Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mexican Being(er)

Mexican Culture is Performative... At least in the U.S. 

       Stereotypes create culture as culture creates stereotypes. To be Mexican outside of Mexico is all a performance because there is no knowledge of what it means to be The Other. Mexican cultural elements are deculturalized when taken by other countries like American (or any other country). The value of such Mexican cultural elements only hold an economic value for Americans and the Otherness of the Mexican culture becomes a show, a performance.

Take for example, the Mexican Mariachi hat:

The hat is being used completely outside of context in a way Mexicans would not use it. Truth to be told, those hats are worn only in cultural and national festivities (includes Soccer matches when the national team is playing), it is part of folklore, part of a dance composed of a wonderful and colorful costume which includes the Mariachi Hat. It creates patriotic feelings, and group belonging.

Why does the Mariachi hat have to be taken outside of its culture, lose its cultural value as part of the Mexican culture? And become a joke, a show, an Other?

James Luna has responded  to these questions in his art:

 James Luna observing Columbus Day 2010, 
front of Columbus Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Take a Picture with A Real Indian

Link to YouYube

I want to take this project a little further. And present two performative pieces from my culture.

La Danza de los Viejitos de Michoacan.

Here is an example of the dance in its more traditional way:

YouTube Link here

El Chuntaro Style de El Gran Silencio.

YouTube Link here

     These two performances encapsulate two different subcultures within the Mexican culture. And I wanted to perform those dances outside of their traditional context. I also focused on the costume and the process of becoming a performer in these subcultures. The following performances are composed by one dancer or performer. The dancer performs in a non-conventional space, the performance is in front of a camera only, no audience. The performance is somewhat improvised and not following completely the traditional style of each piece.
I show the masking process of my identity to take different performative identities. In the end showing how I react to the idea of performing  instead of being who I am. Here is the final product:

Mexican Being-er

Link to YouTube here

Friday, May 10, 2013

Robert Gober, Inside the Real Outside

More Real than the Real
Robert Gober was born in Wallingford, Connecticut, in 1954. Graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1976 he moved to New York, where he lives now as a retiree.
His art incorporates sculpture and painting mainly. Gober works with objects that are somewhat domestic such as sinks, beds, cribs, doors an others, he distorts these pieces and usually puts them together in one space where he incorporates his painting. He explores sexuality, relationships, nature, politics, and religion. His work is often based on memories from his childhood or on familiar subject matter from around his home or studio. He has a variety of solo exhibitions that date from 1988 and has won several awards.
His practice: the distortion of objects that belong to a materialist/religious/domestic society. “Radical shifts of tone, the interpretations of illusions, juxtapositions of high and low, nature and culture, sublime and banal.” His distorted objects are believed to be anti-modernists.                
Example of pieces:

                                                                                 Untitled, 1999-2000
Conceptual art: Each piece individually is a reaction to concepts explored by artists throughout history. Each piece holds a social commentary.

Although his work can be appreciated and analyzed as segments or individual parts it is necessary to analyze it as it is presented in galleries and museums, as a whole exhibition. 

Example of Exhibition: his installation at Dia Center for the Arts, NY. 

                                                                          Untitled, installation view, 1992
Video link to this installation: Here.

The pieces together in one room are carefully arranged to have the audience experience what some critics call “postindustrial despair.” A struggle to interact with mass-produced industrial materials due to the imprisoning space that does not allow the audience to escape from the reality constructed with unreal objects. 


The door promises scape from this reality, but the doors do not lead anywhere or lead to a space that is part of the same reality.
Window shows outside that is fake (lighting is artificial).
There is a real sink (it functions) that is taken outside context. It reminds the viewer of a home that is outside of that room. A home that does not exist in this reality.
A real nature exists somewhere, however it’s lost and barricaded since all you see is a painting of a forest.
Nothing in the room is real “we stand ‘inside’ a room that puts us ‘outside’.” It is a private room and we become more alien within it.

For more on Gober I recommend the San Francisco MOMA website.