A new cultural center in Mexico City combines sustainable cuisine with art for a rare experience in the Chapultepec Forest


When the pandemic caused major arts events around the world to be canceled or postponed, the organizers of the nascent Lago/Algo project in Mexico City took the time to consider what exactly to do with their project.

“From the roots of the change generated by this crisis, the opportunity has arisen to recover an emblematic building in Mexico City and give it a new purpose, one that includes the transformation from private to public, from exclusive to inclusive , from social to cultural,” the organizers said in a statement.

The project, in the heart of the Chapultepec Forest, one of the largest parks in the Western Hemisphere, opened in February as a hybrid art center (known as Algo) and sustainable restaurant (known as Lago) designed by chef Micaela Miguel.

The first art exhibition, a collaboration between Mexico City OMR Galleries and José García, is titled “Form Follows Energy”. Since opening week, a rep said Lago/Algo has had over 45,000 visitors, all for free. (The representative also pointed out that, unlike previous reports, the project does not involve Gabriel Orozco and is not publicly funded.)

Views of ‘Form Follows Energy’ installation, Lago/Algo, courtesy of OMR and joségarcía ,mx;
Photos by Jose Ignacio Vargas © 2022.

The exhibition presents more than 45 pieces, including monumental works, by 27 artists from the programs of the two galleries. Among those included are Atelier Van Lieshout, Pia Camil, Jose Davila, Simon Fujiwara, Christian Jankowski, Alicia Kwade and James Turrell. It continues until the end of July.

The project was born from a chance meeting between the owner and director of OMR, Cristobal Riestra, and the general manager of the CMR hotel group, Joaquín Vargas Mier y Terán, during the confinement, when they had both moved with their families in Valle de Bravo, about two hours from Mexico City.

Since RMC’s El Lago restaurant had been hit hard by lockdown restrictions, Mier y Terán suggested the possibility of hosting a gallery with a pop-up exhibition to utilize the space that remained empty.

From their first meeting in December 2020, Mier y Terán and Riestra exchanged ideas and began to include their respective teams to participate in “think tank” discussions on how to take the idea of ​​a pop-up gallery to life. to something more permanent.

Installation views "Form follows energy," Lago / Algo, courtesy of OMR and joségarcía, mx;  Photos by Jose Ignacio Vargas © 2022.

Views of ‘Form Follows Energy’ installation, Lago/Algo, courtesy of OMR and joségarcía ,mx;
Photo by Jose Ignacio Vargas © 2022.

The building that Lago/Algo lives in was built in 1964 in advance of the 1968 Olympics and was part of an effort to develop the Chapultepec Forest area. (That same year, the city saw the opening of the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Anthropology, and the Museo Anahuacalli de Diego Rivera.)

Earlier this month, Lago/Algo hired veteran conservative Jérôme Sans, best known as the co-founder, along with Nicolas Bourriaud, of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris two decades ago, as artistic director. Sans’s exhibit, “Shake Your Body,” is set to open in early September and run through the end of 2022.

“I’m always interested in new cultural adventures,” Sans told Artnet News in a phone interview.

Sans, who has organized international exhibitions such as the Taipei Biennale, the Lyon Biennale, and who has served as director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing from 2008 to 2012, said he would travel to Mexico City frequently.

Photo by Alonso Araugo.  Image courtesy of Lago/Algo, Mexico.

Photo by Alonso Araugo. Image courtesy of Lago/Algo, Mexico.

“Wherever I’ve worked in the world, I’ve always lived in between,” he said. “Movement and challenges activate ideas.”

The building housing Lago/Algo is a Modernist hyperbolic concrete structure designed by architect Alfonso Ramirez Ponce, then 24 years old.

“We brought it back to its original state,” Sans said. “A utopian dream of the 1960s has become a new reality in 2022, a place where after two years of confinement, one can rediscover nature and reconnect with time and art. A place to share, live, reinvent our future.

Installation view of "Form follows energy" in Lago/Algo.  Photo by Ramiro Chaves.  Image courtesy of Lago/Algo, Mexico.

Installation view of “Form Follows Energy” in Lago/Algo. Photo by Ramiro Chaves. Image courtesy of Lago/Algo, Mexico.

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