Galerie Thomas Schulte is very pleased that Abraham Cruzvillegas has accepted the invitation to realize a new site-specific work for the gallery to first be presented during Art Week Berlin 2021. The colourful installation Unbetiteltes Tautologisches Selbstportrait stretches across the two nine-meter high walls of the Corner Space and consists of boxes of shapes and sizes the bottoms of which are painted in thirty-four different colour hues.
In his installations and sculptures Abraham Cruzvillegas often uses found or discarded industrially produced, simple, everyday objects. In preparation for his installation at Galerie Thomas Schulte, the artist asked the gallery staff to collect and accumulate all kinds of empty packaging. The various boxes made from cardboard, paper or wood range, for example, from shoe and egg cartons to cereal, chocolate, pizza and instant rice boxes, household appliances packaging, soap and detergents, make up and beauty products boxes, wine and champagne boxes, and six-packs for beer and soda, along with many of the products that the gallery and its staff had consumed over months. The bottoms of the boxes have been painted in thirty-four different colours, using a colour system which the artist first used in his contribution to documenta in 2012.
In Cruzvillegas' colour scheme, every colour stands for a specific idea, intention or quality that has been a constant in the artist's work over the past decades and relates to his ongoing series of projects and artistic practice, which he calls 'autoconstrucción.' The term is appropriated and originally describes the self-building methods of communities like the artist's family, who build new homes on the outskirts of Mexico City by handling, collecting and recycling everyday materials. Autoconstrucción therefore describes a cultural practice–the collective dynamic of accumulating and appropriating found objects to construct shelter and housing–and speaks of scarcity, necessity, improvisation, inventiveness, solidarity, and chance, with a focus on craft and manual processes–all of which are qualities that also underpin Cruzvillegas' practice: 'Autoconstrucción means transformation to me. I apply the notion to houses being both built and destroyed simultaneously, according to the specific needs of their inhabitants. Change is the rule for the Autoconstrucción houses, and transformation of identity is behind my approach (or misuse) of the concept: self-construction is permanently unfinished.'
Cruzvillegas' work for Galerie Thomas Schulte is site-specific in two different ways: not only has the final minimalist and grid-like assemblage of the boxes been fitted to the dimensions of the physical space, but the materials gathered for the installation also reflect the consumer behaviour of the people who work there. Unbetiteltes Tautologisches Selbstportrait can thus be seen as consumerist critique and at the same time it is a reflection on the nature of collaboration, exchange, and identity. To Cruzvillegas, the personality of a person is shaped by all her relationships and encounters with other people.
Abraham Cruzvillegas (born in Mexico City in 1968) is an artist whose wider-ranging oeuvre includes sculptures, paintings, drawings, installations, and videos. Cruzvillegas himself has adopted the term autoconstrucctión to describe his own artistic practice. Autoconstrucctión is a term used to describe the process of people improvising self-constructed homes built from found and recycled materials. In 2019, he was pedagogical curator of the 14th Media Arts Biennial Chile in Santiago de Chile (2019). In 2012, he was awarded the 5th Yanghyun Prize in Korea and the Prix Altadis d'arts plastiques, France–Spain in 2006. He was artist in residence of the DAAD Artist Residency program in Berlin (2010), the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco (2009), the Cove Park Artist Residency of Scotland (2008), the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. (2008), the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria in Italy (2007), and at Atelier Calder in Saché in France (2005). He participated in many important international exhibitions including Honolulu Biennial (2019), Sydney Biennial (2018), Havana Biennial (2009; 2015), dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, (2012), 9th Shanghai Biennale (2012), 12th International Istanbul Biennial (2011), 6th Seoul International Media Art Biennale (2010), and the 54th Venice Biennale (2003). His work is included in the public collections of The Jewish Museum in New York, MoMA, the Walker Art Center, the de Young Museum and the Kadist Foundation in San Francisco, MOCA, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection, the Tate, Kunsthaus Zürich, the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Centre Pompidou, Centre national des arts plastiques, Paris, MUAC, Museo Jumex, and Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo in Mexico City.
Press release courtesy Galerie Thomas Schulte.