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How has globalisation impacted Mexican contemporary art?

Oct 3 • Crítica, English • 323 Views • No hay comentarios en How has globalisation impacted Mexican contemporary art?

Globalization is seen by some people as Americanization or westernisation. On the other hand, others argue that it is more complex and moves in multiple directions. Explain these alternative arguments and moves in multiple directions.

How has globalisation impacted Mexican contemporary art?

An analysis of the pieces Broken Obelisk for Itinerant Markets (1991-1993) by Eduardo Abaroa and Empty Lot (2015) by Abraham Cruzvillegas and their repercussions on Mexican art.


Globalisation is a process that has changed different things in our life, and the art has not been the exemption, introducing a global perspective to the art world. In Mexico, globalisation has helped artists in showing their artwork all around the world. However, this process has also brought about several changes in the art understanding and aesthetic. This makes the way thinking more similar to the other countries like in Europe and North America. It has changed how people feel, perceive, understands, and make art. Nevertheless, before the globalisation, the Mexican atmosphere of art used to have a close relationship between the academy that the Mexican muralism and the rupture has left. This Limited the general idea of what is art, and always going back to the global Avant Gard. These multiple processes of globalisation make that the artists want brake with that academicist tradition. Mexico in nineties the art scene started to develop a new wave of thinking, generated by a group of young artists who started to ask questions about art, that provoked with the support of new approaches and with the influences of the exterior, produced by globalisation change the aesthetic of the art produced in Mexico. This essay will analyse the atmosphere before and after globalisation in the Mexican art world, and exemplify the how the cultural hybridization acted on the Mexican art. Using as a references two different pieces, each one from two different moments, one before the globalisation and another from after. Also understand how globalisation Influenced the comprehension of these pieces.

In this part of the essay will define the concepts of globalisation, cultural hybridisation, glocalization and homogenization to describe the consequences in the Mexican art. Bids (2007:126) define the globalisation as the process where the borders became blurry, and the flux of information became faster and easier. Also, this is visible in the Mexican art when the artists start to generate new artworks inspired by ideas from the outside, for example, the piece broken obelisk for itinerant markets by Arbaroa, that will explain later in this essay. Cultural hybridisation is defined as:

‘The mixing of cultures as a result of globalisation and the production, out of the integration of the global and the global and local.’

(Cvetkovich and Keller, 1997:255)

This process of cultural hybridisation created a new artwork never seen before in the country. Those artworks can be defined as an example of how the Mexican artist transformed the ideas from Europe and united states and mixed with a Mexican background, creating new pieces that can be interpreted as a cultural hybrid. Since they were mixing the global and the local cultures as a result of globalisation. Contrary, homogenization is the process derivate by the globalisation that tries to make everything looks similar and less diverse (Steager, 2003:70). This process is visable in how the aesthetic of the contemporary art has become very similar all around the world. Glocalization, is a complicated process where the interaction between the global and local elements mixed, resulting in different and particular interpretations of the global culture Giulianotti and Robertson (2007:52-133). This reason meant that globalisation in the Mexican art had been adopted in a very different way in comparison with other countries in Latin America. Since the context in 1990 Mexico was a conservative country, in a sense that, art relied on the history and culture of the nation. With the interaction from the exterior, the artistic process in the country started to develop different forms and textures. As a consequence of how the glocalisation affects in that time born a new stream of art characterised by the conceptualism.

This section will describe how the Mexican art changed to become more global using as an example one of the most interesting artworks of that initial time of the new Mexican conceptual art. The piece was an installation called: Broken obelisk for outdoor markets (Image 1). The piece is inspired in a Barnett Newman piece Broken Obelisk (1966) (Image 2) and can be seen that this piece was a fake original artwork. For the reason that the idea of the artist was to activate a piece that can make a connection with their environment in an organic form, and in some sense, the idea of the development of social art start to be constructed. This piece has been installed in a market (image 3), with a result where the audience cannot respond as the artist would like that the people respond, even for a lot of the workers of the market the piece was inexistent. However, the most important effect that this piece left, was that it is clear how the ideas that start to influence the artists coming from the outside, thanks to the flux of information become faster, in this case the ideas coming from the USA. However, the result and approach of the Arbaroa piece were different from the Newman piece.

