"The museum is a mirror

Museums are like a school, which in part is very beautiful because it implies freedom to learn from the symbolic connections that you can create and the extension of your cultural field and desire, and on the other a little macabre, because it is also a normalization space. You learn to continue what you do not want or do not know, situations of power are shown. I trust Luis Camnitzer, the art museum can be another kind of school. For me, art does more than just being. Which has been influenced by my close relationship with MARCO. We do not have to have everything solved from the beginning, but we are building knowledge, between the relativity of knowledge, our ever-changing contexts and creative stimuli, for example, the museum itself. The museum could always be an expanded setting for the meeting of subjectivities, with freedom and creative stimulation.
I have struggled to write this memoir, at some point I wanted it to be like a diary of encounters, but it began to look like a dossier, then a growing autobiography, then a manifesto. Luckily I have been reading Sergio Pitol and Vila-Matas, who in some way have suggested that I repeat the attempt until I find what I really want to say. Which is complicated, because for me MARCO you have been like a lifelong friend, I have had a relationship with the Museum since it opened, and as with those good friends. You know yourself in all the benefits and pains that love and love. Every time I rewrote the text, I could remove things, but simultaneously others were added so that this began to seem like a task that had no end. I finally understood, that as with those friends, you never know yourself completely, or you look complete, you see yourself at times, and that creates spaces. Spaces that activate dialogue, such as the museum, as if to say that since I was a child I have enjoyed touching the MARCO marble, especially the one on the stairs, with a teleporting pleasure, it makes my body know that it is there, present since I was a child in the current exhibition . Which does not prevent that, at the same time, I like the piece by Andrea Fraser in which he rubs against the columns of the Guggenheim Bilbao as a critic, and wishes to one day see it exhibited at MARCO.

I was one of the first generation of summer workshops for children, I did my social service at the Museum, I have been a volunteer for 11 years, and, first of all, I am a visitor who feels so much confidence in the Museum that at times I see it as my workshop . I began to eliminate the anecdotes from this memory to try to share some attitudes and discoveries, even talk about some of the pieces that I have made there (almost always without permission from the Museum), but again it began to grow enormously, everything is linked. What I want to say is that for me the Museum has been a school, a workshop, my studio, the scene of interactions. A space that I understand as a possibility of dialogue, with the work on display, with visitors and workers, with reality. I am one of the people who can visit the same exhibition 20 times, and it is that, in each conversation, even the exhibitions that you do not like or understand, show you something of how others are and how they approach life, at the same time they teach you about yourself. The Museum is a mirror, and I would like to share that.

An anecdote
Those first summer workshops for children were spectacular, I remember having made the clothing of a "character" for theater with Miriam Medréz. With Javier Marín we sculpted “Dennis”, a bust of a rebellious Mexican punk boy, inspired by the then enigmatic Dennis Rodman. Gerardo Azcúnaga and the Quiñones Brothers introduced me to another dimension to material collage and prompted the attempt to expand reality, but what I want to tell about is what happened with Segundo Planes. The final day of work under his tutelage we had to bring things that interest us (such as objects of power) to use in our painting, I had an appointment with the dentist and I was late, so the colleagues had already chosen their racks, and there was only one left very small and a huge one. Of course I chose the huge one. I had my injected plastic soldiers, some images from magazines (wrestlers and girls), and a red cross flag that I strangely found at home among my dad's things. Second he helped me and we placed the frame that must have been about 2 x 2 m on the marble floor, next to the fountain, without fear, I pasted the flag in the center and then the soldiers standing on the photos of magazines and closed with some splatters of red Pollock type paint (who I didn't know then). Now I think it looked like a scene from Liliana Porter (hopefully they bring it back soon). Planes said he fell in love with the painting, and asked me for it as a gift, to which I agreed. Maybe Segundo just wanted the 2 x 2 m rack. The interesting thing was that the education coordinator (before the dear Indira and Marla) listened to us. Seeing Segundo's interest, he invented a rule and told us that he could not take it with him, since everything we did in the workshop was owned by MARCO. Which despite my 8 or 10 years seemed very suspicious, since everything we did we took home (that's how "Dennis" still lives with me). The MARCO Award ceased to exist, Marcelo Aguirre visited us from so far away from riding on the road, I had my first piece in a museum collection, of course, without credit or glory. Where could it be? Will it have my name? The most possible is that no. Perhaps it would have been better to give the frame to the master. But I still remember it.

