Enter into Mass, Mexico's unique performance program

Enter into Mass, Mexico's unique performance program


Docent had the chance to speak with Yaël, from the performance agency and Carla, the founder of Aguirre Gallery about "Mass", a performance program happening in Mexico.
For this new iteration of the MASS, Aguirre and The Performance Agency come together to invite artists into an orchestration of performance pieces and situations that guide the audience through a world of imagination into an evening with poetry lectures, music concerts and interventions with artists Victor del Oral, Stephanie La Cava, Edgardo Aragón, Amado Cabrales, Barbara Foulkes, Tomás Nervi, Elliott Jamal Robbins, Anabel Venegas Salas, Techno Para Dos (Raúl Villamil), AlexTibbitts, Marta Taddei and Mallika Vora.

Enter into Mass, Mexico's unique performance program

Docent: Maybe we should start by the title of this program “Mass”

Yaël: The flux mass was a series of events which first occurred at the art Institution of Rutgers University, between 1958-1972. The Mass signaled a variety of shifts in the multidisciplinary arts movement from the democratization of institutional approaches to broader cultural changes. Larry Mill, student, Fluxus artist and Mass participant at the time, described the events as ‘a ritual ready-made’ - as the Mass format was defined by the structures of a Roman Catholic Mass, which the organizers and participants systematically inverted. The activities of the performance agency were very informed by the late avant-garde, not in a reenactment of the past, but in the takeover of that energy to say anything can be art and in its accessibility, also where you don't need to have any knowledge about or any context to understand a concert or a performance.
Enter into Mass, Mexico's unique performance program

Docent: How did you start thinking about this project?

Carla: We met at the gallery in Mexico when I showed Juan Antonio Olivares and Joseph Grigely, before we meg I made a performance program at the gallery with Tomas Nervi. When we met we discovered that we shared a mentor, Gigiotto Del Vecchio, who had a wonderful gallery program called Supportico López in Berlin, he introduced us both to Archivio Conz, where Yael worked for a while activating the strongest voices of fluxus, through this wonderful archivo of Francesco Conz.
Doing Nervi’s performance at the gallery in 2022 and seeing how it gathered a community scene of writers, artists, poets gave me the desire to repeat the exercise here in Mexico in a more ambitious program. That’s how the discussion started with Yael and the performance agency.

Docent: This idea of the performance as a meeting point for a diverse artistic scene is reflected in your curation. Can you tell us about the artists invited?

Carla: I think the program was structured through our mutual encounters with strong artistic voices. Yael spent some time with me in Mexico city and as I introduced her to the local underground scene we started building this program infusing this local scene with external voices that we brought from abroad.

Enter into Mass, Mexico's unique performance program
We also like the idea of displacement, or obliquity in the way the artists are involved. For example, Edgardo Aragón, one of the most influential artist of his generation with an outstanding institutional career will be performing with the corrido band he started recently; Stephanie La Cava, a writer from new York will be introducing her new novel through a performance she designed with the local Mexican punk band Cruda Moral, with Martha Taddei and Mallika Vora, that Thania Millan a Mexican DJ suggested to us; these collaboration puts forward the themes and cultural influences that she often draws her writings from. Then you have also Elliott Jamal Robbins, whose silent, hand-drawn and hand-painted animated films intertwine the social and the political. Robbins works suggests to confront our conventional readings of identity, gender and sexuality, his work carries the weight of history in western civilizations.

Docent : How did you brought so many diverse artists in the same curated space and discourse?

Yael: I like to think of this as an orchestration, where things are part of an image and sort of an overall narrative where different elements take their space, in dialogue with each other. It was very important for us to bring heterogeneity both in terms of means of expression, and artistic backgrounds.
Enter into Mass, Mexico's unique performance program

Docent : The event will unfold in Casa Seminario 12, the oldest currently inhabited house in Mexico City. How did you choose this location?

This building was built in 1640 on the site where the ceremonial temple of the Mexica deity of Tezcatlipoca once stood. In 1988 it was acquired in a completely abandoned state and for four years it underwent an intense conservation process that managed to restore almost all of its original structure. It is one of the few buildings from the 17th century that have recovered its constituent elements to continue resolving the function that its construction imposed, that is, its use as a family home. These layers of indigenous and colonial history make it a heavily political space, which interested us in our performative approach. It is also a place where sacred and religious Catholic figures are adored, bringing another layer of resonance and dialogue to the program. It will come out beautifully when we have the post punk band performing on top a sculpture of Jesus Christ.
First Image: Courtesy of Victor del Oral and Aguirre.
2nd Image: Courtesy of Victor del Oral and Aguirre.
3rd Image: Courtesy of Mallika Vora and Martha Taddei members of the band Cruda Moral
4rd Image: Courtesy of Stephanie LaCava
5th Image: Seminario12, Centro Histórico, Mexico City