Carlos Amorales: Life in the folds

Carlos Amorales: Life in the folds

Mexican Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Carlos Amorales, Life in the folds, 2017.

November 9, 2017
Carlos Amorales
Life in the folds
May 13–November 26, 2017
Mexican Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Curated by Pablo León De La Barra

In view of the recent events regarding the state of crisis and emergence in Mexico—such as the imminent dissolution of NAFTA, the recent earthquake that stroke the central area of this country affecting thousands of people, and the upcoming presidential elections with the social and economical instability it conveys—just to mention some of the most relevant incidents. It becomes urgent to reflect on the themes behind Carlos Amorales' film The Cursed Village, placed at the center of the installation project Life In The Folds for the Pavilion of Mexico at the 57th Venice Biennale.

As the title states, The Cursed Village is a tale about the journey and arrival, of a migrant family, into a small and eerie town, where it´s unfriendly inhabitants start a complot against the displaced father, mother and son. Without no apparent reason besides being foreigners, and after a series of unpleasant encounters, both parents turn out lynched by the furious mass, leaving behind the helpless son, as the sole survivor.

In the style of an animated puppet theater, this black and white film was made solely with cardboard cutouts. The characters, buildings, animals and vegetation, as well as the landscape, are portrayed by several compositions, derived by of a visual language created by Amorales with irregular geometric and abstract shapes. This language which started out as a typeface and evolved into phonetic and musical qualities, is also groundwork for the dialogues, soundscape and soundtrack of the film.

The formal aspect of this project becomes the strain that connects the film with the other two works within the installation. Where a series of poems written with an alphabet made of ceramic ocarinas (wind instruments) are displayed together with a set of pages from an experimental musical score, also written with the aforementioned typeface. Both works establish a complementary relationship: the score can be interpreted by a musical ensemble playing the ocarinas.

All together the elements comprising the installation activate the invention of this new language as a need for conveying the tragedies of today´s world, avoiding the alienation produced by the enormous amount of news information spread by mass media through social networks.

Particularly the tragedy of a lynching is proposed as a metaphor of the current tensions between a new breed of nationalism and the effects of globalization, that has forced millions of people to migrate, as it is evident in many countries across the world. In The Cursed Village, tension is brought to its limits, to the point where violence dissolves any possibility for social interaction and understanding between locals and foreigners. Hence a new language can provide a different approach form an artistic perspective, to understand and deal, in a rational nonetheless emotional level, with the current state of emergence that surrounds us.

National representation in such an important international cultural platform, is taken by the artist as a chance to reflect and speak freely about how he perceives the society where he lives, meanwhile placing his reflection in a larger geopolitical context. 

In a grim historical moment as the one that we are experiencing today, perhaps one of the remaining freedoms that we can still have is the articulation of thought and speech, even if, ironically, we must find alternative languages for decodifying the mainstream representation of reality, in order to avoid self alienation and censorship.

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Mexican Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
November 9, 2017

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