Mexico City

Veit Laurent Kurz, Fear and Impatience (Herba-4 Series), 2016, acrylic, crayon, oil chalk, acrylic varnish, and digital print on wood, 16 7/8 × 20 1/8". From “Se nos cayó el teatro” (Our Theater Has Fallen).

Veit Laurent Kurz, Fear and Impatience (Herba-4 Series), 2016, acrylic, crayon, oil chalk, acrylic varnish, and digital print on wood, 16 7/8 × 20 1/8". From “Se nos cayó el teatro” (Our Theater Has Fallen).

“Se nos cayó el teatro”

Veit Laurent Kurz, Fear and Impatience (Herba-4 Series), 2016, acrylic, crayon, oil chalk, acrylic varnish, and digital print on wood, 16 7/8 × 20 1/8". From “Se nos cayó el teatro” (Our Theater Has Fallen).

Lodos inaugurated its new space with the group show “Se nos cayó el teatro” (Our Theater Has Fallen), which presented the work of eight international artists and collectives. The wide variety of works, from painting to sculpture to video to photography, coalesced into a sensitive, poetic reflection on the challenges of art- and exhibition making in this current climate of political instability.

At the entrance of the exhibition space, a worn-out wooden yoke hung from the ceiling and rotated mechanically. A rough copper sheet covered the wooden bar, embossed with the work’s title, They gather, and are said to be waiting for the resurrection of hope, 2016. Like a compass needle that has lost its reference points, the yoke turned, disoriented, on its own axis. This sculpture, by Lewis Teague Wright, urged the visitor to approach with caution, but also to enter the exhibition and confront the presentation of the other artworks deliberately. Anna-Sophie Berger showed two C-prints respectively titled Dance of Signs (red) and Dance of Signs (white), both 2016, depicting goats in her parents’ garden. Their shiny surfaces are carefully lubricated with skin cream as if to protect and preserve the childhood memories embedded in them. Like Berger, Temra Pavlović, with her video Untitled, 2016, seemed to have zoomed into images that thereby became blurred, unidentifiable, and abstract, as if for an in-depth analysis. Restricted by technical limitations, the images become hazy, the represented forms indistinct, and the formulated ideas unrecognizable.

Veit Laurent Kurz’s paintings Torn up in Tatters #1 (Herba-4 Series) and Fear and Impatience (Herba-4 Series), both 2016, were decontextualized appropriations of found images documenting scenes of social interaction. Kurz bases these narrative paintings on pagan myths of healing springwaters. But he has transposed these ancient ideas into a contemporary context to create his own fiction about an addictive soft drink that puts present-day consumers into an irrational and disturbed state of mind. The obsessively detailed and colorful depictions bring to mind classic mythological iconography and evoke a dystopian vision of contemporary youth culture.

Adriana Lara presented La Pintura Contrataca, Colección Primavera/Verano 2012 (Painting Strikes Back, Spring/Summer Collection 2012), 2012, a video in the aesthetic of a TV commercial. It continues a project she began in 2011 for which she appropriated a newspaper article (on the attempt by some Mexican art dealers to promote the market for painting instead of other emerging genres) and printed it on a foulard for a fashion show. Lara picks up on the article’s critique of how the art market promotes trends that move away from theoretical or ideological discourses and provokes effects on a global scale. With a self-mocking tone, she reflects on the significance of local traditions in relation to global dynamics and trends as a context for artistic practice. The curatorial decision to place this particular work by one of only two Mexican artists in the show in the gallery’s storage space was a strong but curiously ironic gesture.

Political events of the past year have left the world in a state of extreme uncertainty. The quality of a work of art lies in its capacity to propose other pictures, other worlds. Those included in this exhibition approach their subjects with a quiet and modest tone, abjuring the use of spectacle. Instead, they sincerely expose their personal uncertainty and demonstrate the courage and motivation necessary for the formulation of new utopias, new ideals, and new paradigms as potential propositions to be discussed. Precisely in this honesty and openness lies also the potential for profound identification, which activates the spectator’s imagination. Anyone who came looking for concrete resolutions to today’s problems would have come away from this exhibition empty-handed, yet later might come to realize that the images and ideas proposed by the artists have left a lasting impression.

Anna Goetz