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La Planta: Contemporary art in Guadalajara


I flew to Guadalajara, Mexico, over the holidays to see some
family there. I hadn’t been in about 4 years, during which time there
seems to have been an explosion in population, high rises, big city
grime, and contemporary art spaces. The one that impressed me the most
is a brand new space called La Planta, a 1000+ m2 (10760+ ft2) gallery housed in a converted soda
factory (7 Up to
be precise). Funded by The Omnilife Foundation, this space certainly has
lofty goals: to educate Guadalajara and to offer affordable art
programs and provide a sort of free-form appreciation for art and
culture. As a frustrated/closet idealist, I find this absolutely
fantastic. As a bitter realist (especially when it comes to Guadalajara) I
somewhat doubt it will have its full intended effect. But damn, that
city could use some more unrealistic expectations (more on that next

La Planta’s inaugural show, entitled Yäq,
curated by La Colección Jumex curator
Michel Blancsubé comes with a ridiculously verbose and overblown (but
in the end somewhat interesting) statement to match the space’s Utopian

"To inaugurate their space the designers of La
Planta quite intelligently invited Guadalajara’s collectors of
contemporary art to take part in what is always a major event in the
life of a city, viz., the appearance of a new venue for the
dissemination and expression of and reflection on that which makes the
human species a community, i.e., the present. Paying homage in this way
to these art enthusiasts’ passion and commitment, which for some began
two decades ago in the local and foreign art scene, the works brought
together and displayed in Yäq come from private collections. One
phenomenon that is growing in importance is that of the art collector
who fulfils the role of a public personality and is identified as such.
From a private and very personal passion that develops on the fringe,
collecting has become an activity in its own right and foundations are
opening all over the world. In the face of the growing withdrawal of
public institutions, and at the risk of repeating myself, praise be
then to these private initiatives, which devote part of their assets to
the good of the community and agree to share it!

To select one
work rather than another and to do so when faced with such a vast
number is a frighteningly arbitrary exercise. Moreover, how is one
supposed to show works of art without utterly subjecting them to a
discourse that is overly preconceived? How is one to preserve that mute
part of a work of art whose decision, whose secret, belongs to the
artist in the end? Quite fortunately, or following the selection of a
deliberately handy title, the concept of wealth and property that the
enigmatic word yäq has stored within it leaves a clear field for that
inevitable and indispensable selection. Is this a renunciation or a
poverty of ideas on the part of the curator betraying a certain
confusion at the way things go in this world? Maybe. And after that?
Who is waiting for a messiah still?
A certain number of criteria
inspired by the readings mentioned above have guided my selections. I
give them here in no particular order: accumulation and waste,
sacrifice, death and destruction, gifts, offerings of every kind
including lives, slavery, mysticism and shamanism, confrontations and
duels, women, desire and sex, the passing of time and chromatic



So how was the show? Pretty great. My
favorite pieces in the show were perhaps two drawings by Raymond
and a series of 34 photos by Mike Kelley from his Plato’s Cave
series. I really enjoyed (once I forced myself to read the curator’s
statement) how the art was completely demystified (which I suppose is
something completely opposed to the original intention) by being
installed in terms that can be best described as Interior Design. Model
for the Call Centre,
an enormous wire-frame model by Atelier Van
is placed right next to Monocromo by Jose Dávila, a big box
covered in metallic paper that brings to mind the interior walls of
Warhol’s Factory, a pairing that somehow manages to dissolve the aura
of the works, leaving behind humanized, approachable husks that are way
more prosaic, in a good way. This "mystique annulment" happens
constantly in Yäq, (as in the pairing of Robert Morris‘s Untitled black
felt installation coupled with Maurizio Cattelan‘s Untitled taxidermied
dog pictured above) making these art stars (and company) feel
approachable, not scary. It’s a fantastic example of installation and
exhibition design as a pedagogical tool consistent with a burgeoning
institution’s mission statement.

