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Soundings and transitions: Mexico

Ivan Puig, Lider de Opinion, 2008

I returned last week from the Transitio_mx, a festival of electronic and media art in Mexico City, in which I gave a presentation at the Laboratorio Arte Alameda, a fascinating and impressive arts centre in the centre of the city, one of the hosting venues of the festival.

The festival demonstrated that there is some really exciting work and ideas originating from this country. Deservedly winning the overall festival prize was Ivan Puig’s Lider de Opinion (Opinion Leader). Behind a TV news broadcast, the viewer entered a back room to discover that all the news items’ supporting video images were drawn from a series of tiny dioramas.Puig’s latest project is to design a 2-person vehicle to run on, and conduct research from, the disused railways of Mexico. I was also intrigued by the work of Ariel Guzik – an installation of his “spectral harmonic resonator”, which he has developed to communicate with cetaceans – and made a visit to his studio to learn more about his work.

Sound was an extremely important component of the festival. The evening programme of sound performances – taking place in the historic gardens of the very beautiful Fonoteca Nacional – were really impressive. Sound art in Mexico, in its many forms, is clearly extremely strong. Other good exhibitions in the city included an highly absorbing and relevant ‘Presumed Guilty’ at the Museum of Modern, which included work by the prisoner group Colectivo Los Rashes and a piece by Santiago Sierra comprising a small room in the gallery in which you could opt to be locked (for an indefinite time) by the guard. As one of life’s habitual volunteers, I was disappointed to decide I couldn’t afford the time (maybe).

I found there to be a great deal of interest in the potential to work across the disciplines of art and science, particularly among the younger artists. My great thanks to all the artists and curators for their warm welcome and enthusiasm about our work, and particularly to Tania Aedo and the staff at the very inspiring Laboratorio Arte Alameda, and to Nahum Mantra, who put me in touch with my contacts in Mexico City.

As my first visit to Mexico, I was on a steep learning curve about the country. I made a visit to the astonishing National Museum of Anthropology – truly one of the world’s great museum collections! Many conversations about the current state of science, art, the environment and the impact of climate change, as well as the situation for women, the drug wars and the minority who cause the violence.

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