By Michael Anderson
From video installations to interactive conceptual pieces, via sculpture, jewellery and good old paint-on-canvas, the diversity on show at Shaped in Mexico is an exhibit in and of itself. Spread across three floors of the Bargehouse, SiM represents a collaboration between Monterrey gallery ‘Distrito 14’ and her London sister ‘Platform-C’, bringing together over 20 artists across a variety of mediums in a self-styled ‘immersive cultural experience’. Events, talks and more are scheduled for the pop-up’s five-day duration, with quality and fiercely authentic refreshments courtesy of Mestizo, favoured Hampstead haunt of London’s Mexican creatives.
Wandering from room to room, there are spectacles on offer for the passive South Bank wanderer: psychedelic murals of fevered Panda apocalypse; ornate, colourful ‘la cuenta’ belts inspired by bar tabs… but amidst the paintings, the dots, the untitled tributes to Yoko Ono – amidst the wonderful scale of the project – smaller pieces lodge in the brain.
Tania Lopez-Winkler’s pseudonymous c:/Hilanda/to_be_expired/personal_geographics sees Hilanda – an ‘identity detective’, according to the artist – cut out a series of small, intricate architectural designs from printed addresses of both Lopez-Winkler and those close to her, seeking clues for a spatial definition of identity. Even better (and even smaller) are Ernesto Walker’s receipt-graffitis – Office depot and Jack-in-the-box among them – which turn entry-level consumerism into delightful geometry, poking habitual doodlers in the eye.
Faced with such formally disparate works the lay reflex is to search for a line of best fit, a thread gently knitting the works together, and never less than la(z)y I had it sussed shortly prior to arrival – Mexico, duh. The odd hint of lucha libra apart, though, such blithe ignorance was not remotely justified, the individuals’ contributions neither requesting nor requiring wider cohesion.
In her introduction, curator olgaMargarita dávila (note – this is how she spells it on the website!) described Shaped in Mexico as a form of “transcendental capitalism… capitalism, with heart”, and her words ring true. The frequent and varied appropriation of modern detritus – bills, receipts, bank statements, capitalism’s own love-letters; MDF shavings and disregarded furniture coverings – serves to highlight the creative urge, the creative ability to overcome from within the trappings and restrictions of life in 21stC.
Or did olgaMargarita mean something else entirely – is it to be hoped that by grouping together and making a collective impact, art/fashion/music/food/all at once, these talents can establish a foothold in London and beyond? On this evidence, you’d hope so and, more to the point, would not bet against them.