Carla Ingrasciotta: The first rendition of “Autoconstrucción” happened in Mexico City at Pista, an abandoned dance space in Colonia Roma. In what way “To Insist, to Insist, to Insist…” at Art Basel differs from the first version?
Abraham Cruzvillegas: During the first presentation of this project Barbara Foulkes and Andrés García Nestitla performed by my side. Barbara started to interact with the piece slowly, and then the pace started escalating to a real sort of combat with the piece, on that occasion I also participated towards the end in synchronicity with Bárbara and we together destroyed or dismembered the piece. Andrés García was playing live and reacting to our movements and the ambiance of the performance at the same time.
For the presentation at The Kitchen I decided to stay out of the main action and let Bárbara perform on her own. I think her knowledge of movement and the way she can control her body while hanging is much more interesting than me fighting against the piece. She has more grace!, that of a trained dancer.
Carla Ingrasciotta: Could you tell us about the creative process behind this piece?
Abraham Cruzvillegas: Working with other people has always been a central part of my artistic research, I keep meeting wonderful artists that express themselves in completely different media than me. I find it enriching to be able to understand creativity through the body of a dancer or the sensibility of a musician, this is why I’m constantly searching to create with others. Also, as a human being, member of a gregarious society, I believe there is nothing we can do on our own and we must always depend on others for our success, our expression and in this case for art making. It is for me just part of being human.
Of course the ideas of Autoconstrucción that I have been developing throughout my practice come into play but they entail the same collaboration.
Carla Ingrasciotta: What is Autoconstrucción? Could you explain this innate notion of your practice to our readers?
Abraham Cruzvillegas: Autoconstrucción is a survival mode of living and building that one can encounter in marginal human communities such as slums, favelas or shanti towns. It is the human capacity to create one’s living space with the available materials, recycling, re-using and repurposing resources in order to develop the place we live in. It has an important impact on one’s identity and it informs the character and sense of belonging of its dwellers. I believe humans are in a constant state of Autoconstrucción, taking and repurposing the information, experiences and knowledge we live through to create our particular identity. I am in a permanent Autoconstrucción mode, always learning from others.
Carla Ingrasciotta: You grew up in Colonia Ajusco, a neighborhood in Mexico City. What is your relationship to the city? Does the city itself inspire your work?
Abraham Cruzvillegas: I now live in Paris with my family and I am a professor at the École des beaux arts de Paris, but I visit Mexico often as well and I lived in many different neighborhoods of Mexico City. However, the relationship with the part of the city I grew up in has impacted my work in every way, creating the basis of the Autoconstrucción concepts that I have developed over the years.
When I work and travel abroad, I use the same modus operandi, I take the materials that a specific place offers, never discarding anything nor choosing what repurposed materials I will use. I pickup everything that I find in a certain territory as I believe it is a witness of the particular identity of each place. So in this sense I could say that the city inspires my work like this, but it is not a particular city, it is every city with its adjacent identity.
Carla Ingrasciotta: What about your perspective on the city’s art scene? How has it changed since the beginning of your artistic career?
Abraham Cruzvillegas: I recently did a project at the MUCA UNAM a university museum from the National Autonomous University in Mexico City in which I made an open call to over 50 artists, writers, performers, sportsmen, musicians, academicians, professors, skaters…. To participate and create a space where there would always be something happening. A place where art, knowledge, life and community could mix and learn from each other, open to the participation of the public. The results were very moving and incredible, I am sure new connections and projects emerged from this experience. I think this was a taste of the energy that one can experience in the city and the effervescence that young generations will bring to the scene.
I think that when we started as young artists there were obviously fewer official places in which we could show, create and experiment in art, however the energy was such that artist run spaces and alternative modes of exhibiting, learning and sharing were thriving in different places of the City. I am sure that there are such places today for the younger generations and that we should remain in touch to what they are exploring now.
Carla Ingrasciotta: Any upcoming projects to look forward to?
Abraham Cruzvillegas: I am preparing a solo exhibition in my Mexican gallery kurimanzutto that will open early February. I am working with different ideas that will be condensed in a sculptural installation that will include specific botanical studies of local flora, a particularly beautiful artisanal technique from the state of Michoacán called Maque and the contrast between artisanal practices, recycling of materials and cheap design.