David Lamelas, Time as Activity – Düsseldorf, 1969, silver gelatin print mounted on aluminium, signed folder; printed sheet of paper 23.5 x 29 cm each. Ed. 1/10. Courtesy of David Lamelas, LUX, London and Jan Mot, Brussels


The Summer that Never Was

(Videos from the CIAC Collection)

The year 1816 was characterized by prolonged severe weather conditions that lasted for several seasons, sinking a significant portion of the planet into an endless winter of poor harvests, epidemics, and a variety of environmental and social catastrophes. Historically known as the Year Without a Summer, it was not until the 1970s that top scientists confirmed that the reason behind this meteorological paradigm was the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in April 1815, when millions of ash particles mixed with gasses blocked out the sun, causing the average temperature to drop to 37 ºF. The socio-economic collapse and deceleration of life caused by this inclement weather helped us rethink methods of food production and storage while at the same time, new public health programs were furthered. Paradoxically, the darkness and cold gave free rein to the imagination of authors and poets in the Northern Hemisphere, spawning the literary works and tales of the Romantic movement.

The summer of 1816 acted as a brief parenthesis during which contrasting socio-cultural beliefs and meanings regarding the concept of time could be compared, forming a yardstick of sorts that could be used to observe the rhythms of nature in counterbalance with the hyper-acceleration of the modern world. The videos presented in this exhibition engage with the concept of time as momentum, hypnotic trance, circumstance, and vital unity in contrast with historical theory or the linear course of events. They fantasize about the way events are perceived, proposing a world that may be explained through timelessness.

This exhibition takes on the task of surveying the CIAC film archive, hence, all of the artworks presented here are videos. Their language is, perhaps, that of the motion picture, in which the associative relationship between temporal planes grants us passage into interstitial realms and unknown meanings. Thus, the artists featured here play with real time while employing cinematographic disassembly in order to create forms of illusion that otherwise, would go unnoticed. These are works that fluctuate between a vision of time characteristic of Western culture—spearheaded by the concept of progress, where temporal momentum is the future, the ends that drive us to act, or the goals we seek, no matter what the cost—and an impulse that overlaps tradition—where the center of gravity is not tomorrow, but the past; a form of ritual memory whereby the guidelines of what has taken place may be traced as repetition and origin—; a non-linear time that becomes an ellipse that as it unfolds, allows us to remain on pause and reflect.

Exhibition design

Designing an exhibition display in the space of the Laboratorio Arte Alameda inevitably involves dealing with the friction between the fragility of the temporary intervention and the permanence and massiveness of the historic building.
PRODUCTORA's proposal reinterprets the wide buttresses of the enclosure from a sort of empty walls by using three meter-high cabinets in blue. Three different materials were chosen to cover them: blue wooden panels to divide spaces, white fabric-lined frames for projection screens, and felt surfaces to absorb the sound that bounces off its high domes.
These new walls define paths and routes while providing the supports and technical spaces that hold the audiovisual pieces. Its volumetric presence (the walls are sixty centimeters wide) establishes a dialogue with the monumental spaces of the Laboratorio, although among its open shelves it is still possible to perceive the murals of what was the Convent of San Diego in the 16th century.
The modularity of this display design allows the creation of various configurations, where the shelves can be easily assembled and disassembled without the need to anchor them to the floor or to the walls, thus offering a second life, either as a museography element in other rooms of the museum or as cabinets and bookcases.



Interested in promoting contemporary art and with the intention to reach a wider audience, the collection ventured into the public sphere as a non-profit association, Isabel and Agustín Coppel Collection (CIAC), A. C.

CIAC A.C. is committed to the research and dissemination of contemporary art supporting exhibitions, publications, research and art projects. In addition to the support provided to different art projects and with the aim of creating a closer dialogue with a wider audience, CIAC develops projects like exhibitions, publications, apps and audio guides, which allow not only to show its collection, but also to create and share knowledge about the art of our time. To carry out these projects, CIAC works closely with renowned art professionals as well as public and private museums, thinking about these partnerships to reach different audiences.

Laboratorio Arte Alameda

Located in La Alameda Central, the oldest public garden on the continent, inside the old church and part of the former Convent of San Diego (1591), the LAA opens its doors as a "laboratory" of experimental art that exhibits, documents, investigates and shares contemporary and interdisciplinary artistic practices, with a special focus on making works conceived especially for space. LAA is committed to creating a program with and for various visitors, participants and users, and thus actively contribute to the social ecology of the environment. It presents temporary exhibitions and has an extensive program of parallel activities, both face-to-face and online. It proposes to be a place of reflection, encounter, and of co-creation with different communities in which the different artistic expressions dialogue with the enclosure and with the public. It seeks to be a friendly, accessible and inclusive space where the visitor feels welcome, heard and connected with art.

