Since its inception in 2013, Salón Acme has been the cooler, more local sister to the mega-fair Zona Maco. Hosted in a beautifully preserved building in the Centro district of Mexico City, the galleries are set up in rooms of their own with which they can stage presentations that play off the colorful chipped-cement walls—a far cry from Zona Maco’s white cubes. Further, Salón Acme isn’t divided into traditional sections but rather into categories of its exhibitors’ own making. Each of the categories aims to uplift new artists.
There’s a section for artists who submitted there work by open call, as well as one for artists who’ve shown at Salón Acme before, titled “La Bodega de Acme.” “Guest State” focuses on a different state in Mexico each year, with a show curated by individuals or teams who know the state well. The bulk of the show is made up of galleries who have been invited to show at the fair.
This unique configuration makes for a well-balanced fair full of discovery and delight. Of course, Salón Acme isn’t free of the more bougie elements one has come to expect from a fair—there’s a lush ground floor restaurant and a rooftop bar. Still, this fair has a youthful spirit that can’t be found at Zona Maco.
Below, a look at five of the best presentations at Salón Acme, which runs through this Sunday.
Alejandro Galván at UK/MX Arts Society
Alejandro Galván’s highly detailed paintings are striking tableaux about political and social chaos. Represented by the UK/MX Arts Society, whose stated goal is to highlight crossovers between British and Mexican culture, Galván brings together a large cast of characters in his paintings, where they share a crumbling landscape with police, gods, and mythical beasts who are shown struggling, dying, caring for their families, and protesting. His more widely thematic works tie in an almost overwhelming host of political and historical references when touching on topics such as Mexican masculinity or international protest movements. Other works, like La madrugada de San Juanico (The Early Morning of San Juanico), 2022, are comparatively focused, condensing the tragic events of the 1984 San Juanico petroleum plant explosion into one stunning work suffused with grief and horror.
Verónica Meloni at El Gran Vidrio
Argentina-based artist Verónica Meloni began to focus on the boleadora, a kind of lasso with a heavy sack fitted at the end, during the first months of quarantine. The boleadora is a native instrument that was originally used for hunting but also for defense from invaders, both the Incas and the Spanish. There’s irony in the fact that these Indigenous tools of resistance became absorbed by the dominant Argentine culture. The very physical tension of the boleadora is used in Meloni’s sculptures and photographs to represent some of the historical tensions the artist discovered during her period of research.
Avangardo at Can Can Projects
“In the 20th century, luxury was democratized,” the artist Avangardo said in an interview. “Not that everyone could have access to it, but it became a part of the public’s imagination and aspirations.” What better symbol of luxury than a first-class seat in the golden age of flight? For Can Can Projects, Avangardo installed a first-class flight experience, complete with a set of repurposed seats, a dismembered airplane engine, windows, a satirical safety video, and a performer dressed as a stewardess who handed out flyers for the exhibit to passersby. This recreated airplane may approximate the experience luxuriously flying high, but it is earthbound, in a fair booth, laying bare the chasm between aspirations and reality.
Javier Fresneda at LUIS Galería
Javier Fresneda is a Spanish-born artist who has been living in Mexico for more than a decade. In his practice, his investigates the Spanish history of colonization in Mexico and its ongoing impact. The works on display at Salón Acme, presented by LUIS Galería, deconstruct the faces of Spanish kings whose likenesses are honored in monuments and museums collections around the country. After distorting the faces of the Spanish kings digitally, he carves their warped images into plywood. The urge to satirize and cut down these figures further is present in the sculptural installation the stands in the middle of the room, a collection of carved wooden scepters whose points end in a finger. That digit could be read as a middle finger to the history and the crown that once was thought to be so noble.
Gabriel Garcilazo in 'Guest State'
This year’s “Guest State” show at Salón Acme was curated by the team Palmera Ardiendo and focuses on Morelos, which is home to the city of Cuernavaca. Gabriel Garcilazo’s Veinte Mazorcas (2021) references the style of Aztec codices, illustrated manuscripts depicting everything from sacred rituals to taxation. His 20 fragments, ripped and placed on a black wall painted with feet, another reference to symbols of migration found in the codices, are revamped to tell the tales of cross-border relations.