We arrived one of the two busses that SAPS, The Siqueiros Project Hall of Public Art, has in its command, thanks to the National Institute of Fine Arts, to shuttle people from their location in Mexico City to David Alfaro Siqueiros’s former studio, La Tallera, now more or less a museum in its own right, in Cuernavaca. The bus that we were on looked like it fell out of a 70s road movie: shining aluminum paneling, art-deco oval green glass windows. On the shelf behind the driver sat three different straw hats; above him swung a dreamcatcher. The drive from SAPS to La Tallera takes about two hours, exiting the city through a two-level highway. The bottom level is free, the upper level paid. Although there is a free public highway to Cuernavaca from Mexico City, the bus took the private toll road, generally perceived to be safer. Cruelly, the poor are more commonly targeted by kidnappers, robbers, extortionists, and so on, on the free public roads, riding six-peso busses on grueling 2-hour-plus commutes from the outskirts of the city to chronically underpaid jobs in the central neighborhoods. Indeed, as city governments throughout Mexico push the poor to the outskirts of the cities by force or economics, the violence in Mexico, which lately has been getting worse, seems to be disappearing.
La Tallera is an imposing structure. A slow rise up a concrete path leads to two enormous Siqueiros murals fanning out from the brutalist concrete main building. The main exhibition space inside, which was Siqueiros’s studio, is a disconcerting polygon with impossibly high walls and strange angles. In this awkward polygon, resting on the floors, fallen to the floor, spilling from the walls, was “All of the Centuries are a Single Instant,” a solo show from Cynthia Gutiérrez, curated by Michele Fiedler and Silverio Orduña. I was particularly struck by the formal similarity between one of the pieces on display, Earth March (2019), and Felix Gonzalez Torres’s Untitled (Placebo) (1991), one of his endless candy piles. Cracked clay replicas of ancient artifacts tumbled down from a far corner of the room like the dead in the latest episode of Game of Thrones, faces, bowls, torsos, pedestals, limbs, beginning at a height of maybe three or four meters and ending at your feet.
In a brief text about Untitled (Placebo), Ted Purves focuses on its technical specifications, which he terms its “structural medium”: “Candies, individually wrapped in silver cellophane (endless supply).” The structural medium of Earth March is not endless, but fragmented: the technical details for the piece read “Fragments of clay pieces, dimensions variable.” I stumbled, thumbing through an anthology Julie Ault edited on Felix Gonzalez-Torres, on a quote from Blanchot: “The fragment, as fragments, tends to dissolve the totality that it presupposes and that it carries off towards the dissolution from which (strictly speaking) it does not form itself, but to which it exposes itself in order, disappearing (all identity disappearing along with it), to maintain itself as the energy of disappearing.” Let’s say, along with Blanchot, that the fragment is the energy of disappearing: what is a concentration of the energy of disappearing in a country that not only disappears people, but now violence itself?