Figure 1.Eduardo Arbaroa obelisk

Figure 2.Barnett Newman obelisk

The impact on which globalization affected as this new generation of artists obtained information from the trends of that time, changed the way they thought, because the structure and the behaviour around the art change dramatically in 20 years. From being one of the countries with a conservative and with a firm rooting to their prehispanic culture, to one of the three most important counties in America to produce contemporary art. However, at the same time, the art that they start making become to be much very similar to the art produced in Europe and the USA, resulting in the what the pessimistic hyperglobalazers consider the homogenising culture, in this case, of the aesthetic (Steager. 2003:70). This means that the viewer can not differentiate where the art is coming from, or rather the nationality of the artist. Therefore, the global art becomes suitable for a global contemporary audience rather than a local one. Consequently, the idea of globalisation as a process that makes everything similar or equal by could be happening with the art, absorbing other countries like Mexico and their culture.

Figure 3.

In this part of the essay will exemplify how the perception of the Mexican art changed to become more global using as an example the piece Empty lot by Abraham Cruzvillegas (image 4). To compare how the perception of art change between Arbaroa piece (image 3) and Cruzvillegas piece. Empty lot (image 4) is an artwork that the artist defined as a self-construction built through the time and their circumstances (history, social tissue, place and so on). He relates his artwork to the process of how the people in Mexico built their houses in the poor zones. In this piece, he tries to link this process of self-construction to an artwork kurimanzutto (2018). However, the important thing in this piece is how the mixture of different ideas as the self-construction from de Mexican neighbourhoods and the European conceptual art converging on a common point. Also, different concepts built this piece, creating a very different and unique artwork in the Tate gallery. This piece can be considerate as part of the idea of, cultural hybridisation in the art. Therefore, this piece could be a clear example of how globalisation can modify the art perspective but without leaving aside the artist background, creating artworks that can be interpreted as a culture hybrid.

Figure 4. Empty Lot (2015) by Abraham Cruzvillegas.Tate modern. London


Both pieces undoubtedly are considered to be important artworks in the Mexican art history. Both share the same artistic tendency and even, similar idea but not the same period, and that is a huge difference between how the public makes the lecture of the piece. In the Arbaroa piece (image 1) the idea of the art activated by the context and the people interact with was presented as new art. However, the idea of the artist that the piece must be activated in a local area limited its reach and its understanding. In contrast with what happens after or during globalisation in the piece by Cruzvillegas, where the piece makes a different connection with the audience and generate different lectures. That in that time when he exhibited Empty lot, the new art that he was making was not new anymore, it is part of the mainstream of the global contemporary art world and in some sense, we can say that Globalisation makes a one global mainstream with different local differences but all under one globalized art thought.

As conclusion globalisation change the scene of Mexican art from conservative thinking based on the country ethnic roots to a homogenised experimental art aesthetic, with a very close to the American art, that influenced the production with new ideas. Moreover, the influence from the exterior was adapted in a particular way in which the idea of art was transformed mixing the local and global circumstances creating artworks that can be considered as the result of the cultural hybridisation. Furthermore, globalisation makes many changes in the Mexican contemporary art but will keep making changes in the art perspective. On account of globalisation is a process that is still changing and adapting in order to make a world with fewer borders and at the same time more diverse. Moreover, in this process making the art more accessible to different parts of the world that are in developing as Mexico.


Reference list:

Cvetkovich and Keller, 1997 in Steager,M.B (2003) Globalization A Very Short Introduction .Oxford:oup(Section used: Global Culture: sameness or difference )


Giulianotti and Robertson (2007) in Ritzer,G 2010 globalisation :A Basic Text. Oxford:Wiley Blackwell (Section used:Cultural Hybridisation, 255-258)


Kurimanzutto (2018) Abraham cruz Villegas artist. (accessed 14/08/2018)


Steager,M.B (2003) Globalization A Very Short Introduction .Oxford:oup

(Section used: Global Culture: sameness or difference)


Thomas Risse (2007) social constructivism meets globalization in Held and Mcgregor. Globalization,theory,126.


Image references:


Figure 1: Broken Obelisk for Itinerant Markets (1991-1993) by Eduardo Abaroa. Mexican market


Figure 2: Barnett Newman, Broken Obelisk (1966), Houston ,Texas.


Figure 3: Broken Obelisk for Itinerant Markets (1991-1993) by Eduardo Abaroa. Mexican market


Figure 4: Empty Lot (2015) by Abraham Cruzvillegas.Tate modern. London


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