Why would an artist leave the greatest city in the world?
Artist Alejandro Almanza Pereda lives out his own personal "Escape from New York" (1981)—the John Carpenter classic cult film—completing a big mission before time runs out. From his Hunter College MFA studio in Tribeca, Pereda recalls how the retro-future action film had a big impact on him as a kid growing up in Mexico. Set in a dystopian Manhattan that’s been turned into a prison, the film features anti-hero character Snake Plissken whose mission is to rescue the President before the time lapse bomb implanted in Plissken’s body explodes. Pereda sees today's New York City as an inaccessible prison of a different sort: “It's become a playground for really privileged people.” Pereda describes the disheartening, socially isolating environment that artists in New York now face. With exorbitant rents for barely adequate studio spaces, artists are forced to maximize their time by either making money or art, with little opportunity to partake in the larger creative community that attracted them to the city in the first place. But like any good New Yorker, Pereda optimizes his best remaining asset—the three weeks that remain in his Hunter studio—and embarks on an ambitious new project before moving to Mexico City. He creates a DIY plywood aquarium in which he photographs classic table-top still lives featuring his own treasured knickknacks and produce sourced from nearby Chinatown. Staging his arrangements upside down and underwater, Pereda is able to circumvent the rules of gravity in favor of a alternative world where objects counterintuitively float and sink. At times melancholy, sublime, and unpredictable, Pereda's still lives mirror his own bittersweet feelings about leaving New York: sadness over the loss of friends leavened with the promise of adventures in a new city. Featuring music by Pereda’s band La Rubia te Besa and the artist's video "Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" (2014).
Alejandro Almanza Pereda (b. 1977, Mexico City, Mexico) lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico. Learn more about the artist at:www.art21.org/newyorkcloseup/artists/alejandro-almanza-pereda/
CREDITS | ART21 "New York Close Up" Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Erinnisse Rebisz. Cinematography: Nick Ravich & Andrew Whitlatch. Sound: Nick Ravich. Design & Graphics: CRUX Studio & Open. Artwork: Alejandro Almanza Pereda. Music: La Rubia te Besa, Jose Luis Cortes, Jose Antonio Elguezabal, Roberto Galindo, & Juan Matus (Yodex). Thanks: Arizona State University Art Museum International Artist Residency at Combine Studios, Rowan Burkam, Natalee Cayton, Abelardo Cruz-Santiago, Greg Esser, Reiko Hamano, Hunter College, Sheetal Khanna-Ravich, Gordon Knox, Carrie Marill, Maira Monroy, Matthew Moore, Julio Cesar Morales, Lateral Move, Estrella Payton, Wayne & Alison Rainey, Birgit Rathsmann, Morgan Riles, Arkadiy Ryabin, Claudia Peña Salinas, Seung Yeon Huh, STUDIOCANAL & Zach Trow. An ART21 Workshop Production. © ART21, Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.
MUSIC: La rubia te besasoundcloud.com/la-rubia-te-besa/
ART21 "New York Close Up" is supported, in part, by The Lambent Foundation; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and by individual contributors.