5 Questions with Alana Berglund

5 Questions with Alana Berglund

The Holland Project’s Alana Berglund just returned from a week in Mexico City scoping out the art scene. We caught up with her with a few questions about the experience, what left an impression, and what we should know about!


Mexico City is so big and there’s so much to see and do – how’d did you determine what you wanted to check out? What were the must-sees, and what were some surprises you encountered along the way?

With almost no time to research, it was overwhelming at first. We are lucky because our girl Toni is in the process of moving to Mexico City, so we had some direction on where to stay and what to do. We ended up in the Roma Norte/Roma Sur/Condesa neighborhoods and this is where a lot of the galleries and well known food spots exist. 

Contemporary galleries for me are always a must see, a quick search for an Artsy article on any city will tell you where the major spaces are and then you hope to find more small ones along the way. The first day we arrived we found out Condo CDMX was opening that week, this is an international gallery exchange, and so their map and program helped guide us through the art side of things. For anyone looking to visit,  you can probably use the Condo map or the map for Gallery Weekend to guide you, so easy!

(left, traditional pole dance; middle, Lilian Martinez painting; right, cactus at Teotihuacan)

Surprisingly enough, all the touristy stuff we did was easy to find out about and actually amazing. Pyramids – amazing, major museums – amazing, the markets – amazing, castle on the hill in the park – amazing (even though I could care less about looking at royaltys’ silverware). Because it was our first trip, we didn’t even scratch the surface, but it was a good time to just get our feet wet and know better for next time. We totally missed the canals which feels like a bust! One major thing I did check off my list though – eat fruit. And some of the best fruit of my life,  *feeling like the crying emoji*

(sleepy pup at Teotihuacan)

 

Can you share some of your favorite exhibitions, artists, and/or galleries you experienced and tell us why you dug them?

My favorite gallery was LuLu and still I’m obsessed with their space and their floor. They were showing Chelsea Culprit, a neon and two paintings, one in the front and one in the back in an area that seemed to be a converted bedroom-to-gallery. They also have an annex a few blocks away that is an emptied apartment (still a bed, some books, small dining area). I loved what they had going on, kind of a dream situation for me as far as galleries go. 

Inside LuLu with the beautiful painted orange floors

My other favorite exhibitions were Néstor Jiménez at Proyectos Monclova, Rashid Johnson’s large scale installation at Museo Tamayo and Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Cine Experimental en America Latina also at the Tamayo. Definitely highly recommended place to go with great exhibitions and an incredible building. But you won’t go wrong really with many of the major art galleries, their buildings are often huge and gorgeous. We’re talking atriums full of plants, tall ceilings, indoor/outdoor seating and chill zones, libraries, nice staff…it rules really.

(top, Rashid Johnson; bottom, Néstor Jiménez)

 

Did you visit Frida Kahlo’s house-turned-museum, La Casa Azul? 

No actually! For one, we ran out of time. Additionally, everyone told us not to. Maybe it’s too touristy or not that interesting unless you’re a super fan? My absolute mission on my next Mexico City trip is visiting the not-so-secret, but less busy Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo though. These are the studios of Frida + Diego, and the two spaces are connected by a little bridge. The pictures look amazing! 

 

You were traveling with other artists, did they have moments or experiences that really excited them or differed from you? What were their highlights?

My fellow travelers would say the Museo de Arte Popular (MAP) and Museo Nacional de Antropología. These museums house vast collections of Mexican folk art and these objects are really exciting to see as a maker because their beauty and craftsmanship are so impressive. And they’re fun! They did challenge us though and left us with a lot of questions too. Partly because of their format, MAP purposely omits dates on object labels and the anthropology museum simply just does not provide context for every display or object. We wanted to know more, more, more about what we were attracted to, but that’s just not an option at all times. Maybe its cultural? Maybe is a mutual understanding of where these objects come from and what they mean? I can accept that. But anyways, those two spots at the top of everyone’s list in addition to the Pyramids, the handmade artist market (we all love the hand embroidery), and exhibitions at Museo Tamayo (Michelle’s pick: Adriana Varejoa).. 

(a friend from the Museo de Arte Popular)

Casey also sent a message as I write this about the painted storefronts and advertisements all over the city. Rare sight in many places in the US! He also reminded us about the bootlegs that are familiar yet off, a Homer Simpson marionette at the Pyramids was a winner and the Underground store with all the bootleg goth/new wave band tees was up there.

Culinary arts also up there. Dinner at Rosetta… *conjuring fire emoji*.  All the art galleries with bookstores carry the Rosetta cookbook by the way.

(good storefront painting)

In your role at Holland, you’re always looking for interesting ideas or inspiration in cool spaces and places. What were some cool things or ideas you’d like to build upon here, or share as inspiration for our space or our community?

Design of course. I’m constantly thinking about interior design when I visit other galleries and looking at everyone’s floors, walls, lighting, signage, how they hang projectors, I think it’s important to keep up on what is standard is these spaces but also cool. I’m also always seeking out places such as that pop-up jewelry store Tuza, it’s incredible to be in and I’m obsessed!! Not that I think Snack Shack will ever be fully mirrored and decked out in neon, but we can dream right? That kind of inspiration is easy, big picture stuff maybe I’m still mulling on. It was disappointing not to be able to visit spaces similar to Holland and other DIY spots, I’m just not ingrained in the scene and don’t know where they are in CDMX. Hoping next time is different! On another note, I did appreciate the bars and restaurants I visited always posting their safe space and non-discrimination statements/policies. This is something we do at HP and feel is important, don’t see it enough in Reno.

For our Reno artists community, what I’ve been taking away from every trip and every major city I’ve been to is that we can be thinking more creatively about space and how to use it. In CDMX, even commercial galleries, artists/makers, and chefs seem to be finding underutilized, alternative space and using it for pop-ups and fun projects. I think there’s a bit of that here right now, but if rents are going up and it’s harder for a brick-and-mortar artist-run spaces to start and exist long term, maybe we have to think creatively how we can engage more with each other and our work. I think everyone, everywhere is learning to get a little more scrappy (I mean that in a good way), even if having an art show in your apartment is really just a good excuse to have a party!

(left, Tuza pop-up store; middle and right, Mercado Jamaica)