Tuesday, 29 January 2013


entrance to the exhibition Olinka curated by Adam Szymczyk at Museo Tamayo

Danh Vo, Untitled, 2012
Installation, 10 black and white photographs, artifacts Huichol Collection of Joseph Carrier
(Huichol artifacts meet Carrier's Vietnamese homoerotism)

Panajachel, Guatemala based Vivian Suter
Blankets Hung, 2010 - 2012
Oil and Acrylic on canvas, wooden structure
and Agatha, 2005 - 2012
Seven paintings, oil and Acrylic on canvas

sculptures by Thea Djordjadze
She didn´t have friends, children, sex, religion, marriage, success, a salary or a fear of death. She worked, 2012

Manuel Rodríguez Lozano , The Taxi, 1924 (Portrait of Salvador Novo)
and copies of Novo's publication El Chafirete on bench

steel room divider courtain by Thea Djordjadze and drawings by Mariana Castillo Deball

Mariana Castillo Deball
The Skin of the Deer, 2011
Death Fed with Life in the First and Last Beat, 2011
What was a population of hieroglyphs, 2011

exhibition view

Nahui Olin, WWoman with Glasses, n.d.
and Paulina Olowska, Portrait of the Artist - Outdoor, 2012

Thea Djordjadze, Black open water, 2012

Paulina Olowska, The End of Spectacle, 2012 
(After Isamu Noguchi set element of Martha Graham’s dance “Cave of the Hearth”)
Concrete base, aluminum wire, spray paint and silk-screen on fabric 

view of exhibition room, sculpture and big painting between Nahui Olin's work by Paulina Olowska, Portrait of the Artist - Indoor, 2012

publications by Nahui Olin in cabinet

in cabinet, Elisabeth Wild (mother of Vivian Suter), Phantasies, n.d., Collages

Ross Birrell, Olinka Variations, 2012
Composition for piano and 12 prints

drawings and paintings by Nahui Olin and a photograph of Nahui Olin

Dr. Atl, Nahui Olin Hairless, 1923

Kate Davis, Disgrace v - viii, 2012

fascimiles of documents by Dr Atl regarding the creation of Olinka

and somewhere in the exhibition
Tercerunquinto, Sketch of an unrealized project hidden in the museum, 2012

Olinka, or Where Movement Is Created
The exhibition contains works and documents by Dr. Atl, Nairy Baghramian, Ross Birrell & David Harding, Mariana Castillo Deball, Kate Davis, Thea Djordjadze, Susan Hiller, Nahui Olin, Paulina Olowska, Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, Vivian Suter, Tercerunquinto, Danh Vo and Elisabeth Wild.
Curator: Adam Szymczyk
In collaboration with Magnolia de la Garza
December 11th, 2012 – April 15th, 2013 
Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City

"The name of the city it calls Olinka, what it means in Náhuatl “where the movement is concentrated.”
from Dr. Atl, “Esquema de un proyecto para edificar un centro internacional de investigaciones científicas”, 1959

Olinka, or Where Movement Is Created is a group exhibition of works by contemporary artists, as well as documents and other works of historical importance. A number of different artistic techniques are on display, such as drawing, painting, installation, video and photography.

Despite the range of different materials and periods in which these works and records were created, every component of the exhibition shares an unusual connection with the past. Rather than looking at history as a collection of facts stored in the memory, Olinka, or Where Movement Is Created portrays history as unstable and constantly shifting, able to re-materialize and transform itself when recalled or reinterpreted.

The exhibition is named after Dr. Atl’s project of the 1940s in which he imagined the construction of an international city of culture called Olinka. Its denizens would be scientists, artists and philosophers, with a mission to plan human evolution. The etymological root of Olinka is Ollin, a Nahuatl word for movement, a concept that fits in with this exhibition’s dynamic approach to history.

Transposing the imaginary dimension of Olinka to the context of the exhibition creates a place in movement. The curatorial proposal includes figures from the twentieth-century art scene, such as Dr. Atl and Nahui Olin, juxtaposing them against the work of contemporary artists.

Curatorial Statement
In the works of many contemporary artists, history is present as a possibility that can suddenly materialize during the process of recollection and the rereading of historical material, rather than simply existing as a stately collection of immutable facts, stored in archives and written in stone. As Walter Benjamin noted, “To articulate the past historically does not mean to recognize it ‘the way it was’ (Ranke). It means to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger.” The exhibition Olinka, or Where Movement Is Created is sustained in this interpretation: history opens not like a book, but as a chasm, a barranca suddenly split open in the middle of known things.

Contrary to the methods applicable to the study and classification of fossils, history can also be read not as a timeline of events stored in memory, but rather as a dynamic and ever-changing constellation of dormant or active sites. In this geological and topological interpretation of history as an unstable territory, a terrain built on many layers and shaken by violent quakes and eruptions, a new reading of history can create a movement, like a drop of water sending concentric ripples across time, reaching toward the future while passing the present moment.

