apexart :: New York City Fellow :: Douglas Rodrigo Rada Parejas
Fellowship Program
Douglas Rodrigo Rada Parejas
Artist, Mexico
September 15 - October 14, 2003

This paper was presented the evening of Wednesday, September 25 at apexart
  The Identity and The Relationship Between Contemporary Mexican Art and The Mainstream
Mexican art scene dependence on the mainstream gives as a result a much reduced and limited image of what Mexican culture is. It has been seen in the last couple of years a big boom of Mexican contemporary art. A lot of shows of Mexican contemporary art have been displayed in museums all around the world, and Mexico has gotten more than ever to participate in biennials and important shows. This fashion and sudden interest in Mexican contemporary art is not based in its own values as a cultural system but it is because, like Olivier Debroise (Mexican critic) defines it, “a independent phenomenon of local practices, but that are inserted in a series of radical modifications of the absorption, adaptation and diffusion mechanism of art in the time of globalization, a reorganization of the art markets that implies that for survival the center still now monopolithic are forced to renew and expand their capability to absorb periferic cultures.”

The Mexican art scene at this time is dependant on the mainstream mainly because of two reasons: because of the fragility of its own institution for promoting itself and because of the lack of collecting of contemporary art on the inside. The Mexican organizations for the support of the culture started to appear in the 50s, institutions like InBA (National Fine Art Institute), INAH (National History Institute), UNAM (Mexican State University) were all of them part of the interest of the state in making the country to grow up culturally. These institutions were mainly focused on creating and supporting a serial of organizations for the promotion and diffusion of the arts and the culture. At the beginning of the 80s the Mexican government lost interest in what cultural education was giving to the people and centered all the resources in what they believed was the important things - “science and technology”. Since then these cultural organizations with great problems of bureaucracy began to fall apart.

Actually these organizations which are supposed to be the main source of income for the arts spend most of its budget in self-promoting themselves and as a result of this, and is not a secret for the people who live in Mexico, museums have no budget for the support of artist projects, or for anything else (as Mexican critic Conrado Tostado states in the article “Voltear A Ver”.) The second important element which produces the Mexican dependence on the mainstream is the lack of internal collecting of contemporary art. Mexico has a low rate in the internal consumption of contemporary art compared with other countries of Latin America like Colombia and Brazil, and all the Mexican collectors buy famous American artists or Mexican artists who have been inserted in to the mainstream already. Even when Jumex (the biggest collector in Mexico) and PAC (a private foundation for the support of the arts) spend lots of money in support of the Mexican art scene, most of the galleries and dealers focus on selling and distributing out of the country. These two reasons mainly, the lack of an efficiency in the state cultural system and the lack of internal collecting, exposes the artistic Mexican creation to be interpreted by the mainstream the way it likes better, and as a result a lot of the artistic expressions get out of the country showing a reduced and limited image of the Mexican culture, mostly focused on the exotic, violent and primitive.

Maybe some of the experiences in Mexico can be exotic, violent and primitive, but also there is a lot of things more that have been avoided because they don’t fit into the mainstream discourse about Mexican culture. If Mexico reinforces its cultural internal structures, builds an effective state system and promotes distribution and diffusion inside the country, the art which goes out of the country will not need the assistance of the mainstream. This way the vision for export will have the chance to be what ever it chooses to be, and will not have to be tied to the vision of the mainstream about Mexican culture.

-- Douglas Rodrigo Rada Parejas, 2003

Douglas Rodrigo Rada Parejas was recommended to apexart's fellowship program by Carlos Arias, artist and professor, Universidad da las Americas, Pueblo, Mexico.

To see more images of Mr. Rodrigo Rada Parejas' work, visit http://mx.photos.yahoo.com/realdrigo