All the Concept-Driven Curiosities we saw at Salon Acme Art Fair in Mexico City

by Bryan Rindfuss February 17, 2023

Thanks to its host venue — a pair of early 20th-century buildings now branded as Proyecto Público Prim — Salon Acme is arguably the only Art Week Mexico City offering in which the environment is a masterpiece in its own right. Designed by architect Manuel Gorozpe and completed in 1906, the structures have been hailed by the blog ArchDaily as “one of the most famous Porfirian sites in Mexico City.” Situated in the burgeoning neighborhood of Colonia Juárez, the stately buildings functioned as residential housing for decades, but eventually fell into disrepair and were ultimately abandoned.

Wooden carvings of cowboy boots sit on pedestals. The toes of the boots extend outward and curve upward to an absurd degree.

Work by Napoleon Aguilera, installed at Salon Acme

Resurrected in 2013 as a distinctive event space that chiefly caters to Mexico City’s arts community, Proyecto Público Prim boasts the cinematic charm of a crumbling mansion. Each room seems to have more layers of peeling paint and chipped plaster than the next — and the overall vibe can conjure a post-apocalyptic squat with a mysterious past. At times, the works on view at Salon Acme mesh seamlessly with the eroding surroundings. During our visit to Salon Acme’s 10th edition — marketed under the heading “So Fresh It’s Still Wet” — curiosities and wildcards emerged from nearly every corner.

A mirrored pinecone-looking object and other organic forms sit on a plush, red carpet.

Work by Ezequiel Black, installed at Salon Acme

A mononymous artist billed as Avantgardo installed a tanning bed in a space activated with performances by a singer who impersonated late Mexican pop star José José. Ezequiel Black’s 2022 sculpture La Mazorca elicited ears of corn dressed for an evening at the iconic disco Studio 54. Napoleon Aguilera displayed an array of wildly exaggerated wooden cowboy boots — including a pair named Pointy Margiela, which were accessorized with a cigarette and a condom. Emilia Garcia’s wall installation Pupa was rendered in a swirl of plastic hair clips affixed to a wall. Mandy Cano Villalobos created a Christmas tree-like sculpture covered in trinkets, lollipops and bubblegum. Camila GB constructed a sculptural installation from chains and multicolored underwear and dangled it from the ceiling. And Madeline Jimenez Santil attached synthetic hair to a Roomba robot that cleared all the dust — when it wasn’t bumping into gallery-goers and other artistic oddities.

Beyond the abundance of arty experiments, many creators presented projects that seemed custom-crafted for the eclectic confines of Proyecto Público Prim.

Large-scale collaged-looking artworks hang in a rough, concrete space.

Work by Beth Davila Waldman, installed at Salon Acme

Based between Los Angeles and New York’s Hudson Valley, multidisciplinary artist Beth Davila Waldman fuses elements of photography, painting, and assemblage in installations that bring to mind weathered wheat-pasted posters and advertisements. Selected as part of Salon Acme’s open call, the artist’s 2021 series Divisions (Nos. 5-9) was presented as an arc of mixed-media abstractions — albeit with recognizable clues — that looked in perfect harmony with the similarly speckled surroundings.

Multiple artworks hang in a rough-hewn space.

Work by Aurora Pellizzi in Jeff Marfa’s installation at Salon Acme

Readily available household cleaning materials — including brooms, feather dusters, and humble yet colorful woven jerga cloth — came to life in Mexico City-based artist Aurora Pellizzi’s exhibit Culebras. Hosted by the West Texas gallery Jeff Marfa in a rustic space beneath a precarious wooden stairwell, her hand-felted sculptural creations nodded to sacred geometry and indigenous fertility, but were chiefly inspired by snakes and the exaggerated puppets used in mojiganga processions. As outlined in the gallery notes, the “Shakespearean caricatures” Pellizzi sought to evoke included the “Court Jester, Hindu Goddess, Bride, Feathered-Serpent Dandy, Street-Style Girl, Diva, and Sloth.”

A circle of objects sits on a concrete floor, and paintings are on view on three walls.

Work by Javier Sánchez in Proyecto H’s installation at Salon Acme

An imaginative upcycler with a keen interest in sound, audiovisual artist Javier Sánchez creates modernist-leaning assemblages rendered in detritus he scours from the streets of Mexico City. Hosted by Proyecto H — a gallery based between Mexico City and Madrid — Sánchez’s Salon Acme showcase illustrated multiple aspects of his artistic process. In addition to framed assemblages and graphic paintings likened to “translations” based on his scavenged arrangements, the space featured a circular assortment of Sánchez’s source material — weathered bits of salvage that guests were invited to walk across and activate as a DIY sound installation.

Many rectangular and square artworks hang on a turquoise wall. Opposite, on another wall, are small, mask-like objects.

Work by Alfredo Gallegos Mena in Saenger Galería’s installation at Salon Acme

Shades of muddy aquamarine and faded turquoise on Proyecto Público Prim’s incredibly textured walls struck up an intriguing conversation with those same hues in the mixed-media work of Mexico City artist Alfredo Gallegos Mena. Employing a wide-ranging approach to materials, Mena uses everything from wood and clay to discarded packaging and found objects in works that resemble mosaics and pixelated graphics alike. Hosted by Mexico City-based Saenger Galería as part of a Salon Acme project curated by Ana Castella, Mena’s solo show took shape in covetable masks and painterly assemblages rendered in pigmented cubes of wax.

A photograph of a collection of anthropomorphic buckets and artworks of buckets, all with faces and dimples.

Work by El Mundo Inmundo in Can Can Projects’ installation at Salon Acme

To be fair, El Mundo Inmundo collective’s suggestively titled Step Into Our Backroom didn’t complement Proyecto Público Prim’s structural decomposition as eloquently as other offerings — but still stood out easily among the most memorable highlights of this year’s Salon Acme. Presented by Mexico City-based Can Can Projects, the madcap environment brought to mind a mushroom-laced escapade through a secret underground level of a Home Depot. Summed up as a “humorous critique of the labor dynamics that dominate in these spaces,” the plastic-heavy installation took big-box sensibilities to bizarre new heights with a one-of-a-kind sound sculpture (priced at $10,000 USD), synthetic felt collages billed as “Backroom Stars” and bright-orange buckets ideal for “storage, extra seating, a planter, a cooler, an art pedestal … the sky is the limit!”



Click here to see our coverage of the 2023 Zona Maco Art Fair. Click here to see our coverage of the 2023 Material Art Fair.

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