In and Out of the Context of Contemporary Mexico City: A Symposium on the Work of Melanie Smith

February 7, 2009, 4:00PM

Harvard University David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies
CGIS Building, Room S-050/Concourse Level
1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

This joint presentation of the MIT List Visual Arts Center and Harvard’s Latin American and Latino Art Forum at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies focuses on the work of Mexico City—based artist Melanie Smith. The Art Forum Speaker Series seeks to foster critical thinking and academic debate about the topics and issues relevant to the contemporary production and history of Latin American and Latino Art. Programmed by the Art Forum’s Curator and divided into two thematic sub-series, Art Lab and Artists on Their Art, the talks last one and a half hours, are conducted in English (unless noted otherwise) and follow the same format: an invited main speaker and a panel of commentators—usually composed by members of the Harvard or the Greater Boston community—engage in dialogue.

Born in 1965, in Poole, England, Melanie Smith has lived and worked in Mexico City since 1989. Smith’s work has recently been exhibited at the Tate Gallery, London, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. She has exhibited with Peter Kilchmann in Zurich, Switzerland; OMR Gallery in Mexico City, Mexico; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain; The Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art in Mexico City; UCLA Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, California; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts. Her work is featured in the exhibition Melanie Smith: Spiral City & Other Vicarious Pleasures, organized by Cuauhtémoc Medina, which is on view at MIT List Visual Arts Center (February 6-April 5, 2009).

Cuauhtémoc Medina is an art critic, curator and historian, who lives and works in Mexico City. He holds a PhD in Art History and Theory from the University of Essex, UK, and is a researcher at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas at the National University of Mexico. Between 2002 and 2008, Medina was the first Associate Curator of Latin American Art Collections at the Tate Modern in London. He recently organized a historical show the Age of Discrepancy: Art and Culture in Mexico 1968-1997, in collaboration with Olivier Debroise, Pilar García and Alvaro Vázquez (shown at MUCA in Mexico City, MALBA in Buenos Aires, and Pinacoteca Do Estado in Sao Paulo). Among his recent publications are: Francis Alÿs (Phaidon, 2007), Melanie Smith: Spiral City & Other Vicarious Pleasures (México, A&R, 2006) and “‘The 21st century has just begun’… beyond the poetic and political divide”, published in: Out of the studio! (Hasselt, Z33 Art Centre, 2008).

Diane E. Davis is a Professor of Political Sociology at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning. She is the author of Urban Leviathan: Mexico City in the Twentieth Century (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994).

James Oles is Assistant Professor of Art History at Wellesley College, who teaches the history of Latin American art, focusing on Mexico, and Adjunct Curator of Latin American Art, Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College.

José Falconi is Fellow/Curator of the Rockefeller Center’s Art Forum exhibitions and speaker series at Harvard University.

Bill Arning is curator for the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, MA.