A lot has changed since the last edition of Zona Maco. The 2022 edition was the first since the pandemic, and it showed. The subdued affair took place as people began to cautiously negotiate travel and safety, as Omicron cases lowered, and as governments began to ease up on testing requirements.
This year’s edition, however, was jam-packed on its opening VIP day on Tuesday. That’s hardly surprising. During the course of the pandemic, Mexico City became a go-to destination for professionals who discovered the freedoms of remote work. A beautiful, cheap, exciting city situated between Los Angeles and New York, and a manageable flight from both, Mexico City became the obvious choice for nomads. As galleries have popped up around the city, the city has never been more primed for an exciting and successful fair.
Below is a selection of the best Zona Maco has to offer.
Ovidiu Anton at Christine König Galerie
When Ovidiu Anton heard that migrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico border by cutting holes in the wall through which they could pass, the Romanian-Austrian sculptor decided to visit the partition for himself. He discovered were noticeable scars along the wall that had left behind by welders contracted to fill in the gaps by welders contracted by the US government.
On display at the Christine König Galerie were the results of Anton’s trips to the borders: recreations of the inserted metal structures the welders created to patch up the border. Anton constructs his sculptors with wood, and the resulting pieces are an incredible document of borders and their instability.
This isn’t the first time Anton has made works focused on borders. In the past, he created a video work in which he interviewed his father about his experience illegally crossing into Austria from Romania, which was left in chaos by a revolution at the time. His father’s crossing, and his experience growing up with a father who was for some time undocumented, has inspired a deep interest in researching and making work on the infrastructures that uphold governments and militaries.
Mariana Castillo Deball at Kurimanzutto
At Kurimanzutto’s huge, well-curated booth, there was a clear standout: a large, blue, sculptural piece by Mariana Castillo. The fiberglass sculpture depicts the face of an Olmec man. The edges of the sculpture are flipped up, a clear clue to the process that birthed the work. Castillo, who is fascinated by the process whereby artifacts come to be discovered and displayed, began working with a family of artisans who specialize in making molds of ancient objects. (The artisans are given permission to do so by governments and museums.) The molds end up becoming important educational tools.
Castillo learned the art of fiberglass casting from this family and then began to make molds of the molds they produced. Of course, this was partly motivated by the simple fact that Castillo wouldn’t be allowed to make a cast of a highly prized cultural treasure. But on the other hand, Castillo was interested in commenting on the methods of replications that are the basis of cultural dissemination.
Just across from Castillo’s work was a series of three excellent works by Daniel Guzmán Osorio, who is the subject of a retrospective at the Museo Cabañas in Guadalajara.
Alejandro Galván at Furiosa
Last year, the young artist Alejandro Galván caught ARTnews’s eye while exhibiting at Salon Acme, a Mexico City fair for emerging artists. This year, we were happy to see that Galván is now represented by Furiosa, a young Mexico City gallery that has now landed a spot at Zona Maco.
Galván, a graduate of Mexico City’s famed art school, the Esmeralda, is known for his large, striking, and detailed paintings which depict violence and community life in Mexico’s poorer neighborhoods. They act as strong statements about neglect and governmental breakdown. Born and raised in a Mexico City slum, the struggles and failures of poverty are well known to this young artist.
On view at Furiosa’s booth is a new evolution in Galván’s art making. The single, large work he has on view is made of concrete on which, using ink, Galván sketched a giant two-headed wolf creeping along a gritty barrio. The work took five years to complete.
Mariu Palacios at CAM Galeria
At CAM Galeria’s carefully curated booth, a selection of Mariu Palacios’s sculptural and photographic works performed very well. The Peruvian artist presented a large felt sculpture, on which the words of writers and artisans were written, in an effort to elide any difference between what’s commonly considered professional and naive. In a large photograph, Palacios wrapped herself in the sculpture, signifying the power that language has to weigh down the body and obfuscate the self. Next to these two works was another large, sculptural piece. Pressed up again the wall, it has a bit of collage left visible, but most of it is obfuscated by a tile wale that has holes bored into it. Visitors are encouraged to peek through and see what Palacios has made: the most vulnerable of documents, a vision board. Posted there are her dreams, desires, and secrets that are left exposed.
