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Mexican multi-media artist takes up residency

Monday, August 13, 2018

Mexican artist, writer, cultural critic and educator Eduardo Abaroa‘s three-month stay in Wellington starts this month as the latest recipient of the Te Whare Hēra international artist in residency programme.

Jointly run by Massey’s University’s Whiti o Rehua School of Art and the Wellington City Council, the residency allows an international artist to live and work in the capital as well as exhibit examples of their artworks and give public lectures about their work.

Abaroa’s projects using architectural drawings including engineering notations, silk screen prints, photographs and video works, frequently set out to question the socio-political and economic dimensions of governance, power and authoritarism. One of his most noted works is the 2012 exhibit Destruccion total del Museo de Anthropologia (Total destruction of the National Museum), a project that deliberates on the demolition of Mexico’s iconic National Museum of Anthropology. Largely seen as a symbolic reminder of Mexico’s one-party dictatorship, the Institutional Revolutionary Party promoted nationalist ideologies, and from the 1980s embraced a neo-liberal ideology of free enterprise, private investment and open market economies.

Associate Professor Ann Shelton from the School of Art says Abaroa’s dismantling of the museum exposes the role monuments and institutional frameworks play as story tellers for a nation’s history, as well as how they stand as formidable markers of authority for the power structures that erect them.

In other art projects, Abaroa has looked to how the spheres of everyday life might be reconfigured or invite new perspectives. Works like Sanitary Stonehenge (2006), The other world, another, and another (2008), or Portable broken obelisk for outdoor markets (yellow version, 2015) are produced from objects and materials of the everyday, such as terrestrial globes, clothing, port-a-potties, tarps, and the rubble of demolished buildings, sourced from local market places or bargin basement shops.

Abaroa has also played a key role in arts teaching and education in Mexico, he was one of the co-founders of Temístocles 44 (1993), an artist run space, and was also one of the co-founders of SOMA, Mexico City, a trans-disciplinary artist run school where students take responsibility for designing their own arts curriculum.

His work has been exhibited in major museums in Mexico, the United States, Spain Germany, France, Canda and South Korea.

He will also exhibit his work at The Engine Room Gallery, at Massey’s College of Creative Arts on the Wellington campus from October 4-19.

In addition, Abaroa will speak about his work at a public lecture at 6pm on Wednesday August 22 in the Pit lecture theatre, Te Ara Hihiko (block 12), Massey University, Wellington.


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