Minerva Cuevas: Kurimanzutto
Taylor, Jessica Berlanga, Artforum International
For her most recent exhibition in her hometown, "La venganza del elefante" (The Elephant's Revenge), Minerva Cuevas took on the role of a nineteenth-century explorer; she sought out and presented objects and images, some from that period, that possess an aesthetic dictated by their political and social contents--history's material production. Cuevas considers herself an activist, and her art deals with issues such as ecological disaster, unfair trade and globalization, and humankind's desire to dominate nature. The body of work that she presented in Kurimanzutto's warehouse space was diverse and included video and animation, projected stills, objects, and a sound installation.
Serie hidrocarburos (Hydrocarbon Series), 2007, which features a tabletop array of objects, newspaper clippings, and photographs, evolved out of a stay in southeastern Mexico. Moved by her interest in social ecology, she visited the oil wells and refineries of the region. A recent tragedy at an oil platform, in which twenty-one people died and petroleum spilled into the sea, made Cuevas's work even more poignant. Combining photographs taken by workers on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico with newspaper cuttings, torn-out book pages, and everyday objects such as a mobile phone, a packet of string, and a piece of sidewalk, all covered with tar, she documents an urgent global issue. She also uses tar to create aesthetically striking sculptural forms by covering readymades such as a Mickey Mouse figurine and an old scuba-diving mask. Cuevas may be beautifying a dangerous substance, but the work's polemical force is patent.
Cuevas conveys the need to confront these worldwide ecological and social disasters, for which no one wants to admit responsibility. …