Asunción Molinos Gordo at Travesía Cuarto
The Spanish artist Asunción Molinos Gordo has a strong interest in anthropology, and has spent most of her artistic career investigating how Latin American farmers are more than just food producers—she views them as cultural producers, too. Working in collaboration with Ecuadorian artisans who specialize in making ceramic pots that carry water, Molinas has produced a series of sculptures that celebrate folk art and farmers. The works have previously been shown at the Cuenca Biennial in Ecuador. Two of those large statues are now on view at Travesía Cuarto’s booth. The statues tower over visitors, with large stacks of pottery, baked black or a bare beige, that are topped with ceramic representations of the food these farmers make: corn and squash.
Pablo Linsambarth at ATM
Pablo Linsambarth’s large, colorful paintings fill all three walls of ATM gallery’s booth. The scenes depicted in them are chaotic: a blonde on the side of the road strikes a yoga pose as two planes seem set to crash; in a desert landscape, a Molotov cocktail is thrown as a couple in the background has sex. Linsambarth was born in Chile in 1989, a pivotal year for the country in which the dictator Pinochet left office and a new, democratic constitution was put into place. Linsambarth’s paintings are a way of processing the history of the dictatorship and the effect it had on his family; his mother was persecuted by Pinochet. They become composites of his own memories and the stories he’s been told, and the results range from cinematic to dreamlike.
Alejandro Almanza Pereda at Curro Gallery
Alejandro Almanza Pereda’s mark is everywhere in Mexico this week. In Guadalajara, he has a massive solo exhibit at Galeria Curro. At Bosco Sodi’s new Mexico City studio, his sculptures take up space on the roof patio. And at Zona Maco, a large selection of his works take up Curro’s entire booth. His large, white sculptural works get to the heart of architecture and then subvert it. The concrete pedestal of one sculpture here is a perfect, smooth box, but it’s collapsing from the inside, and hollow; it supports other flanks of concrete that look like the smooth face of a wall or a pile of rubble. Also on view are a series of seascape paintings which are tilted and supported by concrete inserts on the edges of the frames—a way of disrupting painting with sculpture.
Diego Pérez at RGR
At RGR’s large booth, there are two small sculptures by Diego Pérez that outshine all the other works. A photographer and sculptor, Pérez is interested in the histories that inform his chosen mediums. When it comes to sculpture, that means researching ruins, archaeology, and the wealth of cultural heritage that pre-Hispanic civilizations left behind. One of the works on view is a small, horse-like creature. Made of smooth, grey stone, this sculpture is Pérez’s modernized answer to pre-Hispanic forms. The other work on view is a marble cube, into which he has carved surreal structures, mostly stairs that lead nowhere. The surface of the marble is badly scratched, as if it was just unearthed from a dig.
Laurent Grasso at Sean Kelly
It is impossible not to be drawn to the Laurent Grasso painting hanging in Sean Kelly’s booth. A part of the “Soleil Double” series that Grasso debuted in 2014, this work and other related ones imagine a world with two suns, with these shining orbs set into landscapes by painters of centuries past. In the painting on view at Zona Maco, Grasso recreated the scene Monet painted in his 1904 work London, Parliament, sun breaking through the clouds. Grasso extended the watery, mysterious scene of the city shrouded in mist, and included a second point of light in the sky. This reimagining of art history and natural history is surreal and refreshing. Also on view by Grasso are works from his “Future Herbarium” series, which depicts strange plants with two stamens, another means of doubling that disturbs the way we perceive the world around us.
Guido Casaretto at Zilberman
In Zilberman’s booth, a work by Guido Casaretto takes up an enormous amount of space. In this sculptural work, three large church benches are lined up, one after the other. This is Black Hole (church bench) (2021), thus named because Casaretto destroyed the church benches he used in order to make a cast of them with wood chips. The interest is at once technical and historical. How much of a thing is preserved in its image or a replica? In this act, how is the church’s history kept alive or decimated? Adding another layer to this work is the fact that Casaretto found these disused pews in an old church in Yesilkoy, Istanbul.
Lal Batman at Anna Laudel
Born in 2002, Lal Batman is by far the youngest artist represented at the fair. Her works make up a solo presentation at Anna Laudel’s booth. Batman’s pieces make a serious inquiry into social media and the expectation that we make ourselves constantly visible. One series of works that take up the left side of the booth is a variety of self-portraits by Batman, but in each, she is wearing an Instagram filter over her face that distorts her face. Set up at the corners of the booth are traffic mirrors wedged into piles of sand, a nod to the surveillance and covert peeking that is no normalized online. At the center of the booth is a large piece onto which Batman has painted important scenes from her life, in yet another impulse to expose herself.