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El cuarto de máquinas, Mexico City, Mexico
September 23, 2016 – December 17, 2016
El Cuarto de Máquinas inaugurates its new space with the exhibition Aquatania. Parte I, by Cristóbal Gracia (Mexico City, 1987), who has developed an investigation project about the port of Acapulco based on the reinterpretation/appropriation of the movie Tarzan and the mermaids (1948), filmed on the Mexican port and starring the veteran Hollywood actor Johnny Weissmuller.
Curated by Inbal Miller and Edgar Alejandro Hernández, Aquatania. Parte I brings together works on video, sculpture, installation and photography, through which the artist has explored concepts like memory, exoticism, luxury, violence and post-colonialism. Starting from the allegory that Johnny Weissmuller himself, who realised 12 Tarzan films for Hollywood, spent his last days on the edge of insanity in the Hotel Los Flamingos of Acapulco. The success and decadence of the actor of Rumanian origin served as a starting point for Cristóbal Gracia to reflect on the problems of the Mexican port which suffers from its own vices and is living in a wave of violence as a product of great social contrasts.
The work of Cristóbal Gracia draws from a nostalgic vision, as he, among a great part of the local tourism, sees Acapulco as that paradisiac beach destination in danger of extinction. The reference acquires relevance as his work problematizes the nostalgic exoticism that industrial Hollywood exploited (mid 20th century), in agreement with the modernist ideals that marked the post-colonialist cultural intervention of the United States in Latin America.
The short film Aquatania. Un hombre debe ocupar el lugar que Dios le otorga – caminos selváticos o las calles de Hollywood – y pelear por las cosas en las que cree (2016) stands out. Even though it should not be taken as the central piece of the show, it does connect the whole body of work as it structures most of Gracia’s visual references used in his production.
Courtesy of El cuarto de máquinas, Mexico City