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


  1. I think with this project you have successfully raised and shattered some of the concepts of what it means to be a Mexican, all the while without saying a word. It's easy to costume-ize a culture, when cultures are so often uncontainable in single images. While you performed two cultural dances, you also seemed to suggest the insufficiency of these dances to sum up all that it means to be a part of Mexican culture. It was an intriguing video -- I want to know more about what true Mexican culture is. Thank you and make more art!

  2. I like how you always have this consistent focus on your culture, and especially how you made this video in a way that goes back the very first project that we have done. What a reflecting finale!

  3. it was amazing to watch your process on this project and see you travel so deeply into your thoughts on this issue. at the start it seemed impossible to pack it all into a short video but you did it! don't even want to know how many hours went into this, hopefully other classes weren't neglected. you clicked "make private" on your youtube post, make sure to fix it so we can all see it!

  4. I really enjoyed your video Alfredo! Reading over this blogpost made me appreciate your project even more. It is awesome to see the steps that you took in order to achieve your finished piece. Well done!