In the central part of Mexico City, whilst walking on the wide Avenida Sonora, one might notice among the tall trees’ foliage that colour the street, a large billboard with an unusual aesthetic compared to the city’s typical advertisement signs. The work of the late Cuban-born American visual artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres is indeed occupying the billboard, tinting the sky with his own cloudy version of it.
Since the inauguration of the public art project Sonora 128 in 2016, where Wolfgang Tillmans presented the project ¿dónde estamos?, Mexico City’s urbanscape has never looked the same. The experimental exhibition has in fact been entering the misty skyline of the metropolis with the intervention of some of the most disruptive contemporary cultural producers of our time, whose works have been displayed on several billboards installed in different corners of the city.
The concept behind Sonora 128 is simple, but the visual message it leaves on the city’s identity is one that cannot be easily erased, moreover, not one time the project has fallen into banality. Surrealistic; political; triggering; sometimes even unsettling; the series of images that have been displayed around the city’s billboards are everything but trite. Among Tillmans and Gonzalez-Torres, artists such as Patti Smith, Daydo Moriyama, and Antonio Caro have taken part in the project, assuring Sonora 128’s ongoing success. With the support of kurimanzutto’s vision, Sonora 128 has been discarding the common concept of public art to rethink not only the identity of a city’s corner, but the working and living spaces of both citizens and artists.
As a public project Sonora 128 has entered the lives of passersby – Felix Gonzalez-Torres work “Untitled” is currently displayed on six different billboards across Mexico City– adding a new artistic element to the urban identity of the city. Programmed by Bree Zucker with the intent to create a ‘one-wall gallery project’ where contemporary art, public spaces, and pre-existing urban elements coexist surrounded by the hectic everyday life of thousands of citizens, Sonora 128 is a project where art and its context aren’t separated, but organically merged together.
Miguel Calderón, installation view of The Disasters of Peace, 2017. Photo: Constantinos Caravatellis
Installation views, ¿dónde estamos?, 2016. Photo: Omar Luis Olguín & PJ Rountree
Installation views, qARADISE, 2016. Installation views of ‘Araki’, Cantina Ardalio, 2016. Photo: PJ Rountree
Installation views, Paro general, 2017. Photo: PJ Rountree.
Installation views, Achiote, 2016. Photos: PJ Rountree