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Art & Social Space
On the brink of an Emerging Establishment or an Emerged Death?
by Jennifer Teets

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III. Spaces/produced work and in-situ continued.

Perhaps the most important of all of the spaces mentioned is the once vibrant, now dead "La Panaderí­a" (1994-September 2002). Founded by other locals Yoshua Okon and Miguel Calderón in an old Jewish bakery, "La Panaderí­a" was the model-maker of independent spaces in Mexico City, though it was often criticized by the official institution who then only represented paintings, drawing, and rarely installation mediums. It closed its doors in September 2002 presenting a week long schedule of events including performances, installations, video programs, and object based work. Okon and former exhibitions coordinator Alex Dorfsman are currently at work on a book of the eight-year history of the space, elaborating specific essays on each show presented in the space. Also included will be texts on the space's attractive and remarkable social history. "La Panaderí­a" was at once a convention center, club, bar, shop, and a gallery. Responding to a local infrastructure that failed to provide adequate resources for non-orthodox art practices, "La Panaderí­a" maintained its operations, often autonomously, or through the support of such organizations as the PAC (Contemporary Art Patron), FONCA (National Fund for Culture and the Arts), the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Bancomer Foundation, amongst others. After repeated disputes, however, the space came to a close due to the lack of adequate funds and difficulty in securing long time financial investors. Supporting marginal, often ignored, art practices from Mexico City and abroad, "La Panaderí­a" became known as the nexus and gateway to and for contemporary art production in Latin America, often supporting and inspiring the projects of various later to be well known artists. It featured just about every artist from or residing in Mexico City who now present work in international art circles. Works by Francis Alÿs, Artemio, Gustavo Artigas, and Laureana Toledo, to name a few, were exhibited. They also specifically concentrated on artists from Latin America in accordance with a cultural, linguistic, and geographic proximity.

More importantly perhaps, is the residency program that "La Panaderí­a" offered, notably being the only one in the city (Mexico City still does not have an active residency program to this day). It welcomed international artists, curators, and critics to Mexico City and provided an "engagement" site for a larger cultural scene that extended beyond basic art-related practice and practitioners. Curatorially, the space designed theoretic paradigms for testing and modeling, often inviting countries for exchange, allowing for curatorial growth and experimentation. Essentially, "La Panaderí­a" gave birth to the "emerged establishment" because they surpassed infamy and their initial "fuck this" attitude to eventually buy into the very nature of the institution. They became the institutional model for the independent spaces throughout town. But did they sell out? This is a useful question for it puts the other three spaces in a critical position when presenting "illegitimate" work, work that is otherwise ignored. Perhaps they too will have to face the harrowing inevitability of such an emerged death.

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About the Author
Jennifer Teets, independent curator based in Mexico City, completed the project F(r)icción David Phillips & Paul Rowley at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil; programs for the Fourth International Festival of Sound Art, Habitat Sónico, at the Ex Teresa Arte Actual space including such artists as Rosa Barba, Mouse on Mars, and Niobe. She is currently at work on a project exchange with the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, Egypt and works regularly in collaboration with artist Gustavo Artigas.

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