Current Exhibition

Ambientes totales. Helen Escobedo

From March 23 to June 23, 2024
Helen Escobedo
Paloma Gómez Puente and Lucía Sanromán
1-5 North
From March 23 to June 23, 2024

Helen Escobedo: Ambientes totales (Total Environments) presents the work of the emblematic artist and cultural administrator Helen Escobedo (Mexico City, 1934-2010), in the period between 1968 and 2010. This exhibition takes as its starting point her work in ephemeral installation art, a practice which she pioneered in Mexico and which she developed through a series of interdisciplinary artistic experiments, drawing on sculpture, architecture and design. Using unexpected elements, she sought to emphasize the potential dynamics that occur between human beings and the very space they inhabit, thus challenging the notion of the sculptural object as a direct source of aesthetic contemplation. For Escobedo, art was a total experience, involving the entirety of a context which must be experienced beyond sight.

Escobedo understood art as a “total environment,” a term she used to describe her inhabitable works and which suggests her understanding and exploration of aesthetics as a total experience. For her, art was first and foremost a living encounter, only made possible by the presence of the viewer of the work. Its contents and meanings include abstract experiences triggered by the interaction between pure geometry and space, as well as those derived from the use of vernacular references and allusions to city life: its chaos, its iconography and forms, the quotidian dirt and trash–all viewed from a deeply ironic, humorous perspective. Thus, Escobedo directs her gaze both towards the tiny, seemingly inconsequential aspects that make up the sphere of human activity as well as the monumental, grandiose ones, and finds elements worthy of being lived as art everywhere. Her body of work foreshadows the current interest in relational art, whereby the art is offered as a catalyst for collective and shared experiences, noting that “the value of a construction lies in the possibilities it offers to create an environment of human situations.”

This exhibition recreates two of her major installations, Papalotera (Papalotera Fashion) (2001, 2010) and Los Mojados (2005, 2010). These works allow us to evidence the evolution of her formal interest in installation and of her social concerns, outlining the trajectory of a diverse and increasingly politically committed practice. The museographical reconstructions presented here make it possible for us to experience her temporary work once more, which remains relevant in a world where the global crises that Escobedo denounced continue unabated.