Mario García Torres is the subject of Mario García Torres: Illusion Brought Me Here, the artist’s first US survey, organized by the Walker and copresented with WIELS, Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels. Born in Monclova, Mexico, and based in Mexico City, he has exhibited extensively, including at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2007), Kunsthalle Zürich (2008), Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley (2009), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2010); Museo MADRE, Naples (2013), Perez Art Museum, Miami (2015), and TBA21, Vienna (2016). He has also participated in such international exhibitions as the Sharjah Biennial 13,Tamawuj, Emirates (2017); Manifesta, the Berlin Biennale (2014); the Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2013); Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); the São Paulo Bienal (2010); and the Venice Biennale (2007). In 2019, Mario García Torres: Illusion Brought Me Here will be presented at WIELS.
The end of this year saw the fading away of an amazing friend, collaborator, and a maverick behind the studio console, Neto García (1980–2018). Even though he had been producing incredibly sophisticated records for a wide range of musicians for several years, this might be yet another opportunity to celebrate his time and achievements on earth, his way of approaching life, and his beautiful talent. I am incredibly grateful for his friendship and for the number of times we worked and invented worlds together. Respect.
The change of regime in Mexico is certainly one of the most important things that happened this year for me. Although the feelings as Andrés Manuel López Obrador takes power have started to shift from enthusiasm to confusion—due to the fact that a large number of his promises, when turned realities, have become flaws (to say the least) in his administration already—I still believe it will be fundamentally good in the long run.
SOL OOSEL’S JANUS
Two of my close friends and musician collaborators (who are featured in the app piece I made for my Walker exhibition) put out LPs this year. Janus by Sol Oosel is one of them. This record is an experimental electronica set, yet the influences and strange (maybe invented) languages in their lyrics put this record on a shelf apart. Experimental music meets concrete poetry in the future. It is said that the first plate of this new project by Gustavo Mauricio Hernández Dávila (Zurdok, Niña, Quiero Club, She’s a Tease) is influenced by the “electronics of modular synthesizers, the Olympic spirit, and the plausible non-sense of New Wave, Krautrock beats, the warmth of California pscyhedelia, the soundscapes of rural Mexican life, the threshold between different states of consciousness, and the intimacy with one’s self.” As you dance to it, this hard-to-define musical essay will take you to unimagined magical places: Janus is such bold bet.
HANNAH GADSBY’S NANETTE
For years, I have been interested in the way speeches—in particular, monologues—work. If there was one thing that I find time to watch repeatedly during the preparation of my survey at the Walker was Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette on Netflix. Gadsby is regarded as a comedian, but she has radically transformed the genre. Nanette is conceptually intriguing, politically precise, and sharp, yet is warm and disarmingly honest. A really important work of art. A real game changer. Oh, and its got it’s share of art museum critique!
PABLO SIGG’S LAMALAND
Lamaland (Teil I) is Pablo Sigg’s third feature film, but also the second one with the same subjects. In 2013, Sigg released Der Wille zur Macht for which he quietly recorded the lives of the only two survivors of Nueva Germania, a racially pure German colony established in the end of the 19th century in the Paraguayan jungle. Several years later he returned to the Schweikhart brothers to film them again—this time, though, with a fictional script under his arm. Lamaland (Teil I), which came out at the beginning of this year, is a tale that foresees in intimate detail one of the possible ends of a grand utopian project that started two centuries ago, a poetic finale that can only happen in such radical state of isolation. It’s a film that ends even before it starts, a film that is pure collapse, the fascinating work of an obsessive film director who works in almost as much isolation as his subjects and makes movies in the slowest possible way.
DAN FOX’S LIMBO
Dan Fox’s writings are a blast. Following up his incredible Pretentiousness: Why It Matters, published in 2016, the British writer and musician published Limbo this year, an essay about writer’s-block. Yep, a-111 page text about the moment one is frozen, when one feels absent from ideas, when agency is removed. “I felt I was in No Man’s Land, the Twilight Zone, the Upside Down, the wasteland, the badlands and the boonies. On the side-lines, on the bench, on hold, on stand-by, out-of-synch, in the wings, up the creek, in a ditch, in a fix, in a funk, in stasis, in suspense animation.” Just as I finished installing my show at the Walker and I felt drained of all thoughts, I couldn’t come to a better place but this elegant piece of writing. “There can be no growth without stagnancy, no movement without inactivity, and no progress without refusal,” points out the text on the back cover. Suspension turned political. Oh man, I can’t feel closer to that. (If you need a proof of that, please sit through The Causality of Hesitance, at the Walker on Februay 7; it’s a stage monologue precisely about time, from letting things happen in the last moment in its most personal way to the political implications of hesitation and the contradictory aspects of progress). Limbo is drop-dead engaging and a mind-saver for the creative folk.
