Monday, 18 July 2011


installation views of 'Je ne sais si c´en est la cause' at Museo El Eco

beach chairs designed by Mario Garcia Torres with The Grapetree Hotel logo

Mario Lopez Landa playing at El Eco as part of 'Je ne sais si c´en est la cause'
buy Mario Lopez Lada's CD here:

Mario García Torres
El Eco, Museo Experimental
from June 9, 2011

Described as a story of “deceptions and disappointments,” Mario García Torres' audio-visual installation in the Main Gallery describes the context in which The Grapetree Hotel was built in the 60s, on the island of St. Croix. It was at this hotel that the young French artist Daniel Buren produced a group of murals. Buren struggled to make these works and expressed his distaste for them, but later acknowledged their importance as his first in-situ works, a characteristic of his highly influential Conceptual Art practice. García Torres' project explores the inherent fictions, politics and creativity of history. Originally presented in 2009, the artist has adapted the work to the characteristics of Mathias Goeritz´s architecture. He has specifically chosen not to darken the space completely, but to incorporate the changing light effects experienced throughout the day in the building. His slide images will appear pale and bleached by the summer sun at various times, while as the sun sets they will become more defined.

Mario Garcia Torres was born in 1975 in Monclova, Mexico and currently lives in Mexico City. His solo shows include the Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid (2010); Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (2009); UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley (2009); Kunsthalle Zürich (2008) and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2007). He has participated in multiple bienales including: the 29th Bienal de São Paulo (2010); Taipei Biennial (2010); 52nd Biennale di Venezia (2007); 8th Panama Biennial (2008); and in group exhibitions at museums and institutions worldwide. He was the recipient of the Cartier Award at the Frieze Art Fair (2007).

As part of the exhibition, Mario García Torres presents: Mario López Landa who composed the song for JE NE SAIS SI C´EN EST LA CAUSE.
a concert by Mario López Landa, together with Goma and the musicians of Quiero Club
Thursday, June 30 2011, 20:00 PM

Mario García Torres (in colaboration with Mario López Landa)
'No sé si esa sea la causa / Je ne sais si c’en est la cause' exhibited at Museo El Eco, is a work which forms part of the exhibition 'INCIDENTS OF MIRROR TRAVEL IN YUCATAN AND ELSEWHERE' curated by Pablo Leon de la Barra at Museo Tamayo.

installation photos by Ramiro Chavez

buy Mario Lopez Lada's CD here:


Je ne sais si c´en est la cause, 2009
Mario García Torres (in colaboration with Mario López Landa)
Audio and music lyrics:

On Southeastern coast of St. Croix, is what once was called the Grapetree Bay Hotel.

Exposed to the Caribbean sun, have the remains been, in constant decay, for the last couple of decades.

One could probably say that story of the Grapetree Bay is surrounded by deceptions and disappointments. And maybe that is what makes it fascinating.

The hotel opened in the early sixties, and ran only for a little bit more than a couple of decades. Most people would think without much luck.

Even before it opened its doors in the early sixties, the enterprise was already the motive of legal and economic disputes.

But for most guests, the hotel seemed like a lively place. A fantastic spot, set on white sands. A paradise, only a few hours away, they would say.

Misfortune came again when in 1989 a hurricane hit the island, damaging the premises and leaving them abandoned thereafter.

Today old guests can be seen once in a while walking through the debris, probably in search for lost memories.

They walk through hollow structures, habited by nature. There is the empty pool by the clubhouse, but the tennis courts have almost disappeared.

Still there though, half destroyed, are the mosaic and ceramic murals that decorated the place. Not many people put attention to them then, hardly any these days.

Since its inception it seems they where also the product of a hard time; a foundational time.

Fate has dramatically changed their context, but surprisingly they seem to play the same unimposing role, almost unaware of their importance.

Je suis toujours aussi mal installé.
Je ne sais si c'est la cause de,
mais depuis un mois
que je travaille sur un grande toile,
j'en ai fait au moins 20
les unes sur les autres
toutes plus dégueulasses
les unes que les autres.
Le résultat est nul.

Je Suis Toujours Aussi Mal Installé

A story of deceptions and disappointments
Longing for Happier Times
Faith has dramatically changed their context


Je ne sais si c´en est la cause, 2009
A Project by Mario García Torres

In the 1960s, two sets of murals were created by the French artist Daniel Buren at the Grapetree Bay Hotel, on the island of St.Croix. The young artist was invited to make these artworks as he was just finishing art school. He first came to the island in 1960 and completed on site a group of figurative works, for the large dinning room of the hotel. He later returned in 1965 to make a mosaic for the pool house area. His interest in the mural format was partly derived from his experiences in Mexico in 1957, where he had seen murals by Diego Rivera and had met David Alfaro Siqueiros.

