There are days when it is not convenient to look in the mirror.
In an apartment in a building on López Street, in Mexico City’s Historic Center, s+s project can be found: an independent space led by artist Sofía Moreno. In the artist’s own words, this project arises from her own needs: to have a place to exhibit, promote and market her work and that of her friends.
It is a small apartment inside an old building, which is located on a commercial street with a lot of foot traffic. The apartment has wooden floors, white walls, a foyer that serves as a gallery, a small room that has been transformed into a work office and one more room, which houses artists in residence.
It is not uncommon for artists to turn their domestic spaces into exhibition spaces. There are several reasons for this. On the one hand, the legitimizing spaces of the contemporary art system are few and are monopolized by an elite of producers that seems irreplaceable. On the other hand, the budgets allocated to the promotion of culture are increasingly smaller and this has an impact on a reduced and not very plural cultural offer, at least as far as the visual arts are concerned. This situation does not seem likely to improve in the future; but it is encouraging to think that in the face of the cyclopean, narrow and myopic gaze of the institutions, thousands of eyes opening in an evident darkness restoring it with brilliant images of their own worlds.
Creating a gallery space in a home, as Sofía Moreno has done, seems a good option for those who look from this lack of light. Besides, the domestic has advantages that institutions can never have: closeness and intimacy. In the most literal sense, in that small apartment in the Historic Center there is not an independent artistic project, there is a home. And a home is a refuge and a comfort.
Sofia has not built this alone, nor only for herself. Sofia is a trans woman and her will is none other than to share this space with others like her; members of a dissidence that is not fully represented. It is clear that visibility is not the only thing that concerns s+s project, but the sustainability of the project itself and the lives of those who adhere to it. It should not be forgotten that the trans population in Mexico lives with an infinite number of unknowns and uncertainties in the face of the macho violence that is replicated everywhere. A space to see the work of these subjectivities is important in a context that questions what should already be a guarantee for them: life.
The relevance of the space lays no only with the crack it opens in the panorama for the artistic production of trans bodies and sexual dissidence. A production that, by the way, escapes the officialist and politicized narratives of these bodies, allowing to rethink their realities from the individual and the emotional. But in addition to this, the space and the artist have a clear commitment: to insert the production of the artists exhibited there in an economic circuit that allows them to continue their work, guaranteeing them an income. Few spaces are so clear about who they work for and what their objectives are.
Although the artist expressly asked me not to talk about her work currently on display at the space, in an exhibition entitled Fantasía 94, I have to say that seeing it allowed me to see the coherence between Sofia’s words and her objectives. Rather than review the exhibition, I would like to comment on one work: on the floor lies a pile of debris, some heels, syringes, a few bags of drugs, and some prosthetic hands entangled in tull that, depending on the mood of the viewer, sometimes seem to crawl and other times to sink. It is impossible to tell. According to the artist, the work is intended as a commentary on the reality of trans bodies and their relationship with pharmacology. But for me it is a mirage reminiscent of a night out. In either case, perhaps the hands do not sink or crawl, but emerge. They sprout in the midst of what looks like a ruin of the present. We still cannot see the face of the body hidden under the rubble. We will have to trust that it is there.
There are days when it is not convenient to look in the mirror. But it is very convenient to look at a mirage. It calms you down. The same happens with the appearance of Sofía Moreno’s images and space: it is calming to know that something emerges amidst the disaster. It is calming that an artist occupies a space to defend her own, creating path for them, and that she does it from an intimate space in which our gaze seems to expand and point, hopefully, in another direction. One in which it is not only necessary to fight for life and visibility, but where both types of existence are really founded to coexist in harmony.
There are days when it is not convenient to look in the mirror. But it is very convenient to look at a mirage. And it is that what is not enough to return the reflection, is completed with imagination