Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Arte, MUCA Campus,|
Mar 17, 2007 - Sep 30, 2007
Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico
Acts in Dissent. On the Age of Discrepancy: Art and Visual Culture in Mexico 1968-1997
by Gabriela A. Piñero
Acts in Dissent. On The Age of Discrepancies: Art and Visual Culture in Mexico 1968-1997
"The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are "still" possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge - unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable."
Walter Benjamin, "On the Concept of History" 1940 (1)
The Age of Discrepancies: Art and Visual Culture in Mexico 1968-1997(2) arose out of a need. As Cuauhtémoc Medina and Olivier Debroise, the mentors of the project state, the period the exhibition seeks to explore is marked by the absence of critical reflection and by neglect on the part of official agencies and institutions. The task they have undertaken is set out as "a knowledge-producing project: creating an exhibition and a panoramic publication (*) but also an infrastructure: making an archive of documents, images and videotaped interviews."
"How does one write the history of what was kept on the sidelines of history?" How does one grasp the fading of a moment in culture and the possibilities offered by its public rescue?" These are central questions posed by Debroise and Medina.(3) The project is presented as a labor of memory, the rescue of a recent past "marginalized from history", according to the curators,(4) and an exercise in historical writing. It is a disparate writing made of different supports and materials. The recovery and restoration of the artworks, the rescue of testimonials and experiences through interviews, and the creation of archives and databases for future research make this endeavor a practice under permanent reformulation; a writing that does not seek to build closed narratives and genealogies, but rather to raise questions.
The title itself shows that the exhibition tries to view the wide-ranging esthetic creations across the board, thus rendering any distinction between "fields" or "spheres" useless. The 316 works, ranging from cinema and photography to paintings, installations, objects, videos, etc. are arranged under nine thematic groupings: "Salón Independiente" (Independent Room), "Mundo Pánico" (Panic World), "Sistemas" (Systems), "Márgenes Conceptuales" (Conceptual Margins),
" Estrategias Urbanas" (Urban Strategies), "Insurgencias" (Insurgencies), La Identidad como Utopía" (Identity as Utopia), "La Expulsión del Paraíso" (The Fall from Paradise), and "Intemperie" (Inclemencies). Dissent is the common spirit behind the different creations, and this dissent is expressed in a special way in the phrase used in 1968 by the then rector of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexico’s National Autonomous University -UNAM), Javier Barros Sierra, to which the title of the exhibition -- also curated by Alvaro Vázquez and Pilar Garcìa de Germenos-- alludes: "Long live discrepancy, which is the spirit of the University, Long live discrepancy, which is the best thing to serve".(5)
Any notion of chronological order is quickly dispelled by the arrangement of the different areas. Rather than watertight compartments, these areas are intended to serve as possible lines of interpretation that by no means seek to delimit the meanings of the works shown in them. The exhibition allows one to take a tour that subverts the directions proposed, thus subsuming the different creations in a sort of "productive disorder", to paraphrase Benjamin’s perspective.(6) Rather than following a historical, chronological line, the arrangement of the exhibition makes it possible to wander to and fro among dissimilar pieces, giving rise to crossings and connections that a traditional history based on notions of "style", "discipline" and "belonging" would view as heretical.
Made just four years after the student massacre at Tl