South likes: Fitzcarraldo at Yautepec, Mexico City

South likes: Fitzcarraldo at Yautepec, Mexico City
Yautepec, Mexico City, Mexico
15 May – 26 July 2014
The hardcore punk band Fitzcarraldo, composed of Andrew Birk, Nico Colón, and Yann Gerstberger, disbanded in 2001 during a tour in South America, after discussing the book Empire by Toni Negri and Michael Hardt. With a straight edge political vision, the lyrical content of their songs dealt with the hegemony of Western culture in the Third World, issues of inequality and colonialism. The choice of the band’s name had to do with their political commitment and with their franco-american origins. Fitzcarraldo was in fact a reference of the use of economic privileges in order to start a cultural endeavour—namely a opera house in Werner Herzog’s film. After reading Empire the member of Fitzcarraldo came to the conclusion that they had betrayed their anti-imperialist ideals; for imperialism had changed and wasn’t anymore the domination of one state over another but rather a conglomeration of all states, nations, corporations, media, popular and intellectual culture. After the band disbanded, its three members decided to move in Mexico City, to start a career as contemporary artists.
The narration about a hardcore punk band named Fitzcarraldo works as a fictional frame to gather the works of Andrew Birk, Nico Colón, and Yann Gerstberger under the assumption that “race” is an artificial and constructed human category. The three artists, work and live in Mexico City, come together at Yautepec with works very different between them. And yet they are grouped by a shared origin from Western developed countries and by a common choice to live and work the thriving Mexican scene. Andrew Birk’s paintings are simple enamel’s representations of clouds on a blue background, a subject that could difficultly be attributed to any geographical or political provenance. Nico Colón’s work is a series of canvases reproducing a semi-abstract motive of jungle leaves, which remind of the interaction between natural and artificial environments as well of the relationships between distant cultures and everyday landscape. The work of Yann Gerstberger is a textile that joins practices related to craftsmanship and at the same time relating to issues of race and cultural divide. The juxtaposition of these three artists, especially in the narrative fiction conceived for the show, raises in fact relevant questions regarding the art scene of peripheral countries and their relations to issues of imperialism and cultural hegemony. For it is true that in the rise of the global South the notions of centre and periphery might need a deep reassessment indeed.
Michelangelo Corsaro
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