Abraham Cruzvillegas, the matchmaker | Sculpture and performance meet politics
Like a Charlie Chaplinesque conductor, Abraham Cruzvillegas orchestrates the reconstitution of found objects he has gathered from different places around the globe.
Best known for his series Autoconstrucción, Cruzvillegas is currently showing at the Carré d’Art in Nîmes, where he has been working with students from the École des Beaux-Arts to create a single, imposing sculpture entitled Autoconstrucción approximante vibrante rétroflexe. When the sculpture was completed, Cruzvillegas invited two musicians and performers — Viridiana Toledo Rivera and Andrès Garcia Nestitla — to transform it entirely through a dance- and sound-based performance which resonated with his Mexican heritage.
Cruzvillegas is an artist driven by the desire to bring people together, and to generate solidarity among those who help with the construction of his works.
When you decided to gather found objects in Nîmes and turn them into a sculpture, was that intended as a violent reflection on the world we live in? Could it be read as a critique of excessive consumerism, in spite of the fact that the objects have been reconstituted and “reborn”?
All the objects that make up the work are on the verge of falling, so the sculpture itself is very precarious. I perceive the world today in a similar way — precariously close to political and economic meltdown.
Poverty is a very Western concept. In Mexico, my native country, we never touch upon the subject. What we do talk about is corruption, the inadequate redistribution of wealth and the authoritarian regime. In the West, the focus is more often directed at the cultures on the periphery — marginalized, “othered” cultures.
The inequality that we recognize, not only in France or Mexico but across the world, is engendering a climate of intolerance, fear, violence and segregation. Of course, it is often politicians who generate this chaos and who try to indoctrinate those from the poorest backgrounds with their divisive ideals.
This is my own perception, but I don’t want to assert it. Instead, I prefer to pose questions, which often link back to my identity: where I come from and what the significance of that is. People who come to Nîmes to see my sculpture should try to understand it like a symphony or a poem, to which they can pose their own questions.
My interpretation will be totally different from theirs. This difference of opinion is the reason why I continue to make work in this fashion, and we’re so much richer for it. This is what I truly want, to be able to make art that can serve as an educational tool and encourage discussion.
Can you explain the purpose of the two dancers in your latest Autoconstrucción?
I’ve always had an affinity with dance and the body. When Chantal Crousel — my good friend and gallerist in Paris — took me to see Israël Galvan, a Spanish Flamenco dancer, it was a complete revelation.
Viridiana Toledo Rivera and Andrès Garcia Nestitla have come from Mexico and want to use the sculpture as a kind of musical instrument. They teach traditional Mexican dance — a pre-Columbian, pre-colonial style called Zapateado. After we finished the sculpture, Viridiana and Nestitla performed an interactive dance around and on it which we filmed. Two videos of their performance will be shown alongside the sculpture, forming an integral part of the work.
I learnt a huge amount during the whole process, not only from the two dancers, but from everyone who participated in the construction of the work. The indigenous dance that Viridiana and Nestitla performed was, for m, highly political: it helped explain where I come from, and served as a way to express my personal identity.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m going to Japan in February for an exposition, then to Zurich, then on to Portugal.
Anne is photographer and picture editor and in recent years a curator and artists' agent focusing on contemporary Indian art. In her photographic work she specializes in dance photos and portraiture and she has captured the works of Pina Bausch, Ea Sola, La Ribot, Wen Hui and others. In recent years she divides her time between France and India and Israel where she has been working with emerging Indian artists on the development of their career.