Abraham Cruzvillegas, ‘AC: Blind Self Portrait: Glasgow-Cove Park’ 2008
Abraham Cruzvillegas
AC: Blind Self Portrait: Glasgow-Cove Park 2008
Tate
© Abraham Cruzvillegas
Abraham Cruzvillegas, ‘AC: The Museum of AC’ 2008
Abraham Cruzvillegas
AC: The Museum of AC 2008
Tate
© Abraham Cruzvillegas
Abraham Cruzvillegas, ‘AC: Shit Models’ 2008
Abraham Cruzvillegas
AC: Shit Models 2008
Tate
© Abraham Cruzvillegas

Who is he?

Abraham Cruzvillegas is a Mexican artist.

What does he do?

He uses discarded materials and objects to make conceptual installation art. He is best known for his continuous project ‘autoconstrucción’.

Where does he come from?

Cruzvillegas was born in Mexico City in 1968. He grew up in Colonia Ajusco.

What was it like growing up there?

The neighborhood of Ajusco … evolved gradually in a nonplanned area in the southern part of Mexico City. Back then nobody thought that it could be inhabited. The people there took over plots of volcanic rock and started building their houses slowly over time. They had no money and no knowledge of architecture or engineering, but lots of needs. This fueled them to weave a strong social fabric and become a very politicized community. People would work together to build a new wall, or march together to claim ownership of the land and demand basic services such as electricity and running water. They would demand education and the right to live dignified lives.
Taken from an interview with the artist by Haegue Yang, BOMB Magazine

In this short film below, Cruzvillegas expains how the city he grew up in shapes his practice and his love of found objects.

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Abraham Cruzvillegas on Mexico City | Artist Cities

What is autoconstrucción?

The idea was born from his experience of his parents building their home out of found materials. The word means ‘Self-Building’ and refers to this natural process of adding materials to homes according to immediate necessity and opportunity.

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TateShots: Abraham Cruzvillegas

Isn’t that the same as DIY? Not quite.

Autoconstrucción is about scarcity, solutions and ingenuity… And how you can conceive a philosophy of life that you can make something out of nothing. That is also a metaphor for identity… we are constantly transforming ourselves.
Abraham Cruzvillegas:The Autoconstrucción Suites, Walker Art Center website

What major shows has he done?

Tate Modern in March 2011, in the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford in 2011; In 2003 he was in the Fiftieth Venice Biennale. The Autoconstruccion Suites, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany, 2014. Autodestrucción4: demolicion, Thomas Dane Gallery, London, U.K, 2014.

Where can I see his work?

His work is held in a number of collections, including Tate and MoMA, New York.

What are his thoughts on art?

However art makes itself evident, it shall remain, above all, raw source material in all its natural, unstable, physical, chaotic and crystalline states: solid, liquid, colloidal and gaseous. It is the joy of energy.
2002 São Paulo Biennial

What are his thoughts on hair?

My haircuts can be a little Navajo, a little redneck, a little bit microbusero, a little bit guama …I like it when people don’t recognize me in the street –also when my work becomes something like a cumulative dialogue of inner identities that are constantly switching arrangements, opinions, and relationships.

Cruzvillegas, the artistic cupid…

I see myself as a matchmaker of sorts. Sometimes, when there are more than two objects in the sculpture, or project, or specific situation I’ve set up, it becomes an eloquent orgy in which I make no effort other than to play with the elements of the piece. I feel a bit like an animist voyeur.

What does his friend and artist, Haegue Yang think of him?

So powerful are Abraham’s special qualities that they seem to be contagious—he influences people around him, alters their experiences and perception of what is possible in life.

What do the critics say?

In all Mr. Cruzvillegas’s work, little is stated but much is said
Holland Cotter, New York Times, 2003

For Cruzvillegas, the formation of identity is the product of a complex exchange of paradoxical forces that bring into play both construction and destructions, separation and inclusion, a departure and ultimately a return, full of affirmation, negation and contradiction… and as such underlines the overall exemplary dialectical complexity of Cruzvillegas’s practice.
Chris Sharp, Art Review, March, 2013

With his vast range of dynamic assemblage sculptures meticulously built from found objects, the Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas has been dubbed the 21st-century equivalent of Marcel Duchamp.
Gareth Harris, The Art Newspaper, January 2014