SOCIAL TISSUE: A MEXICAN WORKSHOP IN THE HEART OF ZURICH
Recently, I visited the exhibition Autorreconstrucción: Social Tissue by Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas at Kunsthaus Zürich. In the following blog post, I report on my impressions of the last three weeks since the exhibition began running and present four of my personal highlights of this exhibition ‘in transformation.’
1. THE WORKS
The highly expressive character of Cruzvillegas’ works is noteworthy. I think it is great how (locally) found materials can be used to create artwork: a fishing net transforms into a hanging sculpture; debris and palettes, old furniture and sports equipment are transformed into moving figures and installations with which the spectator can interact, e.g. you can skateboard on a ‘pallet sculpture’. From seemingly ‘worthless’ objects emerge visually wondrous and practical new objects which are painted with the colours pink and green, hues characteristic of Mexican buildings and edifices. Beauty, aesthetics and meaning can be found in the most unlikely objects of the street. This artistic work reminded me of my interview with the English artistic duo Swine Studio a few months ago.
Cruzvillegas’ sculptures are characterised by a precarious nature; they are contradictory, as the artist once described himself. This is also reflected in the audience which finds its way into the museum and visits the exhibition: people from all walks of life and age groups come together and are uniquely connected by Cruzvillegas’ works in a never-seen-before way.
2. THE TRANSFORMATION
The exhibition has an experimental and changeable character: I attended the opening of the exhibition and then two weeks later, and I must admit that the installation and the premises have already been transformed; they appeared more alive to me, as if they had been ‘brought to life’ by the events that took place within the exhibition space. It feels as if the works have been touched by ‘the soul of Zurich’. This is also the aim of the exhibition, whose installation through the many events (concerts, Lectures, discussions, dance evenings or skateboard happenings) and with the help of the local community should be influenced, “reconstructed” and only at the very end become complete. The experimental and playful character of the exhibition still manages to address serious matters of our time in a powerful and inspiring way.
3. ANDY MEETS THE CURATOR
Mirjam Varadinis is the curator of the exhibition, and I was fortunate to meet her and talk about the exhibition in the ‘Mexican workshop’. Her decision to bring something new, fresh to the Kunsthaus is a decision I welcome.
We talked at length about the artwork title ‘Blind Self Portrait’, which particularly appealed to me: It consists of 298 elements in variable dimensions in yellow acrylic paint on paper. Interestingly enough it was made after Cruzvillegas finished reading The Andy Warhol Diaries. However, this was not the only reference to Warhol during my meeting with Mirjam Varadinis: I mentioned how great it would be to host a Warhol retrospective exhibition in the Kunsthaus in the near future.
4. MIGRATION, RECONSTRUCTION, HOPE, DREAMS, VALUES
Our environment and climate change are important topics addressed by Cruzvillegas. I also interpreted further key topics within his works: Hope; the search for a home; migration and (social) security; social cohesion; exchange and construction; adherence – without compromise – to someone’s values, dreams; and finally, finding beauty and joy in the simple things of life. These values within his work are often overlooked. Yet this is precisely the beauty of his work: Cruzvillegas has not defined the rules for his sculptures, giving everyone the freedom to interpret for themselves, to relate them to their own experiences and fantasies.
The exhibition runs until 25.03, and I recommend everyone visit and participate in one of the various events. Take the opportunity to view Cruzvillegas’ works, dive into them and play with them.
Thanks for reading.