Mexico City


El Eco Experimental Museum

Moris (Israel Meza Moreno) is a thirty-year-old Mexican artist whose work rapidly caught the eye of gallerists, collectors, and the general public. Un animal muere porque otro tiene hambre (An animal dies because another is hungry), 2008, his baroque, socially charged installation at El Eco Experimental Museum, contrasted sharply with the modernist aesthetic philosophy of the museum’s designer (Mathias Goeritz [1915–1990]), embodied in the building’s stark lines and monastic simplicity. Moris uses a repertoire of materials found along the sprawling streets of Mexico City (cardboard boxes, tin cans, cigarettes, glue, silicon, wood, masking tape, mattresses, weapons, figurines—“materials from hell,” as the artist called them in conversation) that tell of his constant traveling across geographical, physical, spiritual, and imaginative boundaries. From his home to bars, museums, galleries, discos, and parties, his ever-expanding circuit of movements has also taken him to jails, gang meetings, police headquarters, and drug markets. He knows Mexico City’s streets well and has developed the ability to merge with different communities.

Moris explores territory to detect and act on problems. He collects objects, forms relationships, and derives his works from these experiences. As an individual who moves within an increasingly sensitive and reactionary social body, he is a combination artist/sociologist/ anthropologist/archaeologist whose work’s organizing principles lie beneath the surface, though its performative dimension is always the determinant. Emphasizing process and offering precarious assemblies, Moris never completes his work, underlining the insecurity of viewers and their social dynamics as well.

One part of An animal dies is a cardboard box simulating a living space, with an old mattress as roof; a ragged red blanket that lies on the floor is pierced by ice picks, “inviting” the audience into this frail habitat. Inside hang two amateur oil paintings of banal landscapes and a furry blanket with a tiger’s face; words such as TERRIFYING, BRUTAL, DECAPITATED, AND MASSACRED, cut out from local newspapers, are collaged to the surfaces of the paintings. The second part of the installation is a fragile square arrangement of six levels. The entire ensemble evokes the intertwining of religious hierarchy, power, money, politics, corruption, and conspiracy, typical of this country in which the government’s relation with the church is so twisted.

Moris questions the way in which we inhabit our big cities; he asks who the predators are and who the victims. Yet he accuses no one, displaying instead our destructive and alienated nature, which conditions our interactions with the metropolis. His strategies challenge the dynamics of domesticity that have dictated our “civilized” daily lives. Disrupting the safe, soft space of the museum, this is an exhibition about raw perceptions, the apparatus of domination, the logic of resistance, and a dark desire to see in all of this a particular kind of poetics.

Jessica Berlanga Taylor