SOMA Mexico Interview, Mariel Vela
Published by SOMA Mexico
“I can spend a whole day welding, and I have a friend who is welding too. Except he’s making a fence for which he gets paid, and I’m creating something to exhibit in a gallery that has no tangible value. I still have a lifestyle that many people can define as working-class like”.
Andrew Lacon arrived on the last day of August to begin his residency in Mexico, a short one at that, but nonetheless the cultural daily clashes between a British man from Dudley and one of the most chaotic cities in the world surely will bring forth interesting remnants in his future work. With a background in two mediums that appear to be so distant from one another (photography and sculpture), Lacon has managed to spark a dialogue between both. How does photography represent, or fails to represent sculpture?
“You look at photographs of sculptures and it’s flat, you can’t walk around it. I think a kind of frustration of the image is what makes me want to do work that is very physical, trying to grasp all that gets lost with photography. Like Brancusi’s plinths or the church that surrounds a Bernini sculpture. Temperature, texture, weight, is all information I’m trying to bring forth. I did a show which consisted of abstract aluminum shapes, which by the end, had fingerprints all on them, those of which you can’t get rid of. They stick to the material, but that is deeply interesting to me, the way that people had this desire to touch the material, the surface.”
Mexico D.F., contradictory as it is can become a fascinating space when it is dissected through a material point of view. The mastodonic churches, sinking into the ground and crushing with their thickness ancient pyramids beneath. The luxury of marble in Palacio de Bellas Artes contrasted with its functional aspect on the Metro walls, the bowels of the city. Temperatures, textures and, weight
“All this makes me think about the heaviness a material like marble has in history. How it can be functional and decorative at the same time, a status symbol, a romantic block waiting to be chiseled away, an industrial slab. I get marble from commercial sellers, people who produce work tops and store shelfs, not necessarily intended for sculpture and the result would be “Three couloured plinth” and other concepts of the material. I’m interested in all the aspects of it, I’ve even used marble dust based paint with a very silky texture to touch, for other works including “A Display for Sculpture”.
On the contrasts of his residence:
“We British people seem to have a very victorian approach, slightly romantic. Here the martyr and saint statues are painted and filled with colors that can be garish at times. In Mexico people are more openly political, they are not so reluctant to accept excess as I find we can be back in England. Perhaps this has made me question a bit the formal minimalist approach, especially since I’m interested in contrasting Minimalism and Baroque expression”.
“It’s amazing for such a big city, and I’m thinking about time I’ve spent in London or New York, how the art scene appears to be a very accessible community. In other cities you attend an opening and you still get these little cliques, gallery directors appear to be unapproachable at times, but here, similar to Birmingham but on a larger scale, everyone seems to be involved in everything. There isn’t much snobbery. It feels friendly, and that has affected my overall experience of the city, the people I’ve come to know.”
Interview conducted by Mariel Vela