Room to grow - RSA Comment - RSA

Room to grow

Comment

  • Picture of Jacaranda Ayala
    Jacaranda Ayala
    Member of the Hooogar Art Collective
  • Picture of Michelle Castillon
    Michelle Castillon
    Member of the Hooogar Art Collective
  • Picture of Maria Jose Tellez
    Maria Jose Tellez
    Member of the Hooogar Collective
  • Arts and culture
  • Community and place-based action

In the thriving art destination city of Guadalajara, Mexico, young members of the Hooogar Collective are pursuing an ambitious mission: to create community, nurture collaboration and make art accessible to all

Everything is always about community, and when it isn’t, it’s about the lack of it.

In the middle of a global pandemic and with a longing for community, Hooogar emerged not simply as an underground art collective, but as a literal ‘home’ or a metaphysical parent for our young band of artists [‘hogar’ is Spanish for ‘home’ – Ed.]. We envisioned Hooogar as a collective that would yield something more profound than simply a consolidated art scene or external validation. We wanted to build a place where friendship and creativity could thrive and serve as guidelines for the professionalisation of each member’s individual artistic practice.

We are based in Guadalajara, a vibrant and fast-growing city of over 5 million people in western Mexico. Here, you’ll find busy streets, busy lives and a collective ethos based on a desire to erase limitations. Renowned artists and architects (Miguel Aldana, Luis Barrágan and Mathias Goeritz, to name just a few) have been drawn to this city for decades, leaving an indelible mark on its cultural history.

Hooogar was born in a house shared by art students which evolved into an informal hub for creating short films and videos, socialising, hosting parties, film nights and even flea markets. Eventually, a group of us began working together more intentionally towards the transformation of Hooogar into a collective dedicated to nurturing collaboration and supporting Guadalajara’s artistic scene, which is known for its artist-run spaces.

But Hooogar’s ambitious mission goes far beyond physical space: we aim to make art and creativity accessible to all, regardless of financial constraints. At its core, we aspire to forge a space where artists can break free from the traditional boundaries of how art is presented – a place where experimentation thrives, where friendship is the guiding axis for survival and where the artistic process is celebrated as much as the final masterpiece.

We were inspired by other groups, such as Luis Galeria and Grupo Ascencio, both managed by three talented young artists in their 20s, who championed independent creators with their inclusive yet challenging curatorial approach. Over time, Hooogar’s relationship with these groups has evolved into one of friendship and regular collaboration.

Impact through exhibitions

We have always envisioned Hooogar’s physical space, which has changed for almost every show, as an inclusive spot for contemporary culture, a stage for installations that challenge conventional norms of how spaces and objects are used and interact. Our installations are not just about showcasing art; they are about reimagining how art can be experienced. What’s more, since we tend to work with the resources that are available to us at any given moment, many of our exhibitions are site-specific.

In our March 2023 exposition, Esto No Es Guadalajara (This Is Not Guadalajara), we featured young artists from Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Colombia. Highlighting our commitment to diversity, the show explored themes of gender and race through a playful lens in hopes of sparking serious dialogue. Pieces like Marián Roma’s Dust Licker and Geraldine Riveras’ video Lo absurdo que es calor exemplify the kind of boundary-pushing art that Hooogar encourages, art that speaks to contemporary issues.

In April 2023, the showcase En Memoria de Mario Barrosa delved into the complex interplay between art, online communities and institutional critique. This installation ultimately developed into a collaborative curatorial project between the artist, Juan Diego Covarrubias, and Hooogar. In it, a traditional gallery space was transformed into cyber cubicles, inviting viewers to become users and inspire questions around the role of the audience in contemporary art, creating a space for both creation and dialogue.

Another exhibit, Mi Casa Es Tu Casa, stands out as a multidisciplinary exploration of art and domesticity. Mainly through the use of sensible objects, this work challenged the conventional notion of a home by inviting artists to redefine and reimagine what a living space can be. For the purposes of the exhibit, Hooogar transformed a completely in-use house into a gallery space, so that art became an integral part of the living experience. It raised questions about the traditional separation between art and life and blurred the lines between the private and the public, the personal and the shared, while creating dialogue between them.

Our installations are not just about showcasing art; they are about reimagining how art can be experienced

Breaking barriers

Hooogar’s approach to art and culture resonates with the theory of object-oriented ontology (‘triple-o’), which posits that all ‘objects’, whether human-made or natural, have their own existence and agency and are not passive, but active, agents in shaping culture. Hooogar embodies this interconnectedness by fostering collaborations among artists and creators from various disciplines, recognising that art is not isolated from the world but is a vital part of the complex web of human experience.

Several of Hooogar’s projects beyond our installations work to bring this vision to life, breaking down barriers between artistic disciplines and exploring different forms of creative expression. Películas Tumbadas, for example, is a movie club and production house that works as a bridge to different art forms by hosting special screenings featuring directors and audiovisual creators. Mexicana de Indumentaria is a fashion initiative that curates designers from across Mexico in pop-up stores and makes an appearance at every Hooogar event with merchandise or special initiatives.

Open spaces

We do not believe in exclusivity in the art world. Our space is open to everyone, regardless of their background or previous experience. This democratising approach has the power to transform how people perceive and engage with art, getting rid of the ‘intimidation factor’ and inviting everyone to participate in the conversation.

Hooogar’s vision for the future is not just about art, though. It’s about community, inclusivity and urban development: contemporary life, as we like to call it. It’s about creating a city where creativity knows no bounds, where collaboration is encouraged, and where art is for everyone. This has the potential to not only reshape the cultural landscape but also the very essence of the city itself.

We believe that art has the power to transform lives and cities.

Hooogar’s next exhibit will open at Guadalajara’s Art Weekend in February 2024 and feature artist Marián Roma, whose body of work explores the symbolisms and the ontology behind material ideas through different aesthetics. To learn more about Hooogar, visit the Hooogar website.

Jacaranda, Michelle and Maria José are members of the Hooogar Art Collective. Hooogar’s work is the product of the constant collaboration and horizontal participation of Jacaranda Ayala, Michelle Castillon, Brujo Chávez, Jimena Contreras, Gill Hersom, Mateo Miranda, Andrea Narváez, Eduardo Pérez, Esteban Ponce, Andrea Ramirez, José G. Rivera, Rebeca Rosas, Cristóbal Santiago, José Tajín, Maria José Téllez and Emiliano Ulloa. All are between ages 19 and 26 and currently evolving in diverse realms of artistic expression spanning visual arts, curation, design, cinema, music and fashion.

This article first appeared in RSA Journal issue 4 2023.

Read more Journal and Comment articles from RSA Fellows and associates

  • The slow death of classical music education

    Comment

    Ray Coyte

    Classical music is becoming a niche activity not helped by the fact that fewer and fewer state school pupils are learning to play orchestral instruments. It’s time to reassess our priorities, argues Ray Coyte.

  • Is art the highest form of hope?

    Comment

    Linda Bryant

    Art can have a transformative effect on mental health and wellbeing by providing hope both for the creator of the art and the person experiencing it. Linda Bryant discusses this healing effect and calls for an evolution of art in hospitals.

  • Taking flight

    Comment

    Jonathan Sapsed

    A new research hub explores how building corridors of creative industries could accelerate growth across a pan-northern ‘supercluster’.