SEBASTIÁN HOFFMAN’S TIME SHARE
The story of two families who are paradoxically booked in the same room of a massive beach resort is the start of this deep and dark yet hysterical film, Time Share. Co-written and directed by Sebastián Hoffman, it is a noir comedy, that’s been tinted pink so you can swallow it, which in truth, complicates our relationship to corporate politics and our fantastical ideas about leisure. It really made me ponder if I should take a vacation post–Illusion Brought Me Here, as I had planned. Definitely one of the highlights of Mexico’s new wave of cinema—along with Carlos Reygada’s Our Time, a mysteriously honest account of love and its politics, and Museo, Alonso Ruizpalacios’s story of a robbery in Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology—one I had been waiting for for years.
RUZZI’s NAVE ESPECIAL
Far from being the most popular track, “Cuando (When)” is my favorite tune on Ruzzi‘s just-off-the-press Nave Especial. The debut album of this Chihuahua-raised, far-out talented and dynamic musician is as eclectic as it is intriguing—a record where psychologically driven lyrics dwell in a mostly untroubled and sometimes mysterious space defined by OP-1 synth notes. In “Cuando,” Ruzzi’s delicate voice tops a darker upbeat as tickly guitar sounds that seem to come from Juan Gabriel’s 1980s music punctuate a love questionnaire. “Dártelo,” the first single, is a confident track where deep electronica functions as a base for a redeeming story where, before you realize it, you are down into a Caribbean hip-hop moment that feel’s like Vico-C updated by #MeToo. The unassuming rethoric in “Mudanza (Move)” raves being able to let go while “Ocotitlán” brings a more conceptual turn to the LP: the instrumental tune is pure sad ambient that works as a poetic pause before you are raised again to encouragement. Ruzzi has lined up a long list of amazing collaborators who make this record a real mirror of the pop and experimental music scene in Mexico—from Natalia Lafourcade to Vanessa Zamora to Meme of Café Tacuba, to name a few. “Nave Especial,” the title song, is a starship of a song, one that can transgress galaxies on neutral gear. Like the whole plate, cut to cut, it takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, just to drop you off, shaken but standing with a self-conscious flair.
GABINO RODRIGUEZ’S TIJUANA
Tijuana is a documentary theater piece by Gabino Rodriguez—in essence, an experimental monologue of a critical journey that the author, director, and actor took in that border city for several months. The piece examines a crude reality in our country while testing a number of political labor laws issues and bringing their problematics to the forefront. I am honored that Rodriguez, an amazing actor—and probably the most avant-garde theater director in Mexico—will be directing The Causality of Hesitance at the Walker. Thanks so much, Gabino!
ALEXANDER ZVEREV VS. DAMIR DZMHUR AT THE FRENCH OPEN
One of the most beautifully passionate moments in 2018 were the final rallies of a far-from-final tennis game this summer. It was Roland Garros’s third round game between recent revelation Alexander Zverev and the young and incredibly inspired Damir Dzmhur. After breezing from the first set, Zverev was broken by Dzmhur, winning five games in a row to level the game for the second set. They traded breaks on the third before the Bosnian stole the set. The fourth set went to German Zverev on a tight-break that was as tense as the whole fifth set, where Dzmuhur brought him to the brink of a breakthrough. The Bosnian rallied from 2-4 down on the fifth to win three straight games and reach a match point, which was nullified by an intellectually-based game of Zverev and later save the set to be 5-5. The German finally took the game to end in the next two moves to end 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-5 just six minutes short of four hours. A blast of a long game that became less important in duration a month later when Kevin Anderson won against John Isner at Wimbledon after playing for six hours and 36 minutes. Ironically enough, it was Isner himself who still has the record of winning the longest ever Grand Slam singles match against Nicolas Mahut, lasting 11 hours and five minutes, only eight years ago.