In Francis Al.s’s classic 1997 video Paradox of Praxis 1: Sometimes making something leads to nothing, the artist is seen pushing a huge ice block – a white rectangle – through the streets of Mexico City. A trail of meltwater along the pavement marks his path, revealing the textures of the ground before it evaporates. “What takes place is a kind of mutual transformation,” curator Chris Sharp says of this work by Belgian-born Al.s.
It’s this exchange between artists and a city that he examines in Dwelling Poetically: Mexico City, a case study, at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. Based in Mexico City since 2012, Sharp is fascinated by the burgeoning cultural capital he now calls home, and its constructed identity “as place, myth, metropolis and site of cultural production in the global imaginary.”
Examining the poetics, textures and vernacular languages of Mexico City are 12 artists who have lived or worked there, participating in the mutual transformation of the city. Their varied biographies thread a narrative of global movement in and out of the metropolis, and the works are similarly diverse – from photographs and video works by Al.s, Melanie Smith and Abraham Cruzvillegas; paintings and assemblages by Andrew Birk and Chelsea Culprit; and newly commissioned site-based installations by Isabella Nu.o de Buen, Ektor Garcia, and Martin Soto Climent, to be produced at ACCA.
Through both observational practice and rich material language, Dwelling Poetically seeks to draw out both the lived experience and collective imaginary of this remarkable city.
Dwelling Poetically: Mexico City, a case study
Australian Centre for Contemporary Art
21 April – 24 June
Preview written by Anna Dunnill.