From May 2021, production residency by Jorge Satorre ahead of his solo exhibition at CRAC Alsace in 2021.

Based in Mexico City, Jorge Satorre will be in residence at the art center so as to produce new site-specific installations in dialogue with earlier bodies of work. The exhibition will be accompanied by a new artist book designed by Charles Mazé & Coline Sunier and published by ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ and CRAC Alsace.

“Most of the works included in this exhibition at CRAC Alsace will be developed on site, intuitively responding to the characteristics of the space and its surroundings. The formal core of the proposal consists in connecting the interior of the building both physically and conceptually to the garden behind it.

The idea behind this exhibition comes from a book I am working on, inspired by The Steel of Madrid (El Acero de Madrid), a comedy written by Lope de Vega in 1608. I will create several reliefs and sculptures in CRAC Alsace’s garden, digging moulds in the ground so as to reproduce in negative some of the forms that appear in the 22 drawings of my book, later casting concrete in those holes. Unlike the type of work I normally make, where my research is based directly on historical or cultural aspects of the context that generates them, this exhibition seeks to respond to the physical conditions of the exhibition context.

The Steel of Madrid is a play that recounts the specific custom, popular among seventeenth-century Madrid’s high society women, of taking walks in the woods to drink iron-rich water from springs. This was recommended as a way to counteract the harmful effects of eating búcaros (little clay pots) bite by bite. It was believed at the time that the búcaros—which commonly came from Extremadura (Spain), Estremoz (Portugal) and Tonalá (Mexico)—had beautifying and contraceptive effects. Spanish Golden Age society quickly gave erotic undertones to the practice of “taking and walking the steel,” as the remedy was called, implying that these walks were a pretext to consummate furtive love affairs.

Iron or steel-enriched water is also involved in a custom I encountered at the blacksmith guild, where small residues of metal that result from the sharpening of tools are used to imbue the water with healing properties. While the supposedly beautifying properties of the búcaros came from the engobe used to ornate them, in this case the energy that the body had lost was replaced with the force of the tool that had accumulated on its edge, representing the history of the labor.

The sculptures will be based on details of several postures of a couple I spotted at the Bosque de Chapultepec in Mexico City, where romantic encounters are common. This couple is represented in the drawings that compose the aforementioned book, drawings which will be presented together with the sculptures. The technical hindrances entailed by making casts using holes in the ground as moulds and imagining the forms in negative will result in almost abstract forms, even though my figurative drawings are the main frame of reference. These casts will be both sculptures and reliefs that will be shown in different ways throughout the CRAC Alsace galleries." 

—Jorge Satorre, September 2020.