The Bass Museum

In a recent trip to Miami for a business meeting held at the Bass Museum I came across a rather unique exhibition from the Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas that provoked in me a desire to know more about this artist and the concept of “AutoConstrucción” (more on this later) but first a bit about the Bass Museum.

The Bass Museum is located in the center of a small park on Miami Beach. It is not a large museum and can easily be viewed in several hours. Its focus is international contemporary art stretching itself to reflect today’s leading-edge trends by engaging artists that are representative of Miami’s cultural diversity. Its current exhibition entitled “The Willfulness of Objects” is a unique interpretation on how artists utilize everyday recycled objects to explore history, identity and the environment. I can’t say I really liked all the works of the 17 artists but certainly appreciated their ability to explore the transformation of recycled material. It’s exciting to see these artists bring new ideas and concepts to the art world.

 However, the exhibition that caught my curiosity and immediate affection was artist Abraham Cruzvillegas’s “Autocontusion” comprising of 80 pieces of recycled everyday painted objects practically floating in the air. This exhibition is part of a series of installations by Cruzvillegas on the concept of “AutoConstruccion” that reflects the conditions of his modest upbringing in Mexico and how it defines human nature and its impact on the environment. 

So who is this Artist and what is AutoConstruccion?

Through his works, Cruzvillegas has successfully introduced the concept of “autoconstruccion” (self-construction) into the art world. This is not an entirely new concept since throughout third world countries and in Cruzvillegas’ humble upbringing in Mexico, homes built in marginalized communities were self-constructed from raw and recycled materials brought on by the economic conditions and the scarcity of financial resource or technical expertise. If you need to add a bedroom or a bathroom, families would figure how to construct it by collecting found materials to build it with help from neighbors and relatives. Cruzvillegas inspired by this home-grown practice and how it related to his own identity, has created a wide range of installations that speak to the salvaging of recycled objects repurposing them while provoking in us how we as society are affecting the environment. The artist views architecture as a link to a person’s identity that expands into neighborhoods and communities, connecting their history and culture. He has extended this concept to also reflect on both the destruction and reconstruction of objects. I have linked a video by the artist that explains his work and philosophy, quite compelling, if you are so curious.

What I Most Liked About the Exhibition?

First of all, the exhibition is assembled in a very large gallery room that allows visitors to walk around the entire exhibit in close proximity to these objects to view their relationship to each other. The photographing of these objects was a truly delightful experience for me at that very moment and again in sharing these photos with others. From the minute I approached the gallery the objects appeared to be hovering in the air with slight movements as if they were floating in space. I immediately thought of the reported debris floating in space that NASA has been tracking (yup all 27,000 pieces).

 The floating objects consisted of everyday items such as wooden crates, golf clubs, snowshoes, pieces of hoses, fishing rods, metals pieces, and much more. These items are uniquely assembled as sculpture pieces painted in a rose or turquoise color, repurposing them for a new life in a society that has disposed of them as garbage. This exhibit really makes you think about what we are doing to the environment and our failure to repurpose what we buy and use as if disposing of them is the better option.

My photos begin with entering the exhibition and walking around the entire gallery, taking close-up photos of all the objects; enjoying the artist’s improvisation of giving new life to what we throw away.

If you are in Miami, go visit this exhibition which is listed as a long-term view so you may just be able to catch it. It is truly “inspiring” and “revitalizing “.

         Click the center of the photo to see the full view. 

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