Material Art Fair 2016
Expo Reforma, Mexico City
February 4-7, 2016
The art market in Mexico has long been a one-gun town on the art-fair front. That is, until three years ago when the Material Art Fair opened its doors and shook things up.
Each year since its inception, Material has seen pretty radical format and venue changes, but at their core they maintain a dedication to emerging practices with the ambition of attracting fresh new talent and vision to Mexico City. On that front, they are an undisputed success, attracting the young, fabulous, and broke, whose collective hustle builds a palpable and dynamic energy. Art Fag City even went so far as to call it the most important art event of the year for artists.
“For artists” is the key.
Material bills itself as having its thumb squarely on the youth pulse. From their online PR to the party scene, they cultivate a spirit of scrappy can-do-ism. This year the fair is on the sixth floor of Expo Reforma, a ‘60s building that seems caught between decay and half-hearted attempts at modernization in a somewhat overlooked corner of the city center. When, on the way up, the elevator doors spontaneously open onto an empty floor with views of the city’s skyline, there is a dystopian sense of a megopolis on the brink of chaotic collapse. That sense quickly proves to be prophetic.
Virginia Colwell: Our warmest and most affectionate greetings
Berlín 37, Col. Juárez 06600, México, DF.
It’s easy for us to forget in all our ever-present over-interconnectedness that even as recent as 10 years ago, much less 30 years ago, letters were the primary means of communication, especially between radical leftist movements. And that the life of those underground radicals was lonely and anxious and ambiguous, especially as they wrestled with what is a justified use of lethal or symbolic violence, and that the solidarity they sought in their struggle would only be available from other radical groups, perhaps continents away.
So, perhaps, it seems strange at first that a radical group that deployed over 125 bombs in the United States between 1974 and 1983, would always sign their correspondence with other liberation movements around the world, “…our warmest and most affectionate greetings.” This is just the first of the slippages that artist Virginia Colwell mines in her exhibition of the same name at Marso Galería in Mexico City.
Colwell’s practice is frequently inspired by an archive of documents her father, who served in the FBI, left when he passed away. Her resulting works operate like feed-back loops between the personal and political. The work presented in Our warmest and most affectionate greetings is no exception.