Xitle Volcano School of Sciences
When Diego Rivera began construction of the Anahuacalli, he originally planned for the Museum to form part of a broader project, a City for the Arts. Undertaken by the muralist from 1945 to 1950, this City contemplated the edification of other museums, as well as squares and spaces for workshops and schools that would benefit artisans and artists alike. The architecture and design of the site were to be similar to those of the Anahuacalli itself: modern and realist – that is to say, inspired by the original buildings of the Americas. Moreover, the construction of the complex was to remain sensitive to its natural surroundings, taking advantage of a landscape characterized by the singular rock formations left behind by the eruption of the Xitle Volcano south of Mexico City. Unfortunately, Rivera passed away before the museum was concluded and the work was completed by his daughter, the architect Ruth Rivera, and Juan O’Gorman.
In the The Xitle Volcano School for Sciences and Artisanry, Marco Rountree falls back on the collage approach evident in a great deal of his work, focusing especially on a concept of vital importance in the development of modern art and architecture in Mexico: the integration of the visual arts. His interventions seek to open up a dialogue and wield a direct influence over the architecture, curatorship and collection of the Museum. Some of these interventions refer to certain aspects of the original project that the Anahuacalli formed part of, such as the schools and workshops that never came to pass, or the presence of artisanry. Others use the volcanic rock to emphasize the relationship Rivera sought to sustain between landscape and architecture. Dilemmas related to the Museum collection and displays are also approached by Rountree. For example, the artist updates some of the curatorial resources from the 1960s, the decade when the Museum was inaugurated, while at the same time underlining the connection between the aesthetics of pre-Colombian art (mainly Western Mexico) and those of folk art or caricature – relationships that have been explored by figures such as Salvador Toscano, Paul Westheim, or Adolfo Best Maugard. In this manner, the series of interventions and sculptures that comprise The Xitle Volcano School of Sciences and Artisanry, rather than exhaustively delving into a single aspect related to the Anahuacalli and its history, offer myriad insights into this singular project of Rivera’s, both in terms of what exists and what was never successfully accomplished.
A visual artist who lives and works in Mexico City, Rountree defines his praxis as free experimentation through any drawing technique available to him. Rountree uses drawing, sculpture, installation, video and interventions in architectural spaces to explore the concept of decoration, particularly in the resignifying of everyday objects through their manipulation and representation. His work has appeared in individual and group shows at the Museo de Arte Querétaro (Querétano, Mexico), Jardin Botanico Culiacan (Sinaloa, Mexico), Museo de Arte Moderno (Mexico City, Mexico), the second Poly/Graphic Triennial (San Juan, Puerto Rico), Fundación Jumex (Mexico City, Mexico), etc.
Daniel Garza Usabiaga
Garca Usabiaga holds a doctorate in History and Art Theory from the University of Essex in the United Kingdom. He completed his postdoctoral research at the Institute of Aesthetic Research of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. As a historian, he has worked on research projects for publications and exhibitions in Mexico and the United States; for example, at the Institute of Aesthetic Investigations/Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Getty Institute, and Pomona College in California. His essays have been published in books and catalogs by the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, the Getty Institute, the Modern Art Museum of Warsaw, the Contemporáneo Reina Sofía in Madrid, Pomona College, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin, and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
As a curator of exhibitions with historic and contemporary content, Garza Usabiaga has completed over 40 exhibitions in Mexico and the United States; he has been the curator of the Museo de Arte Moderno and head curator of the Museo Universitario del Chopo in Mexico City. In 2011, he received the Premio Bellas Artes para Crítica de Artes Plásticas Luis Cardoza y Aragón for his research on Mathias Goeritz, which gave rise to his book, Mathias Goeritz y la arquitectura emocional. Una revisión crítica 1952-1968 (2012). His latest book, El gran malentendido. Wolfgang Paalen en México y el surrealismo disidente de la revista DYN (INBA/MACG) was published in late 2018. Garza Usabiaga has been a professor of the graduate program in Art History of the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and the Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado “La Esmeralda”.
A graduate of the Master’s program in Curatorial Studies of La Sorbonne in Paris, France and the Independent Study Program of New York in the United States, Alma Saladin is co-founder of the curatoriale heiwata platform and various collectives, such as: Agence Surfaces, Lineas Rouges, and PROJECT BASEMENT. She is currently the artistic and curatorial director of guadalajara90210, a gallery based in Guadalajara, Mexico. She is completing a visual and praxis research project regarding the body (or bodies) in motion and conceptualizing exhibitions in contemporary art, as well as multidisciplinary events.