Conflict Resolution: Teddy Cruz and Pedro Reyes

Conflict Resolution: Teddy Cruz and Pedro Reyes

Teddy Cruz
Cone Room, 2008.
Originally conceived for inSite_05, Cone Room has been rebuilt for Conflict Resolution on the upper terrace of SFAI’s 800 Chestnut Street quad by students in SFAI’s Design and Technology department, in conjunction with Estudio Teddy Cruz.
Photographed by Monique Atherton and Alayna Van Dervort.

November 21, 2008

Conflict Resolution:
Teddy Cruz and Pedro Reyes

On view through 13 December 2008
Walter and McBean Galleries
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
800 345 SFAI / 415 749 4563

For the last two years, San Diego–based architect Teddy Cruz and Mexico City–based artist Pedro Reyes have together been deliberating on, among a host of other interconnected matters, the relation between design strategy and social transformation in the age of globalization. Notably appearing in conversation in the pages of the November 2007 issue of Modern Painters, where they consider and actively invoke the power of nonrepresentational diagrammatic reasoning, Cruz and Reyes come together again, under the initiative of SFAI’s Exhibitions and Public Programs, to repurpose their “micropolicies” for transfiguring the socio-urban topography as resolution procedures—in particular, for the variously imbricated, ground-level conflicts obtaining in postinvasion Iraq.

Working neither from within nor from outside “the system” (the latter being to them every bit as bourgeois as the former is to the self-styled subversive), Cruz and Reyes seek to engage the hands-on problematic of a war-torn or otherwise-blighted urban landscape in what they refer to, after Herbert Marcuse, as “the mouth of the cobra”—that is, to engage it with critical proximity rather than distance. For instance, in no way endorsing the prevailing just-war doctrines promulgated by certain members of the US and EU intelligentsia, Cruz and Reyes nevertheless embrace the unsought but de facto opportunities for understanding conflict, mediation, and facilitation that have been brought about by the situation in Iraq. As with their collaborative ruminations on the alternative design trajectories made available in and by the Tijuana–San Diego border area (conventionally taken, from the planning and architectural perspective, as a promiscuous sprawling muddle), their reflections on how the war in Iraq was actually played out (“bottom up”), as opposed to how it was originally planned (“top down”), discover in the wake of calamity a palpable object lesson: conflict, and the dire wreckage of conflict, are, by their very nature, a base of operations for imaginative intervention and social and geopolitical negotiation—the kind of intervention and negotiation Cruz and Reyes have both explored and instantiated through their projects at SFAI.

Consistent with its varied themes and methodologies—as well as with the curatorial strategies of SFAI’s director of Exhibitions and Public Programs, Hou Hanru—Conflict Resolution is coordinated and presented at the intersection of two of the principal components of SFAI’s Exhibitions and Public Programs. The first, New Models of Production, contextualizes artistic creations against a backdrop of economic, industrial, and technical production under globalization while also investigating the concept of competing versions of modernity and the tension between developed and “underdeveloped” worlds. The second, Acting Out in the City, utilizes the galleries and spaces of the SFAI campus (see the image above) as points of departure for large-scale projects of urban intervention, conspicuously injecting artistic productions and awareness into public spaces.

Born in Guatemala, Teddy Cruz is a San Diego–based architect who researches and analyzes the urban transformation occurring on both sides of the US-Mexico border. Inspired by the dynamics of geopolitical, economic, and demographic division and negotiation, he studies the relation between architectural sites and the impacts they have on the production of urban spaces. His promotion of “informal” and alternative visions and strategies for city growth have been presented in such large-scale events as the 10th Istanbul Biennial and the 2008 Venice Biennial’s 11th International Architecture Exhibition. His work was also included in World Factory, a group exhibition that opened in January 2007 at SFAI’s Walter and McBean Galleries. In April 2007, Cruz also lectured at SFAI as a visiting artist and scholar.

Born in Mexico City, where he lives, Pedro Reyes works in a number of mediums, including installation, design, performance, and video—all with a view to social activism. Reyes has exhibited at such venues as the South London Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, El Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, Yvon Lambert Gallery in both NYC and Paris, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (MoMA) in NYC, Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, the Seattle Art Museum in Washington (USA), and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University in Cambridge (Massachusetts, USA). In November 2007, Reyes lectured at SFAI as a visiting artist and scholar.

SFAI’s exhibitions and public programs are supported in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund. Additional support and assistance for Conflict Resolution have been provided by AIA San Francisco, the Bureau of Urban Forestry in San Francisco’s Department of Public Works, the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco, Friends of the Urban Forest (San Francisco), PG&E, the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Protocol, and SMWM. Conflict Resolution is cosponsored by SFAI’s Design and Technology department as part of the Fall 2008 Design and Technology Salon and by SFAI’s City Studio Projects.

San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI)

Founded in 1871, SFAI is one of the oldest and most prestigious schools of higher education in contemporary art in the US. Focusing on the interdependence of thinking, making, and learning, SFAI’s academic and public programs are dedicated to excellence and diversity.

SFAI’s School of Studio Practice concentrates on developing the artist’s vision through studio experiments and is based on the belief that artists are an essential part of society. It offers a BFA, an MFA, and a Post-Baccalaureate certificate in Design and Technology, Film, New Genres, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, and Sculpture/Ceramics.

SFAI’s School of Interdisciplinary Studies is motivated by the premise that critical thinking and writing, informed by an in-depth understanding of theory and practice, are essential for engaging contemporary global society. It offers degree programs in History and Theory of Contemporary Art (BA and MA), Urban Studies (BA and MA), and Exhibition and Museum Studies (MA only).

For more information about this exhibition and other public or academic programs at SFAI, please go to or call 415 749 4563.

San Francisco Art Institute

RSVP for Conflict Resolution: Teddy Cruz and Pedro Reyes

November 21, 2008

Thank you for your RSVP.

will be in touch.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.