Francis Alys, Cuauhtémoc Medina and late twentieth-century art from Mexico City
The 1990s in Mexico City are a critical point of reference for a time when contemporary art from Mexico is on the platform of Western culture's epicenters of contemporary art--the 52nd and 53rd Venice Biennials represent Mexico's first official appearances (2007, 2009), and, from December 2009 - March 2010, Mexican born Gabriel Orozco was given a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Similarly, Mexico City-based artist Francis Alÿs has become a familiar name in the global exhibition circuit. This thesis underscores Alÿs's early projects in Mexico City and his correspondence with curator, critic, historian, and collaborator, Cuauhtémoc Medina as formative influences during Alÿs's development as an artist. Early projects such as Fabiola (1994) and The Rotulista Workshop (1993-1997), among other local urban engagements that document Alÿs's transition from immigrant to an established Mexico City-based artist--inform subsequent projects made outside of Mexico such as When Faith Moves Mountains (Lima, 2002) and the retrospective, "Francis Alÿs: Politics of Rehearsal" at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles (2007-08). This thesis argues that Alÿs and Medina have forged paths that bridge the contemporary exhibition culture with a critique of modernity as experienced in Latin America, linking relational artistic practices to a dialogue of sociopolitical transformations in late twentieth-century Mexico City.