Contemporary art spaces are notorious for being cold, exclusive and inaccessible. But the public can anticipate something different from SOMA’s space. They’ve reframed contemporary art by engaging the public while participating in some of the most innovative contemporary art conversations and projects.
SOMA Mexico was founded in Mexico City in November 2009 and brings together artists for collaboration in work and ideas. While presenting a platform to share with the public, it bridges gaps between critics, curators, artists and other creative professionals. It integrates the responsibility of an artist, a curator, or a museum, connecting it with a public, privileging horizontal relations and stimulating open and inclusive conversations between creatives locally and internationally.
The center runs three types of programs. The first is their two-year educational program for artist development. A number of students are selected each year and they take classes within the center, go on studio visits and collaborate with other artists. Another is SOMA Summer, an eight week program which takes place in July and August every year. The program moves international artists, curators, critics, and art historians through museums, openings and artists studios to promote creative work and open dialogue. The last, SOMA Wednesdays, takes place on a weekly basis and is open to the public. Artists, authors, musicians, curators and other creative professionals present their work and ideas through lectures, performances and roundtables.
Last Wednesday, Anissa Touati and Alberto Ríos de la Rosa took to the state to explore the role of the curator outside of the museum. In this conversation they presented various curatorial projects and explored ways to engage and collaborate with the public outside of formal exposition spaces, reframing curation as a social practice.
Anissa Touati, an independent curator, is not limited to one place. She works with artists all over the world and spoke about important considerations when collaborating with artists.
She presented Luna Park, a project in which she worked with art duo Kolkoz to recreate the landing site for Apollo 11 in the sand. The project’s fragile nature — and the process of construction and destruction that occurred daily to make the piece again — spoke to urbanism and the destruction of nature by tourists.
Similarly, art historian, and curator of Casa Wabi, Alberto Ríos de la Rosa, attempts to connect worlds through art that rarely connect. He spoke about Casa Wabi’s programming which brings together artist residencies and the local Oaxacan community. The non-profit Casa Wabi has both artist workshop space and exhibition space for the residency program. However, artists are expected to share their skills with the community through workshops and classes, making the space a collaboration both among artists and between the artist and the community.
Challenging learning as a studio-centric practice by bringing the public both into gallery spaces and, conversely, artists and curators into the world, SOMA moves beyond outreach to make community engagement a tangible mutual relationship.
Soma Wednesdays start at 8:30 p.m. every Wednesday and is located on Calle 13 #25 in San Pedro de los Pinos.
Casa Wabi’s Santa María de la Ribera location opens this Friday at 8 p.m. Admission is free and their program can be found online.