The Best Artist Presentations at Salón Acme
While the two larger fairs that comprise Mexico City’s Art Week take the form of a standard fair, Salón Acme is set in a Porfiriato-era house in the city’s Colonia Juárez that was once the home of Alberto Robles Gil and was abandoned for several years until its rescue in 2014. This setting, across two buildings, gives the fair a unique vibe–with its dilapidated walls, interior courtyards, and grand staircase and balcony—that is virtually unmatched anywhere else on the international fair circuit.
In addition to hosting presentations from nearly 30 galleries, Sálon Acme also has an open call section that will show the work of 80 artists, drawn from over 1,800 applications and selected by a curatorial board, which this year including Chicago-based collector Benedicta Badía, artist Darío Escobar, and Pati Hertling, the director of Performance Space New York. The showing in this section is especially strong. Additionally, another featured section focuses on artists based in a particular state of Mexico; this year it is Nuevo Léon, the capital of which, Monterrey, is one of the country’s industrial centers.
Below, a look at the best showings at Salón Acme, which runs through February 11 at Calle Gral. Prim 30, Juárez, Cuauhtémoc, 06600 Cuauhtémoc, CDMX.
Featured in the open call section, Enrique Argote presents a tongue-in-cheek sculpture: inside a vending machine—which is likely over 30 years old—are small souvenirs of pre-Columbian artifacts that he purchased from Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Antropología. In the work, Argote is taking direct aim at the fetishization of pre-Hispanic cultures, particularly among tourists visiting Mexico. The vending machine is fully operational, costing 90 pesos (around $5.27). But once you enter your money and select your tchotchke, it will likely shatter. All you’re able to take home with you are the shards that remain.
Eugenia H. Ávila
A powerful installation by Eugenia H. Ávila is another highlight of the open-call section. To create these works, Ávila traveled to the state of Michoacán, just west of Mexico City. There she spoke with several women who had been raped or who had lived with domestic violence in their homes, whether from their partners, fathers, or other men in their lives. She then translated their stories into a series of belts, which are printed with excerpts of the violence committed against them. One reads, “Gesner fue mi pareja durante seis años. Cinco me golpeó.” (Gesner was my partner for six years. Five hit me.) Another, “Alfredo me violó mientras dormía en la cama de su hermana.” (Alfredo raped me while I was sleeping in his sister’s bed.) Ávila’s use of the belt here is poignant: an everyday item of clothing can itself become a tool of violence.
Facing Ávila’s work, on a plinth in the center of the room, are works from Napoleón Aguilera’s “Juego de Villanos” series, which is a shortening of a common admonishment given to children “juego de manos es de villanos” (sleight of hand is for villains) and which sounds like the popular Patty Cake–esque children’s game Juego de Manos. Each sculpture, made from basalt, is fashioned into a futuristic, science fiction–inspired gun. Onto each gun’s grip is affixed a metal rendering of the actual insignia for Mexican cartels, which he purchased on the black market. With this work, Aguilera subverts the ubiquitous violence of the cartels with humor. “Humor works as an escape to change the system of things,” he said in a recent interview with Chilango. “I am interested that these seemingly harmless objects can also be disturbing, even if it is not a joke, the humor is present.”
In a solo presentation, courtesy of leading photography dealer Patricia Conde, Margot Kalach is showing her various experiments with the photographic medium that reflect on the passage of time. The most striking of these is a large-scale installation that rises up to the ceiling like a waterfall. Collaged together are various materials, including textiles and photographic paper, that have been exposed to iron oxide for varying lengths of time, anywhere from two weeks to more than a month. This grouping brings together some experiments that date back five years.
Charlie Godet Thomas
Showing with Monterrey-based gallery Colector, Charlie Godet Thomas presents an aural installation featuring a ceiling fan that is hung just above a table that is covered with nearly empty wine glasses and beer bottles, the remnants of a party. Hanging from the fan’s blades are gold chains with words like “money” and “night” affixed to them. As the fan spins, they hit the drinking vessels, creating a short of glass harp composition that rings through the fair’s upper levels like wind chimes.
The Best Artist Presentations at Salón Acme