Ruth Estévez

Ruth Estévez is a writer and curator based in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently director and Chief Curator of Amant, and one of the curators of the 34 São Paulo Biennial. She has served as Senior Curator of the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Boston and as performance curator for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. Between 2012 and 2018 she was director and curator of REDCAT/California Institute of the Arts, CalArts, Los Angeles, in addition to having been Chief Curator of the Museo Carrillo Gil in Mexico City. Estévez is also, together with the architecture workshop Productora, co-founder of Liga, an independent initiative founded in Mexico City in 2011, which promotes contemporary Latin American architecture through exhibitions, publications, events, conferences and workshops. She has a master's degree in Art History from UNAM and is a PhD candidate for UCLM in Spain.


PRODUCTORA is a Mexico City based architectural studio founded by Abel Perles (1972, Argentina), Carlos Bedoya (1973, Mexico), Victor Jaime (1978, Mexico) and Wonne Ickx (1974, Belgium). PRODUCTORA’s work is characterized by an emphasis on precise geometries, a desire to generate legible projects with clear gestures and the search for timeless buildings in their material and programmatic resolutions.

The office is working on projects in Mexico and abroad, ranging from residential projects to public buildings. Its work has been presented in the Architectural Biennials of Beijing (2006), Venice (2008, 2012, 2018) and Chicago (2015, 2017), in the National Art Museum of China (Beijing) and in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (UK).

PRODUCTORA has won the Young Architects Forum NY in 2007, and Emerging Voices in 2013, both convened by the Architectural League of New York. In 2016 they received the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize for emerging architects for the ‘Pavilion on the Zocalo’ at the IIT in Chicago and were finalists of the MCHAP edition 2018 with the Teopanzolco Cultural Center, a project carried out in collaboration with Isaac Broid. With this same project they received the CICA (International Committee of Architecture Critics) Award for Latin American Architecture at the International Architecture Biennial of Buenos Aires 2017, the American Architecture Prize in Cultural Architecture(2017) the First International Prize in the Pan American Architecture Biennial of Quito BAQ2018, the Oscar Niemeyer Award for Latin American architecture organized by the Network of Latin American Architecture Biennials REDBAAL (2018) and the Simon Prize for Architecture Living Places 2018 curated by the Mies Van der Rohe Foundation of Barcelona. Recently, in collaboration with KDA, PRODUCTORA won the International Contest for the new site of the Houston Endowment in Texas, USA.

PRODUCTORA has been actively involved in teaching both in local Universities such as the Universidad Iberoamericana, Centro de Diseño, TEC de Monterrey and Universidad La Salle in Mexico City as well as abroad. The partners of PRODUCTORA have been teaching studios at UCLA - California, IIT - Chicago and Harvard GSD - Cambridge. Amongst the many publications of the office, their first monograph by Arquine (2010) and the Monograph by Architecture Magazine 2G (2014) stand out.


The Summer That Never Was (Videos from the Colección CIAC) is organized by the Secretaría de Cultura del Gobierno de México and the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura (INBAL), together with Laboratorio Arte Alameda (LAA), in collaboration with Colección CIAC A.C.

Curator: Ruth Estévez
Director CIAC: Magnolia de la Garza Molina y Vedia
Director LAA: Lucía Sanromán Aranda
Deputy Director LAA: Paola Gallardo Aguilar
Exhibition design: Productora
Coordination CIAC: Verana Codina
Logistics and Installation LAA: Marcos Ysaír Pérez Botello
Registry and Logistics CIAC: Ana Belén Lezana
Registry and Logistics LAA: Paola Gallardo Aguilar
Production: Planiphika
Press LAA: Maru Briones
Copy editing: Marisol Noble
Translation: Tanya Huntington
Graphic design LAA: Sheila Díaz
Web Page design: dupla
Interview: Rodrigo Martínez Del Campo
Photography: Ramiro Chaves
Education LAA: Marycar Bastida
Community Manager LAA: Natalia Mondragón Almaraz
Installation CIAC: Rodrigo Martínez Del Campo and Alan Platas
Installation LAA: Álvaro Serra, Mario Huerta and Mauricio Briz
Apoyo en montaje: Edgar Flores Córdova, Jhorman Muñoz Lozada, Fabián Espinosa Luna and Ameyali Montserrat Estrada Caballero


Isabel Gómez de Coppel
Agustín Coppel Luken

Mireya Escalante
Ángeles Linares

Víctor Jaime Tello
Wonne Ickx
Carlos Bedolla
Abel Perles

PRODUCTORA Collaborators:
Osmar Montalvo
Erik Castañeda
Acoustic consultant: Omar Saad

Marcela Martínez
Gerardo Maya Colín

We would like to thank all the artists and their studios: Anri Sala, Damián Ortega, David Hammons, David Lamelas, Diana Thater, Doug Aitken, Fernando Ortega, Francis Alÿs, Francis Alÿs Studio, Gary Hill, Jonathan Monk, Mario García Torres, Mauricio Alejo, Melanie Smith, Miguel Rael, Mircea Cantor, Pierre Huyghe, Shirin Neshat, Shirin Neshat Studio, Superflex, Superflex Studio, Tacita Dean

And their galleries: 303 gallery, Casey Kaplan, Chantal Crousel, David Zwirner, Dvir Gallery, Jan Mot, Kurimanzutto, Marian Goodman and Esther Schipper

Lastly, we thank the whole management team from Laboratorio Arte Alameda and Colección CIAC A.C.

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