Buren had difficulty making these artworks and expressed his distaste for them in his writings during this period. But in retrospect, they came to hold an important place within his artistic development. He later acknowledged them as his first in situ projects, a central characteristic of his highly influential Conceptual Art practice that emerged at the end of the decade. His signature style became bold stripe works, taken from commercial shop awnings, which he began to present both inside and outside gallery contexts. In the form of paper posters, they were plastered in the streets of Europe and the U.S. and were understood as a gesture toward breaking down the traditional boundaries between life and art, the street and the museum. Influenced by French deconstructivist philosophy, these works highlighted the surroundings in which they were placed, leading the way toward other artists´ integration of socio-political contexts into Contemporary Art production.

Construction of the Grapetree Bay Hotel began in early 1960 on the Southern Coast of St. Croix. The development of the hotel formed part of the economic transition of the island from an agricultural economy, based on sugar production, to a tourist economy. St. Croix had been purchased by the United States in 1917 from the Danish government for military purposes, but in the Post-War period private investment in tourism was encouraged by the U.S., in an attempt to boost the failing economy of the island.

The hotel had financial problems from the begining. It took over four years to open, as millions of dollars, invested by an American named Farleigh Dickenson, Jr. were mishandled by local administrators and complicated legal and financial battles ensued, involving the lawyer Thibaut Saint Phalle. Large sums were spend on advertising for the hotel, including a blatantly promotional record by the popular steel band musician, Pedrito Altieri. The hotel stayed open for over twenty years and attracted many tourists to its attractive beach location. But it continually struggled to stay open, until in 1989 the devastating Hurricane Hugo forced it to close.

Mario García Torres became interested in the anecdote of the murals in the early 2000s and their troubled and pivotal position within Buren´s oeuvre. The Mexican artist began to research extensively the murals, their post-colonial island location and the various legal and financial battles that surrounded them. In 2005 he visited the island and the abandoned hotel. The first set of murals in the dinning room had been removed, but the mosaic works by the pool house area were still visible. He documented the entropic state of the hotel photographically. These images, projected as slides, along with historical photographs and promotional materials, give form to his installation Je ne sais si c´en est la cause (I don´t know if that was the reason), presented at El Eco. The title of the piece is a phase taken from a letter that Buren wrote to his family while working on the murals, where he describes them as failed works. As part of the project, García Torres commissioned the Mexican musician Mario López Landa to reproduce this text in the form of a melancholic song, which is played on an old record player in the installation and follows a short text that narrates the story of the hotel and the artworks executed there.

During the past ten years, García Torres has advanced an artistic practice involving extensive research into little known art historical moments, investigating and exhibiting his findings in highly subjective ways, which often imbue these narratives with a sense of fiction. The artist is always present within the documentation of his research, at times in a protagonist role, at other times more oblique. Within the slide images of the Grapetree Bay Hotel, in its dilapidated rooms and terraces, overrun with tropical plans and debris, the viewer can note slight interventions that appear to be made by the artist. A phone is shown off-the-hook, two shutters are placed on top one another in a posed manner, square pieces of boards lean against a painted wall in an aestheticized installation. One image focuses on a square wooden door, set into a wall, made of vertical pieces of painted wood, which significantly recalls the stripe works of Buren.

García Torres´s project articulates a reflection on how history is continually used and constructed in retrospect, how it is perpetually manipulated after-the-fact. These works explore history´s inherent fictions, politics and creativity. His artistic investigations are not nostalgic, but rather look for generative models. In Je ne sais si c´en est la cause the younger artist extends and engages the logic inherent in the later conceptual practice of Buren, in order to produce this contemporary piece, through his exploration of the socio-political context in which the French artist´s first site-specific works were produced.

This installation was originally presented in 2009 and is being shown for the first time in Mexico City. For El Eco, García Torres has adapted the work to the characteristics of Mathias Goeritz´s unique architecture. He has specifically chosen not to darken the space completely, but to incorporate into the installation the changing light effects experienced throughout the day in the building. His slide images will appear as the sun begins to set. Chairs that reference a vacation setting provide viewers with a chance to sit, to read, to contemplate these enigmatic and lonely images and listen to the audio recording, echoing from a distant part of the building.

Tobias Ostrander, Curator, Museo El Eco

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