As the pandemic led to the cancellation or delay of major arts events around the world, the organizers behind the nascent Lago/Algo project in Mexico City took the time to consider exactly what to do with their project.
“From the roots of the transformation caused by this crisis, an opportunity arose to recover an emblematic building in Mexico City and give it a new purpose, one that would transform the private into the public, the exclusive into the inclusive, the social includes in the social cultural,” the organizers said in a statement.
Located in the heart of Chapultepec Forest, one of the largest parks in the Western Hemisphere, the project opened this February as a hybrid arts center (known as Algo) and sustainable restaurant (known as Lago), conceived by chef Micaela Miguel.
The first art exhibition, a collaboration between Mexico City galleries OMR and José García, is titled Form Follows Energy. Lago/Algo has welcomed more than 45,000 visitors for free since opening week, a representative said. (The representative also stressed that, contrary to previous reports, Gabriel Orozco is not involved in the project and is not funded with public money.)
The show presents more than 45 works, including some monumental works, by 27 artists from the programs of both galleries. Below are Atelier Van Lieshout, Pia Camil, Jose Davila, Simon Fujiwara, Christian Jankowski, Alicia Kwade and James Turrell. It lasts until the end of July.
The project grew out of a chance meeting between OMR owner and director Cristobal Riestra and Joaquín Vargas Mier y Terán, CEO of hospitality group CMR, during lockdown when both had moved with their families to Valle de Bravo, about two hours outside from Mexico City.
With CMR’s Restaurante El Lago severely affected by lockdown restrictions, Mier y Terán suggested the possibility of hosting a gallery with a pop-up exhibition to take advantage of the empty space.
Since they first met in December 2020, Mier y Terán and Riestra exchanged ideas and began involving their respective teams to participate in “think tank” discussions to learn how the idea evolved from a pop-up gallery into something more permanent can be expanded.
The building that occupies Lago/Algo was constructed in 1964 in advance of the city hosting the 1968 Olympic Games and was part of an effort to develop the Chapultepec Forest area. (The same year the Modern Art Museum, the Anthropology Museum, and Diego Rivera’s Museo Anahuacalli opened in the city.)
Earlier this month, Lago/Algo hired veteran curator Jérôme Sans, best known as co-founder of Nicolas Bourriaud Palais de Tokyo in Paris two decades ago as creative director. San’s Shake Your Body exhibition is scheduled to open in early September and run until the end of 2022.
“I am always interested in new cultural adventures”, said Sans Artnet News in a phone interview.
Sans, who curated and acted as international exhibitions such as the Taipei Biennial and the Lyon Biennial Director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing from 2008 to 2012, said he will travel to Mexico City frequently.
“Wherever I’ve worked in the world, I’ve always lived in between,” he said. “Movement and challenges activate ideas.”
The building that houses Lago/Algo is a Modernist hyperbolic concrete structure designed by then 24-year-old architect Alfonso Ramirez Ponce.
“We restored it to its original state,” Sans said. “A utopian dream from the 1960s became a new reality in 2022, a place where after two years of lockdown we can be reunited with nature and connected to time and art. A place to share, to live, to reinvent our future. “
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