Daniel Aguilar Ruvalcaba

September 1 – 15, 2019

Mexico-City based artist Daniel Aguilar Ruvalcaba will be in-residence in the Ruby to transform the gallery into a space that questions how contemporary art can be used to understand extreme economic realities.


Daniel Aguilar Ruvalcaba (b. León, 1988) is a conceptual artist based in Mexico City. As the founder of the artist collaborative and gallery Biquini Wax EPS, Ruvalcaba regularly collaborates with writers, economists, and other intellectuals in its orbit. His work frequently takes up issues of desire and capitalism. By engaging the imaginary, Aguilar invites viewers to consider economic realities in a different light. For example, he is currently attempting to fight extreme poverty with extreme wealth by cloning the hair of Carlos Slim (the richest man in Mexico, and the fifth-richest person in the world). Ruvalcaba explains, “I explore the connections, tensions, and disputes between images, economics, and desire.”

About the Exhibit

During his residency at Duke, Daniel Aguilar Ruvalcaba created a site-specific installation for the Rubenstein Art Center’s gallery. The exhibit, Who Owns Poverty in Mexico?, was an invitation for philanthropists like David Rubenstein (founding donor of the Rubenstein Arts Center) to consider this problematic question.

This exhibit initiated discussion around a problem with no easy solution. Through this installation, Ruvalcaba also offered Rubenstein a concrete business proposal: To make a “drawing” by raising one Mexican above the poverty line in their lifetime. “With many of the things that I make and present, I am interested in
having a conversation and using it as a starting place,” shares Ruvalcaba. “In this case I was thinking: What could be related to me, but also the specific place [the Ruby]?”

On-campus engagements included: