TRANSURBANIAC- Building Up Borders

    Accordingly, the installations are heavy on themes of construction and the world of outside influences on Mexican culture. Ortiz-Torres explained that artists from Mexico City are less concerned about representing their culture than they are about depicting the globalization of the metropolitan capital of Mexico.

    “There is this idea that tends to be exported about what Mexican art is,” Torres said. “That it’s based on this reconstruction of the past and national identity — but a lot of young artists aren’t interested in that. Mexico City is a very polluted, cosmopolitan city.”

    Studio traditionalists beware: “Transurbaniac” is unconcerned with fastidious detail or clean accuracy. Most of the exhibits feature unconventional manipulations of materials like ornate wooden panels, shoes and horsehair. Each involved item is placed around the bleak white space in an almost haphazard manner that, at first glance, doesn’t really seem to merit the esoteric title of high art — let alone a spot in a gallery.

    The aforementioned horsehair is featured prominently in Pablo Vargas Lugo’s piece “Snoop 2” — what seems to be a fiberglass mold of a rocket, paired with a halo of horse-weave. The weave hangs menacingly over the fiberglass and the viewer. Though Lugo appears to have been aiming for a juxtaposition of the traditional with the modern, the piece leaves a lot to the imagination, especially with such a mystifying title.

    Much of the remaining exhibit is, like “Snoop 2,” puzzling to the point of alienation. However, Jerónimo Hagerman’s video installation — “Because The World Is Round it Turns Me On”— projects a captivating stream of Mexican people and places, focusing on imagery and song rather than dialogue. A dark room with a door envelops the viewer and narrows the field of focus on the film’s vivid message.

    Another reprieve are Rubén Gutiérrez’ “Objects over Havana” photographs, which deliver a calming simplicity to “Transurbaniac.” A series of images that cleverly avoid faces and other identifying human features aim to depict Mexico City’s complex cityscape, clarifying the exhibit’s focus on the modernization of culture.

    While many of the pieces would have been better received with the simple addition of a more explicit title (or even the availability of a Spanish-to-English dictionary), falling down this rabbit hole is overall an enlightening experience.

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