An exhibition by Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas includes the latest work in his long-standing project, Autoconstruccion, taking inspiration from the eclectic and improvisatory architecture of his childhood home in the area of Pedregales de Coyoacán, Mexico City. Pedregales de Coyoacán is an area of Mexico City initially inhabited by migrants who moved in and set up squats in the city in the 1960s. Like many of their neighbours, Cruzvillegas’ parents built their house themselves, modifying it over many decades – a process the artist terms autoconstrucción, or ‘self-building’.
The newly commissioned works bring together two diverse contexts: the city of Oxford and the artist’s own personal background. Over the last year, Cruzvillegas has explored aspects of Oxford and its history, including associations with science, literature, magic, ethnography, imperialism and politics to propose works that combine aspects of the local with his highly personal and poetic visual language.
Cruzvillegas will create two new works for Modern Art Oxford: The Optimistic Failure, a large-scale suspended sculpture in the form of a ‘mobile’, adorned with representations of Amazonian tsantsas (shrunken heads) made from animal dung, grass and soil collected from Port Meadow and inspired by the collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford; and a mobile sculpture, The Simultaneous Promise, constructed from a tricycle and sound system that plays recordings of the artist’s interpretations of songs from his childhood and new songs by Oxford bands.
Autoconstrucción operates as a metaphor for individual identity and the identity of a place existing in a state of flux, unfinished. His concerns centre on ideas of ‘survival economics’ – how scarceness can lead to recycling and solidarity in opposition to consumption and individualism.
The exhibition is supported by The Abraham Cruzvillegas Exhibition Circle, Fundación Jumex.
Abraham Cruzvillegas. Autoconstrucción: The Optimistic Failure of a Simultaneous Promise. 27 September – 20 November 2011. Modern Art Oxford, 30 Pembroke Street, Oxford OX1 1BP
Images: Abraham Cruzvillegas, Autoconstrucción: Cali Sound System, 2008. Installation of sound recordings, trip throughout the city of Cali, portable sound system, song repertoire, chalk. Image courtesy of kurimanzutto
Abraham Cruzvillegas, La Familia, 2009. Coconuts, artificial hair, steel wire and glue. Image courtesy of kurimanzutto
Abraham Cruzvillegas, Autoconstrucción: Low Budget Rider, 2009. Found wood, bicycle frames and parts, mirrors, rubber wheels, stainless steel, copper, tin, and solder. Image courtesy of kurimanzutto