Working in video, sculpture, drawing and photography, New York-based artist Terence Gower (b. British Colombia, 1965) investigates the material and intellectual histories of postwar positivism in art and architecture. The contemporary built environments of 1960s Mexico are the focus of his 2004 video, Ciudad Moderna. A kinetic, six-minute montage of clips drawn from the 1966 Mexican comedy film “Despedida de Casada,” Ciudad Moderna wittily transforms its source material to examine the film’s modernist architectural backdrop.
Throughout much of the 20th century, Mexico City was fertile ground for progressive architects and urban planners seeking development and social reform through design. Using freeze frames, projection drawings and clever digital composites, Gower analyzes some of the most celebrated monuments of this utopian moment in Latin American history, from Mexico City’s famed Museum of Anthropology to the Hotel Presidente in Acapulco. Pop culture and high modernism collide as Gower shifts from depersonalized interiors to swinging musical numbers, presenting architecture as a visual abstraction as well as a space of lived experience.
A limited-edition work, Ciudad Moderna is part of a gift of 68 works of contemporary art donated to the Block Museum in 2016 by art collector, philanthropist and software innovator Peter Norton. The Block gift is one of a series Norton has made to university art museums throughout the country. The gifts recognize and support institutions integrating art into teaching and learning across disciplines, fostering creative museum practices and engaging audiences with diverse forms of contemporary art.
The exhibition is curated by Michael Metzger, Pick-Laudati Curator of Media Arts.
This exhibition is supported by the Bernstein Family Contemporary Art Fund, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the Mary and Leigh Block Endowment.