres refers to the use and abuse of memory, the implications of symbolic appropriation, and the frequently schizophrenic resonance of time as perceived by the human psyche.