A discovery
I volunteered at the Museum at the invitation of my dear college friends Mirna Garza and Sarahí Lara, to work on the internal magazine, the Volunteer Bulletin, which was previously printed, has become a digital publication and is now a blog. It was very beautiful to meet Edna Catalina Cano and Margarita Rodríguez, who basically carry the magazine on their hearts and shoulders, and to see that all the designers of the magazine were from Industrial Design, at that time there were also Vanessa Cantú and Luis Carlos López. Designing the magazine was difficult, because the Museum's design department gave us many restrictions, which reduced creativity, and little by little that caused that, in the face of my rebellion, I was given more opportunities to write and sometimes even interview some artists (definitely an antecedent to my Alterity project). All volunteers receive training, free access to the Museum, and tours with the artists and / or curators to the exhibitions. What I have always seen invaluable to life and my training. Many artist friends have criticized me for my long stay as a volunteer, however, I believe that anyone who wants to make art is privileged to see art constantly and have those opportunities to receive context from the artists. That in no time removes the power of the visit, which is where the conversation happens. An example of this was the Cardiff & Miller exhibition, which I am sure no one visited more times than I did, except perhaps the room guards. He was fascinated with the multiplicity of languages, the complexity of layers of narrative information, as well as his critique of reality. In the end, almost all the pieces were staged from fragments of his life turned into artistic and cultural research. I remember that in a talk they had with the volunteers, they commented that they tried "to make pieces that they themselves wanted to see, and that they tried to make their solutions seem, through technology, to be magical." I fell in love with Opera For a Small Room, I would go and try to listen to the entire opera, sometimes looking for specific fragments that I had missed or wanted to perceive and think again, sometimes to see the visitors react. I had to write a text about the exhibition, but it was too revolutionized, I needed another configuration, and my text became a continuation of that opera. According to what they told us, the piece arose when they bought a collection of records in an old-fashioned store and they were signed by an R. Dennehy. They tried to build a narrative from the records to find out Who was Dennehy ?, and ended up writing a contemporary opera about an interrupted love story. As much of what I perceived led me to recognize other stories from my own life, I wanted to continue the conversation, and I added myself to the question, Who is R. Dennehy? I did a magazine clippings-like narration, in which I propose other evidence about Dennehy's identity and his story.
I invite you to read the volunteer newsletter where you will find a lot of information and resources about the exhibitions, it is a way to share this contextualization exercise:


I also invite you to read "What are they building in there?":

A collaboration

Art museums have an Achilles tendon, educational programs are often their heart, as they pose the bridge of the institution to visitors outside of marketing, but they do not finish realizing that educational programs can create communities that can be more durable than the same exhibitions (example is MARCO volunteering). And that in itself is already a creative production waiting for someone to call it art. From my experience, although giving tours was not my responsibility as a Bulletin volunteer, I began to enjoy giving tours, as well as giving classes, workshops, conferences, I cannot deny that each one of them is an opportunity for the performance of the staging , the meeting, the present. Each tour or training, in me became a laboratory to learn more about the work of the exhibitions, learn more about the visitors, and ways of making links, from a creative exercise that could be very subtle, such as simply designing a speech, choose a sequence of pieces, make a joke, propose something very serious and profound, to give voice to others, share the emotion that makes me learn through art, meet others and see myself in their complex mirror.

