Pia Camil. Photo: Janet Jarman.
PIA CAMIL'S STUDIO in Mexico City is an expansive, windowless room on the ground floor of an old building tucked away between a wide arterial road and the city's Parque de Chapultepec. She keeps the basement-like space orderly, and during the workday it is almost impossible to imagine it moonlighting as El Cisne (The Swan), a lively cabaret Camil stages there a few nights a year. Word-of-mouth invitations draw a queer-friendly crowd for raucous performances and dancing that continues until the early morning. That Camil envisioned her studio doubling as a nightspot is true to form: her ability to imagine new possibilities for architectural spaces and found objects is at the heart of her practice. Disused billboards, outdoor markets, and abandoned construction sites have yielded raw materials Camil transforms into paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and installations that retain the chaotic energy of their urban origins.