MEXICO CITY — If you’re trying to get a read on a country’s state of affairs, you could do worse than talk to its children — which is exactly what curators of an exhibit at Mexico City’s Centro de Cultura Digital (Center of Digital Culture) have done with “Sentimientos de los Niños y Niñas de la Nación,” on display now until May 31.
For the project, staff from Alas y Raíces (Wings and Roots), a Culture Secretariat program that focuses on providing kids with quality cultural education and entertainment, visited classrooms in 23 states and over 40 cities, asking children how they felt about Mexico. They spoke with over 1,500 students, from a socioeconomically diverse range of areas, some of which experience higher degrees of insecurity than others.
The concept is based on revolutionary priest José María Morelos’ 1813 document “Sentimientos de la Nación,” a 23-point account of his concerns and ideas for the young country he helped birth.
School groups have already started coming through to visit the exhibit, which opened on April 30. More than anything, it provides an opportunity for Mexicans of all ages to reflect on their environment like the Alas y Raíces students were asked to do. What is the biggest problem in Mexico? How can we find peace? Do you consider yourself free? are all questions that were presented, and answered numerous times throughout “Sentimientos.”
Text cascades down pillars, greets your footsteps on the floor. Some of the most visually striking elements are self portraits. A Centro de Cultura Digital PR representative said that one could see environmental stressors reflected in these drawings, as in a piece featuring a man in blue jeans and devilish eyebrows, surrounded by text, the words for “crazy,” “desperation” and “anger” placed around him.
Visitors are also asked to contribute their thoughts to the exhibit, given colorful tape to create images of an object they think represents Mexico. In the final room of the display, visitors can watch videos created by the child respondents of themselves, talking about the world they see around them.
It’s not often that you get a moment to contemplate the thoughts of children, or that they’re elevated to exhibition fodder in a museum setting.
Visitors are invited to bring their kids to “Sentimientos de los Niños y Niñas de la Nación” — but perhaps the attendees who will get the most out of the show are those who have forgotten the clarity that youth brings.