Sandra Calvo.

Visual artist

The interdisciplinary nature of her work weaves together documentary films and anthropology, urban landscape and architecture, sculpture and poetry. Her artistic practice is site-specific, participatory, and requires a long-term involvement. She is interested in bringing critically reflection on the problematic nature of public space, informal housing, illegal settlements, processes of urbanization, appropriation land, spatial segregation, housing policy to the foreground. Her practice builds directly upon the geographical/economical/cultural conditions of the place and the people who inhabit it.

During the last six years her work has been built together with the local community with the aim of articulating the right to shelter/housing from an artistic point of view.  The artistic works consist of documentaries, archives and testimonies, site cinemas and installations created and built together with the residents. These works remit to the architecture without architects of its inhabitants: the fragility of habitation; the lack of legal systems to own, protect and built a home; self-learning, self-construction and self-organization – a tribute to the inventiveness and skill born of fragile economies, the strength derived from the tenacity of the hands of its inhabitants, the abilities developed in order to recycle, expand, repair and modify what to most people are waste objects or spaces; an acknowledgment of the micro-movements of territorialization and deterritorialization, of the restoration of forgone spaces/structures and the strategies inhabitants create to resist eviction. She emphasizes the resignification of three aspects of the city: spaces, objects, and actions, which, in concrete terms, equate to architecture, structures, and labor; as well as the manner in which these are reconnected and subjectivized by the city’s inhabitants, to ultimately show the internal tension between the political and the poetic.

She studied an M.A. in Liberal Studies, specializing in the intersection between Art, Urbanism and Anthropology from The New School for Social Research, New York, USA (2005). She received her B.A. in Political Science from the ITAM (Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico) and at the University of Havana, Cuba (2002). She has studied Film and Literature at the Escuela Dinámica de Escritores (Dynamic School for Writers) (2002), and the Sociedad General de Escritores Mexicanos(General Society of Mexican Writers) (2001) and Art History at La Sorbonne University, Paris (1996).

She has received numerous fellowships, grants and awards, including the Prize for Best Project at the XII Havana Biennale, Entre la Idea y la Experiencia (2015). She was recognized between the ten most important female artist in Mexico (Código, 2014). She has been an Artist in Residence at Cátedra Vernácula, [Vernacular Professorship, Architect Daniel Taboada, Director], and at Oficina de Proyectos Urbanismo y Arquitectura, Oficina del Historiador [Office for Urbanism and Architecture Projects, Historian’s Office, Historian Eusebio Leal, Director], (Havana, Cuba, 2014, 2015); Red de Residencias Artísticas Universidad Nacional de Colombia [Artist Residency Network for the National University of Colombia] and Idartes Foundation, (Bogotá, Colombia, 2012, 2013); Fundación del Centro Histórico, [Historical Center Foundation], (Mexico City, 2008); Omind Cultural Foundation for the Arts, (Beijing, 2007); PUKAR, Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research —Center of Anthropology and Urban Art Studies, Arjun Appadurai, Director, (Mumbai, India 2005). She received a Fellowship from the Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes [National fund for the Arts], as part of the Young Creators Program, Alternative Media (2011). She has received scholarships from the New School for Social Research (2003, 2004, 2005) and the SEP, Secretaría de Educación Pública [Office of the Secretary of Public Education in Mexico](2005 and 2006), as well as a scholarship from the Indian Government’s Office of Foreign Affairs to conduct research on anthropology and urban studies in Mumbai, India (2005, 2006).

She is the founder and director of SEU – Sistema de Exploración Urbana [System of Urban Exploration], a tactical platform for critical and collaborative exploration of public space in the South Global (from 2010). She has conducted courses and workshops on Art and Politics as part of the Post graduate Program for the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) [University Museum of Contemporary Art] — Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México [National Autonomous University of Mexico] (UNAM, 2011) and in 17, Instituto de Estudios Críticos [Institute for Critical Studies] (2012); as well as on participatory artistic practices and urban environments at the El Eco Experimental Museum (2011), Claustro de Sor Juana University (2010), Casa Lamm (2012), Political Science Faculty, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México [National Autonomous University of Mexico] (UNAM, 2011), the University City Studies Program (PUEC, 2012), National University of Colombia (2013), and Museo de La Memoria [Museum for Memory], Bogota (2013).

She is the author of the book Monumentos Menores: Mutaciones en el paisaje urbano[Minor Monuments, Urban Landscape Mutations] (Fundación del Centro Histórico, Casa Vecina, 2008, Mexico City). Project conducted between 2004 and 2008 in Asian and Latin American cities.

Her work has been exhibited as part of individual and collective shows in biennials, and national and international museums such as: Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo [University Museum of Contemporary Art]; Goethe Institut Germany and Mexico; Museo de Arte Moderno de la Ciudad de México (MAM) [Mexico City’s Museum of Modern Art]; Carrillo Gil Art Museum; City Hall, San Francisco, USA; Museo Universitario del Chopo, Universitary Museum; Museo de Arte de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia [National University of Colombia Art Museum]; Bogotá Santa Fé Museum, Colombia; Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros (SAPS); Casa del Lago;; Centro de la Imagen; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MACO) [Contemporary Art Museum]; Celda Contemporánea; Querétaro National Museum; José Vasconcelos Library, Museo de Tlatelolco, Museo Wilfredo Lam/Casa de la Obra Pía, Havana, among others.