Disponible—A kind of Mexican show, Phase 2

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© Courtesy of the Artist and San Francisco Art Institute - Walter and McBean Gallery
El General, 2009 Video Still
Disponible—A kind of Mexican show, Phase 2

800 Chestnut St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
February 10th, 2011 - March 26th, 2011
Opening: February 9th, 2011 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Financial District/Wharf
Tue 11-7; Wed-Sat 11-6
San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI)
Mexico, installation, video-art, performance
Free and open to the public


Disponible–a kind of Mexican show, has been organized in San Francisco as a part of the celebration of the bicentennial of Mexico's independence and centennial of the republican revolution. This project, resulting from the long-term dialogue between the co-curators, represents a deepened collaboration and exchange between the art communities on both sides of the border that are at the core of SFAI's exhibition program, in the contexts of "New Models of Production," "Pacific Perspectives," and "Acting out in the City."

Co-curated by SFAI's Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs Hou Hanru and by Guillermo Santamarina, an independent curator based in Mexico City, this exhibition takes its name from the empty advertisement billboards with Disponible (+ phone numbers) that are seen over the skyline across Mexican cities. Meaning at once available and potentially changeable or disposable, the word disponible interestingly, and quite accurately, reflects the reality of Mexican society in perpetual transition from post-colonial revolution to its current negotiation with globalization. The Mexican population and society are in a constant state of actively engaging social and economic progress and modernization. Simultaneously, Mexico is involved in a permanent inquiry into defining its common destiny while wrestling with radically diverse cultural, historical, political, religious, and ethnic contexts formed by complex and hybrid origins. These continually transforming identities have created a fabulously dynamic and intense, sometimes violent, social reality.

This exhibition seeks to reflect on two major tendencies in the current creative scene—social critique and witty design solutions—as two mutually entangled and reinforcing strategies developed in response and resistance to the complex reality of life in modern Mexico. Disponible articulates the dimensions of social critique and confrontation with conflicts and violence, while also presenting various active and inventive solutions to the challenges of the reality of contemporary life. These tendencies are also intimately related to the realities of San Francisco and California, where dialogues between both sides of the border have never been interrupted.

Phase 2 of Disponible–a kind of Mexican show is a group exhibition of seven contemporary artists working in film, video, sound, installation, and performance. The exhibition is on view February 10-March 26, 2011 in SFAI’s Walter and McBean Galleries. An opening reception will be held on Wednesday, February 9 from 5:30-7:30 pm. 

This exhibition takes its name from the empty billboards reading “disponible” (+ phone numbers) that are seen across the skylines of Mexican cities. Meaning at once available and potentially changeable or disposable, the word "disponible" reflects the dynamic, contradictory reality of Mexican society in transition from post-colonial revolution to globalization. The exhibit also coincides with the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence and the centennial of the republican revolution.

Phase 1 of "Disponible" opened in November 2010. To that existing work, Phase 2 adds pieces from three artists who exemplify the social engagement of artists in Mexico today:

• A site-specific work by Teresa Margolles. Margolles, one of Mexico’s preeminent contemporary artists, has invited keymaker Antonio Hernandez Cumacho from Ciudad Juárez to come interact with the San Francisco public, sharing stories about owning a small business in a border city riddled with drugs and violence. 
-LECTURE: Teresa Margolles in conversation with critic Cuauhtémoc Medina, February 9, 7:30pm. Lecture Hall.

• Natalia Almada’s film El General. Almada is the great-granddaughter of Mexican president Plutarco Elias Calles (1924-1928), one of Mexico’s most controversial revolutionary figures. This portrait of a family and a country under the shadow of the past earned Almada the Documentary Directing Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.
-SCREENING: February 23, 7:30 pm. Lecture Hall.

• Arturo Hernández Alcázar’s Never Work (transformation of knowledge into work, work into energy and energy into a hot soup). This sound installation documents the recycling of electronic junk by Mexican workers.

Works by Edgardo Aragón, Manuel Rocha Iturbide, Mauricio Limon, and Hector Zamora remain on view from Phase 1 of the exhibition.

SFAI’s exhibitions and public programs are supported in part by the Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund with additional support provided by the McBean Family Foundation, the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco and AeroMexico.