Abraham Cruzvillegas was born in Mexico City in 1968. Inspired by the harsh landscape and living conditions of Colonia Ajusco, his childhood neighborhood in Mexico City where houses were built on inhospitable land in ad hoc improvisations according to personal needs and economic resources, Cruzvillegas assembles sculptures and installations from found objects and disparate materials. Expanding on the intellectual investigation of his own paradoxical aesthetic concepts ofautoconstrucción and autodestrucción*, he likens his works to self-portraits of contradictory elements and explores the effects of improvisation, transformation, and decay on his materials and work. In his experiments with video, performance, personal and family archives, and academic research, he reveals the deep connection between his identity—born of the realities of his family’s life in Mexico—and his artistic practice.
In this preview from the ART21 Art in the Twenty-First Century Season 7 episode Legacy, Cruzvillegas discusses the concept of “autoconstrucción” as an insight into his own artistic practice. Shown at his parents’ home in Mexico City, the artist recounts how the home was constructed with found materials after his father acquired the empty land in the mid-1960s. “‘Autoconstrucción’ as a concept is related to people making their houses as they can,” explains Cruzvillegas. “It’s not a method or technique or style; it’s more about the social circumstances and the political circumstances.”
Season 7 of Art in the Twenty-First Century premieres Friday, October 24, 2014 at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings or contact your local PBS station). Legacyairs Friday, November 7, 2014.
Nicole J. Caruth was managing editor of the ART21 Magazine from 2013-2015, and has been a regular contributor to this site since 2008. Her writing has appeared in a range of publications, including ARTnews, C Magazine, Gastronomica, Public Art Review, and the Phaidon Press books Vitamin Green and Vitamin D2.