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Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC. Courtesy Galerie Lelong & Co. Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York D.R. © ANA MENDIETA_ARS_SOMAAP_MÉXICO_2021

Five key projects by curator and Dezeen Awards judge Su Wu

Writer and curator Su Wu has joined Dezeen Awards 2023 as a judge. Here, she selects five projects that best reflect her work.

Mexico City-based Wu aims to examine "forms and concepts drawn from art and design history to explore utility, capability and social conditions".

"As a curator, I approach my work with conceptual rigour, an anarchic approach to exhibition-making and sympathy for subversion," she told Dezeen.

"The best compliment I've ever received about an exhibition was from a cultural minister, who told me that '16-year-old girls were very excited about the show'," Wu continued. "I am probably just trying to break my own teenage heart."

Art director of magazine n+1 Wu is currently working on a project informed by her 2021 exhibition Elementos Vitales: Ana Mendieta in Oaxaca, which was curated in collaboration with Mexican studio MASA.

She also has an exhibition scheduled for 2024 that explores the philosophy of art and artistic expression.

Wu among Dezeen Awards 2023 judges

Dezeen Awards 2023 in partnership with Bentley Motors is open for entries. On Tuesday we announced seven more Dezeen Awards judges, including designer Skylar Tibbits, Bentley Motor's head of design collaborations Chris Cooke, editor Katelin Butler, 2LG Studio co-founders Russell Whitehead and Jordan Cluroe and Quirk Studio co-founders Shivani Ajmera and Disha Bhavsar.

Submit your project before the entry deadline on Thursday 1 June. Click here for more information.

Read on to find Wu's views on the five projects that best represent her work:

Installation view of “Collective/Collectible,” Mexico City, with works by Tezontle and Brian Thoreen. Photo by Genevieve Lutkin, courtesy MASA.
Photo by Genevieve Lutkin, courtesy of MASA

Collective/Collectible, Mexico, 2019

"I was asked by the Mexico City-based exhibition platform MASA to co-curate their inaugural exhibition of Mexican design. At the time it just felt so wild to put art and design together in a dilapidated old mansion and dare to call it an exhibition.

"As an immigrant, I believed that a sense of belonging could be achieved through shared yearning rather than being confined by borders or political boundaries.

"We wanted to create a context of the artists who came to Mexico in the 20th century – like [American sculptors] Isamu Noguchi and Ruth Asawa, [painters] Leonora Carrington and Ibrahim El-Salahi, [French writer] Andre Breton, [conceptual artist] On Kawara, [performance artist] Ana Mendieta and [architect] Francis Alys."

Read more about Collective/Collectible ›

Installation view of Solange Pessoa and Ana Mendieta “Anima, Silueta de Cohetes (Firework Piece)” 1976
Copyright The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection. Image courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.

Elementos Vitales: Ana Mendieta in Oaxaca, Mexico, 2021

"I curated an exhibition [in collaboration] with MASA displaying work by [Cuban-American artist] Ana Mendieta in Oaxaca.

"It was the first time these significant works, including the first Silueta film work, were exhibited in the location where they were created.

"We paired Mendieta's work with five seating installations by contemporary Latina or Mexico-based artists, designers and architects, including architect Frida Escobedo and artist Solange Pessoa.

"It was an exhibition that combined art and design and suggested that rest, reflection, access and vantage points should be taken seriously. I've been gratified to see since then a few instances where museum seating, more generally, seems less of an afterthought."

Installation view of “"Saca tus trapos al sol" (2022) by Pia Camil in “Intervención/Intersección,” Rockefeller Center, NYC. Photo by Caylon Hackwith, courtesy MASA.
Photo by Caylon Hackwith, courtesy of MASA

Intervención/Intersección: MASA at Rockefeller Center, USA, 2022

"Across three sites at Rockefeller Center, including the former post office and the promenade in front of 30 Rockefeller Plaza , [we created] an installation of works by Mexican and Mexico-based artists and designers.

"There were nearly 70 pieces, a rousing return of Mexican art to Rockefeller Center, nearly 100 years after artist Diego Rivera's Man at Crossroads was destroyed.

"I was encouraged not to mention Mexican Rivera's lost mural, so instead, I made an entire exhibition about it. The exhibition was a survey of gaps: the unrealised projects, false starts, failed love affairs and accidents that also comprise a history of art and design.

"One piece I'm particularly honoured to have helped realise was an installation by the artist Pia Camil around the flagpoles surrounding the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center, the artist's largest work to date. Instead of national flags, she used the flagpoles as infrastructure to hang clotheslines, a recognisable object of human care, which has long since been illegal in Manhattan."

Read more about Intervención/Intersección: MASA at Rockefeller Center ›

Installation view of “Tea Ahorita” with works by Minjae Kim, Disciplina Studio, and Fernando Laposse. Photo by Alejandro Ramirez Orozco, courtesy Studio IMA.
Photo by Alejandro Ramirez Orozco, courtesy of Studio IMA

Tea Ahorita at Studio IMA, Mexico, 2023

"Tea Ahorita is a teashop I opened at the design gallery Studio IMA in Mexico City this February.

"Sometimes the premise of an exhibition is quite modest, but I'm working through ideas, in this case about fidelity in tradition. I am interested in the absurdities and generosities that come with ritual and craft."

"The Mexican artist Lucas Cantu developed a full-room installation that offers a ceremonial way of serving tea, rather than a tea ceremony. I also made him a tisane, a wild-foraged mint blend with 'pericón', a herb with regenerative properties that were mentioned in the Aztec codices."

Photo by Maureen M. Evans, courtesy of Casa Ahorita

Casa Ahorita, Mexico City, Mexico

"Casa Ahorita was a little shop I opened in my garage to test some loose ideas about retail and working with craftspeople and self-taught artists.

"It was supposed to be one weekend but found its own life: a tea shop, an exhibition of Japanese potters showing in Mexico for the first time and a Casa Ahorita project in the art space Son de Aqui in Oaxaca City which explored how to collaborate with artisans in a way that wasn't directive but collaborative and open to misinterpretation.

"This space, which was open only by chance, some months just an hour or two, would on some days even be giving things away. If I am bad at business, I can be even worse at business, and I really meant it, at least while it lasted."

Dezeen Awards 2023

Dezeen Awards celebrates the world's best architecture, interiors and design. Now in its sixth year, it has become the ultimate accolade for architects and designers across the globe. The annual awards are in partnership with Bentley Motors, as part of a wider collaboration that will see the brand work with Dezeen to support and inspire the next generation of design talent.