wolfgang tillmans at Sonora 128 / méxico d.f.

Wolfgang Tillmans, ¿dónde estamos?, 2016

March 1, 2016 – May 31, 2016

Sonora 128 is a billboard exhibition space organized by kurimanzutto gallery and programmed by bree zucker. 


Wolfgang Tillmans, ¿dónde estamos?, 2016.
Courtesy of the artists and kurimanzutto, Mexico City, 2016.
photo: © Omar Luis Olguín 

Sonora 128 is a billboard exhibition space organized by kurimanzutto gallery and programmed by Bree Zucker. A nonprofit project in the spirit of former Mexican public art trailblazers such as the muralists, it aims to instigate cultural discourse by exhibiting major artworks publicly. Over the course of the next two years, from March 2016 to 2018, kurimanzutto gallery will invite four artists per year to exhibit site-specific large-scale works for a period of three months each.  The collaborating artists will be drawn from a wide array of disciplines, belonging to (but not limited by) the realms of literature, music and visual art. No participating artists will be affiliated with or represented by kurimanzutto, or have received significant institutional exposure within Mexico. Sonora 128 will be open 24/7, 365 days a year.

Wolfgang Tillmans inaugurated Sonora 128 on March 1, 2016 with his work  ¿dónde estamos? (2016). This billboard work features a levitating agave cactus, its leaves branching outwards, spinning in space like a decapitated head above the backdrop of Chapultepec Park. Alongside the spinning cactus appears the self-reflexive question ¿dónde estamos? A surrealistic and somewhat unsettling or uncanny composition, the work uses archival imagery shot by Tillmans during a visit to Mexico City in 2008.  Perhaps a work that does not immediately conjure up Tillmans’ previous oeuvre, ¿dónde estamos? (2016) is in fact part of the artist’s signature exploration of his own practice to fearlessly elicit new forms.  As a Tillmans collaborator commented, “it takes 25 years of being a visual practitioner to be able to challenge your own practice.” Viewed in this light, the billboard is not just a photographic work, but also a social one. The spinning cactus, much like a stand-in for the human body, is a living sculpture, and presents its question to the viewer as a universal examination of all living things. The central preoccupation of the work, ¿dónde estamos? (loosely translated as where are we? or where are we at?), is a social and political self-reflexive question meant to precipitate a dialogue.  At first glance, this may appear to be a rote inquiry. However, it in fact references our collective contemporary predicament as a society facing a precipice, along with the holy grail of human consciousness in our ongoing quest for meaning. Rising above the heads of hundreds of passers-by, the work becomes a mirror for humanity and the soul-searching found at the very core of our condition.  The question that it poses has haunted us since the proclamation of the Socratic dictum “know thyself,” and later emerges throughout the history of art, such as in the painting by Paul Gauguin, Where Do We Come From? What
Are We? Where Are We Going? (1897). 

¿dónde estamos?, (2016) will be on view until May 31st, 2016 at the corner of Sonora 128 and Oaxaca in the Hipódromo Condesa neighborhood in Mexico City.