Museums, galleries, forums and, all kinds of spaces given over to personal realities, co-existing harmonies, and symbols as fertile as our collective culture. Besides a good handful of subjective entertainments, there are some essential tools for the stimulation of new sensitivities and new creativities. It’s important to remember to nourish yourself on ideas that ultimately transcend your own experience. Steal them, take them beyond their origins and then, make them your own.
The following is just a selection of the best exhibitions hanging through the at least the end of December.
Museo de Arte Moderno
Recreating a historian’s work, collecting and interpreting pieces of history from documents, testimonies and multiple studies by other researchers, this exhibition is like an open book. Revealing significant data for much of the work: provenances, works most recognized, and anecdotes, including comments from Varo herself and numerous others, even familiar paintings are seen in a new light. With 39 pieces from the MAM collection, as well as a chronology focused on the most curious information regarding the major themes associated with Varo’s short career, she is still one of the most prominent representatives of surrealism in Mexico.
Through March, 2017
The first exhibition of Tacita Dean’s work in Mexico, The Tamayo hosts more than 90 representative pieces. A monolithic exhibition, the show includes multiple recent paintings, which aim to tell the better part of the story of her relevance, both as a painter and multi-media artist, as well as an insightful observer.
Line 2 and 8 metro Bellas Artes
Enough should be enough. Who owns what? Blind idealism is reactionary (with a cross in red). Terrifying (another cross in red). Mortal. All these are samples of the phrases and questions that from cover the walls, corridors, and ceilings at the Bellas Artes metro station. Kruger (born in Newark, New Jersey, 1945) has installed the work “Empathy,” with an aim toward “making suggestions as to how we behave toward one another.“
Centro de la Imagen
Through March 27, 2017
10,000 slides, 800 sound reels, more than 20 hours of 16mm film, plus 35mm and Techniscope photography, vintage documents and tables of yarn corresponding to the work of the Lilly Archive. Through a single word, the wixárika can represent, like a mirror, the secret visions of an invisible world, using them rather as symbols. This is Niérika, one of the simplest philosophies for understanding reality, it’s yet one of the most complex to translate. The incredible work of John and Colette Lilly, two psychonauts who traveled to 1960s Mexico to study the sacred and healing uses of Mexican ethnobotany.
Museo Nacional de Arte
Through January 15, 2017
Like no other painter, Otto Dix embodied in his biography and in his art the extremes of his century in Europe. Germany left a decisive mark on him. The two world wars, the culture of the Weimar Republic and the political division after 1945 left him “both one affected and an observer.” The great realist took a critical stand against his time and testified in pictures that still shake viewers.
Address: Tacuba no. 8, Centro Histórico
LS Gallery – Polanco
Original works by Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Richard Hambleton, Jeff Koons and Brent Waden are being exhibited at LS Gallery as part of their 15th anniversary. A collaboration with Woodbery House Gallery in London, along with collector Andy Valmorbida, made the exhibit possible. Also on view, the permanent collection of the gallery includes no less than works by Rufino Tamayo, Francisco Toledo, and Arnaldo Coen.
Address: Enrique Ibsen 33, Polanco
Bolsa de Valores
In the age of electronic trading, virtually no stock exchange transaction take place in the old Wall Street of Mexico City. Lucky us. Instead, more than 40 works from Mexican artist Lalo Sánchez, most of them with allusions to the doors that the artist obtained while traveling throughout Mexico. Sánchez’s close readings of the textures and patinations have generated fantastic images and reminders that even in the most mundane of everyday objects, a wealth of magic can be obtained.
Address: Paseo de la Reforma 255
Galería José María Velasco
December 3 through February 12, 2017
In an overwhelmingly male-dominated field, this exhibition is a review of the collective work of female illustrators from all over the republic. The studied eyes of Kenya Nárez and Óscar Rodríguez, curators, in collaboration with Picnic Magazine, linked up young talents in a world of contemporary illustration. With lots that unusual, even within the art market, there’s a lot to look at and ponder.
Laboratorio de Arte Alameda
Through March 5, 2017
The fruit of more than two years of artistic-curatorial research between artist, Erick Meyenberg, and curator, José Luis Barrios, the project’s axis is literature. Specifically, aesthetic investigations into the Marcel Proust novel In search of Lost Time, through multi-media, technology, and poetic resources. Through this project, the Alameda Art Lab aims to investigate possible relationships between literature, art, and technology. Meyenberg lives and works between Mexico City and Berlin.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Through January 8, 2017
Ancient Greek texts referred openly to the colors of sculpture. Likewise, historical texts from after the conquest of Mexico also mention the use of color in Mesoamerica. Bernardino de Sahagún referred to the way in which a sculpture of the Sun God was painted. This new exhibition at the Palace of Fine Arts highlights the importance of color in ancient art. In the end, it’s an idyllic journey through the visual language of the artists – and their implications for the mythical events of the past.
Museo Carrillo Gill
Through January 8, 2017
Not just a retrospective of the artist’s work, this exhibit also brings us closer to Fozado’s context and the artists who were part of his wide circle of friends and collaborators. A series of documents in conjunction with the work help to expose the new generational order that was beginning to permeate Mexico. Curated by Julian Cuisset, Guillermo Santamarina Angelica Gracia and Victor Fosado, the artist’s son, the show is an invaluable contribution to better understanding his work and time.
