Laboratorio 060 (collective)
Curated by Pablo Helguera
March 13 – April 19, 2008
Laboratorio 060 is an interdisciplinary arts collective based in Mexico City, founded in 2003. Their line of work implies an experimental and critical approach to the public sphere and the articulation of a curatorial practice as a medium for artistic performance.
Some of the most relevant projects realized by the collective are:
Repertorio sistemático de consulta rápida para el estudiante y profesional con
definiciones acordes con la realidad del mundo actual (Systematic repertoire of
quick reference for students and professionals, with definitions according to the
actual world), 2005, Canaia Gallery, Mexico City, Mexico.
Tráfico (Traffic), 2004, a curatorial action at the speedway, Periférico Sur, Barranca del Muerto and Altavista, Mexico City.
Frontera. Esbozo para la creación de una sociedad del futuro (Frontera.
Sketch for the creation of a future society), 2006-2007, a series of artistic interventions at the border between Mexico and Guatemala.
(in).COMunidades ((dis).COMmunities), 2007, an exhibition on electronic arts
practices as part of the International Festival for Electronic Arts,
Transitio_mx02, Mexico City.
In 2007 the collective won the First Prize of the Best Art Practices award from the The Italian Culture Department of the Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano for the Frontera project. They have produced several projects and presentations developing the idea of an artistic production as a strategy for further critical developments. Articles about Laboratorio 060 have been published widely in Mexican Media (including TV and radio programs), Art Press (United States), ART (Germany), Exibart (Italy), Sarai (India) and Exit(Spain).
Pablo Helguera (Mexico City, 1971) is a visual artist living and working in New York.
His work generally acquires unusual formats, ranging from experimental symposiums, the creation of fictional artists, phonograph recordings, exhibition audio-guides, publications or nomadic museums, and touches on topics of pedagogy, cognition, politics, history, fiction, and memory. His project The School of Panamerican Unrest (2003-08) consisted in driving the entire length of the Panamerican highway with a portable schoolhouse, conducting workshops and performances along the way, and is considered the most extensive public art project ever realized. A traveling monographic exhibition of this project will be presented in 2008 at the Stanley Picker Gallery, London, Museo del Barrio, New York, and Casa del Lago, Mexico City, amongst others.
He has presented his work individually at MoMA (performance Parallel Lives, 2003), RCA in London, and at the Hirshhorn museum in Washinton DC. He has participated in many international biennials, including the 8th Havana Biennial, the Liverpool Biennial, and PERFORMA.
He is the author of four books, including The Pablo Helguera Manual of Contemporary Art Style (2007), a social etiquette manual for the art world, and the novel The Boy Inside the Letter (2008), and of the musical works The Foreign Legion (2005) and The Witches of Tepoztlan (2007).
He currently is the Director of Adult and Academic Programs of the Education Department of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Laboratorio 060: Lourdes Morales, Javier Toscano and Daniela Wolf
Art as a strategy for thinking.
Laboratorio 060 is an interdisciplinary arts collective that strives to question the ideas that both define and contain contemporary cultural practices and their insertion in the social terrain.
By working in an array of cultural fields, Laboratorio 060 seeks to reaffirm new territories for symbolic operation and looks to become a cultural mediator that displays imagination as an inhabitable space. Laboratorio 060 actively explores art at the fringe of its own discursive (im)possibilities. The art system becomes thus both a narrative and an excuse for further theoretical developments.
More than branding and locating ourselves under a specific language usage, a set of practices or categories, we prefer to dwell around creative yet critical points of departure. As a collaborative of art-practitioners, we are interested in borders and their active exchange; borders between disciplines; between producers and receptors; between social systems; between art and life. In other words, we look to touch upon artistic projects at the border of what is and what is yet to come; borders not as divides, but as articulations.
We intend to find ways to create our own interconnectivity and develop it functionally in a socially-oriented way. We believe that sharing thoughts, building up knowledge networks and creating an experiential ground of international nature, finding both the common and the seemingly inconsequential differences, will encourage interested participants to talk about the necessary ingredients in cultural life: practices that stem out of each one's own composition, creativeness, weaknesses and strengths.
"We seek new strategies for expressing cultural identities and creating communities within the relational sphere of art." In the end, we feel that art is an excuse for dialogue, an experiment into social possibilities, a sketch for possible futures. More than a universal language, a useful methodology in which ideas can travel, be given form and voice, bypassing borders and cultural barriers.
by Pablo Helguera
Laboratorio 060 is a Mexico City-based collective formed by three individuals (Lourdes Morales, Javier Toscano and Daniela Wolf ) who together bring a variety of personal and professional interests, ranging from curatorial and artistic experiments to philosophy, architecture, art history and economics. They originally came together in 2003 as part of a seminar on curatorial practice in Mexico City. From the onset, the range of projects generated by this collective has existed in the interstice of the curatorial and artistic practices and between the straightforward presentation of art and the renouncing of it in favor of a purely social or political activity. The members of Laboratorio 060 are equally attracted to using contemporary art strategies to communicate with peripheral communities in Mexico as well as inserting unusual collaborative dynamics in the traditional gallery space.
The experimental collaborations, performances, videos and installations of Laboratorio 060 are indicative of the temperament and creative state of mind that characterizes the new generation of Mexican art. While the members of Laboratorio 060 nourish themselves from the richness of a postconceptual and high-modernist narrative and collective dialogue that has flourished in Mexico City over the last two decades, their work is also an active critical reflection of the paradoxes of making contemporary art in such an urban reality, particularly the evident contrasts between the art-star-oriented, contemporary art marketplace supported by a small base of local collectors and the realities faced by a country with deep economic and social divisions. In this context, the interest of using art to generate a new sense of community and produce meaningful social exchanges has become central to this collective.
Through its hybrid practice, Laboratorio 060 seeks to erase borders between audience and artists, producers and consumers, thinkers and listeners, art and non-art, constantly searching for new types of relationships. There is something openly playful and utopian about their projects, as their experiments seem to carry an implicit acknowledgment of their precarious and vulnerable nature and maybe even of their potential inoperability as art, as social practice, or both. But even if that were to be the case, each one of Laboratorio 060's experimental projects functions as an engaging case study of unusual interactions and each one exudes an energy clearly rooted in a very firm belief in the urgency for changing the art making from an end onto itself into a vehicle for building better societies.
The present exhibition seeks to showcase documentation of some of Laboratorio 060's recent projects, including one specifically made for the show at CUE Art foundation.
YOUNG ART CRITICS: Helena Chavez MacGregor on Laboratorio 060