From Our Man in Mexico

by Hans Bryssinck

To add to the confusion of where I have been working and living in the last year and a half I took a plane to Mexico. It was an overnight decision, prompted by a lively spontaneity that is such an important feature of Mexican society. On my way, halfway between here and there I'm writing about something that is still to come.

Mexico city or el D.F. ("Dee Effe"): the imagination of many immigrants, this beautiful mix between modernism and old civilizations, between tropicalia and sweet melancholy, with lust for live, intoxication and honoring of the death.

It was in Mexico city where I first touched Latin American soil, back in 1997, and where I learned my first words of Spanish by watching several Mexican telenovela's a day, with Salud, dinero y amor being my favorite. It was Mexico city where one night I left my sweater in a gay bar, only to find the bar burned to the ground the day after. It was in Mexico D.F. where Diederik and I created the timeless (to be taken literal!) performance and video piece Los Viernes in the memorable year of 2003. We crossed town in the infamous coche amarillo (the yellow car) while listening to El fonógrafo, musica ligado a su recuerdo…

It is the city of my good friend and artist Galia Eibenschutz, who now invited me to work on a performance that will be presented at the Museo Rufino Tamayo. We will interact with the installation of artist Rita McBride, who re-constructed elements of the Villa Savoye of Le Corbusier inside the museum.

Mexico City has once again drawn attention to itself as an important art-hub for South America. On the arts scene it has the attraction that once was the exclusive privilege of a city like New York. I can only be positive about how attention has shifted South and East and how there is now a disparate patchwork of cities all over the world that exert an influence on the powers that be in the arts. From a South American perspective Mexico city occupies a bit of a dominant position, whereas places like Caracas, or La Paz still very much look like the backwaters.

I'm still amazed by how little people in Europe know about South America, or how even some of my dear friends and relatives easily confuse Colombia for Mexico or Bolivia for Peru, not to mention anything about Paraguay. I guess the physical experience of traveling over land gives you an imprint of a continent that can never be equaled by even the best geography class. You could just start driving down the Pan-American Highway, the one road that connects North to South, with only one jungle-like interruption between Central and South America.

Since my last residency in Colombia I really started to experience the continent as a whole. When in Bogota, one can easily ignore Berlin or London while cities like Sao Paulo or Buenos Aires feel like they are within reach and become the reference. It makes me want to talk from Mexico to Erick Ortega the graphic designer of my record who lives in Cali, Colombia, and to Daniel Alvaro my good friend and sociologist from Buenos Aires with whom I'm preparing a project in which we will mirror elements of the city of Montevideo, Uruguay with Brussels, Belgium. Or, how skype and airplanes can perform complementary functions.