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Alejandro Almanza Pereda's Obstacle Course

September 14, 2012

How do artists overcome the hurdles of moving to New York City? In this film, artist Alejandro Almanza Pereda contends with a series of obstacles while enrolled in his first semester of graduate school at Hunter College in Manhattan. A Mexican citizen, Almanza Pereda’s first difficulty is finding a way to live and work as an artist in New York City. He decides his best way to get a visa, and join an art community, is to go back to school. Without enough money for rent, he relies on a network of friends and fellow artists, couch surfing for four months in exchange for favors and throwing parties. While settling into his MFA studio and preparing for his first graduate critique, tragedy strikes when he accidentally destroys a series of sculptures built with fluorescent bulbs. Ever-resourceful, Almanza Pereda exhibits what survived and then dismantles the sculptures, returning what he can for a little extra cash.

The final hurdle in the film is school itself: Almanza Pereda learns that Hunter College plans to demolish the current studio facility—a gritty building with grand underutilized spaces near Port Authority. He hangs an artwork, in protest, on the facade of the building to express both his frustration with the school’s administration and his solidarity with fellow graduate students. Says the artist, “When you have a harsh path, you improvise, you learn, no?”

More information and credits

Featuring music from Alejandro Almanza Pereda’s band Bachelor Sound Machín, and the artworks This placed Displaced Misplaced (2012), After all these years I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her (2012), Spare the rod and spoil the child (2008-12), Change the world or go home (2009), Just give me a place to stand (2007), Andamio (2007), and Untitled (Ropero) (2006).


Art21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Brad Kimbrough & Wesley Miller. Cinematography: Don Edler, Ian Forster, Nicholas Lindner, John Marton, Wesley Miller, Nick Ravich & Andrew David Watson. Sound: Scott Fernjack & Wesley Miller. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Amanda Long & Tida Tippapart. Design & Graphics: Crux Studio & Open. Artwork: Alejandro Almanza Pereda. Additional Photography: Elizabeth Meggs. Music: Bachelor Sound Machín, Los Locos Del Ritmo, Los Saicos, Rene Ivan Peñaloza Galvan & Rigo Tovar. Thanks: Erik Benson, Alberto Borea, Miriam Castillo, Melissa Cooke, Bernardo Hernandez, Hunter College, Rick Karr, McKendree Key, Shawn McGibboney, Irvin Morazan, Birgit Rathsmann, Claudia Peña Salinas, Abelardo Cruz Santiago, Jess Wheaton & Marela Zacarias. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.

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.

Alejandro Almanza Pereda

Alejandro Almanza Pereda was born in 1977 in Mexico City. He formerly worked in New York, and currently lives and works between the United States and Mexico, maintaining his practice in both locales. Searching out vintage objects in flea markets and thrift stores, Almanza Pereda integrates mundane materials into large-scale sculptures that challenge both the durability of the objects and his ability to create a stable structure. Finding inspiration in the objects he selects, Almanza Pereda eschews narrative and prefers to focus on materiality.

“Instead of paying rent, I make a big party. A party should be taken seriously. Do it with all your might.”

Alejandro Almanza Pereda

New York City