Minerva Cuevas

The Mexican artist Minerva Cuevas (*1975) is based in Mexico City. Her artistic work is rooted in the experience of growing up there, but is not bound to it. The starting point of Cuevas’ work is social intervention in spaces ranging from the Internet’s virtual space to urban space and museums. The exhibition context should therefore not just be seen as a place where her interventions are presented, but also as a space where they take place. The visitor is not only a spectator, but is inevitably also a participant.

The Internet is an important medium for Cuevas. At http://irational.org/mvc/english.html one can find the Mejor Vida Corp. (MVC) (Better Life Co.). This is a project where Cuevas has created a company, but instead of selling products and services, it gives them away. In this way, the intervention can happen even through an offer. Products are distributed for free to everyone who wants them, all over the world. For example a letter of recommendation from a well-known gallery or student ID-cards are offered without any demands being imposed on the consumer. The company mirrors Cuevas’ interest in social-political questions, which are present in a city like Mexico City. MVC can therefore be seen both as a political and artistic actor; and the work can be seen both as the individual artist subject Minerva Cuevas and as the face-less corporation MVC, with its slogan ‘For a human interface’. Her commitment is always bound to a specific situation, but it always touches upon social questions that are globally relevant, such as commercialised visual culture or the uneven distribution of capital, goods and services, locally and globally.

Instead of producing art through a domineering advertising rhetoric, for example, Cuevas works socially within contexts. The difference is important for her. She has carried out an intervention where a person dressed as Ronald McDonald informs the public about at whose expense McDonalds operates. Another example is when MVC made an advertising poster campaign with a modified logotype for Mexico’s national lottery, shown together with the information text: ‘4.600.000 Mexicans live in poverty.’ Here it should be noted that the income from the lottery (Melate) goes to private interests, even though they claim to support public causes.

Cuevas does not take an outsider position, but she takes advantage of the dominating structures, institutions and brands, intervenes and turns them against themselves. One can say that she tactically takes advantage of the context she is in and reacts to it. This is a strategy that permeates Cuevas’ work, no matter if it is an offer, a gift or information about a social problem.

By Fredrik Svensk, translated by Eva May


"Donald McRonald" (Public action. Paris, France.
Palais de Tokyo)
Comedian: Frédéric Rumeau
Video: Bruno Saiz
Minerva Cuevas (CC) Creative Commons License.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0