At some point in 2017-18, we began to grow in confidence Tania Martínez Baez, Jennifer Furukawa and Verónica Meza (who were directly in charge of mediating the educational programs in the processes in which I participate). We began to devise a series of activities that transcended the workshop or training format, to try to share horizontal creative processes based on the exhibitions. For precisely, from having more tools to approach the exhibitions, to approach ourselves in a creative invitation. Totally subjective processes with rigorous research and creation, but without paying homage to what many visitors often say about museums: that they are intimidating, that they are imposition, that they are superb representations of power. I do not mean to imply that we solved something, but that we began to share a series of questions to turn our museum, the one we love so much, into a truly public space, and to think about art in relation to what it does to our perception of reality, rather than as a reality to perceive. We use tools such as cartographies, playlists, mainly dialogue with narrative volumes, free work, collaboration with other artists, we obtained permission to use museum spaces in another way, such as, for example, using the body, dancing and moving in an empty room ( because it was in editing), to prepare us to talk “from and from” about abstraction (The MACG collection visited us).

Many times we think of art as visual, but art is the voice of the whole body, to the point that expanded theater cites influences from how visual art, from the avant-garde, tried to take the body over visuality. When we walk through the museum, we not only see, but we perceive with our whole body, and sometimes the most memorable thing about the visit is something you heard others say, or that moment when you rested and touched the marble on the stairs and it seemed to you a mirror sharper than the water in the fountain, or in the bathroom.

I assume the responsibility of following these questions and investigating more, of knowing that we are not talking about certainties but about ways of getting closer, of sharing, such as the exhibitions that visit the museum, such as the ideas that flood us and you can prove with friends, that the art museum is a platform. It is an encounter, it is a mirror, it is a school of otherness. When I visit any museum, I always "get ready" but not to learn what they tell me, but to feel and relate to my context and background, which asks me to make this a creative experience.

To say goodbye, I leave some ideas that I would like to discuss with the MARCO the next time I see him, although they are always in process:

The museum is a space for encounters, a platform, a stage, a common space of dreams. The encounter is a configuration of possibilities. The museum is a space of possibilities.

The museum is a school, it has its affiliations and political pressures, but at the same time, it is a playhouse in which the important thing is to teach how to see these forms of power, to propose to think about other ways of doing and living, always changing.

The museum is one more tool to learn to live.

We are all artists, because we all participate in the social structure. The museum helps us see how to configure our participation from passive to active. Seek to identify and appropriate our life in freedom.

Art should not be used as colonizing propaganda. Culture is not the Fine Arts, but the way we configure living. It is an exercise. Art is sometimes a trace of how we live, sometimes a criticism of how we live, sometimes an approach to other ways of living. If art is used as propaganda, it smells bad, the only constant is to share, learn, transform, value. The museum that does not sincerely participate in this, smells bad.

In art, time is not linear, there is no progress, but a continuation of the basic questions of life, which takes place in a chaotic and beautiful dance of syncopes and synchronicities. What is life? Because I am here? Who I am? How why What would it be like if you knew other things? How not to condition the future, how not to assume that I know about it? How to learn? How to be in the present? ... They are very complex questions, sometimes it is more effective to try to answer them from the meetings, and to bring those acknowledgments to reflection and action. The museum can be an accomplice, but it should not try to feel like power, nor in the newest or “cool” or “Valuable”. The museum is an accomplice in showing other ways to stay alive. Show "art" and let art be made.

The museum is not a work of art, it is a cultural practice. It is a space for debate, an ever-changing staging, not for those in power, but for what we need a voice.

Those who go to the museum are not general or specialized audiences, they are human, visitors, Give encouragement, that visitor can be a great artist, or a bad human being. We cannot discriminate as a museum or as a society. Each configuration, process, our way of spinning our subjectivity is valuable, people are the valuable ones. We are the alchemists, the ones who transform everything, anything into something else.

The art museum is a space to have a body. It is not an exclusively visual space.

Although what happens in the museum is important, it is not solemn. The important thing is to learn and create, and that is sometimes noisy.

Let's not forget that the museum is a context. It can be relative and memorable, as we visitors are.

The museum can teach you to break the rules.

The art museum can be a space where you feel comfortable.

The museum can be a place that brings people together to share strategies.

The museum is a public space.

The museum is a mirror. "

Luis Frias

#StoryTellingFrame #MUSEODETODOS