Mexican artist and architectural researcher based in Chicago, USA and Pachuca, Mexico.

His work uses architectural history, writing and video to address representations of indigeneity, the production of extreme environments and contemporary political struggles in the Americas. He has been a fellow of the Society of Architectural Historians and a grantee of the New Artists Society of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Jumex Foundation for Contemporary Art and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. His work has been shown in venues as Fundación Andreani for BienalSur, Ca’ Foscari Zattere for the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale, Harun Farocki Institut, Chicago Design Museum, Extase, SITE Galleries, SpaceP11 and Centro de Arte y Filosofia.

He is currently the curator of The Last of Animal Builders, an exhibition at the Edith Farnsworth House, opening April 2, 2023. He manages the Katz Center for Mexican Studies at The University of Chicago.

Work by Alberto Ortega at Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago.


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Agua Muy Vieja Del Lugar Espantoso

For Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago

As part of Gentle Content, a group show curated by Rhona Hoffman Gallery Director, Julia Birka-White

“Alberto Ortega Trejo’s contributions to Gentle Content were prompted by recent news events that illuminate class struggles — specifically in his home country of Mexico — in addition to his research regarding Indigenous Mexican cosmologies. When creating these new objects, Ortega Trejo considered the deadly 2019 explosion in Tlahuelilpan, Mexico of a pipeline owned by Pemex, the state oil company. The illegal extraction, possession, and sales of thefted fuel has been a long standing issue in the country, the result of larger class and economic disparities affecting sites of mineral extraction and oil processing as is the case of Tlahuelilpan, an Otomí territory. Ortega Trejo’s metal figurative cut-outs adhere to the wall, and similar to Bredar’s painted suspended heads are disjointed and cut off from their whole. Discernable is an amputated leg referencing the overcirculation of violent image in contemporary Mexico while engaging with Otomí God-making practices. Next to it, a nebulous form that is actually an alcohol sack, hovers among other silhouettes. The alcohol sacks the artist is referencing are used for pulque (a traditional Mexican alcoholic drink of fermented agave nectar) storage and typify the effect of alcoholism on colonized Indigenous communities globally. Additionally, six charcoal on sandpaper drawings mounted on metal plates and organized in a grid unite to form an atlas bone. Interested in bones and the practice of their display in sacred and communal spaces in Central Mexico as well as in their political and forensic register, Ortega Trejo’s precise drawing could be read as a warning or a sign of perpetuation and regeneration.”

Julia Birka- White, Director of Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Installation views:

Davina Semo and Alberto Ortega Trejo, Gentle Content - Rhona Hoffman Gallery
Cuando no nos dan fiebres, nos dan dolores en los huesos (When they don’t give us fevers, they give us pains in the bones), 2022 - Charcoal on abrasive paper, metal plates, and magnets
24 x 29 inches

Agua muy vieja del lugar espantoso (Very old water from the terrible place), 2022 - Plasma cut metal plates and magnets
45 x 54 inches

Piedra de esqueleto, pesadilla de flor (Skeleton stone, plant nightmare), 2022 - Plasma cut metal, high heat coating, and magnets. 44 x 24 inches