Climate Change, 2020
Cuevas perceives memes as self-reflective of society and as an unfiltered cultural language that parallels graffiti and street art. For this public intervention Cuevas fills the skeletal space of antiquated communication, the phone booths, with this contemporary digital language. The works embody an analog expression as unique prints. This clash of two eras is a jarring juxtaposition between past and present. They reveal the irrelevance of the phone booth to current urban communication in the age of personal smart phones as well as the shifts in a globalized culture’s visual vocabulary. Cuevas utilizes tactics shared by memes and advertising, namely subverting aesthetic elements with ironic text. The compositions are a gesture towards offline participation and pair whimsical aesthetics with comical political messages about capitalism, climate change denial, and vitriolic media. By using the historical scaffolding of printed communications Cuevas promulgates an example of visual culture acknowledging the mostly unexplored emotional landscape behind social media and the rise of internet culture.
Cuevas’s ongoing views on ecology are also reflective of internet trends that favor expressive animals. A pensive gorilla or grumpy cat transcend human identity politics making them widely relatable while overlaying both humor and criticism to everyday woes. In the artists’ words a “viral meme replicates natural selection” in that the funniest become the most prevalent. Meme’s act as the antithesis to the fixed, self-serving advertising industry centered on controlling one unique message. They establish an expectation of constant change, untethered to their origin, as they mutate and spread. A well-crafted meme holds the potential to be explosive and viral – like COVID and the current conditions of everyday life.
Through the intervention of images and objects of daily consumption, Minerva Cuevas invites us to rethink the role corporations play in food production and the management of natural resources. Employing irony and humor, her work seeks to provoke reflection about the impact that local actions can have on the enforcement of fair labor practices and the redistribution of monetary flow.
Cuevas’ practice encompasses a wide range of media, including painting, video, sculpture, photography and installation, through which she investigates the politics and power structures that underlie specific social and economic ties. Her interdisciplinary projects combine aspects of anthropology, product design and economics to explore different ways of intervening urban spaces, museums and galleries.
Minerva Cuevas studied BA in Visual Arts at Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas in Mexico City. In 2004, she was recipient of the Grant for Media Art of the Foundation of Lower Saxony at the Edith-Russ-Haus. She was artist in residence at the Berliner Künstlerprogramm en Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) in 2003 and Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, in 1998.
Recent selected solo exhibitions include: No Room To Play, DAAD Galerie, Berlin; Disidencia,The Mishkin Gallery, New York (2019); Dissidência (vídeos), Galpao VB, Sao Paulo, Brazil (2018); Minerva Cuevas, DMA Dallas Museum of Art, United States (2017); Minerva Cuevas, Museo de la Ciudad de México, Mexico City; Landings, Cornerhouse, Manchester, United Kingdom (2011); SCOOP, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2010); Minerva Cuevas, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, The Netherlands (2008); Phenomena, Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2007); On Society, MC Kunst, Los Angeles (2007); Egalité 2007, Le Grand Café - centre d’art contemporain, Saint-Nazaire, France (2007); Schwarzfahrer Are My Heroes, Daadgalerie, Berlin (2004); Mejor Vida Corp, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2000).
Minerva Cuevas is represented by kurimanzutto Mexico City / New York.