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Mexico City

In this episode, artists exit their homes and studios to use the growing megalopolis as their canvas. The artists present everyday materials as artworks, mine recognizable images for their poetic potential, and take their art to the streets.

More information and credits


Executive Producer: Eve Moros Ortega. Host: Claire Danes. Director: Deborah Dickson. Producer: Ian Forster. Editor: Kate Taverna. Art21 Executive Director: Tina Kukielski. Curator: Wesley Miller. Director of Production: Nick Ravich. Structure Consultant: Véronique Bernard. Director of Photography: Pedro Gomez Millan & Hatuey Viveros. Additional Photography: Ulli Bonnekamp, Robert Humphreys, Masami Fujita, John Marton, Masiar Pasquali, & Pietro de Tilla. Assistant Camera: Paul Lima, Mauricio Rodríguez, & Bernabé Salinas. Sound: Baruch Arias Kexolli, Brian Copenhagen, & Theresa Radka. Production Assistant: René Hope, Antonio Pérez Sánchez, & Guglielmo Trupia. Driver: Ricardo Jacuinde Villeda & José Luis Loyo. Translation: Manuel Alcalá & Paulina Pardo Gaviria.

Title/Motion Design: Afternoon Inc. Composer: Joel Pickard. Online Editor: Don Wyllie. Re-Recording Mix: Tony Pipitone. Sound Edit: Neil Cedar & Jay Fisher. Artwork Animation: Anita H.M. Yu. Assistant Editor: Maria Habib, Leana Siochi, Christina Stiles, & Bahron Thomas.

Host Introduction | Creative Consultant: Tucker Gates. Director of Photography: Pete Konczal. Second Camera: Jon Cooper. Key Grip: Chris Wiesehahn. Gaffer: Jesse Newton. First Assistant Camera: Sara Boardman & Shane Duckworth. Sound: James Tate. Set Dresser: Jess Coles. Hair: Peter Butler. Makeup: Matin. Production Assistant: Agatha Lewandowski & Melanie McLean. Editor: Ilya Chaiken.

Artworks Courtesy of: Natalia Almada; Minerva Cuevas; Damián Ortega; Pedro Reyes; Altamura Films; American Documentary | POV; Colección Jumex; Icarus Films; El Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura; kurimanzutto; LABOR; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Presented at Museo Jumex; Women Make Movies; Carlos Aguirre; Kenneth Bostock; Claudia Fernández; Thomas Glassford; Paulina Lasa; Néstor Quiñones; Felice Varini; & Héctor Zamora. Acquired Photography: Animal Político; Hammer Museum; Kadist Art Foundation; Simplemente; Laureana Toledo; & VernissageTV.

Special Thanks: The Art21 Board of Trustees; Michael Aglion; Daniela Alatorre; Adriana Barraza; Betty Briceño; Cactus Films; Pat Casteel; Pamela Echeverría; Christina Faist; Carla Fernández; The Galleries at Moore; Héctor Galván; Alejandro Gonzalez Palafox; Lorenzo Hagerman; Hammer Museum; HangarBicocca; Headlands Center for the Arts; Alejandro de Icaza; Jenette Kahn; José Kuri; Andrea Leal Montemayor; Sheila Lynch; Alejandro Machorro; Gabriela Maldonado Miquelerena; Mónica Manzutto; Tony Moxham; Museo de la Ciudad de México; Proyecto Siqueiros – La Tallera; Mónica Reina; Olga Rodríguez; Carlos Rossini; Diana Salier; Keith Shapiro; Mary Ann Toman; & Steve Wylie.

Additional Art21 Staff: Maggie Albert; Lindsey Davis; Joe Fusaro; Jessica Hamlin; Jonathan Munar; Bruno Nouril; Pauline Noyes; Kerri Schlottman; & Diane Vivona.

Public Relations: Cultural Counsel. Station Relations: De Shields Associates, Inc. Legal Counsel: Albert Gottesman.

Dedicated To: Susan Sollins, Art21 Founder.

Major underwriting for Season 8 of Art in the Twenty-First Century is provided by National Endowment for the Arts, PBS, Lambent Foundation, Agnes Gund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and The Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Interested in showing this film in an exhibition or public screening? To license this video please visit Licensing & Reproduction.

Damián Ortega

Damián Ortega uses objects from his everyday life—Volkswagen Beetle cars, Day of the Dead posters, locally-sourced corn tortillas—to make spectacular sculptures which suggest stories of both mythic import and cosmological scale. In many of the artist’s sculptures, vernacular objects are presented in precise arrangements—often suspended from the ceiling or as part of mechanized systems—that become witty representations of diagrams, solar systems, words, buildings, and faces. These shifts in perception are not just visual but also cultural, as the artist draws out the social history of the objects featured in his sculptures, films, and performances.

Natalia Almada

The great-granddaughter of Mexico’s controversial 40th president Plutarco Elías Calles, Natalia Almada makes intimate films that delve into the tragedies of her Mexican-American family’s personal history as well as the Sinaloa region’s violent present. Ranging from documentary to fiction to experimental narrative, Almada’s films portray a world filtered through recollection and constructed by diverging points of view. Whether chronicling the daily lives of Mexican drug smugglers, immigrants, corrido musicians, or government bureaucrats, Almada’s camera acts a witness to lives ensnared by violence and power struggles.

Minerva Cuevas

Minerva Cuevas is a conceptual and socially-engaged artist who creates sculptural installations and paintings in response to politically-charged events, such as the tension between world starvation and capitalistic excess. Cuevas documents community protests in a cartography of resistance while also creating mini-sabotages—altering grocery store bar codes and manufacturing student identity cards—as part of her non-profit Mejor Vida Corp / Better Life Corporation. Cuevas addresses the negative impact that humans have on animals and the environment through sculptures coated in tar and tender paintings of animal rights activists, imagining a society that values all living beings.

Pedro Reyes

Pedro Reyes designs ongoing projects that propose playful solutions to social problems. From turning guns into musical instruments, to hosting a People’s United Nations to address pressing concerns, to offering ecologically-friendly grasshopper burgers from a food cart, Reyes transforms existing problems into ideas for a better world. When encountering a project by the artist, viewers are often enlisted as participants or as creators of objects in collaborative workshops. Originally trained as an architect, Reyes is acutely aware of how people interact with the built environment, with many of the artist’s works taking the form of enclosures.

“The most important thing is the failure because you learn a lot of things.”

Damián Ortega

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