* How Postopolis spread: engagement. Via Tomo.
The culture supplement Tomo has just put out its Postopolis issue. Flip through the pages here. It's a useful marker to publish my final Postopolis report, so here it goes. Sorry for the delay ...
By Saturday, Postopolis had spread, like a Red Specter contagion. People in D.F. were hearing about it, tuning in and watching the stream online, and arriving to hear the talks live. The faces of my fellow bloggers were becoming not just familiar but welcoming. And those arty concrete ladrillos were by then all-too familiar with our poor sore nalgas.
On the final day David Lida came to discuss his book "First Stop in the New World" with Jace Clayton. A
questions centered on Lida's thesis in the book that Mexico is "the capital of
the Twenty First Century." He reiterated that his argument is based on the idea
fastest growing cities in the developing world are growing like Mexico
City did, which makes D.F. sort of the mother figure to places like Lagos or
Mumbai. People for the most part make their life here day-to-day, Lida said, like in so many other such cities.
In a question, Mariana Delgado of Proyecto Sonidero challenged the notion that Mexico City is post-Colonial or post-Hispanic. She said something to the effect of, 'This is still Tenochtitlán.' The exchange was so cool because it demonstrated that this question -– Is Tenochtitlán a ghost city or the city around us, actually? –- is still a relevant one in D.F. today, in the year 2010.
Late afternoon, and things got momentarily sour. Capt. Remigio Cruz of the Secretaria de Defensa Nacional -- the military -- took the mic to talk about the "Museo del Everante," the government's narco museum, at the invitation of Sam Jacob, a Postopolis blogger who was unable to attend the events at El Eco. According to this story and video in the L.A. Times, military authorities say the museum, begun in 1985 and not open to the public, is meant to show the world "the good results that we have achieved." (Debatale.)
Amicable and well-spoken, Capt. Cruz nonetheless glossed over the museum's collection and dealt with some politics in his presentation, arguing against the legalization of marijuana (using the well-worn talking-point that weed is an entryway drug) and carrying on with other essentialist assumptions about the nature of the drug war. The questions barely challenged the capitán on legalization and the surge of human rights claims against the Mexican Army since President Felipe Calderón initiated the assault against drug trafficking organizations in December 2006. In recent days, in fact, human rights authorities in Mexico blamed the Army for the "direct and discretionary" shooting deaths of two small children in Tamaulipas.
As you might imagine, I raised my hand to try to get a question in. A lot.
Later, a presentation by Rual Cardenas of Torolab, a long-time favorite designer-artist-interventionist from Tijuana (check out the "transborder pants" project, which he didn't discuss at Postopolis, but involves GPS tracking of pairs of jeans on people who move freely between Los Angeles, San Diego, Tijuana, Mexicali, and Ensenada). Cardenas discussed a recent project in the Bay Area documenting the geography of the lu Mien, a small and marginalized Southeast Asian ethnic minority with a presence in Oakland.
Finally, last speaker was Gabriela Jauregui, writer and editor, a code-switching wordsmith. Juaregui closed Postopolis with a
reading of two poems, "Many fiestas" –- using language culled directly from numerous historical
manifestos –- and "Collective," her ode to the Mexico City metro. "Collective," which Gabriela read in Spanish, inserts into the poem metro station symbols to stand in as words.
Gabriela mentioned her work with SurPlus, a publishing collective that focuses on translating emerging or unheralded poetry and fiction from English to Spanish. One of their recent books is an edition of poems by Juan Felipe Herrera, who visited Mexico City for the book's release and took time to do a public afternoon reading at a small plaza in Tepito. The book is "Los vampiros de Whittier Boulevard." SurPlus also recently put out a collection by the members of El sótano de los olvidados, a writer's workshop the collective leads with residents of Tepito.
In closing, here's a excerpt from Gabriela's "Many fiestas," a worthy coda to the entire post-Postopolis mind-frame:
Bestow on a language its possibilities of physical vibration / Snatch the tatters of their bodies out of the frenzied cataracts of life with our wireless imagination words in freedom / Stop the pork! / We have intercourse in every direction / We discharge ourselves on both sides / Everybody is going it doing it doing it / Vibrate! Vibrate! Vibrate! / The ardent desire to try one's strength in great battles / Farewell, old charmer / The past is too tight
Pues esto ya fue el adiós, pero ojalá no por mucho tiempo.
* Above, the Postopolis team, via Tomo.
My deepest and most sincere thank yous to the people of Storefront, Tomo, Domus, El Eco, and the many sponsors in Mexico for making this event happen. My gratitude as well to the bloggers, guests, and engaged public.
* Check out great posts covering other Postopolis speakers and moments at We Make Money Not Art here, here, and here; DPR Barcelona here and here; Wayne & Wax here, here, and here; and the incredibly engrossing stuff at Edible Geography here, here, and here.