Pedro Reyes: Carpenter Center, Harvard University
Harris, Larissa, Artforum International
Some of the nearly one hundred projects represented in "ad usum: To Be Used," a survey of six years' worth of work by Mexico City-based artist Pedro Reyes, are models for environmentally engaged architecture. The rest are perhaps best understood as tools aimed at triggering an enhanced engagement with self and surroundings. These videos, objects, models, records of workshops, and combinations thereof draw on radical theater, psychology, parapsychology, the workings of the market, and an understanding that comedy and grace are intimately linked.
Sometimes Reyes's tools are Platonic archetypes of pop objects or ideas. Take, for example, the selection of painted plywood forms shaped to evoke the guitars of different rock-and-roll subgenres that he brought--along with a karaoke sound system--to a Mexico City marketplace where young punks and goths gather on weekends. Teens chose "guitars" (what am I ... space rock? Satanic? Weirdo? Death thrash?), rocked out to their favorite songs, then smashed the "instruments" to bits in front of Reyes's video camera. New Group Therapies III (Instant Rock Star), 2004, is made up of footage of these wild performances, placed near a selection of the colorful props. In the videos Mysteries of the Organism (all 2004), in which an egg yolk is dropped through pairs of cupped hands until it breaks; Juices from the Sun, which is shot from inside a translucent red plastic bag; and Sin Titulo (Espejos) (Untitled [Mirrors]), in which a group advances toward a camera, each member holding a small mirror that at different moments fills the screen with a blinding flash, humble objects trigger brief, playful, collective dedications to the sun. Here the yolk, plastic sheeting, and hand mirrors are the tools in use--everyday objects detourned.
Reyes was hosted at Harvard by the Latino and Latin American Art Forum and worked with the Cultural Agents Initiative. …