The Things We Make
Lodos, Mexico City 21 August – 18 September
This exhibition of six artists and collectives points at the idea of community, and it does so by extending the index finger of presence. By its logic, community is merely the act of gathering human and nonhuman elements together in a given space. And one can see how Gina Folly’s The Captured Heart (2021) asks for a level of coexistence – it’s a wire puzzle of hefty proportions that needs two people to solve it. Likewise, Cyprien Gaillard’s The Recovery of Discovery, presented in the gallery as eight looping images on a screen: the grand blue pyramid of beer cases of the original work, shown in Berlin in 2011, ostensibly referencing the stolen architectural marvels of near-asia exhibited in Europe, asked that visitors clamber atop the work and slowly destroy it by drinking the beer. These works certainly evince a kind of random arty social encounter, but it’s telling that exhibition curator
Anna Goetz seems to conflate these with the actual praxis of community and the solidarity and responsibility that are its requisites. At points, as in Charlotte Posenenske’s Series D Square tubes (1967) – the work present via photographs of a crowd moving around her large industrial objects in a Frankfurt gallery in 1967 – the exhibition is so enamored by form that it seems to think of community as just another type of it: a simple gathering of humans and things for whatever reason. But a community is not a form or an abstraction, it is defined by deep-seated customs and exchange, as demonstrated by Rehana Zaman and the Liverpool Black Women Filmmakers’ How Does an Invisible Boy Disappear? (2018), a months-long collaboration that resulted in a film addressing the antiblackness and sexism experienced by young girls of Pakistani and Somali descent in the
British city. The film is interspersed with images of antiracist organisers in the aftermath of Liverpool’s 1987 Toxteth riots, and with candid, tender interviews among the girls; both speaking to the conditions of resistance that have led them to become an actual community, to the fact that presence is not enough, that solidarity, engagement and commitment are also required.
The juxtaposition of works in the show weaves a tattered definition of its main theme, wearing down the idea of community into something vaguer, the form of a gathering hanging by the thread of presence. In the end, that thread – its thinness unfortunately emphasised by two artworks presented only in absence/documentation – proves insucient to construct any purposeful interpretations of community. Gaby Cepeda