Mexico en Venecia

Mexican Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Life in the folds, 2017. Photo credit: Venice documentation project.

Carlos Amorales
Life in the folds
May 13–November 26, 2017

Mexican Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Curated by Pablo León de la Barra

Life in the folds statement:

I believe we are at a time when it is crucial to discuss freedom of thought if we want to live in a society in which different points of view can mingle and substantiate our understanding of equality and justice. From an artistic point of view, I’ve researched the way in which writing is encrypted by inventing a form of abstract typography as a strategy to preserve contents that would be silenced if they were in legible form. For the Mexican Pavilion at the Venice Biennale I encoded the alphabet as a formal language, starting off with abstraction until I got to a level of figuration where communication can occur openly.

Life in the Folds is based on the title of a book by Henri Michaux. This title evokes an image that is about being between things: between the pages of a book or a newspaper, between countries and cultures, between opposed ideologies, between oneself and the other. This “being between” has been the focus of my artistic exploration: masks, whether taken literally or as visual language, placed like a membrane between conflicting contexts. The installation consists of formally interrelated pieces that merge in a film. For the work, I used seventy-four flat, irregular shapes—cardboard cutouts—with which I made an alphabet that mutated into musical instruments, used to tell the story of a family of immigrants who were lynched: a story based on hundreds of cases that have taken place in Mexico over the last few decades.

In this piece, images of migration and lynching are metaphors of a generalized crisis that we need to discuss. On the one hand, migration is the consequence of current economic policies that have decimated entire communities or even regions. On the other, the murders that have taken place over the last decades, the recent executions carried out by citizens and private militias evince conditions of self-governance, where people administer justice subjectively, though in principle this is something the State should administer objectively.

Placing these metaphors in a national structure—paradoxically situated on a global platform—allows us to ask urgent questions that concern us on both a local and a global level. In view of the new nationalist movements’ opposition to globalization, at a time when most of a nation’s territory already has owners, what type of nationalism are we talking about?Mexico

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