Partly because I know you like a little bit of
name-dropping every now and then, but mostly because it’s a pretty
fantastic list, here are ALL the artists included in Yäq:
Aldana (Guadalajara, Mexico), Francis Alÿs (Amberes, Belgium), Carlos
Amorales (Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico), Artemio (Ciudad de Mexico,
Mexico), John Baldessari (National City, USA), Stephan Balkenhol
(Fritzlar, Germany), Alighiero e Boetti (Turin, Italy), Chris Burden
(Boston, USA), Maurizio Cattelan (Padua, Italy), Tony Cragg (Liverpool,
UK), Mario Cravo Neto (Salvador, Brazil), Jose Dávila (Guadalajara,
Mexico), Richard Deacon (Bangor, Wales), Rineke Dijkstra (Sittard, NL),
Christoph Draeger (Zurich, Switzerland), J. Duplo (France), Marcel
Dzama (Winnipeg, Canada), Olafur Eliasson (Copenhague, Denmark), Peter
Fischli & David Weiss (Zurich, Switzerland), José Fors (La Habana,
Cuba), Tom Friedman (St. Louis, USA), Bernard Frize (Saint-Mandé,
France), Yang Fudong (Peking, China), Mario García Torres (Monclova,
Mexico), Gelitin (Austria), Isa Genzken (Bad Oldesloe, Germany), Thomas
Glassford (Laredo, USA), Joanne Greenbaum (NYC, USA), Cynthia Gutiérrez
(Guadalajara, Mexico), Thomas Hirschhorn (Bern, Switzerland), Runa
Islam (Dhaka, Bangladesh), On Kawara (Japan), Mike Kelley (Detroit,
USA), Dr. Lakra (Oaxaca, Mexico), Jim Lambie (Glasgow, UK), Gonzalo
Lebrija (Guadalajara, Mexico), Jac Leirner (São Paulo, Brazil), Richard
Long (Bristol, UK), Sarah Lucas (London, UK), Jorge Macchi (Buenos
Aires, Argentina), Marepe (San Antonio de Jesús, Brazil), Gordon Matta
Clark (NYC, USA), John McCracken (Berkeley, USA), Jorge Méndez Blake
(Guadalajara, Mexico), Enrique Metinides (Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico),
Jonathan Monk (Leicester, UK), Gerardo Monsivais (Monterrey, Mexico),
Robert Morris (Kansas, USA), Otto Mühl (Grodnau, Austria), Gabriel
Orozco (Veracruz, Mexico), Fernando Ortega (Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico),
Rubén Ortiz Torres (Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico), Fernando Palomar
(Guadalajara, Mexico), Jorge Pardo (La Habana, Cuba), Philippe Parreno
(Oran, Algeria), Raymond Pettibon (Tucson, USA), Hadrian Pigott
(Aldershot, UK), Marcos Rountree (Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico), Thomas
Ruff (Zell am Harmersbach, Germany), Anri Sala (Tirana, Albania), David
Scher (St. Louis, USA), Analia Segal (Rosario, Argentina), Andrés
Serrano (NYC, USA), Simon Starling (Epsom, UK), Yoshihiro Suda
(Yamanashi, Japan), Luis Miguel Suro (Guadalajara, Mexico), Rirkrit
Tiravanija (Buenos Aires, Argentina – Thailand), Emanuel Tovar
(Guadalajara, Mexico), Atelier Van Lieshout (Rotterdam, NL), Pablo
Vargas Lugo (Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico), Amaury Vergara (Guadalajara,
Mexico), Franz West (Vienna, Austria), Christopher Williams (L.A.,
USA), Erwin Wurm (Bruck/Mur, Austria).

I was told their next show which will open in March consists of mostly
video art, to coincide with the Guadalajara International Film Festival, and if these
cheap direct flights I keep hearing about
actually happen, it will
probably be a more than worthwhile trip.

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1 Response

  1. michael me

    I just got back from doing a show in GDL and just happened to read this blog. I wish I had done so before so I could have checked out this space. It looks quite impressive. I fell in love with the city last summer and had the opportunity to retun again a few weeks ago to set up a show. I too hope that the aerobus flights come soon. I want to go back and possibly live there at some point. Here’s a blog post I wrote a year ago about my experience in GDL. http://in-the-works-an-art-blog.blogspot.com/

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