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Abraham Cruzvillegas

(b. Mexico city, 1968)

Rather than being defined by a particular medium, Cruzvillegas’ work can be understood best through his process, which is deeply influenced by his surroundings. Often, this involves a very personal form of research in which the artist explores his own relationship to objects, their making, as well as the social context from which they emerged. The majority of his work from recent years is linked by the precepts of Autoconstrucción, a concept Cruzvillegas has developed in relationship to his practice. He uses the term to describe an improvised method of building, but it’s also an ideological premise – one that presents change as a permanent state, arising from the chaotic and fragmentary nature of life: “something definitively unfinished, something that is building itself forever: fragmentary, contradictory, weak, unstable, dark, transparent, warm, stupid, delirious, chaotic, crippled. It’s movement and life, it’s love, it’s sex, it’s me.”

Cruzvillegas draws on diverse references to create his work. One such influence is his examination of his family’s home in Ajusco, Mexico. Ajusco was initially settled and developed during the great migration of workers to Mexico City in the 1960s. Many were former peasants who built their homes ad hoc, resulting in a neighborhood with unique architecture and a deep sense of community. This community defined Cruzvillegas’ early life, and his decision to examine the construction of his family home is both a sculptural project and a means of exploring his own origins in material terms. His work, which includes video, sculpture, painting, drawing and song, addresses this history while responding to his contemporary experience of landscape, people, and forms found in his immediate surroundings. In this way he eloquently reveals identity as an indefinite, unstable structure, one that undergoes constant  transformation and reconstruction.

Source: Kurimanzutto Gallery (19.08.2015)


Mexico City 08.06.2015

Bernard Vienat (BV).- Considering that Mexico is a country with great social and economical inequality and that most people do not have access to museums or art publications, are you worried that your work may not be visible to that audience?

Abraham Cruzvillegas.- No, what I believe is that there is an institutional mindset, a very old idea that says that one has to bring culture close to the people. But seeing this from an analytic point of view I believe this notion is patronizing and demagogical. I’m not interested in that, I do not care in giving or providing anything to anyone; I can hardly provide for myself as to try to procure something to someone else. Therefore I believe it is hard for me to communicate my work, because the relation already implies this paternalistic, demagogic and handout mentality. People a culture and cultural interests of their own, we do not have give them anything, to think so is a way of authoritarianism.

In Mexico’s case, particularly after the Mexican Revolution, the idea of national identity was constructed with the help of the Minister of Education at that time, who was Jose Vasconcelos. He created such a powerful and such an important and well designed structure that to date nothing has been done better. In that first “draft” of national culture and identity the priority was to bring culture closer to people. Thus the muralist movement was born with the aim of making art as public as possible; I find this horrible, it is not that I find muralism to be horrible, but the demagogic attitude of the government standing behind this intention of providing people with culture by means of institutionalism seems quite paternalistic to me and I find that to be very similar to the beliefs and M.O. of the party currently in power: PRI.

BV.– As a pedagogue, do you consider that the educational role of art is to do a specific work in a way in which people can get it and interpret it freely, giving rise to their own thoughts and creating a bond with the artist eve though they don’t know him in person?

AC.– It is complicated because, again, I feel that there is a displacement of the subject. Speaking of epistemology, the subject that investigates is distanced from the subject that studies, who is like an anthropologist, like Lévi-Strauss. I feel that in my case I am as much an object as I am a subject, a receiver a first audience, I am also the first critic of my work, or at least I try to be and if I feel that this mobility of subjectivity is much more important to me than waiting for an audience, a massive anonymity, to understand my job.

I am very pleased when people say “My son could have done this”. I see it as a compliment although it was not initially intended as such. I see it in a positive way because in an embedded way it proposes a democratization of artwork. If your child can do it, let him, hopefully he will, but it needs to happen. This way, such a person might grow up appropriating a mode of artistic expression that helps him to reflect about his own situation, about his own identity, in a critical manner but regardless of form, as this is a consequence of an accident or even of that first impression, that’s what I would say.


The full version of this interview is available for the moment only on Spanish

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