Experimental Grounds/Unexpected Sources
¿Quién diablos es Juliette? (Who the Hell is Juliette?)
dir. Carlos Marcovich, Mexico, 1997, Video, 91 min., Spanish w/ English subtitles
A music video shoot takes a
Mexican crew to Havana, an apparently simple journey that detonates an
intricate narrative across a three-year span, multiple urban contexts, and the
fraught terrain of gender politics in Latin America. Exploring parallels in the
lives of two women, Yuliet Ortega and Fabiola Quiroz ¿Quién diablos es
Juliette? is a self-reflexive study on the fictional within the
biographical, and documentary cinema as an exercise in both vérité and fantasy.
The film explores the constantly shifting line between the agency of its
heroines and their exploitation at the hand of larger structures, including the
filmmaking process itself. A culminating scene in Mexico City’s Xochimilco is
particularly charged with tensions: has this documentary/fictional experiment
resulted in cruelty? Can these women creatively intervene their status as
sexual commodities? What uneven power dynamics are at play within the
cross-cultural encounters staged by the film? Deriving its mixed aesthetic from
music videos, observational and participative documentary, as well as reality
television, ¿Quién diablos es Juliette? juxtaposes multiple modalities
to reveal an ambivalent stance towards its subjects and the very nature of
En un abrir y cerrar de ojos
dir. Paulina del Paso, Mexico , 1999, Video, 8 min.
EXPERIMENTAL GROUNDS / UNEXPECTED SOURCES
Experimental Grounds/Unexpected Sources excavates the expanded media landscape that significantly shaped urban cinema culture in 1990s Mexico. The fiction, documentary, and experimental shorts and features in the series were the product of a vast, cross-medial horizon that was catalyzed by a vibrant video scene and a rising cinema culture. Energized by the sense of the present as a unique moment, and by a dynamic and vital youth culture, the films draw from a rich audiovisual repertoire that includes music videos, talk shows, avant-garde video and performance practices, advertising, as well as established genres and styles. What characterizes this body of works are the remix aesthetics and rhythmic, rapid editing that became the emblematic “look” of the 1990s.
All of the films explore the meaning of the urban through moving images by focusing on a distinct neighborhood of Mexico City through particular genres (Perfume de violetas, Cómodas mensualidades) or by highlighting the city’s cosmopolitan, trans-urban connections (Fronterilandia, ¿Quién diablos es Juliette?). Three veritable “indies,” rarely screened outside Mexico – Tequila, Todos están muriendo aquí, and the riotously nonsensical Coapa Heights – unravel the experimental art and music scenes that thrived in 1990s Mexico City by, documenting the venues, practices and artists that constituted these milieus. Marked by the youthful energy of directors and actors, a distinctive sense of irreverence and contestation, as well as a defiant, DIY attitude in the face of precariousness, these works constitute unique registers of the thrills and challenges of making moving images in Mexico City during a turbulent decade. Each feature will be preceded by a short film.
Experimental Grounds/Unexpected Sources is curated by WalterForsberg, Paulina Suárez and Eduardo Thomas and presented by International House Philadelphia in partnership with The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design. The series is organized in conjunction with Strange Currencies: Art & Action in Mexico City, 1990-2000, on view at The Galleries atMoore September 19 – December 12, 2015. Major support for Strange Currencies: Art & Action in Mexico City, 1990-2000 has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, with additional support from the Mexican Cultural Center and the Consulate General of Mexico in Philadelphia. Experimental Grounds/Unexpected Sources is also supported by the Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía. Learn more about Strange Currencies here.