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El Museo's Bienal: The (S) Files 2007

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Our world is like that by Fernando       Falconí

View of the exhibition Ecuador: Life in its pure state by        El Museos Bienal: The (S) Files 2007

Tiwintza Mon Amour by Manuela       Ribadeneira

Oil Pipeline Series (km 21) by Marí­a Teresa       Ponce

From the series Pain is Universal but so is Hope:White by Liset        Castillo

From the series Pain is Universal but so is Hope:White by Liset        Castillo
El Museo del Barrio,
Jul 25, 2007 - Jan 06, 2008
New York, NY, USA

El Museo's Bienal: The (S) Files 2007
by Aldo Sánchez

Another component of the S Files is video, consisting in this case of two works: Las memorias de Salmo Trutta (Salmo Trutta’s Memories), by Cayetana Carrión (Lima, 1969) and Camila Valdeavellano (Lima, 1973); and Dos Mayas (Two Mayas), by Gisela Sanders (Mexico City, 1972). Apart from it being curious that the video section should be made up of just two curatorially incompatible works, their presentation was also rather unfortunate, in that they took place in special screenings held on certain weekends in the Museo del Barrio’s theater. It would seem that they were two awkward works for which the curators could find no place in the exhibition rooms.

The merit of Las memorias de Salmo Trutta is not affected by the way it was presented: it is a short animation video, painstakingly executed frame by frame, of plasticine figures in which Trutta, a lovable old man with strange features and slow movements, takes us on a dream-like tour of his memories in a fantastic setting.

Conversely, Dos Mayas combines music, theater and dance and seeks to tell a story that would be incomprehensible if not for the wall texts. Using dynamic, original and intense (I guess) editing, the video attempts to tell the story of the love between two women and to speak of the birth of a love relationship and the pain when it comes to an end. With music as the main component --it is the predominant element - and a series of confusing shots, the video is neither a documentation of dance, nor a music video, nor a piece of video art, but an inconclusive hybrid of little interest.

Of the pieces in the exhibition rooms, the selection of Alejandro Almanza (Mexico, 1977), who lived in New York for a short but fruitful period, is a wise one. What was not so well conceived was the montage of the pieces. The first is a brick whose cavities are crossed by a bunch of lit light bulbs, which hold the brick up at eye level, making it look like a chandelier. A chandelier that places the viewer at risk, since Almanza’s work is done on the basis of empirical calculations: no one can say if those cables and light bulbs will hold up the brick for the six months that the exhibition lasts. Unfortunately the piece is cordoned off, making it impossible to appreciate fully, eliminating the hazard that is a key element of Almanza's work, and annulling its effectiveness. The cordoning off makes the piece inaccessible, which is not the point at all, hence the use of building construction materials and everyday objects. The idea is for the public to interact with the piece and view it from different angles. Alejandro Almanza’s work is such that it should have been displayed in keeping with the artist’s instructions.

Almanza’s second piece, a concrete cube lifted off the floor by lit light bulbs, is exhibited on a pedestal, when it should be directly on the floor. The same problem arose with Analí­a Segal (Rosario, Argentina) whose carpet made up of square modules with subtly protruding corners is meant to be walked on, so that people can feel what it is like to walk on this irregular surface rather than just viewing it from the other side of a velvet rope.

As part of the series Pain is Universal but so is Hope: White, Liset Castillo (Camaguey, Cuba, 1974) presents a photograph of a sculpture made of sand in which buildings that characterize cities around the world commingle: some half built, others destroyed, with the ever-present constant of decay, a word that describes a country like Cuba but that also applies to the current state of the world.

La verdadera historia de los superhéroes (The Real Story of the Superheroes) is a series of photographs by Dulce Pinzón (Mexico City, 1974) comprising portraits of Mexican immigrants in their workplaces and dressed as superheroes in keeping with their jobs. Among them, for instance, is a Hulk from Guerrero, Mexico, who works as a loader in a mini supermarket in Brooklyn, and a Wonder Woman from Puebla working in a laundromat in Williamsburg. E. Carmen Ramos, the curator of the exhibition, defines this series very aptly by stating that Pinzón "brings to light the silent lives"(3) of the workers who are largely responsible for sustaining the U.S. economy. The wall texts tells us the amount of money these workers periodically send to their families in Mexico, sums that make remittances Mexico’s foremost source of revenue, followed by crude oil. By placing loaders, cooks, nannies, waiters and all those other jobs that generally pass unnoticed out of context, in the forefront, Pinzón touches on a sore point and reminds us of the presence of Mexicans expelled from a homeland that was unable to offer them decent jobs.

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