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14 Oct 2008

Cruz and Reyes Exhibition at San Francisco Art Institute

Teddy Cruz, 'Radicalizing the Local: Sixty Miles of Transborder Urban Conflict,' 2008. Vinyl wallpaper. Courtesy of Estudio Teddy Cruz.

Conflict Resolution: Teddy Cruz and Pedro Reyes


Opening reception: Thursday, 16 October 2008 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

+1 011 1 415 749 4550
+1 011 1 415 351 3516

San Francisco Art Institute
Walter and McBean Galleries
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
800 345 SFAI / 415 749 4500

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For the last two years, San Diego–based architect Teddy Cruz and Mexico City–based artist Pedro Reyes have together been deliberating on, among a host of other interconnected matters, the relation between design strategy and social transformation in the age of globalization. Notably appearing in conversation in the pages of the November 2007 issue of 'Modern Painter,' where they consider and actively invoke the power of nonrepresentational diagrammatic reasoning, Cruz and Reyes come together again, under the initiative of SFAI's Exhibitions and Public Programs, to repurpose their 'micropolicies' for transfiguring the socio-urban topography as resolution procedures, in particular, for the variously imbricated, ground-level conflicts obtaining in postinvasion Iraq.

Working neither from within nor from outside 'the system' (the latter being to them every bit as bourgeois as the former is to the self-styled subversive), Cruz and Reyes seek to engage the hands-on problematic of a war-torn or otherwise-blighted urban landscape in what they refer to, after Herbert Marcuse, as 'the mouth of the cobra'—that is, to engage it with critical proximity rather than distance. For instance, in no way endorsing the prevailing just-war doctrines promulgated by certain members of the US and EU intelligentsia, Cruz and Reyes nevertheless embrace the unsought but de facto opportunities for understanding conflict, mediation, and facilitation that have been brought about by the situation in Iraq. As with their collaborative ruminations on the alternative design trajectories made available in and by the Tijuana–San Diego border area (conventionally taken, from the planning and architectural perspective, as a promiscuous sprawling muddle), their reflections on how the war in Iraq was actually played out ('bottom up'), as opposed to how it was originally planned ('top down'), discover in the wake of calamity a palpable object lesson: conflict, and the dire wreckage of conflict, are, by their very nature, a base of operations for imaginative intervention and social and geopolitical negotiation—the kind of intervention and negotiation Cruz and Reyes mean both to explore and to instantiate through their collaborative project at SFAI.

Indeed, the swords-into-plowshares ethos that pervades Cruz and Reyes's thinking is expressly thematized in a number of the works and ventures they will be exhibiting or actualizing within the physical space of the Walter and McBean Galleries or beyond it. Reyes's call-to-action project 'Palas por pistolas' (which literally translates as 'shovels [in exchange] for handguns')—a campaign to collect, from the embattled citizens of Culiacan, Mexico, some 1,500 weapons to be refashioned into shovels for the planting of trees—will be reactivated within a Bay Area context. Analogously, Cruz's project in distributive justice as nonconformist cartography, 'McMansion Retrofitted,' is a proposal—presented through videos, photographs, drawings, models, and maps—to 'beat' an existing 8,000 square foot single-family suburban house into a mixed-use multifamily dwelling.

Consistent with its varied themes and methodologies—as well as with the curatorial strategies of SFAI's director of Exhibitions and Public Programs, Hou Hanru—Conflict Resolution is coordinated and presented at the intersection of two of the principal components of SFAI's Exhibitions and Public Programs. The first, New Models of Production, contextualizes artistic creations against a backdrop of economic, industrial, and technical production under globalization while also investigating the concept of competing versions of modernity and the tension between developed and 'underdeveloped' worlds. The second, Acting Out in the City, utilizes the galleries and spaces of the SFAI campus as points of departure for large-scale projects of urban intervention, conspicuously injecting artistic productions and awareness into public spaces.

Exhibition on view:

17 October through 13 December 2008

Ideas for Iraq panel discussions:

'Conflict Resolution for Iraq':
Friday, 17 October 2008 at 7:30 p.m.

'Design Strategies and Conflict Resolution':
Wednesday, 19 November 2008 at 7:30 p.m.

Artist Bios

Born in Guatemala, Teddy Cruz is a San Diego–based architect who researches and analyzes the urban transformation occurring on both sides of the US-Mexico border. Inspired by the dynamics of geopolitical, economic, and demographic division and negotiation, he studies the relation between architectural sites and the impacts they have on the production of urban spaces. He has also developed a series of critical strategies for innovative urban visions, especially as prompted by studies of the Mexican population. Cruz and his team at Estudio Teddy Cruz have proposed and realized architectural projects that emphasize social mobilization, the recycling of existing materials and conditions, and sustainability. His promotion of 'informal' and alternative visions and strategies for city growth have been presented in such large-scale events as the 10th Istanbul Biennial and the 2008 Venice Biennial's 11th International Architecture Exhibition. His work was also included in World Factory, a group exhibition that opened in January 2007 at SFAI's Walter and McBean Galleries. In April 2007, Cruz also lectured at SFAI as a Visiting Artist and Scholar.

Born in Mexico City, where he lives, Pedro Reyes works in a number of mediums, including installation, design, performance, and video—all with a view to social activism. Inspired by various 'alternative' non-Western strategies for the production of lifestyles, urban spaces, everyday objects, and social relationships—strategies he finds to be more original and diverse than the dominant hegemonic models of the West—he considers his work a personal system for reinventing everyday environments and social relationships, extending the reach of limited natural (and artificial) resources as well as enhancing social solidarity. He has exhibited at such venues as the South London Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, El Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Yvon Lambert Gallery in both NYC and Paris, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (MoMA) in NYC, Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, the Seattle Art Museum in Washington (USA), and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University in Cambridge (Massachusetts, USA). In November 2007, Reyes lectured at SFAI as a Visiting Artist and Scholar.

SFAI's exhibitions and public programs are supported in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund. Additional support and assistance for Conflict Resolution have been provided by AIA San Francisco, the Bureau of Urban Forestry in San Francisco's Department of Public Works, the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco, Friends of the Urban Forest (San Francisco), PG&E, the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Protocol, and SMWM. Additionally, Conflict Resolution is cosponsored by SFAI's Design and Technology department as part of its Fall 2008 Design and Technology Salon and by SFAI's City Studio Projects.