* Above, Mexico City, the lake of fire, at night from the air, via Oscar Ruiz.
Before going into highlights from Friday, I wanted to point out another highlight from Day 3, the photography of Oscar Ruiz, introduced by Gabriella Gomez Mont. Ruiz informed us before starting that he's not a professional photographer and not a professional speaker, he just flies helicopters. Yet from the air, he captures breathtaking images of the astonishing scale of Mexico City. Ruiz presented them with warmth and clarity, if a bit grimly.
As the pilot discussed his aerial pictures of shanties that spring up "over night" and resort-style residential complexes butting up against slums, you could hear the wonder and slight indignation in his voice at the severe social stratification he sees in Mexico from the skies. The photos have been online for years, so Ruiz's pictures are among the first people see when they browse the Web for a window into D.F.
It was great to finally attach a name and face to the photos.
Friday at Postopolis drew upon the hip-hop filter of Mexico City once more, with Camilo Smith, at the invitation of Wayne Marshall, interviewing 2Phase, an OG D.F. rapper by way of Chicago, and rapper Lil T'Ko. They got down a little on the mic and talked about their trajectories. Domus, one of the Postopolis sponsors, has great photos on Facebook.
In the evening, I introduced Cuauhtémoc Medina and Mariana Botey of the curatorial collective -- "sect," they insist -- El Espectro Rojo, or The Red Specter. As we saw on Friday, the group's level of theoretical rigor is challenging, almost aggressive, which is what makes their work so sharp and intellectually seductive. They have given themselves a clear mission of pushing the limits of curatorial practice and challenging normalized ideas about how art and the art object relate to capitalist production.
From the introductory text to "Critical Fetishes: Resides of general economy," The Red Specter's current show at the CA2 Madrid (made possible, they write, by the group's "Commissariat of Public Enlightenment"):
Critical Fetishes seeks to overcome the abjectionist description of capitalism's crisis, and to expose the way in which artistic work invokes moments of anti-production, de-activates the myths of development and puts the art object into operation as an object of desire and subversion. In this sense, the show takes a position against the identification of dematerialization with de-fetishization, as the dominant critical operation, in favor of rescuing the power of contagion and dissemination of the contemporary art fetish-object.
Postopolis DF was The Red Specter's first public "apparition" in Mexico City. The "Critical Fetishes" show is slated to come to the Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico later this year. Some of the artists include Santiago Sierra, Miguel Calderon, Francis Alÿs, Teresa Margolles, Fran Ilich, and Vicente Razo. (More then.)
Now, here are a few highly recommended recaps of the week by fellow Postopolis bloggers: Regine Debatty of We Make Money Not Art on Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3, and Nicola Twilley's exhaustive and enlightening talk with Rachel Laudan on Mexico, maize, Maseca, and Wal-Mart.
And the third thing that happened, finally — this really took place in the seventies and eighties — is that the company now called Gruma (Grupa Maseca) discovered a way to take the wet, alkali-treated maize, grind it, dehydrate it, and put it into packets. You've seen those packets in the grocery stores, I'm sure. By the 1970s, five percent of the maize for tortillas in Mexico came from Maseca. By the 1990s, it was fifteen percent. Maseca now has plans — whether they'll pull it off, I don't know — to take over all the tortillerias in the country.
More there, worth the whole read.
** Update: If you enjoyed Carlos Alvarez Montero's presentation of his photo work from Day 2, he'll be presenting the full version of his short documentary "Our Lady of the Bronx" at Club Atlántico in Centro, tomorrow Wednesday. I'll be moderating a Q&A with Carlos and Ali Gadorki will be playing tracks. More info here.