Tuesday, 15 October 2002

THE ARTIST AS AN ETHNOGRAPHER: MUSEO DEL CERRO DE NARANJITO IN PUERTO RICO, CURATED BY PABLO LEON DE LA BARRA

















Museo del Cerro, Naranjito, Puerto Rico
El Cerro Museum
Puerto Rico 02, M&M Proyectos, October 2002
a proyect by the inhabitants of the Village of Naranjito and Pablo Leon de la Barra, invited by Maria Ines Rodriguez and Michy Marxuach/MM Proyectos

Chemi Rosado, an artist from Puerto Rico, had been working in El Cerro del Naranjito, a small village one hour away from San Juan, during one year, painting with the community the facades of the houses in different shades of green. The art project served to temporarily integrate the community, in a town confronted with social problems derived from small scale drug trafficking. During my stay at El Cerro, I visited all of the houses there, asking the inhabitants of the place for objects in order to create a Museum inside the old community center which was now abandoned. Objects in the exhibition documented the everyday life as well as the triumphs and dramas of the inhabitants of El Cerro, ranging from the personal to the historical, and included photographs, paintings, documents, awards, plants, furniture, and music. The Museum opened the possibility for the inhabitants of El Cerro to negotiate their own history and visibility among themselves and the visitors to the Museum.

List of Objects and Owners of the Museum’s collection:

In Main Room, (facing the entrance door, clockwise right to left from door:
• Photograph of her son Jesus Medina at the age of one year / Yvette Serrano
• Goodbye Memory for Jesus Medina after dying of cancer, May 1999 / Yvette Serrano
• Painting of Jesus Christ / found as trash on the alleys of El Cerro
• Virgin of Miracles / Rosa Lidia “Cuqui” Hernandez, gift from her grandmother
• Drawings of son and daughter Aury and Teddy, hand drawn by Jeffery an addict of “El Cerro” (now death) / Dolris Serrano
• Quinceañera Portrait / Omaira Serrano
• Coloured photograph of her parents Luis Rosado Figeroa and Dionisia Rosa Cabrero / Felicita Rosado Rosa
• Diploma for finishing the course for PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) for Vietnam Veterans / Jose “Cuco” Figueroa
• Photograph of the USS Oklahoma City ship in Vietnam, 1968 / Jose “Cuco” Figueroa
• Portrait of his father in the army during the 1940s / Erling and Hector Rivera
• Portrait of her grandmother Rufina Nieves at her wooden house at El Cerro, Naranjito / Erling and Hector Rivera
• Black Angels painting on mirror / Lydia “Negrita” Carmona
• Framed image showing the native Taino Indians watching the arrival of the Spanish to Puerto Rico in the XVI century /Aurea Rodriguez
• Portrait of her son Ricardo Morales Perez, living in the Bronx since 13 year ago / Rosa Perez
• Modern painting painted by painter known as “Mafia” / Toñita Nieves
• Poster asking information on disappeared son (killed eight months later) / Mercedes Morales
Still life painting with flower and fruits / Andrea Ortiz Perez
• Photograph of her father, Daniel Perez / Toñita Nieves
• Poster of Micheal Jordan / Tony Alisea
• Volleyball Trophy (on wall) / Carlos Rodriguez
• Naranjito Volleyball Team, photo / Jose Medina Serrano
• Naranjito Volleyball Team, 1985 / Rafael Ortiz
• Portrait of horse trainer Ruben Colon in the Comandante Hippodrome / Hector Ivan Rivera
• Diploma / Carlos Rodriguez
• Naranjito Volleyball Team, 1967 / Hector Figueroa
• Naranjito Female Basketball Team / Aury Figueroa
• Photo of Inhabitants of El Cerro, 1970s / William Archilla and Charlie Montañez
• Photos of “El Nuevo Montuno” 1970s musical group from El Cerro (four of the band´s members are already dead / Jose Estrada

On grey plinth:
• Sport Trophies / Carlos Rodriguez, Damian “Pole” Rosado, Jose Medina Serrano
• Small Pilon (wooden morter for bananas) / Andrea Ortiz Perez
• Peruvian Clay Nativity Set / Gladys Velez
• Plastic Rabbitt in bottle /Jessica and Teddy Figueroa
• Ship inside a light bulb / Luli Rosa
• Photo of herself in New Jersey / Erling Rivera
• “La Flor Pequeñita” Story book / Nicolle Torres Rosendo
• Big Pilon, Banana Tostones maker, Basketball Sneaker (gift for son Jesus from a player of the Philadelphia Eagles), Binded Document containing information on “El Cerro” proyect / Yvette Serrano
• Photo of baby child, 1991 / Dessiree Maril Cheveres Hernandez
• Photo of basketball team / Jose Medina Serrano
• CD’s produced by her son Edgar (Jr.) Villanueva Morales, now death / Mercedes Morales
• Dinosaur stuffed toy and fan / Anonymous, left at museums door

