10 years of SOMA

10 years of SOMA


Courtesy SOMA, 2009–19.

October 22, 2019
10 years of SOMA
Benito Juárez
Calle 13 #25
03800 Mexico City,

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SOMA is the initiative of a group of artists who changed Mexico’s art scene in the 1990s with two fundamental proposals: Temístocles 44 and La Panadería. Twenty or so renowned artists—including Eduardo Abaroa and Carla Herrera Prats, among others—were convened by a call from Yoshua Okón, and in 2009 they set out on a new adventure managing an independent space.

SOMA is the finely-tuned thesis of a series of actions and mechanisms generated by the contemporary art which these artists, in their moment, set in motion as a way of understanding and making art that has extended itself toward the new millennium. What has happened with art in these times? And, particularly, from this school or artists for artists—a space for formation, for training, which presents itself as an alternative to institutional, academic education.

What is taught at SOMA? What does it currently mean to make contemporary art? To a large extent, contemporary art is a series of conceptual practices and actions that originate in Dadaism in origin and challenge norms: hacker poets on social media, sonic pieces, collages of stolen audiovisual images, texts, exotic collections, archival research, performance… the method is random, what is shared is the dissent from tradition systems of knowledge and classic languages of artistic expression that are inscribed in the term “Fine Art.”

The agility of what SOMA proposes is located in three working axes: the Academic Program (PES), SOMA Summer and Miércoles de SOMA, which are catalysts for artistic emergence in Mexico City.

PES and SOMA Summer are two companion platforms for artists that veer far from the romantic idea of the atelier and from sublime recollection. One of their transversal strategies consists of showing work in pairs, be they made up of artists, curators, academics or other agents in the artistic field. This paradigm shift has completely transformed ways of work and artistic education. With respect to the amalgamating role of interests and searches, we recognize and appreciate that the enormous dedication of Herrera Prats, who brings her sharp conceptual skill and curious gaze to her position as SOMA’s director, has turned it into one of the most attractive intensive educational programs for artists throughout the world.

Miércoles de SOMA are a meeting place to promote encounter and dialog, a space to build faith in the artistic projects that take apart and re-articulate our vision of the world, avoiding dogma, resisting coercive models of thought and identity.

Sustaining SOMA as a long-term project has been fundamental for creating collaborative bonds that are constantly active with universities, foundations, museums, galleries and more, which makes it possible for the scholarship artist who have graduated from SOMA to circulate as impressively as they do. To this endless labor we add mention of the management efforts of  Barbara Hernandez and current director Laura Cortés, in addition to the solid patronage of Aimée Servitje and Moisés Cosío, as well as important support from other initiatives, such as the yearly auction to which the arts industry generously contributes.

Many projects convergeat SOMA, turning toward the future, focusing on paths for the community, recycling, use of technology that isnot-for-profit but as tools of identity and self-knowledge. The constant discussion of critical perspectives such as decolonization, gender/ inclusiveness and cultural openness comes from philosophical reflection, science fiction and the corrective revision of historical paradigms, all at “the speed of liberation” as hurricane-strength winds stir the passage of visions (hallucinations) of what is to come. 

Written by Itala Schmelz

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