In “Punk and its traces in contemporary art,” curator David G. Torres articulates how the punk sensibility has expressed various political and cultural stances. What has largely been relegated to low-culture in the art world is located in a contemporary art canon in Torres’ exhibit, making theory and conceptualism central to the music and styles that make up punk. The exhibit, which marks the 40th anniversary of punk, was previously shown in Madrid and Barcelona and is now on display at Museo del Chopo. It references artists like Mike Kelly and Paul McCarthy and includes work by Tere Recarens, Martin Arnold and Johan Grimonprez, among many others.
The exhibit includes many forms — music, fashion, artwork — which constitute the underground punk music scene, and spans from its roots in New York and London to more recent Latin American interpretations. The exhibit defines punk as an “attitude of difference and rebellion from a political, economic, social and cultural system.” Punk is an ideological reaction to a lack of economic opportunity, the failures of the hippy movement and societal or cultural conventions. In doing so it calls on existent artistic movements such as Dadaism and Situationism. In turn, punk represents dissatisfaction, violence, DIY, negation, non-conformity and criticism of social and political structures.
The exhibit focuses on punk’s influence on conceptualism. Greater than its aesthetic qualities is the way in which the piece is capable of commenting on its form, or the greater art world. In one piece, called “S.C.U.M. is Impatient,” explores automation. The piece references the SCUM manifesto by Valérie Solanas, which argues that men have ruined the world and now women must fix it. The piece, which spans an entire wall and is made of wall stamps and a video of a woman reading off what appears to be news, introduces various possibilities for a future after automation in which the need for human labor will be eliminated, further alienating humans.
In “Party of Bullets,” artist Enrique Jezik creates an installation that references the Mexican book “El Águila y la Serpiente” (The Eagle and the Snake) by Martín Luis Guzmán and contemporary Mexican violence. The artist shot at the panels of glass which are on display in a small room and is accompanied by the sound of gunshots on a speaker. The effect is grating both visually and audibly, challenging both our complacency as we move through the show and our relation to the present material violence.
Many visitors might liken it to the last show Museo del Chopo showcased, “Pirated Modernity.” While there is significant overlap thematically, the current exhibit shows how punk created an entire philosophy which influenced the art and political world, not merely individuals.
The show will continue until March 2017.
Museo del Chopo is located on Doctor Enrique González Martínez 10 in Santa María de la Ribera.
The museum is open from Wed.-Sun. from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Entrance costs 30 pesos.