Mexico City: An Exhibition about the Exchange Rates of Bodies and Values



22 September 02 – 19 January 03


Opening: 21.09.2002, 5 - 9 pm

Mexico City is one of the biggest cities in the world and is characterised by an immense tension between rich and poor, between progression, stagnation and improvisation and between violence and civilisation.

The exhibition Mexico City: An Exhibition about the Exchange Rates of Bodies and Values documents the position of each individual whether human or animal, in a world in which total poverty and obscene affluence crash into each other on a daily basis. Kidnapping, murder and pollution belong to every-day life. The performances by Santiago Sierra or Ivan Edeza, show authentic video material of helicopter chases where the amputated ears of the victims become trophies of desire. These images mirror the discrimination and exploitation of the underclass. In contrast, Daniela Rossell portrays the rich and famous in their opulent and highly secured houses. The sexuality of these bleached women becomes pure product or cheap decoration.

In Mexico City each single body has their exact economic value. It is not solely about someone?s capacity for work, but the body itself becomes an object in the economic system. The body becomes an object that has to be protected or defended or that can be exchanged. The paler the skin of a prostitute, the more expensive their service, the height of popularity and affluence of a person under kidnap, influences the ransom. A characteristic facet of this economy of the body is described by the photo series Ambulantes (Pushing and Pulling) by Francis Alÿs. Here humans weigh the mass of their own bodies with the products, that they happen to be pushing or pulling home from the market-place.

A further phenomenon, that is imprinted in this city, is the coexistence of human and animal, especially of human and dog. The pleasure and the suffering of the humans mirrors the life of the dogs and vice versa. The discrepancy between rich and poor, the dangers and brutality of the every-day life, the hierarchy and mixture of the races, all these characteristics possess identical traces. So is true of the infinite run of posters for missing dogs by Jonathan Hernandez that include in their layout, offers of ransom to the kidnappers.

The exhibition Mexico City: An Exhibition about the Exchange Rates of Bodies and Values is a coproduction with the P.S.1/MoMA, New York, where it will be showing until September 2002. After its presentation in KW the exhibition travel to Museo de Arte Carillon Gil, Mexico.

This exhibition was realised in cooperation with the National Council of Arts and Culture, Mexico; the Mexico Institute of Cultural Cooperation; and the Televisa Foundation, Mexico.