A New Line of Site in Santa Fe

Katy Diamond Hamer

Photography by Kate Russell

Site Santa Fe
Renovation on Site Santa Fe, designed by Shop Architects.

Debuting a new renovation by SHoP Architects, along with a group exhibition titled “Future Shock,” New Mexico-based SITE Santa Fe is entering a new phase of development since opening the doors to its non-profit contemporary arts organization in 1995.

“We sought an architecture firm that was as innovative as the artists that we show,” says Irene Hofmann, SITE’s director and chief curator. “Through the architecture and design of the exterior of the building, we wanted to represent the boldness of what happens inside the walls.”

Prior to this architectural intervention, the contemporary art space was forced to close during every installation of a new exhibition. Now, the museum has a separate 2,000-square-foot gallery space, called SITElab, which will allow visitors to tour the space throughout the year.

The New York-based SHoP created a metallic intervention that looks like something more commonly seen on the streets of Manhattan than in the Southwest. Attracting attention and new visitors to the art venue through architecture is just one of SITE’s goals. “In the process of getting to know SHoP Architects, we realized that in the scope of the all the highly visible projects they’ve done, we are their first art museum which makes it really special for us.”

Regina Silveir’s work

The inaugural solo exhibition in SITElab is “Kota Ezawa: The Crime of Art,” which features the artist’s visual inquisition through video and light boxes of works that have been stolen from museums. Ezawa includes an homage to the 13 high-profile artworks taken from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. In the main gallery is the group exhibition “Future Shock,” in which Hofmann chose 10 artists with the intention of showing larger, more physically substantial works, commenting on the political, technological and global state of affairs currently impacting the world. With artwork made from 1997 to 2017, the concept of “Future Shock,” originally coined by writer and scholar Alvin Toffler in 1970, focuses on the very human response to rapidly advancing society. It is extremely timely, as technology rapidly evolves, transforming not only our creature comforts but also ostensibly, our lack of privacy.

An artist particularly close to the theme of the exhibition is Dario Robleto, who is the youngest of the 10 artists, born in 1972. His contribution is a 2014 piece Setlists for a Setting Sun (The Crystal Palace), a sculptural conglomerate of objects, images and sounds in mostly blue and white, channeling a nautical landscape—foreign to Santa Fe—instigating nostalgia.

The eldest in the group, Regina Silveira, born in 1939, installed her ongoing Mundus Admirabilis—large-scale vinyl insects and pests that cover the walls and floor—which first appeared in 2007. “What makes Mundus Admirabilis specific to SITE Santa Fe is not so much its adaptation to the building fixtures,” she says, “but the way it was designed for the available spaces: as an invasive pattern, strongly attached to corners, walls and glasses of the façade, interior walls and outdoors— as an evil plague would do.” Hoffman and Silveira worked together exacting the installation and scale of the piece ensuring it would cover the expanse of the new façade.

Both “Future Shock” and “Kota Ezawa: The Crime of Art” will give visitors the opportunity to experience art in a new context, and also function as a societal mirror reminding us of magnificent and nefarious situations of everyday life.