On Table:
• Collection of Objects belonging to Jose “Cuco” Figueroa, including photographs of business he’s had in the past “Cuco’s Hot Dog Place” and “The Veteran’s Shine”, milk bottle, aluminium canteen, army dish set, machine for coin change in public transport, walking stick, wood level, coffee mill, mill, beer bottle of “The Three Stooges”, monkey made with Coconuts, oil lamp, peace and love collar, little car, coal iron / Jose “Cuco” Figueroa

Second Room:
(clockwise from door)
• Drawings of the inhabitants of El Cerro, made with ball pen on cigarette boxes / Jose Estrada
• Painting of Mona Lisa / Mercedes Morales
• MUSEO neon sign, broken before installation
• Snapshots of “La Patria”, veteran of the Nationalist Party for the Independence of Puerto Rico from the United States / Jose Estrada
• Plants / from the houses of Luli Rosa, Erling Rivera, Doris Serrano, Yara Figueroa, Lucy Fernandez, Elba Barrios
• Sound System with speakers made out of paint buckets / Carlitos Serrano
• Chairs / found as trash on the alleys of El Cerro
• Raegeton Soundtrack / by Edgar (Jr.) Villanueva Morales, now death

Third Room:
• Abandoned dentist chair (from when the building used to be a community center)

Saturday, 5 October 2002

'TWENTY MILLION MEXICANS CAN'T BE WRONG' AT SOUTH LONDON GALLERY, CURATED BY CUAUHTEMOC MEDINA




Carlos Amorales


Melanie Smith



Pedro Reyes


Vicente Razo



20 Million Mexicans Can't Be Wrong
18|9|2002 - 3|11|2002
With Francis Alÿs, Carlos Amorales, Teresa Margolles, Vicente Razo, Pedro Reyes, Santiago Sierra, Melanie Smith 
Curated by Cuauhtémoc Medina

In the last decade a significant community of Mexican and international artists has developed and is beginning to thrive in Mexico City, in spite of relatively scarce commercial or institutional support for the production and exhibition of contemporary art. '20 Million Mexicans Can’t Be Wrong' brings together new and recent works which explore the social and political tensions in Mexico City, the presence and conditions of production of ‘art’ within that context, and the multi-layered aesthetic of the megalopolis. Curated by the highly-regarded Mexican curator, writer and art critic, Cuauhtémoc Medina, the show also tackles the risks involved in artistic or cultural exportation, by emphasising the structures underlying artistic practice, rather than isolated works. All the artists in the show are either Mexican or live in Mexico City and until now, with the exception of Francis Alÿs and Santiago Sierra, most have had limited, if any, exposure in London.

Vicente Razo’s 'Salinas Museum', originally established in the toilet of his flat in Mexico City, is an extraordinary collection of hundreds of popular parodic representations of former Mexican president Carlos Salinas, which Razo collected in the mid-1990s. Shown here for the first time in Europe, the collection includes chocolate figures, metre-high effigies based on Judas dolls and images and figures of Salinas as the devil or a vampire. Melanie Smith, who has been living in Mexico City since the 1980s, returns to her native Britain to exhibit an installation of video and paintings born of her interest in the tensions between abstraction, contemporary beauty and the visual economy of the third world. In sharp contrast, a sculpture by Teresa Margolles represents the way in which she has tested the limits of art-making over the past ten years by using human remains and forensic material as a critique of the selective disregard of burial rights and the failure to systematically register deaths in Mexico.

Belgian born artist Francis Alÿs presents a new sound piece from his 'Rehearsal' series which subtly creates the illusion of displacement, whereas the artist-curator Pedro Reyes launches his 'Psychoforum', an ongoing project in which conversations with architects, theoreticians and artists are markers in this ever-expanding investigation into the intersection between architecture, invention, research and the production of knowledge. Finally, two artists in the show have placed audience participation at the centre of their work. Carlos Amorales’s production line requires the audience to become unpaid workers in the fabrication of trainer shoes for wrestlers, whereas an ‘action’ organised by Santiago Sierra to take place simultaneously in London, Frankfurt, Geneva, Madrid, New York and Vienna on 7th September exports back to Europe and the USA the political turmoil produced in Latin America by the current process of economic globalization.

Cuauhtémoc Medina is an art critic, curator and art historian. He studied for his PhD at the University of Essex and since 1992 has been full time researcher at the National University of Mexico. Formerly he was Contemporary Art Curator at the Carrillo Gil Museum of INBA in Mexico City (1989-92) and from 1992 to ‘98 he was a member of ‘Curare’, a group of critics and curators that developed an independent intellectual and curatorial policy from that of the Mexican State. Most recently, he has become an advisor to Tate on Latin American Art.