For more than three decades, artist Minerva Cuevas’s practice has been rooted in research-based projects concerned with economic and environmental issues and their socio-political impact. Focused often around Mexico and its particular political, social and cultural frameworks, the artist mines history and images to create new awarenesses and notions of contemporary life. On this month at kurimanzutto in New York, Cuevas continues that practice.
For this show, Cuevas has installed a series of large-scale wall reliefs especially conceived for the New York context. The reliefs at kurimanzutto are informed by the Mexico City-based artist’s meticulous preparatory research into pre-Hispanic symbology and the history of relationships between oil and wealth management companies. The resulting pieces combine representations of pre-Hispanic gods and goddesses along with corporate logos. The central piece, for instance, The Trust, constitutes a near monolithic arrangement of panels, measuring 41 x 1 1 feet (12.5 x 3.5 meters) in total. Featuring representations of Chalchiuhtlicue, the Aztec goddess of water and fertility, as well as Tlazoltéotl, the mythological goddess of lust and excess, Cuevas also integrates depictions of flora and fauna found in clay and stone objects from various pre-Hispanic museum collections. Through imagery of and surrounding natural resources that span centuries, she draws a connection to colonization in Mesoamerica that started transatlantic trade and our current ecological moment.
The artist takes these images and structures as a starting point, manipulating their forms both physically and digitally while also emblazoning them with corporate logos and modern national iconographies, mingling together history and locality, violence and re-creation, in turn. Cuevas emphasizes the notion of history and selfhood not as static forms, but as systems built on centuries of interaction and conflict, even down to the modern landscape of pervasive corporate interaction with the tenets of daily life. With the works on view, she poses a world where these demarcations are suddenly lifted and emphasized simultaneously.
The show closes April 15th.
– D. Creahan
Minerva Cuevas: In Gods We Trust [Exhibition Site]