(Ready) Media: The exhibition of infinite readings

This article will focus on the exhibition (Ready) Media and we analyse the current role of “new” media curators

Published: May 18, 2015
(Ready) Media: The exhibition of infinite readings

Image: LABoral

By Laura Cano (@Via_di_uscita, La Caja Revuelta)

"Art, therefore, against life. Against that tamed way of life that is repugnant due to its insufficiency, its excision. Meaning: Art in favour of life, beyond its separation: Even against art itself, as separated from life. Art, then, as an actual political and anthropological (art as a theological function) device"

José Luis Brea, Los Últimos días.

Not many institutions devoted to art (or any other thing) that take it as a principle to re-read their collection, the heritage they custodian, from a critical and open perspective. Laboratorio de Arte Alameda is a Mexican institution that, since ten years ago, is charged with managing, disseminating and criticising a great audiovisual archive that contains an extremely complete collection of Mexican new media art.

This is the departure point of (Ready) Media. With the purpose of analysing these material and articulating new perceptions of the collection, LAA invited several people to carry out a research-curating work that would generate new ways to interpret these works. The curators, who have different profiles (artists, researchers, historians), were invited to do archaeology (Is it possible to do archaeology of the contemporary? I think it is) But instead of expecting encyclopedic resources that would pigeon-hole art and new media production in Mexico, the premise was to stablish a debate that should be open, possible, likely and, specially, questionable.


 

The exhibition (Ready) Media, that was already showcased at LAA in 2010, is therefore curated by a team who proposes us different paths through a set of works that have some points in common and millions of differences. The curators/researchers that have taken part are: Juan Pablo Anaya and Gabriela Méndez, Jesse Lerner, Grace Quintanilla, Liliana Quintero, Manuel Rocha Iturbide e Israel Martínez, Bruno Varela, Erandy Vergara, David Wood and the directors of the project at Laboratorio de Arte Alameda, Karla Jasso and Tania Aedo. They have all been coordinated by the artist and curator Gustavo Romano.

The common points among these 23 hours of audiovisual content generated by over 200 artists are varying and range from objective and technical issues, such as using vintage technology to avoid the link with mainstream global practices (Capitalistic?), thus positioning themselves in the resistance against technical advancements, to the outstanding relevance of aesthetics and politics in the content of the works. Pieces that fall within the punk, minimalistic, conceptual, controversial side of artistic creation. That are not aimed at being liked but rather at criticising, giving out a subjective view of the world, launch out questions, propose possible hypothesis or trigger reflection upon upon the society where they are generated. A society, the Mexican one, with a very rich culture that mixes influences and paradoxes from the political to anthropological. A culture that has important landmarks, such as pre-Hispanic art or the baroque, that can be seen in the contemporary acting, on occasions, as demand for a different identity. Art against life. Art in favour of life, as José Luis Brea said.


 

Thinking what and how is Mexican digital/technological art is on of the motivations of this exhibition, however it goes beyond posing universal questions that apply for the art of any place: What is “new” in new media applied to art? What is new about the use of certain languages or when is their absence considered as something “new”? What does it mean to curate technological art these days? And what changes are needed in this activity?

In my view reflecting upon curating is not only right, but also necessary. This is what Gustavo Romano answered to one of my questions during an interview at #LABentrevista last April 14: “In a post Internet era any kind of curatorial activity must be reviewed”. In my opinion, for some years now we have experienced a boom in this activity that, even if it is mainly aimed at mediating in the dissemination of concepts, theories, contents between the work and the public, in must go deeper instead of staying in this first level. A curator must contribute, generate richness and value in an exhibition. A curator of contemporary art should address the fields of conflict, the cases where artistic proposals are no more flat and nice in order to trigger a critical vision on reality. Not a sleepy one any more.

(Ready) Media, is divided into seven thematic blocks:

- Overflows. Mechanicity and obsolescence in current art and technologies: Block curated by Gabriela Méndez and Juan Pablo Anaya that explores the critical use of technology in the works of LAA. Detecting what is new and subversive in the use of this technology, making technology become an element of overflowing, of meaning.

-Over Voice I: Block curated by Tania Aedo and Karla Jasso showcasing interviews and documents on the artisats that are included in the archive, being something very close to video-essay. A research about the creators that, at the same time, gives us some clues on the works and helps us find the gaps in the theoretical/curatorial/historical discourses, and their merits.

-Experimental music, art, poetry and sound experimentation in Mexico: A block developed by Manuel Rocha Iturbide and Israel Martínez. Sound art and electronic music play a central role in current Mexican art, for this reason they have worked hard in organising the different sub-disciplines existing among the works of the archive, a historical revision aimed at explaining the difficulty to frame sound art within the theoretical categories that exist.


Railings (Samples II) from The Modern Art Notes Podcast on Vimeo.

-Experimental contemporary audiovisual in Mexico: David Wood conveys a panoramic vision of audiovisual creation in Mexico built from the outer margins, contra-cultural at formal level.

-Memorable familiar: Grace Quintanilla has focused on the so-called “digital natives” to stablish some common parameters and features in their artistic production. This block is based on the exploration of “space(s)” of an apparent tension between the familiar and the memorable. These are works that choose technology as the medium to broadcast a set of topics that is not new but recurrent in contemporary art: Migration, surveillance, identity, the public and the private, the domestic or the body.

-Cine povera: Jesse Lerner focuses on works of recent years that use technology in a home-made hand-made way, while at the same time having a political and social content.


 

-Notes on a revision of video curating: By Erandy Vergara. This block reflects upon curating per-se and the fact that it has been the only path that has generated documentation and historiography on video art in Mexico. It explores the relationship between the artistic production and the curatorial practice, and it is developed along three axes: Event, document and memory.

(Ready)Media is an exhibition that suggest there is an order in the puzzle of Mexican video art by launching open, scalable and reformulable questions. The visitor is an active part. It is an observation/deduction game where we can take part or all. Constructing our own discourse based on subjective or objective motivations.

(Ready) Media is divided into two presentations with the purpose of hosting as many works as possible, always in accordance with the seven curatorial blocks established: April 15 to July 12 and July 15 to October 25.

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