Daniel Aguilar Ruvalcaba at kurimanzutto / méxico d.f.

Daniel Aguilar Ruvalcaba
Por qué no fui tu amigo? 

curated by Chris Sharp

gob. rafael rebollar 94
col. san miguel chapultepec 11850
méxico d.f.

September 22nd – October 24th, 2015

A complex negotiation of the economic value, identity, trauma and personal history, “Por qué no fui tu amigo?” (Why was I not your friend?) is the inaugural manifestation of an ambitious, complex project, rooted in Ruvalcaba’s on-going interest in issues of economy, production, utility and authorship. The primary point of departure for this project is the recent award of a Fundación BBVA-Bancomer/MACG grant, which is both a production and educational grant for emerging artists in Mexico. 

Fascinated by the bank’s philanthropic mission toward culture, Ruvalcaba elected to take this philanthropic mission and stand it on its head by linking it up with a personal family trauma. While still a child, the artist’s father lost the family’s home through a series of purportedly poor investment choices. Thus, in an attempt to reenact this familial misfortune, live out and even philanthropically exercise it, so to speak, like a trauma, Ruvalcaba decided to seek out someone else who not only bore his father’s same name, Juan Manuel Aguilar, but also possessed a debt with BBVA-Bancomer, and then pay off that his symbolic father’s debt with the grant itself.   

Full of unexpected obstacles and novelistic serendipity, the manifold vicissitudes that have accompanied Ruvalcaba’s quest for the homonymous debtor (which he found) and his debt emancipation have yielded the formal materialization of the exhibition and the overall project itself. The exhibition at kurimanzutto is comprised of three discrete elements related to the project, which also question and challenge their own status as art objects. 

The first is an edition of the newspaper a.m. in which the artist originally featured the ad for the debtor on three separate dates, December 31st, 2014, January 2nd and 3rd, 2015. The second element of the exhibition consists of a circumvention of Fundación BBVA-Bancomer’s interdiction to directly pay the debtor’s debt with the grant. Given the grant’s status as a production grant, the artist bought equipment with which to shoot and edit a video– to be exhibited later elsewhere– all of which is presented directly on the ground, as if in the form of a garage sale. Virtually new, the objects are indeed for sale not at the gallery, but on the auction website Mercado Libre. 

 For the final element of the exhibition, Ruvalcaba has a created an edition that is the literal and representative equivalent of the debtor’s debt. He has taken out on a loan from BBVA-Bancomer in 100 and 200 pesos notes, individually photographed each note, and then immediately repaid the loan. The totality of the entire debt equivalent edition will be sold to one of the inheritors of Bancomer, who has already consented to buy it. 

Ruvalcaba thus presents an exhibition so artfully encumbered with contradiction and paradox that it seems to be on the point of continual collapse. Needless to say, it is no mere coincidence that these contradictions and paradoxes reflect the nature of contemporary finance and debt itself.    

–Chris Sharp 

Daniel Aguilar Ruvalcaba (Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico, 1988) studied at SOMA. His work, characterized by a wry sense of humor, both questions and seeks to understand the conditions of contemporary art production. He has worked with mediums to contact deceased artists and organize a contemporary art fair from beyond; he has curated hypothetical exhibitions that can be visited by endoscopy; he has bought ideas from housewives to create objects with artistic qualities, as well as uploaded videos to YouTube that range from life hacking tutorials to open source contemporary art.

Among his most recent exhibitions are Tutorialess, Museo Universitario del Chopo (Ciudad de México, 2014), Made in Mexico, Nuevo Museo de La Ene (Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2014) and El fuego y el borrego, Ex Teresa (Ciudad de México, 2014). Founder and co-director  of the exhibition space Bikini Wax, Aguilar Ruvalcaba lives and works in Mexico City. 

Chris Sharp (b. 1974, USA) is a writer and independent curator based in Mexico City, where he and the Mexican artist Martin Soto Climent run the project space Lulu.

Daniel Aguilar Ruvalcaba’s ¿Por qué no fui tu amigo?  is the first of a series of six exhibitions to be curated by Chris Sharp for kurimanzutto. Taking place over the course of a year, the series will focus exclusively on emerging Mexican or Mexico-based artists. The intention of the project is to train a rigorous eye that sheds light upon some of the most active and challenging actors in the current art scene. kurimanzutto seeks to provide them with a unique platform within the local and international context, welcoming the development of a new generation of artists. Sharp’s selection will run as independent shows parallel to the gallery’s regular programming, maintaining their autonomy while productively resonating with each other.