‘We Go Through a Long Path to Become Ourselves’: Watch Artist Abraham Cruzvillegas Build Wild Sculptures Inspired by His Childhood Home

As part of a collaboration with Art21, hear news-making artists describe their inspirations in their own words.

Production still from the Art21
Production still from the Art21 "Extended Play" film, "Abraham Cruzvillegas: Autoconstrucción." © Art21, Inc. 2016.

What does it mean to construct an identity? How is the construction of the self reflected in the literal constructions of places around us? These are questions that inform the practice of Mexico City-based artist Abraham Cruzvillegas. In his series “The Autoconstrucción Suites,” the artist uses the notion of autoconstrucción—the piecemeal construction of a home, cheaply and as needed—as a metaphor for fashioning one’s own identity.

In an exclusive interview with Art21 as part of its “Extended Play” series, Cruzvillegas explains that for his family, additions to the home were done out of necessity, often haphazardly. “My parents decided to expand and to construct more because we grew up… they are ridiculously made because they are not made by experts,” he says.

Production still from the Art21 "Extended Play" film, "Abraham Cruzvillegas: Autoconstrucción." © Art21, Inc. 2016.

Production still from the Art21 “Extended Play” film, “Abraham Cruzvillegas: Autoconstrucción.” © Art21, Inc. 2016.

This sporadic method of building is a theme that runs through the artist’s exhibition “Abraham Cruzvillegas: Hi, How Are You, Gonzo?” on view now at the Contemporary Austin, where site-specific assemblages are activated by audience participation. Growing up in an environment that valued community over precious materials informed Cruzvillegas’s commitment to giving cast-off objects new life—his own contemporary twist on Dadaism, a movement fueled by chance and absurdity. 

“We go through a long, long path to become ourselves,” he told Art21. “I’m still constructing myself. I come from Marcel Duchamp… and I come from autoconstrucción. And I come from Mexico!” 


Watch the full segment, which originally appeared as part of the “Art in the Twenty-First Century” television series on PBS, below. “Abraham Cruzvillegas: Hi, How Are You, Gonzo?” is on view at The Contemporary Austin through July 14.

This is an installment of “Art on Video,” a collaboration between artnet News and Art21 that brings you clips of newsmaking artists. A new season of the nonprofit Art21’s flagship Art in the Twenty-First Century television is available now on PBS. Watch full episodes and learn about the organization’s education programs at Art21.org.

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