Monday, February 22, 2010

Mexico City Hosts Retrospective Straight From Tate Modern

Exhibition Title: Retrospective of Cildo Meireles
Location: Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporaneo Mexico City, Mexico

Dates: July 4, 2009 - January 10, 2010

Last summer, I was visiting Mexico City when I encountered an exhibition that had stayed in my mind ever since.

It was a retrospective on Cildo Meireles at the MUAC (Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporaneo).
The first section of the exhibition was comprised of three installations where poles that spanned from floor to ceiling created architectural forms that appeared to move or shift shape as I walked around them. In this same room were different drawings that related to the three installations set in the center of the space, by the way of architectural plans.

The second section contained different pieces that were in conversation with American Imperialism. Among the pieces that caught my attention the most were
Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project (1970) and Zero Dollar (1979-84). These two pieces caught my attention for their obvious finger pointing at the United States. The Coca-Cola Project was created by Meireles as a newfound form of disseminating art outside of the Gallery System, by printing political messages on Coca-Cola bottles such as “Yankees Go Home”; almost invisible when the glass bottles were empty, the messages reappeared when the bottles were refilled in the factory, and were sent back into circulation amongst unsuspecting people. Zero Dollar, on the other hand, may speak of the valuelessness and counterfeiting that his creation evokes in the economic relationship that occurs between the US and Brazil.

Cildo Meireles The Coca-Cola Project

The following section was overtaken by several large-scale installations including:
Glovetrotter (1991), Red Shift: I. Impregnation (1967-84) and Babel (2001). My favorite was Babel, where upon entering a dark blue-lit room, an enormous tower expands from the center of the floor. The tower is comprised of 800 or more radios ranging from the 1920's to the present day, revealing themselves in the dim light with different colored bulbs. A quiet chatter flows through the room as the radios deliver various stations at a low volume. The most resonant correlation of the installation to its title, Babel 2001, is expressed through the unintelligible voices and tangled languages projecting from a tower that stretches upward “to the heavens.” According to the Old Testament, God punished the men who built a tower to reach him by altering their tongues so they could no longer communicate. Perhaps the artist, Cildo Meireles, is suggesting our inability to communicate with each other even with the technological advances that humankind has accomplished.

Cildo Meireles Babel 2001

The work resembles a modern city by night, such as New York, with its eternal lights and crammed up voices that overlap one another from inhabitants that do not listen. Babel 2001 invites the observer to watch but even more so to listen, and take in the chaos of the city and humankind’s sound.

Finally, the fourth section presented three installations: Eureka / Blindhotland (1970-75), Through (1983-89/2008) and Fontes (1992/2008). All three invited the public to interact with them and not to stand as mere spectators. Through invited people to walk in it, to feel and listen as the shattered glass under one’s feet cracked while observing the textures of the different see-through barriers that overlapped and made up the piece. Eureka / Blindhotland allowed the spectator to play with the different density and weight that each rubber ball of the installation by comparing knowledge and perception. Fontes was the last installation of the exhibition; a small room was built where hundreds of measuring rulers hung from the ceiling in the form of a spiral, clocks set at different times filled the walls, and black vinyl numbers were scattered on the floor. This black and white installation poetically questions our ideas of the measurement of time and space, where chaos reigns and parallel time and space coexist.


1 comment:

  1. I really wish I could have seen this exhibition. Hélio Oiticica had many plans for future exhibitions that he never got to do. He made many many note about favorite was simply as follows–

    (these are Hélio's notes translated exactly as he wrote them):

    IDEA 2

    AUDIENCE–drinks COKE
    (coke would be provided continuously)

    So many of his unrealized works were just like that. Notes that described actions of simple and poignant means. I always imagined a room full of people drinking Coke non-stop until they died....and Hélio could sign some certificate of authenticity on all of the dead bodies.

    Oddly enough, Cildo was in tune with Hélio's passions and continues to be critical yet welcoming to the world that greets us every morning...