58th International Art Exhibition. May you live in interesting times (2019)
There are those who say that drama does not have a future in film, given that every tale has been planned out, shot, edited and completed for the sake of suspending our disbelief. However, there are those who, like Pablo Vargas Lugo, consider that it is the most adequate medium for pondering not only about the concept of faith as a religious belief, but also about the ways in which our trust and convictions are reflected—if not distorted and manipulated—by political discourse and the social imaginary.
Acts of God is based on different episodes in the four distinct perspectives offered by the Synoptic Gospels. The work speculates about possible discrepancies, differing details, and diverging moments in Christ's life in order to generate a non-linear narrative that raises a series of questions: What if the man who was chosen to redeem humanity had set out to fulfill all the predictions the prophets made about his life without certainty that he could accomplish them? How could we outline the future if the relation of cause and effect were to be deferred? And, if he had escaped the outcome dictated by the Old Testament, how would these episodes be reorganized, and how would their sequences be arranged? In other words, Acts of God makes it possible to imagine the new teachings that could be derived from these parables if they failed to reveal that which, according to the Bible, had been hidden since the creation of the world, and if the actants and actors were permitted to exchange bewildered glances, allowing their subjectivity to enter the different scenarios.
The errors and missteps gathered in Acts of God point to similarities with other fables and fictional stories that unveil the persistence of certain predicaments, such as the relationship between greed and power; migration and poverty; duplicity and treason; temptation and incredulity; or merely religious fanaticism and political messianism that, hand in hand with intolerance and fundamentalism, have been affecting our cultural environment and transfiguring our social fabric.
Pablo Vargas Lugo (b. 1968) studied visual arts at the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas, part of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). In his work he uses elements from various disciplines such as astronomy, cartography, archeology, and science fiction. Through drawings, sculptures, paintings, installations and videos, he creates conceptual games that, often with the use of humor, address topics such as language, social conventions and millenary traditions. Among his most important exhibitions are Naj Tunich (La Tallera, Cuernavaca, 2018), Atlas (Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City, 2018), Micromegas (Museo Tamayo, Mexico City/Museo Amparo, Puebla, 2014), Intemperie (Museo Experimental El Eco, Mexico City, 2012), Eclipses for Austin, (Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, 2009), Contemporary Projects (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 2005) and CongoBravo (Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil Museum, Mexico City, 1998). In 2018 he participated in the 12th Shanghai Biennial. Vargas Lugo lives and works in Mexico City.
Magali Arriola is an independent curator and art critic. Currently, she is the Kadist Lead Curator for Latin America. Previously, she served as curator at the Fundación Jumex Arte Contemporáneo (2011–2014) where she organized exhibitions such as James Lee Byars: ½ An Autobiography (co-curated with Peter Eleey and co-produced with MoMA PS1), Guy de Cointet—Tempo Rubato, and Danh Vo لحجارة وادي [Wād al-ḥaŷara], as well as others that contextualized works from the Jumex Collection. Between 2009 and 2011 she was chief curator at the Museo Tamayo where she worked with artists such as Roman Ondák, Joachim Koester, Claire Fontaine, Adrià Julia, and Julio Morales. In 2006 she was a visiting curator at the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, in San Francisco, and between 1998 and 2001 she was chief curator at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, in Mexico City, where she had the opportunity to work with a generation of artists that included Eduardo Abaroa, Francis Alÿs, Miguel Calderón, Daniela Rossell, and Pablo Vargas Lugo. Arriola has written extensively for books and periodicals, including Art Forum, Curare, Frieze, Mousse, Manifesta Journal, and The Exhibitionist. She is currently based in Mexico City.