In the 56th edition of the Venice Biennale, Possessing Nature was the installation that inaugurated the new official venue of the Mexican Pavilion at the Arsenale. The piece was the result of the collaboration between the artists Tania Candiani and Luis Felipe Ortega, and curated by Karla Jasso.
Created especially for the Biennale, Possessing Nature was a project that proposed a real and symbolic relation between the aspects of Venice and Mexico’s vital atmospheres, emphasizing a reflection of the aquatic remembrances of both amphibian cities: Mexico founded on a dried lake, and Venice which embraced the Adriatic Sea. The concern of exposing a concrete question to la Biennale took Candiani, Ortega and Jasso to inquire on how to shape issues that characterize contemporary globalization, mainly the tension between collective memory and future expectations. This work, through the materialization of a hydraulic system as a monumental sculpture that evoked symbolic and figuratively the flowing drainage that baths and pours on a timeless cycle, is a symbol of the collective memory, cultural imaginary and resource of global technology.
To represent Mexico in the 55th edition of the Venice Biennale, the artist Ariel Guzik presented Cordiox, curated by Itala Schmelz and located in the church of San Lorenzo.
Cordiox - term derived from string and heart- is a machine-musical instrument which core is a four-meter hollow cylinder made of the best quality quartz, and articulated to a string set by a wooden bridged system. Located in the Church of San Lorenzo, it’s objective was to establish a sound dialogue with the space, describing melodically the surroundings through a subtle and expansive cadency. The piece had the capacity to encompass sonorously the inner surface and ambient of the whole church. The water, the heat and the steps of the visitors were captured by its mechanism, transforming them into harmonies and generating unique sensorial experiences.
Cordiox was inspired by the love for nature, the nostalgia for analogue mechanisms and the artist’s desire to merge science and art. Thanks to three decades of research and laboratory experiments, Guzik was able to bring fantasy to the audience and reflect the empathic reactions between beings and objects. Likewise, the artist proposes a science that contradicts the modern principle functionality, and instead is used to create contact and produce sensations.
For the 54th edition of the Venice Biennale, the artist Melanie Smith presented three videoart pieces under the title Red Square, Impossible Pink, and curated by José Luis Barrios.
Red Square, Impossible Pink was a conceptual project based on three audiovisual works: Aztec Stadium, which is the visual archive of a performance with public school students that took place in the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City as a portrait of the idea of nation and the chaos that comes within revolutions. Xilitla is a 35mm experimental short film that explores the multiplicity of meanings around Edward James’ surreal garden in Xilitla, San Luis Potosí. Bulto, is a video that shows a bundle placed in different public spots while taking part of the wide variety of urban dynamics.
Delirium, compulsion and melancholy are three affections that Smith explores in these short films, respectively. The artist plays with social symbols, significance and significant, by portraying important elements and places of Mexican and Latin-American culture. Using cinematographic resources like frames, edition, montage and sound, she dismantles the aesthetics and poetics ideals of the twentieth first century utopias. Smith rises a question to the politic and history practice of the different strategies of modernization taking place in a utopia of failed globalization.
For the 53th edition of the Venice Biennale, Teresa Margolles and Cuauhtémoc Medina were the artist and the curator selected to represent the Mexican pavilion. For this occasion, the pavilion was located at the Palazzo Rota Ivancich, with the installation What else could we talk about?
The installation consisted of a set of seven pieces that subtly intervened the space. However, in symbolic terms, it was impossible to be unnoticed since the objective was to make an approach to encourage and unfold the audience’s reflection. The work of Margolles has been known for confronting violence, death and loss from a provocative and overwhelming posture, and also for using human remains as artistic material. Taking the wave of violence generated in Mexico by the war against drugs as context, Margolles did necro-geographic journeys, where she made visual and sound records of the territories wounded by death. She also picked up waste like mud, blood and pieces of glass, which she later used for the creation of seven installations that reflected abjection and shacked the visitors: blood-impregnated fabrics, glass pieces used in exact replicas of the jewelry used by the criminals, and the sound recordings played in an empty hall. With these works, the artist insists on the importance of art as catalyst and multiplier of questions of individuals in their surroundings.
The artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer along with the curators Príamo Lozada and Bárbara Perea, was the first one to represent officially the Pavilion of Mexico, placed in the Parazzo Soranzo Van Axel, with the set of installations called Some Things Happen More Often Than All Of The Time.
The exhibition was constituted by six digital installations created with software and hardware designed especially for them. Since one of the principles of digital art is the direct interaction with the spectator, the works of Lozano-Hemmer allowed the visitors to experiment the works first-hand. The artist turns the body into a catalyzer tool for his work, which is transformed into an alternative of dialogue between visitors that, without the need of interacting with each other, can see themselves and the others through the installations.
Curated by the then director of the Museum of Plastic Arts, Under General Director of INBA, and museography pioneer in Mexico, Fernando Gamboa, in the 25th Venice Biennale an official Pavilion of Mexico was presented for the first time. Presented in a building within the Giardini, the artists who represented the pavilion were the muralists José Clemente Orozco (Guzmán City, 1883 - Mexico City, 1949), Diego Rivera (Guanajuato, 1886 - Mexico City, 1957), David A. Siqueiros (Chihuahua, 1896 - Cuernavaca, 1974) and Rufino Tamayo (Mexico City, 1899 - 1991).
The exhibition featured 59 paintings of the four artists, loaned from various national and international collections. The french art critic Raymond Cogniat, referred to the exhibition as “the most outstanding revelation of the Biennale” and continues: “We are standing in front of a totally original creation that was developed far from european influences, and it is enforced with such violence, that it's impossible to resist”.
In this edition, Siqueiros was recognized with the award for foreign artists granted by the Museum of Modern Art of Sao Paulo.