Shotgun Review

Lineas: New Modes of Contemporary Urbanisms

By Kara Q. Smith September 26, 2010

During the 01SJ Biennial, Teddy Cruz and Tanya Aguiñiga’s current exhibition at Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana could be found tucked away alongside rogue bicycle demonstrations and the cacophony of ’90s mash-ups being blasted just outside the gallery space. In what might be called a contrast to the exterior activities, Lineas presents an organized and thoughtful dialogue that engages issues of community resourcefulness and sustainability. Both artists reinterpret ideological borders, not as perimeters of segregation and fragmentation, but as possibilities for activity and connection.

Through wall text, video, and architectural models, Cruz presents innovative solutions that integrate and re-imagine urban communities through design. His research-based renderings of mixed-use development in San Diego, largely inspired by communities in Tijuana, create communal and resourceful space. In Element 2: Mapping Non-Conformity (2010), Cruz details a project titled Compendium of Voids: A Chronology of Invasion, which involved a group of teenagers reclaiming an abandoned overpass in San Diego as their skate park. Seen as an inherently problematic re-creation for many contemporary urban areas, skate parks and their constituents are often pushed outside the comfortable limits of communities. In Cruz’s piece, the teenagers organized a campaign to turn the concrete space into a nonprofit skate park, producing an accessible space exemplifying the possibilities of community integration and the benefit of repurposing existing resources.

Aguiñiga also works within the realm of bridging borders through creative thought and collaboration.1 Blending Mexican and European traditions, her textile sculptures sit quietly and softly in the gallery space. Elegantly rendered and

Teddy Cruz. Element 1: Practices of Encroachment Pixelating the Large with the Small, 2010; monitors with video. Courtesy of the Artist and MACLA, San Jose. Photo: Kara Q. Smith.

woven, they speak loudly to the complexities of finessing multiple cultural heritages. Her installation Animals (2010), a collection of tiny woven animals produced in collaboration with weavers in Chiapas, references Mexican tradition and techniques. Displayed so that the viewer must crouch down to see the colorful creatures, these playful figures also provide financial sustainability for the Chiapas crafters. On the floor with a red string that creates a literal boundary around them, the animals create a herd of real and imagined species standing firmly in a hybrid space of production and consumption.

Nuanced by the Biennial’s overall theme of “Build Your Own World,” Lineas gives credence to the possibilities of the proverbial DIY emphasis sweeping much of the contemporary art world, an ethos inherent to the 01SJ Biennial and a platform which highlights the critical roles artists play in the future of our communities.


Lineas: New Modes of Contemporary Urbanisms is on view at Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, in San Jose, through October 16, 2010.


Kara Q. Smith is a freelance writer, arts organizer, and urban researcher living in San Francisco.


1. Tanya Aguiñiga is the current artist-in-residence at MACLA and will be holding workshops where she invites community members to come in and exchange creative skills with her and other participants.

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