Armory Center for the Arts has been awarded $140,000 to research social spaces created through alternative art practices in Mexico City and Guadalajara in the 1990s. The research award comes from the Getty Foundation and is part of the Getty’s second iteration of its Pacific Standard Time initiative, entitled LA/LA, which will result in a series of exhibitions of Latin American and Latino art at institutions across Southern California. Grants were awarded to 40 Southern California cultural institutions to initiate research and planning for exhibitions in 2017.
The Armory’s 18-month research project, entitled Aesthetic Experiments and Social Agents: Renegade Art and Action in Mexico in the 1990s, will focus on key concepts around art practices that promote conversation, engagement, and political or social change; the complex, interrelated social spaces they generate; and the ongoing negotiation and realignment of those practices and spaces.
The 1990s were a period of fervent change throughout Mexico, where the collateral effects of social, economic, and political upheaval included rabid violence, industrial pollution, political corruption, border politics, the devalued peso, and a widening gap between the wealthy and the impoverished. Against this backdrop, artists in Mexico City and Guadalajara created alternative spaces to gather and show work, often with content that engaged directly with the politics and economics of these circumstances. These hyper-localized spaces and communities nurtured the most experimental practices of the time; influenced established cultural institutions to support art that was more expansive, ephemeral, and socially based; and generated dialogue among diverse communities and individuals who would otherwise not connect. Through these activities and the dialogue around them, strong relationships were formed with practitioners (artists, curators, academics, collectors, and others) in other international art world hubs such as Los Angeles, New York, London, Tokyo, and São Paulo. The expanded dialogues generated through these exchanges have radically influenced discourses and practices in contemporary art ever since. Aesthetic Experiments and Social Agents: Renegade Art and Action in Mexico in the 1990s will focus on practices of the time that were artist centered and generated, self-sustained and localized, while looking toward an emergent transnational art community.
The Project Director/Principal Investigator is Irene Tsatsos, Gallery Director/Chief Curator at Armory Center for the Arts, who will work with a team of three Project Researchers and Advisors. Their research will be the groundwork of an Armory exhibition and publication in 2017:
” Alexis Salas – visual artist and art historian affiliated with the Center for US-Mexican Studies at the University of San Diego as a Visiting Scholar working toward a Ph.D. at University of Texas at Austin
” Guillermo Santamarina – art critic, visual artist, and curator at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil in Mexico City
” Lorena Wolffer – artist, cultural activist, and the founding director and former curator of Ex Teresa, the alternative art venue in Mexico City that remains active today and the archives of which will be instrumental to the research being undertaken
About the Armory
Armory Center for the Arts, in Pasadena, California, believes that an understanding and appreciation of the arts is essential for a well-rounded human experience and a healthy civic community. Founded in 1989, the Armory builds on the power of art to transform lives and communities through presenting, creating, teaching, and discussing contemporary visual art. The organization’s department of exhibitions mounts numerous exhibitions each year at its main facility and in locations throughout the City of Pasadena. In addition, the Armory offers studio art classes and a variety of educational outreach programs to more than fifty schools and community sites.
About Pacific Standard Time
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA will take place in 2017. It is the second iteration of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time initiative; the first, focused on art in Los Angeles from 1945-1980, was an unprecedented collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California coming together to celebrate the birth of the LA art scene. In 2013, a smaller scale program, Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A., explored the built heritage of the Los Angeles region.
The J. Paul Getty Trust is an international cultural and philanthropic institution devoted to the visual arts that includes the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Getty Research Institute, the Getty Conservation Institute, and the Getty Foundation. The J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs serve a varied audience from two locations: the Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Getty Villa in Malibu. The Getty Foundation fulfills the philanthropic mission of the Getty Trust by supporting individuals and institutions committed to advancing the greater understanding and preservation of the visual arts in Los Angeles and throughout the world. Through strategic grant initiatives, the Foundation strengthens art history as a global discipline, promotes the interdisciplinary practice of conservation, increases access to museum and archival collections, and develops current and future leaders in the visual arts. It carries out its work in collaboration with the other Getty Programs to ensure that they individually and collectively achieve maximum effect. Additional information is available at www.getty.edu.