Artists’ earthly creations take over treehouse gallery Ik Lab in Tulum
A luxury eco-hotel on the Caribbean coast isn’t where you’d usually expect to find a contemporary art gallery. But at Azulik – a resort in Tulum comprising 48 wooden villas for ‘nature lovers, honeymooners and those looking to reconnect with themselves’ (there’s no electricity, and no children allowed) – you will find avant-garde artworks in the heart of the Mexican jungle.
Opened in April this year, the multi-functional arts space Ik Lab is the brainchild of architect Eduardo Neira (better known as Roth), with an artistic programme coordinated by Paris-based art advisor Claudia Paetzold. Built sustainably, using local, organic materials – including bejuco (a local brown-hued vine known for its flexibility), chechen (resistant to rotting and termites) and chaca tree wood – Ik Lab’s construction was informed by the techniques and craft of the Mayan ancestors who once inhabited the land in the area.
Medicinal practices and cuisine were among the Mayan methods researched extensively by Neira over a decade and seeks to preserve at Azulik. The curving lines, slopes and voluminous forms of the space were also inspired by the topography of the area, and a protective fibreglass canopy protects the structure from rain while letting the natural light through.
Homme II, 2018, by Gabriel Rico. Courtesy of IK LAB
‘Configurations’ is the current exhibition (running until 31 January 2019) and brings together artists Gabriel Rico, Katinka Bock and Guillaume Leblon, whose practices are intertwined with the ancient metaphysical approach. Sculptures rise from the earth, swing in the air and appear as if from nowhere, moving in a rhythm not unlike the wildlife that still scurries by underfoot. Indeed, the idea of the exhibitions at Ik Lab is to allow the viewer to enter the space ‘as if it is a living organism’, experiencing the art and nature as if they were one.
At the end of the month, Neira and Paetzold will unveil their latest project, a new centre in the jungle for art, fashion and music: Azulik Uh May. The space will include a school and a state-of-the-art recording studio, as well as an additional exhibition space, all connected by floating bridges and meandering paths, and keeping the anthropomorphous structures seen at Ik Lab. Ernesto Neto, Paulo Nazareth and Oksar Metsavaht have created immersive installations for the grand opening on 30 November. §