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SOCIAL STUDIES : Su Wu // Writer + Curator

Su Wu, the imagination that curiosity sparks.  Just by looking, the love of seeing, capturing and curating, she's formed her own details on what it means to work.  Coming from LA to Mexico, she's brought along with her the pieces and echos of transformation, discovery, and magic.  In the few short conversations we shared via email, I knew right away I was connected to an incredibly unique human with whom I cannot wait to meet in the flesh once our physical paths cross.  Her answers below come with a flow and floral playfulness mixed in with what feels like a deep consideration to the questions asked but flipped into a new way of looking at them.  I think that is Su in a way.  Having the ability to look at something, and ask: what does it look like upside down, inside out, and can we play with that?

Who are you?
Su Wu, writer and curator. Last month I opened a showroom and project space in an old theater in Mexico City, that will test the limits of whether a barely formed set of ideas can coalesce through the doing into some sort of whole.

Why do you make your work?
Compulsion sliding into identity.

What do you believe in?
Clarity and kindness and also poetry, and less strongly believed, but whatever, I digress: Perhaps we should stop calling things and impressions “poetic”, when what we mean is something else?

Name one thing you say yes to?
I hope I say no to rhetorical dishonesty.
And one thing you say no to?
I say yes to lunch.

What change would you like to see?
Doesn’t it constantly surprise you, all the ways in which people are racist?

Name one thing that makes you happy?
Last month, I co-curated an exhibition for the gallery MASA of functional work by Mexican artists, including pieces by Pedro Reyes, Frida Escobedo, Alma Allen, Jose Davila and many others. But I also wanted to introduce a complication, and a deeply personal one: In a show of work by artists and designers living in Mexico, what does it mean to be “from somewhere”? What shared longings inform the sense of a place, and how might these desires be separated from the state, which can provide citizenship but not a sense of belonging?

So my co-curator Constanza Garza and I introduced historical work, some documents and artworks that maybe show for themselves what artists have sought in Mexico, and what they left behind. There’s an out-of-print recording of Allen Ginsberg reciting all the cantos of Jack Kerouac’s ‘Mexico City Blues,’ and two photographs from the Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta’s ‘Silueta’ series, which she did in Oaxaca. There's a painting of a Buckminster Fuller telegram to Isamu Noguchi, sent when Noguchi was in Mexico working on his 'Historia' mural. With permission from Andre Breton’s daughter, we reprinted a little stack of the manifesto for an international revolutionary art that Diego Rivera signed with Breton; we borrowed an epic Leonora Carrington painting from after she got out of an insane asylum and fled to Mexico with help from the Mexican ambassador. And on a back wall, an On Kawara ‘date painting’ completed in Mexico in 1968, which was both the year of the student uprising and around the time Kawara started his ‘I Met’ series, where he wrote down the name of everyone he met.

I thought the groupings might get at what separates an invader from an immigrant, and a widening consideration of nativism when movement is not solely about extraction and erasure, but also sometimes an act of desperation, or of ambition. But, inadvertently, the project turned out to be at least as much about gestures of friendship, large and little. I didn’t realize it as it was happening, but then what could be more intellectually maligned and thus worthwhile?

How would you describe your personal routine?
Hopeful. I wake up and go from there.

What did you want to be as a child?
A journalist. I still think this is a lucky life, to ask questions.

Can you remember one solid piece of advice you've gotten for the growth of your work?
Write about your love for your friends.



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