Historical events and figures, materialized in monuments that may include texts, buildings and artifacts alike, resonate in unexpected ways in contemporary works of art. History has advantages and disadvantages for life; it can be used and abused in service of nationalist politics and capital, but it continues to inspire action and remains a powerful critical tool for many artists and thinkers today. If, as Nabokov had it, “The future is but the obsolete in reverse,” there is a revolutionary aspect to things long ago buried in the past: Nostalgia points toward a future, and history is where movement is created.

From the metaphor of change embodied by earthquake, we can imagine other forms of violent movement that affect us psychologically, emotionally and intellectually, and that exert an influence on social, ideological, and aesthetic dimensions of our existence—particularly in Mexico, the country ravaged by drug war and experiencing precarious life conditions, but also elsewhere. The artists in Olinka, or Where Movement Is Created testify to this state of things through their works.

Adam Szymczyk


Adam Szymczyk, curator (Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland, 1970)
Adam Szymczyk has been the director and chief curator of Kunsthalle Basel since 2003, where he has curated exhibitions of artists including Adriana Lara, Danai Anesiadou, Danh Vo, Lee Lozano, Hannah Weinberger, Artur Zmijewski, Paul Sietsema, Marieta Chirulescu, Rosalind Nashashibi, Tomma Abts, and Moyra Davey, as well as numerous group exhibitions. He was among the co-founders of the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw in 1997, and in 2008 he co-curated with Elena Filipovic When Things Cast No Shadow, the 5th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art. In 2011 he received the Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement from the Menil Foundation, Houston. He lives and works in Basel.

Dr. Atl (Guadalajara, 1875 - Mexico City, 1964)
Gerardo Murillo, known as “Dr. Atl”, was a Mexican painter, writer, philosopher, and amateur volcanologist as well as a passionate supporter of arts and culture in Mexico. In 1896 he was admitted to the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes (National School of Fine Arts) in Mexico City; a year later he was granted a scholarship to study in Europe. During his tour through England, Italy, and France he worked as a journalist while studying fine art, philosophy, and law, and he received a silver medal for his paintings in the Paris Salon of 1900. Upon returning to Mexico, Dr. Atl played an active role in the Mexican Revolution and became an important figure among Mexican artists of the period. In 1921 he met María del Carmen Mondragón Valseca who changed her name, at Dr. Atl’s suggestion, to Nahui Olin, which means the “fourth movement of the sun,” and is equal to the “earthquake’s sun,” according to Aztec mythology. Their tempestuous and creative relationship is described by Dr. Atl in his book Gentes profanas en el convento (1950). In 1941, Dr. Atl documented the birth and formation of the Paricutin volcano in texts, paintings, drawings, and photographs that became the book Cómo nace y crece un volcán, el Paricutín, (Paricutin: How a Volcano is Born and Grows, 1950). In the 1950s he began the project of creating a city in Mexico called Olinka, with a building in the form of an “inconceivably tall” cylinder populated by artists and scientists, who embody the spiritual and intellectual achievement of humanity. In 2011 the Museo Colección Blaisten, in that time part of the Centro Cultural Universitario Tlatelolco, mounted Dr. Atl. Obras maestras, a survey of his work.

Dr. Atl’s project for designing an “inconceivably tall” cylindrical building, inhabited by an intellectual elite of the learned and artists from around the world. From 1952, Dr. Atl tried to persuade politicians and scientists of the need to build Olinka. The artist envisaged the city being built in beautiful natural settings in Mexico, such as the Pihuamo valley in Michoacán; inside the craters of the Sierra de Santa Catarina; alongside Teotihuacán; at the Lagunas of Montebello in Chiapas; or near Tepoztlán.

Nahui Olin (Mexico City, 1893 - 1978)
María del Carmen Mondragón Valseca was a Mexican poet, painter, and model who embraced the pseudonym Nahui Olin. The name of fifth and last sun in the Nahuatl tradition, it symbolizes an age of violent transformation and the imminent extinction of humanity, and was given to her by Dr. Atl, with whom she had a storied personal and professional relationship; while his studies of her are quite famous, she also made some distinctly less-idealized portraits of him. After studying in Mexico City and Paris, and briefly settling in Spain with her first and only husband, Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, Olin returned to Mexico single. After the end of the Mexican Revolution, in which Olin’s late father played an important role, she famously began modeling for artists such as Diego Rivera, Chucho Reyes, Tina Modotti, Edward Weston, and Dr. Atl. Though she also painted and drew during this period, her largest artistic output was her experimental poetic writing. Her poetry collections include Óptica cerebral. Poemas dinámicos (1922) and Câlinement je suis dedans (1923), as well as later anthologies that brought both her prose and her poems together. The most recent anthology is Nahui Olin. Sin principio ni fin. Vida, obra y varia invención by Patricia Rosas Lopátegui (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, 2012). Olin’s visual artworks, meanwhile, were recently the subject of the exhibition Nahui Olin: A Woman Beyond Time, at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago in 2007.

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