How do artists overcome the hurdles of moving to New York City? In this film, artist Alejandro Almanza Pereda contends with a series of obstacles while enrolled in his first semester of graduate school at Hunter College in Manhattan. A Mexican citizen, Almanza Pereda's first difficulty is finding a way to live and work as an artist in New York City. He decides his best way to get a visa, and join an art community, is to go back to school. Without enough money for rent, he relies on a network of friends and fellow artists, couch surfing for four months in exchange for favors and throwing parties. While settling into his MFA studio and preparing for his first graduate critique, tragedy strikes when he accidentally destroys a series of sculptures built with fluorescent bulbs. Ever-resourceful, Almanza Pereda exhibits what survived and then dismantles the sculptures, returning what he can for a little extra cash. The final hurdle in the film is school itself: Almanza Pereda learns that Hunter College plans to demolish the current studio facility—a gritty building with grand underutilized spaces near Port Authority. He hangs an artwork, in protest, on the facade of the building to express both his frustration with the school's administration and his solidarity with fellow graduate students. Says the artist, "When you have a harsh path, you improvise, no?" Featuring music from Alejandro Almanza Pereda's band Bachelor Sound Machín, and the artworks "This placed Displaced Misplaced" (2012), "After all these years I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her" (2012), "Spare the rod and spoil the child" (2008-12), "Change the world or go home" (2009), "Just give me a place to stand" (2007), "Andamio" (2007), and "Untitled (Ropero)" (2006).
Alejandro Almanza Pereda (b. 1977, Mexico City, Mexico) lives and works in Brooklyn and Manhattan, New York. Learn more about the artist at: www.art21.org/newyorkcloseup/artists/alejandro-almanza-pereda/
CREDITS | "New York Close Up" Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Brad Kimbrough & Wesley Miller. Cinematography: Don Edler, Ian Forster, Nicholas Lindner, John Marton, Wesley Miller, Nick Ravich & Andrew David Watson. Sound: Scott Fernjack & Wesley Miller. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Amanda Long & Tida Tippapart. Design & Graphics: Crux Studio & Open. Artwork: Alejandro Almanza Pereda. Additional Photography: Elizabeth Meggs. Music: Bachelor Sound Machín, Los Locos Del Ritmo, Los Saicos, Rene Ivan Peñaloza Galvan & Rigo Tovar. Thanks: Erik Benson, Alberto Borea, Miriam Castillo, Melissa Cooke, Bernardo Hernandez, Hunter College, Rick Karr, McKendree Key, Shawn McGibboney, Irvin Morazan, Birgit Rathsmann, Claudia Peña Salinas, Abelardo Cruz Santiago, Jess Wheaton & Marela Zacarias. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.
"New York Close Up" is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; Toby Devan Lewis; Lambent Foundation; the Dedalus Foundation, Inc.; and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc. Additional support provided by The 1896 Studios & Stages, and by individual contributors.