While Zona Maco and Material’s exhibitors to tend bring out their established and mid-career artists, Salón Acme showcases emerging art from Mexico and around the world. The motto scrawled on the back of the fair’s guide this year sums it up: “So fresh it’s still wet.”
Rather than taking place at a large convention hall, as is typical for most art fairs, Salón Acme is situated in two old buildings connected by a rooftop terrace in Mexico City’s historic center. The fair invites young and smaller galleries to show there, but the most exciting works are to be found in the section that features artists who haven’t yet found representation.
Each year, scores of emerging artists send in applications each year in the hope of being selected. Many of the applicants are students and alums of Mexico’s art schools, like the Esmeralda.
Below are five of the best booths at Salón Acme’s 2023 edition.
Isidora Villarino H.
Isadora Villarino H., who showed at Salón Acme independently, without a gallery representing her, presented Entre el Concreto y el Efímero (Between the Concrete and the Ephemeral), from 2022. It’s composed of a set of 27 matchboxes that contain black and white images of urban landscapes on their surfaces. At first glance, these appear to be photographs. They are, however, very carefully done paintings. Villarino is interested in the constant churn of cityscapes, which are caught in a never-ending flux of construction and deconstruction. Displayed on each matchbox is a building which was either demolished or has been abandoned and left in ruins. Her documentation spans the world, preserving her memories of cities like Venice and Mexico City. One of modernity’s woes is the disorientation that comes with living in an ever-shifting landscape; Villarino’s work marks one attempt to cope with that.
Catalina Barroso-Luque, who also showed at the fair independently, presented a delightful sculptural work: Madre Perla (Mother Pearl), from 2022. Perched on two thin, pink stands are a couple of ceramic conch shells set a few feet apart. They contain an audio component that is at first drowned out by the chattering crowds. But once one puts their ear against the conch—a reference, of course, to the power of the shell to reproduce the sound of the ocean—one is greeted by a whispering voice. In Spanish, the voice reads from a meditative script, promising that there are no bad animals and no scary humans, only tranquil waters. Simple at this work may be, it’s also very clever, nodding to ASMR videos meant to calm the stressed and anxious.
Javier Sánchez at Galeria Hispánica
Javier Sánchez prowls the streets of Mexico City, looking for material for his works. Rusty odds and ends, a piece of broken ceramic, a spring: these are the kinds of objects he finds and then lures into his art, creating assemblages from them. The groupings of objects also go on to inspire abstract oil paintings, some of which were on view alongside them at Galeria Hispánica’s booth. But before he made sculptures and paintings, Sánchez started as a sound artist, and the booth also contains one piece in that medium that he created by spreading the junk on the floor of his studio, stepping on it, and recording the noise he made. Visitors to the booth were invited to walk over the flotsam Sánchez has collected themselves. Doing so was a profoundly satisfying experience.
Antoine Granier’s sculpture Psíquica Automática III (Automatic Psychic III), 2023, is a shrine-like box that hangs on the wall. Its red interior contains a small pedestal, a crystal ball, a light bulb, and scraps of fabric and bits of plants, all of it viewable through a thin pane of glass. The work recalls the fortune teller machines that used to be commonly found in carnivals, and even comes with a tempting red button.
When pushed, a thin slot in the box expels a bit of paper with words printed on it using the same mechanism used to print receipts. However, Granier’s work provides its audience with someone much lovelier than that—poems that Granier himself wrote. He described these texts as being part poem, part spell, and part fortune. One begins, in Spanish:
“If you are walking through the streets of a big city
take this paper in your hands
it will serve you to do as I say.
Turn around and see
that the third person behind you
in between Dragon and Slug,
You can greet her
but you should take certain precautions.”
Mandy Cano Villalobos
The only daughter of a single mother who worked in the military, Mandy Cano Villalobos spent her childhood moving from place to place. This experience has continued to shape her work, which is focused on the intense labor of motherhood and Villalobos’s feeling that she lacks an identity. Motherload (2022), a synthesis of these two concerns, features hundreds of small objects contained by stretched, pink fibers that have been repeatedly wound and knotted. The objects, which also stud the outside of the sculpture, are the result of Villalobos’s habit of hoarding small, petty things since she was a young girl: bells, plastic flowers, ornaments, beads, candy wrappers, cheap, and plastic toys. These objects were an important part of a young Villalobos’s attempts to ground herself.
Upon closer inspection, one sees that these objects surround a footstool. A representative for the artist said that Motherload represents the baggage, tensions, and concerns that keep a mother from resting.