CHAFA : Mexico City Contemporary
The SPACE 776 Gallery in Brooklyn presented CHAFA: Mexico City Contemporary from June 3rd through June 15th. The show was curated by ArtCubers Raquel Du Toit and Jeremy Schaller and featured an assemblage of Mexican contemporary artists connected via the digital commons working in Mexico City to embed Chafa strategies in the serious conceptual art field. Utilizing digital tools, performance and new media they bring the Chafa experience to the art world and media industry. Grappling with the same impositions of global trade, consumer goods and culture, Chafa gives voice to emerging economies on the global market.
A little about Raquel Du Toit (aka Ixtel)
MFA recipient at Pratt institute, Raquel has been installing, making sculptures and creating interactive performances in London, New York and Mexico. She is a recent fellow at the Vermont Studio Center. Raquel on a day to day bases works as a set designer for various fashion photographers and production companies. Before moving to New York she worked in collaboration with other artist around London and Seattle to create a non-profit called “What is Art” in which non-traditional art forms were pushed, challenged, and experienced in new ways. Raquel continues to create interactive sculptures performances and installations in order to remove the white walls of the galleries within her work.
A little about Jeremy Schaller (aka Kino)
Kino is a live cinema innovator, who works as a documentary and architectural survey photographer. He builds technical infrastructure to open conduits for media delivery informed both by the documentary craft and fast paced journalistic investigation. He strives to participate with the stories he tells, lending the topic being covered a level of testimony. The documents challenge cultural norms and speculate on crisis capital flow. Merging network technology and photography he performs and simultaneously provides coverage at Ars Electronica, European Commission on Science and Art, 320x240, MFRU, Digitofagia, and vBrooklyn. He gives live cinema workshops at international media festivals, performs in underground spaces, deforms the black box from Silicon Alley to the Roxy in Prague, and constructs surreal technologically driven environs.
What does Chafa mean?
A knock off, reclaimed, or repurposed imitation of something else. Props on the set of life, conceptual rather than simulated.
What is it about this new generation of artists that drew you to them?
Consumerism is on the rise and the idea of getting products suddenly and conveniently is growing. This ready-made reality is defining contemporary art today since this new generation of artists is easily influenced by urban art, used to compositing ideas, utilizing images and materials found while dipping in and out of the network.
What are some of the main themes of this exhibition?
Digital imaging, repurposing materials, consumerism and production, symbolism that is surreptitiously applied when stereotyping identity.
Do you think this exhibit was successful?
It was so much fun. Everyone who saw it was excited to see Mexican contemporary art represented in Brooklyn. It’s a very hot scene there right now. We encourage everyone to visit our great metropolis to the south! The show is on Artsy, so check it!
How did you do this?
I like to work while I travel. I’m always shooting a film or performing at electronic festivals or in underground spaces. I don’t like to be a tourist when I travel because I long for that collaborative connection. Raquel while finishing her studies was in touch with all these artists that are part of the hopping Mexico City scene. We thought why don’t we track some of them down. She started reaching out and we flew to Mexico City and we walked all over the city visiting galleries, meeting artists and soliciting work. A lot of the work we brought back on our return journey. A few of the larger pieces were shipped to us. Only three of the pieces we brought back to New York were framed, so we decided to check on ArtCube. ArtCube is an economy and we didn’t just want to post “give me give me give me”. We were really lucky that a large production wrapped a shoot set in Vermont and they had a bunch of frames they were tossing. We wanted to provide the service of reclaiming those frames. That was just the subtle difference of how we went about mounting this show with the help of ArtCube. We are so grateful it worked out this way. We love ArtCube because in the end sweat equity and reclamation helped us mount this international exhibition in a professional manner without having to solicit grants or donations or charge submission fees for artist to participate. That let us be more true to the concept we were trying to represent curating the show.
Together, when we build things, we are Luxury Blight.