It’s been a challenge to imagine the same art world in the wake of Covid-19. Even as spaces start to reopen and events prepare for their first outings in over a year, the needed precautions and considerations have made for both questions and reinventions of just what a massive show or fair might look like. Enter the 2021 edition of Zona Maco, a notably reduced affair by comparison with previous years, the exhibition has spread out across a series of galleries and temporary in Mexico City, allowing for a more engaged approach towards the city while cutting back on the large-crowds of the usual Banamex crush.
The roving, exploratory approach towards Zona Maco this year was a welcome re-entry into the art fair, one step at a time, allowing viewers and guests to travel at their leisure, or wait to browse works in small groups, or encounter them on the street. The shows seemed to give themselves over to these encounters, like at Galerie Mascota, where the group Sangree was showing an immersive series of neons bent to look like cartoonish eyes, creating ghostly visages in the dim gallery space. At House of Gaga, Canadian artist Mathieu Malouf was showing a series of Beach Boys-inspired paintings that brought on a similar sense of intimacy and repose, albeit one created by an allusion to the California coast and the listless abandon of beach culture.
The city’s larger galleries and spaces were also in on the event, with a range of impressive shows and installations. At Galeria OMR, artist Gabriel Rico had created an otherworldly show of work that blended readymade sculpture and impressive light installations, spreading a pair of stuffed, horned mammals in opposition, their horns filled with soccer and rugby balls, a series of understated cultural touchstones countered by the dazzling arrangement of sticks and neon lights spread around the outside of the room. Also of note was the opening of the latest iteration of Siembra, a series of small exhibitions on view at Kurimanzutto that invite the galleries artists and other practitioners to show smaller bodies of work inspired by the events of the past year. The latest, a set of works by Damián Ortega under the title Labor day, shows a set of works born from the continuous exercise of self observation that confinement meant for him. This pause led the artist to reconsider the modes of production of work and to seek solutions that would allow him to dispense with mechanical technology and work more from the domestic environment than in the workshop. In this search, which resulted in an introspective and cathartic game through manual work and self-representation, he began to use residual materials and objects of daily use.
This consideration of the material of daily life was a fitting reflection for a fair slowly regaining its footing after the turbulence of 2020, finding solace and inspiration in new modes of working, and new ways of connecting. As the world slowly reopens, one can only hope that this mindset continues.
The fair closes May 2nd.
– D. Creahan
Zona Maco [Exhibition View]