Lotería Nacional

México City

Lotería Nacional presents Mexico’s socio-political situation from the perspective of the artist, who makes use of theoretical speculations regarding methodologies of archeology and the social sciences in order to develop interventions in public space, drawings, videos, and objects. The reflections presented revolve around the idea of “reality” as a socio-cultural construct and are firmly connected to central aspects of Mexican society that go beyond its basic political or religious structures.

The project is divided into three chapters or “moments” that appropriate public space and its symbolic structural meaning. Various artistic strategies are employed to achieve this including placarding graphic works along the avenue of Colonia Sta Maria La Ribera, gaining closer access to urban situations via video documentation, or the intervention with megaphones from a wagon selling scrap metal in order to communicate a new message.

In the exhibition space at La Miscelanea University UNARTE, Puebla, Mexico, the three moments outlined above are presented concurrently in order to establish a formal and thematic dialogue between the works. The chanting of demonstrators from 8. November 2014 (in Video 1) serves as background for the organ music, which accompanies the restorers working on the facade of the National Government Palace (Video 2). Through a megaphone lying on the ground, the voice from Moment III, systematically repeats the listing of methodological actions associated with digging and excavating an object.

Acción Día de Muertos

Protests over the “disappeared” students in Ayotzinapa took place under the slogan “They took them alive, we want them back alive.” Given the political circumstances and the strong presumption that the students are dead, the demand “of wanting everyone back alive” becomes an impossible request. While the all-or-nothing nature of the demand remains legitimate, it exposes a radical ideological structure that is determined wholly by chance and a reality that more closely approximates a game of Russian roulette. Under these circumstances relying on fundamental human rights is imperative.

The phrase “43 or nothing” was drawn on forty-three pages of the Mexican National Lottery’s infobooklet. These were installed in public space along the Colonia Santa Maria La Ribera during nighttime placarding actions on November 1-2, 2014. In the lottery’s symbolism the number 43 is a metaphor for balcony, connected here to the meaning of the popular Mexican term balconear.

Balconear is vernacular for “standing on the balcony” or trying to conceal something obvious.

8 de Noviembre

The various social and political levels of representation that can be detected in the physical constitution of a city reveal the structures of power and order to which society is subjected. Cultural expressions often reflect these structures on a superficial level. On November 8, 2014, a group of anarchists among the demonstrators protesting Ayotzinapa spray painted anarchist slogans on the facade of the National Government Palace in Mexico City, and tried to burn down the gates while chanting: “Death to the government, long live anarchy.” On November 8, 1519, Hernán Cortés and Moctezuma II met at the same location for the first time. The National Government Palace was built with stones from the palace of Moctezuma II, after it was attacked, looted, and destroyed by Hernán Cortés.

The work 8 de Noviembre consists of two video projections and a table “adorned” with diagrams, on top of which is situated a model of the National Government Palace with burned gates. The first video shows television footage of the incident on November 8, 2014. On the opposite side of the gallery a second video projection shows a group of restorers at work on the facade of the National Government Palace.

Compra-Venta / Cavar-Fosa

Every archaeological method can be reduced to the banal action of digging a hole. But the act of digging a hole is not archaeological per se. Both Mexico City as well as Tenochtitlan were built on the premise of covering existing structures with stones in order to create a new physical and symbolic structure embodying the social, political, and cultural values of the “new” rulers. Over time, it is necessary to uncover again what was once buried in order to rewrite history.

Compra-Venta / Cavar-Fosa is a sound intervention in the form of a wagon for selling scrap metal, where the typical announcing of objects offered for sale is substituted by a listing of historical or forensic reconstruction techniques. The voice speaks methodically about the digging and excavating of “objects,” which is the basis for current materialistic culture and represents the most effective way of generating myths.

See also:

Publication ARTMargins (MIT Press)

Three Anachronisms

Wildpalms

The video installation, “Three Anachronisms,” is a trilogy produced between 2010 and 2014 by Mario Asef, in which the artist reflects on three aspects of the constitution of reality. 1. The appropriation and structure of space. 2. The construction of time. 3. The relationship among information, nature and culture. This trilogy, however, is not a philosophical treatise showing the functioning of these categories. Rather, the reality that Asef observes is constituted by deficiencies in three different orders: paradox, coincidence and failure.The urge to wonder about reality occurs in advance, in the formal aspects of the work. Similar to a documentary, Asef dispenses with the staging. The facts are distant so that the artist can modify them directly. The fixed camera and the presence of common places (the terrace, the museum, the plaza), confirm that here the camera is negotiating with what is put in charge without preamble. The presence of a theoretical body, which is the basis for his work, the constant readings of sociological, philosophical and archaeological theories, construct the objectivist building from which Asef casts on reality.

The exhibit’s title reveals that the work is composed of three parts and in turn indicates how the parts relate to each other. Although the three videos were produced over a continuous period of time, the relationship among them is neither temporal nor spatial. Like a medieval altar with its wings unfurled, where each part of the triptych represents different events occurring in different spaces and times, building a narrative that links different events, so do Asef’s videos present singular facts. On the whole, however, the trilogy builds a representation of the events of Asef’s research (social reality as a construct). The variety of approaches, contexts and reflections come to change and destabilize reality itself, exposing its shortcomings.

However, Asef demonstrates, this building is full of cracks and at risk of collapse: reality and objectivity come to be refuted from the realm of words. With the use of language, Asef separates the image from his documentary content and purpose. In each of the videos, the text does not run as a subtitle, but as the title, positioned in the center of the image itself, breaking the hegemony, enthroned in the middle of our field of vision.

While the use of textual-visuals make the ground of the building tremble, irony – an important feature in Asef’s work – completely destroys this building. Heir to the Argentine literary tradition, where the derision on reality allows hyper-real worlds to open that never stop reproducing themselves (Cortazar and Borges), Asef destabilizes images, concepts and categories with which we build the platforms to travel reality. To provoke laughter, Asef allows us to enter a new order of the visual and begin to think the unthinkable.

Jorge Sanguino

VIDEOS

See also

Mausoleum text (Spanish / English)