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First mid-career exhibition of Mexico City-based artist Abraham Cruzvillegas opens at the Walker Art Center
Abraham Cruzvillegas, Autoconstruction, 2009. D.Daskalopoulos Collection, Greece.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN.- The Walker Art Center presents Abraham Cruzvillegas: The Autoconstrucción Suites, the first in-depth contextual exhibition of Abraham Cruzvillegas, one of the most important artists to come out of a burgeoning art scene in Mexico City. Informed by the socio-political contexts of Latin America, Cruzvillegas (b. 1968) has garnered much attention for his dynamic assemblage sculptures made of found objects. The exhibition runs from March 23 through September 22, 2013.

Since the 1990s, Cruzvillegas has developed a riveting body of work—including sculpture, installation, film/video, and theater—that derives from the social and economic realities of his hometown in Ajusco. While his work has been widely presented in Mexico and Europe, his exposure in the U.S. still remains limited. Organized by Walker Senior Curator for Visual Arts Clara Kim, this mid-career survey focuses on the last 10 years of his practice and will feature individual sculptures and expansive sculptural environments, as well as recent experiments in video, film, and performance. Following the Walker’s presentation, the exhibition will embark on an international tour to the Haus der Kunst in Munich from January 14th through May 4th, 2014 and the Jumex Foundation in Mexico City from October 9th 2014 through February 2nd, 2015 and Museo Amparo in Puebla who will jointly present the exhibition in Mexico from October 11th, 2014 through February 2nd, 2015.

Interested in what he calls autoconstrucción or “self-construction,” Cruzvillegas roots his practice within the urban landscape of his childhood home, where structures are in a constant state of change as materials become available and as necessity dictates. The conceptual framework and ideology of his dynamic sculptural work begins here. While echoing art historical precedents (Duchampian transformation of everyday objects, arte povera’s use of impoverished materials, and the uncanny compositions of assemblage), Cruzvillegas employs improvisation and alternate economic systems that privilege craft over art, the handmade over the manufactured, and processes that necessitate “making do” or learned, communal behavior. This point of departure becomes a model for a way of building out of scarcity and a metaphor for the construction of the artist’s own identity

Developed in close collaboration with the artist and culled from private and public collections in the U.S., Europe, and Mexico, the exhibition includes an important body of sculptures first exhibited at the 2003 Venice Biennale, in a section titled Everyday Altered curated by Gabriel Orozco; a series of sculptural installations created during a six-year period of residencies; and more recent experiments that expand his thinking on autoconstrucción through film (developed with a film cooperative), video (in which the artist’s parents narrate their own stories in the form of oral history), performance (collaborative musical and action-based theater), and a source material archive room. Shown together for the first time, the exhibition illustrates Cruzvillegas’s contributions, and motivations and influences that inform his thinking, as well as his commitment to social and political realities that shape everyday lives.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Autoconstrucción: The Film—a 62-minute abstract portrait of Ajusco—will be screened in the Walker’s Lecture Room on the 2nd Saturday of every month at 4 pm, starting in May. Shot on location with non-professional actors, the film employs an unconventional narrative without dialogue that intertwines long static footage of Ajusco’s volcanic landscape with unscripted moments of intimacy and encounter. Cruzvillegas’ film uses the predictable, mechanistic structure of early pornographic films to build a non-linear story made up of fragments that collapse the past and present; the neighborhood’s history with its improvised reality. Additionally, in the summer of 2013, Cruzvillegas will collaborate with Minnesota bands to produce and perform original music to song lyrics written by the artist. These musical projects, performed in Glasgow and Oxford previously, operate as allegories of childhood memories.

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