Yesterday I walked to Nottingham Contemporary after work to see the Mexican artist Pia Camil’s first solo exhibition in the UK.
Throughout the showcase, textile installations, ceramics and videos were displayed. Camil highlights the shortcomings of consumerism and globalisation, exposing the traces it leaves on our day-to-day lives and our built environment. She does this through works that are playful, interactive and participatory.
The gallery space was theatrically divided by a large curtain constructed from t-shirts that were originally manufactured in Latin America for export and then illicitly sold back to Mexico to be resold in street markets. Camil also presents new commissions including a usable hammock made out of discarded jeans sewn together. I found that this created an intimate and social space within the gallery.
The exhibition similarly features Camil’s potent and somewhat mystical objects, ceramic masks, inspired by jewellery display busts and Carl Jung’s concept of persona – our public mask or public image – in other words, someone’s public image or persona. Also a newly commissioned video produced in collaboration with writer Gabriela Jauregui, who constructed the script, could be seen and heard while walking around the dark space. The video played with mirroring and fragmentation. The set and props in the video mirrors what is in the exhibition, confusing the boundaries between reality and fantasy, or architectural space. The video played slightly creepy music which added to the unnerving atmosphere when walking around.
For the Espectaculares series, Camil was influenced by French theorist Guy Debord’s concept of spectacle, which considers modern society to be ruled by mass media; with people as passive subjects, having become characters in the media’s show.
I rather enjoyed walking round the creative space; Camil has managed to reconfigure the urban failures of both consumerism and globalisation into works that are both enjoyable yet socially critical. I particularly liked how the series of textile works helped to form spaces that encouraged communal interaction. Possibly my favourite piece was the long curtain sewn from black and white t-shirts, titled “Fade into Black” (2018). The statement piece is over 100 metres long, becoming both a certain and architectural feature. This soft architecture comes to life when visitors interact with it by poking their heads through the holes. This is the focus that theatrically divides the exhibition, establishing a soft architecture that connects the body with the built environment, merging personal and public spheres. The whole showcase effortlessly portrays the impacts of global trade and the issues we are still facing in areas such as fast-fashion and the acquisition of goods.
I also was intrigued by the piece named, Vicky’s Blue Jeans Hammock 2. Guests are able to sit on the hammock constructed by second-hand blue jeans from the market in Iztapalapa. Similar jeans were also used to create the Vicky’s Blue Jeans Body Pillow, which at first sight looks like dark blue long beanbags.
This particular exhibition is on until early October so if you are in the area I would recommend taking a quick trip into the gallery to check it out.