Through January 12, 2017
From the age of 21, Livia Corona began photographing Mexico with a documentary lens. The work consisted of walking the roads around various Mexican towns, where he captured often emblematic scenes of Mexican daily life. This new installation, Nadie sabe, nadie supo, includes a series of letter-size photographs and a single-channel video, focusing on the complex history of the conical silos found on farms throughout Mexico.
Address: Puebla No. 170, Roma Norte
Museo Nacional de Arquitectura
Through 12 February 2017
Organic architecture or architectural organicism: it’s a philosophy of architecture seeking a harmony between human habitation and the natural world. Seeking always to understand and integrate with a site, buildings, furniture, and their surroundings are unified. Javier Senosiain’s architecture is always a discovery and, at the same time, a surprise. In relation to average architecture from the last 25 years, it is, to say the least, inexplicable and unique.
FotoMuseo Cuatro Caminos
Through January 22, 2017
Roger Ballen was born in New York in 1950. He lived in South Africa for some 30 years. There, he learned to explore territories – some decadent, some ghosts – of people living on the edges of madness, collections of foreign objects, and worlds closed to the habitual gaze. Social. As part of the museum’s first anniversary, this exhibition promises to be extraordinary.
Museo Universitario El Chopo
Through December 10, 2016.
Part of the 45th anniversary of the Rock and Wheels Festival, the Museo Universitario del Chopo presents a series of photographs by Graciela Iturbide. Also on display are videos and documents about the decisive countercultural event of the 20th century. Many of the photos have not been seen in 45 years. The originally published these images as Avándaro (Editorial Diógenes, 1971), the first book of her work, with texts by the filmmaker, Luis Carrión.
Though the internet makes lots more information available to lots more people, Mexico City libraries have simply not been supplanted. Charged with continually re-inventing themselves, and their places in the public imagination, one can still encounter eras gone by and great historical minds in a library as in few other places.
Knowledge, after all, belongs to everyone. Opening a book, reading it at a study, or just meeting in the silence of one these Mexico City libraries enhances concentration, and provides a welcome respite from everything going on out there in the world.
Of all Mexico City libraries, the oldest were part of the church and one or another of its offshoot organizations. Among these was the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco, founded in the 1530s and surviving today as the Biblioteca José María Lafragua. Most of these ecclesiastical libraries were not truly open to the public, and Mexico had to wait for the National Library of Mexico, inaugurated by Benito Juárez in 1867 to enjoy the benefits of a truly public library system.
The list below is intended to let you enjoy some of that system, too.
Opened just ten years ago, in 2006, the Vasconcelos is visited by thousands for the sheer spectacle of its innovative design. Graced by the iconic whale from artist, Gabriel Orozco, it’s always a good library for art and visual spectacle. The facade retains something of a colonial appearance, but for sheer scale, and jaw-dropping space, the interior must be experienced.
We’ve written a lot about it in these pages, but the UNAM library with the Juan O’Gorman murals remains one of the most outstanding of all Mexico City libraries. As a UNESCO site with some 428,000 volumes in the collection, it’s the biggest in Mexico, but lots of folks visit just to see the facade and the surrounding grounds.
Opened by Benito Juárez in 1867, there’s still a good one million books inside, today administered by the folks from UNAM. Originally located in the San Agustín church in the city center, the current building was opened in 1979. Geometric, and massive, it’s an extraordinary place to visit.
Specializing in economic materials, this collection of some 86,350 books and 114,852 journals is administered by the Secretary of Finance and Public Credit. Founded in 1928, it’s one of the cities true public art spectacles. Inside the main nave of the old Oratory of San Felipe Neri “El Nuevo,” the baroque façade outside is just the beginning. Inside, the murals are futuristic, and not to be missed.
One of Centro’s truly outstanding historical buildings, for centuries it was the convent of the Clarisas from the 16th century. Today it’s something like a “Library of Congress” with a stunning collection of publications and artifacts, but also with a lush, deep, dark intellectual interior, that beckons from centuries past.
Address: Tacuba 29, Centro Histórico
Photographs this page: Flickr – Creative Commons
Mexico City’s Tepito neighborhood has for a millennia history offered resistance, rebellion, and hope. Tenochtitlan relegated dissidents to Tepito’s crooked alleys. The “brave neighborhood,” even hundreds of years later, is still marginalized and bent on survival. Somehow residents seem to bear that history in the very DNA.
With a reputation for violence, deprivation, and overcrowding, some of the great characters of Mexican history have come from Tepito. The cradle of Mexican boxing, in the 1970s an important literary movement emerged in Tepito, and the neighborhood has contributed as much to the culture of the city and country as have many, much wealthier places.
Among all the stories of people whose hard work is performed with an enviable dignity, there are thousands of women who carry out similar work for their families. Resident Mayra Valenzuela Rojas remarked, “In Tepito there’s a matriarchy (…) Every woman has her own story. Each of us is a spark, but together we are lighting a candle for Tepito.”
German photographer, Anja Jensen, is currently exhibiting her work in a show called “Ciudadanas-Caminamos a oscuras” (Citizens-We Walk in the Dark). Having spent months in Tepito, she’s documented the women challenging the stereotypes of the neighborhood.
Jensen was assaulted and threatened, but she was also clothed and cared for by the women who opened their stories and lives to her. The result is a series photographs, “Las Cabronas de Tepito,” (Bad Girls of Tepito) a collective portrait of the matriarchy whose fervor makes the neighborhood better and regularly improves the lives of the people living there.
The photographs will be exhibited through February 12, 2017, as part of the Mexico-Germany Dual Year, at the German Pavilion on the Plaza Rio de Janeiro, in Roma Norte.