“Collective/Collectible” the inaugural exhibition from MASA, gathers contemporary design by artists, designers and architects whose work challenges hierarchies of function and expression. That these artists all reside in Mexico is not incidental to the exhibition, for MASA is a design project founded and based in Mexico City. But in their collective presentation, we ask what shared desires inform the designation of a place, and how might the structures that define this be separated from the structures of the state, which can impart citizenship but not a sense of belonging?
Appearances, after all, are an identity we develop not only of our own efforts. This is as true for the taxonomies that separate design and art, as it is for the people creating the work. Without diminishing the vestiges of conquest and genocide, how are conversations around indigeneity complicated when migration is no longer largely the purview of those who would seek to extract resources or violently displace; when movement is not only an act of erasure, but sometimes a desperate one, or one of ambition? What does it mean to be “from somewhere,” and for MASA to present an exhibition of work made in Mexico?
CURATED BY:Su Wu and Constanza Garza
ON VIEW: 06.02.2019 — 13.04.2019
ADDRESS: Av. Paseo de las Palmas 1535, 11000, Mexico City, Mexico
In bending recognizable techniques and materials towards experimental applications, the works suggest a reconfiguration of physical and structural systems. A multi-paneled screen by Frida Escobedo reflects her use of celosias in the Serpentine Pavilion, and the layering that accumulates into a place or a life. One of the series presented here by EWE studio — a collaboration among designers Héctor Esrawe, Agé Salajõe and Manuel Bañó — renders well-worn Mexican milking stools in bronze, capturing both the found object and the incidental, necessary labor that created it. Among these designs, it would seem, is dependence on a mutual sense of commonplace and thus the potential for surprise. The designer Brian Thoreen’s tables rely on the unexpected tensile qualities of industrial rubber; Pedro Reyes presents for the first time in this exhibition a series of chairs in onyx terrazzo, which is often used for flooring in Mexico.
This is a suggestion of culture, then: to share in the delight of possibility, or the evolving expectation of how an object or a place might be. We present alongside the contemporary designs a selection of writings, artworks, and other archival materials from an extended history of intellectual porosity between Mexico and elsewhere, to parse the actions that separate an invader from an immigrant. The pieces suggest for themselves some of what artists found in Mexico, and what they left behind.
BLACK MONTERREY MARBLE
The Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta lived and died in New York City, but began what is possibly her best-known ‘Silueta’ series while in Oaxaca, tracing the impressions of her body in the soil of Mexico. So too does the artist Alma Allen’s work in this exhibition make visible the action of his body upon a piece of Mexican stone. What remains after is not an unilateral action but a reciprocal one, and we need better words for being hit (hitter; hittee) or being seen (starer, staree); we need another language for the stone’s action which is the viewer’s action, which is the act of receiving.
Through historical pieces alongside contemporary artworks and objects, we wish to present therefore the idea that place is a continuum — that Mexico as an idea, a people, a tradition — changes through narrative and scholarship, which is a reflection of power, but also through longing. The exhibition extends the diverse and rich artistic legacy in Mexico, where the definition of design is as broad and varied as the number of people who practice it.
GREEN TIKAL MARBLE
MAGMA DESIGN MIAMI/BASEL
AMBER BLOWN GLASS WITH ACID FINISH,
COLD BLUED STEEL, BRASS
BLACK MARBLE, WHITE MARBLE