The Santa Teresa la Antigua church and monastery complex is today home to the Ex Teresa Arte Actual contemporary artspace. Focused primarily on non-object and artistic process practices, it’s the place for installation, performance, sound art, video art, and multimedia works.
The space also acts as a laboratory for the contemporary art and culture of Mexico, and the world. The hope is to see culture created, and researched, while offering support that includes installation, performance and multimedia space. The Ex Teresa also as a promoter for experimental art.
The organization works to offer production of regular performance programs, that include contemporary music concerts, film and video projections, art installations, sound art, and multimedia shows. A center for documentation also maintains and audiovisual and photographic collection.
The church of Santa Teresa la Antigua was part of a Carmelite monastery. Built in the 17th century, it was at first called the “Convent of San José of the Carmelites.” The majority of the building is the design of the architect Cristóbal de Medina Vargas (1635 – 1699).
Still one of the strongest examples of the architecture of the New Spanish Baroque, the complex was modified in the late 17th and 18th centuries. The main entrance has double quarried Solomonic columns and a majestic dome was erected by the architect, Lorenzo de la Hidalga, in only the mid-19th century.
- An iconic, highly-venerated, image within the temple is known as the Christ of Santa Teresa.
With the Reformation of the 1860s, the complex was siezed by the government. Thereafter it was used as a warehouse and military barracks. Parts were rebuilt to 19th century tastes, and parts were used as schools, and as the national school of dentistry. Soon thereafter, the Rector of the National University moved in. This section is today known as the Palace of University Autonomy, and it hosts some of the best places for viewing the larger Santa Teresa complex.
Of the original structure, the main nave and chapels are preserved. Of the interiors, some of the former splendor can be seen. Of particular note is the Chapel of Christ of Santa Teresa with the image mentioned above.