Aleksandra Mir

Localismos

Flash Art, #237, New York, Sept 2004
By Ricardo Pohlenz

Organized Movement
1 May - 30 June 2004
part of
Localismos
May - August 2004
Perros Negros, Izazaga #8, col. Centro, Mexico D.F. - Mexico

Downtown Mexico City has been passing through radical changes for some time. Carlos Slim, chairman of Grupo Carso, launched an urban regeneration project several years ago. New streets, hotels, nightlife, tourism, art centers, and city living are springing up amid the colorful daily business of the district. Downtown Mexico City, known as the Centro Historico, has always been a multi-layered historical geography in which pre-Hispanic archaeological sites collide with buildings from the colonial epoch and McDonald's.

At the Hotel Virreyes, a vintage hostel that has become a hip joint for the alternative scene in Mexico City (the lobby features frescoes by Hector Falcon), one finds the headquarters of Perros Negros, a collective of young artists who have orchestrated 'Localismos', a month-long residency project for 20 artists from Mexico and abroad to respond to the lived experience of the Centro Historico. On the opening night, cabs drove between the sites, though most of pieces were featured in a rundown building converted into a gallery at Isabel La Catolica (a few blocks away from the Hotel Virreyes.) There, you get a good perspective on what things were like during the residency, especially in Aleksandra Mir's video about dancing and behavior based on her own experiences at dance lessons and private parties and night clubs.

Thibaud Pradet, a member of the French anti-fashion collective Andrea Crew, referred to the resulting inconveniences and paradoxes of a residency project. They weren't really able to get in touch with the downtown folk through their second-hand fashion atelier (as they have done with immigrants in Europe). In addition, the agenda behind the changes in downtown is in part the displacement of these people (as is demonstrated, for example, in Diego Berruecos' map of downtown street vendors). Nevertheless, Andrea Crew did a wonderful job of scavenging for clothes for a shop window and putting on an anti-fashion wrestling match, Andrea Crew vs. the monsters.

There was a strong anthropological element permeating 'Localismos', as was shown by Miki Guadamur, who collected Korean and Chinese children's stationary imagery (bootleg Hello Kitty and so on) from the street vendors. Colombian artist Carolina Caycedo compiled a soundtrack and developed a series of sticker tattoos. Tatsuo Inagaki organized a Museum of Childhood with photos and experiences of the neighborhood. And Erick Beltran made loaded dice, resulting in an installation filling several workshop tables. Anton Vidokle and Julieta Aranda printed a newsletter about popular geometry and displayed it on a newsstand. Asier Perez Gonzales, in association with a local ice-cream vendor, made a 'Centro Historico' sherbert treat. Nuevos Ricos (an independent music label founded by artist Carlos Amorales and musician Julian Lede) staged a heavy metal band contest. Tercer un quinto developed an intervention in the urban landscape, and Xavier Andrade opened an improvised Mexico City franchise of his Full Dollar Gallery (originally from Guayaquil in Ecuador), while Miguel Calderon set up an improvised gym (with weights made of concrete filed cans). The resulting experience turned out to be as intense and chaotic as the historical but transient place that inspired it.