Laboratorio Arte Alameda, Mexico City, July-September 2010
About twelve years ago, in collaboration with a colleague, I organized a touring program of six decades of experimental media arts from Mexico. Since then, that country has seen a remarkable proliferation of this sort of production. The filmmakers showcased here have all chosen to work with the most modest of techniques—hand processing, camera-less filmmaking, the camera obsura—to produce a cinema that is hand-made and artisanal. It is a kind of production that resonates with longstanding traditions of Mexican craftsmanship and returns the medium to its origins, to the alchemy of the darkroom, the illusion of movement, and the fascination with the registration of light and shadow, rather than looking forward to a digital future. And while this may sound like a late-modernist fetishization of the medium and its inherent qualities, the artists here use these techniques to address a host of social and political concerns, from the recent upheavals in Oaxaca to the mythification of the heroes of the Mexican Revolution, from the gentrification of the capital city to the Zapatista insurrection in Chiapas. These handcrafted works function like Brechtian theater, never allowing the spectators to lose themselves in the medium’s illusions, but rather repeatedly reminding us that what we are watching is the product of artifice and of labor.
available on DVD through the Laboratorio Arte Alameda.