Mexico City – The Zona Maco expereince

{warming up before the race – tm}

My first trip to De Efe – Mexico City happened this month. It was a business trip for my Human’s gallery Luis de Jesus and I was there as an eager and helpful gallery intern/volunteer. There were a couple of free days to explore but for the majority of the time we were are the Banamex Center for the Zona Maco art fair. That event was an experience unto itself! apart from the actual staying in Mexico City.

Nubes as we all were, we discovered (after arriving there) that the center was, in part, a horse race track. Aaaaaand guess where I was on a Sunday afternoon! Fed up, at one point, with the endless flow of people gawking, giggling, and snubbing going on up stairs I went down and got a view of a short race- some quarter track action. With my camera it was impossible to take good shots.  Everything was happening on the far ends from where I was. As usual.

Much of the Mexico City crème de la ching showed up. This art (and design) fair is a thing in these parts, you know? So perhaps more than this being an art fair, it was a design fair, it was a fashion show. I got the feeling these people could not tell the difference between a BMW, a Nike shoe, a wooden cutting board, and larger than life hand drawn images on canvas. So this days long event was barely about fine art.

{unfurl the banners! -tm}

And lordy, had I forgotten what it was like to live in a peacock town! The fashion parade hit me rather hard. Just google Zona Maco and you will see the fashion pop up almost before the art. I was greatly amused to see the spectrum of creative attire and was able to over scratch my people watching itch.

During my time at the Luis de Jesus booth and out wandering the makeshift isles, I probably saw many famous people, but, I, the rube, the blessedly ignorant one, could not identify anyone save those I came to recognize in my art fair crash course. All I could tell, was that by the cut of people’s cloth, just about the everyone who walked through that space was much better off than I, financially speaking. And they all acted like it. To keep my mind active, (because you start to go so brain dead that you actually start to enjoy the even the awful art around you) I had to invent new terms to call these already categorised chilangos.
In Mexico, the children of wealthy parents are called fresas (strawberries) and to me, all of these childish, summer weather morsels also are fresas no matter what age, but these people were on a whole other level. So I began to invent names with my bilingual brain. My favorite term was chingberry. And from there came the more elaborate chingberry toast crunch. (Forgive me if I don’t elaborate on the ching element. It might be too much of a language lesson for you, my gentle readers.)
{one day booth set-up! -tm}

Food there was at this fair; overpriced as if you were at an airport. Our frugal group chose to bring snacks and sandwiches for there were not even discounts for the exhibitors. Only on the first day was there any free foods- for the most important and wealthiest people to sup. Over in the VIP section you could lounge in the sun with such classist snobs next to a taco truck whose fumes and smoke of grilling taco meats filled the whole fair space- every day. I wondered if the gallerists understood how their art work was taking on a layer of Mexican flavor that perhaps they may not want on their pieces.

The pieces. Art. Yes. There was actual art to see. My absolute favorite works (that weren’t my Human’s) were these dark paintings by Nebojsa Despotovic being shown by the Paula Alonso Gallery. I so very yes would have bought these. They aren’t everyone’s taste, I am aware, but I was in love with them. Every time I went passed that booth, I was sighing or approving with every side glance. I was happy to see they made a sale or two of this artist’s work by the end of the fair. 

{Nebojsa Despotovic. Untitled 2012. Oil on cloth. 168×140 cm}

I had so many mixed emotions that I did not dare drink very much- though mixed tequila drinks were readily available. Alcohol can loosen the tongue and I did not know which emotion would present itself. Even sober I felt as though I could, given the moment, unload my contempt for all the insurmountable folly around me, and loudly. Id est– I would make a scene. Still, alcohol could have simply eased the sting of injustice… However, being in the position I felt I was in (lowly intern/volunteer), I didn’t want to take the risk of embarrassing other people to the loss of business.

{a neat packing job in 2 hours -tm }
{Zélika García, Zona Maco founder- Photo by: Arturo Duque}

So I did my best to play the game of looking through them as though they were not there. Because the persons of real note were as such: the nanny of some famous creature’s baby trailing behind it’s entourage wearing a horrible, cliche, white nurse uniform pushing the baby carriage; the humble cleaning people who, for being employed by such wealthy people, did not even have nice looking, well-fitting uniforms. (ahemstingyrichfucksahem); the poor models forced to stand around all day in little dresses, spiked heels and smiles; the drunk walking around with a beer bottle stuck down the front of his pants who took off his shoe and had his buddy photograph it with a fire extinguisher- oh and his beer bottle too… his own contemporary art masterpiece… yes, this man was the king of Zona Maco; he won all of ‘art fair’ that day for me. I would have dismissed him as an odious troll, but no, he was a troll making a real point and that won some of my respect; booth attendants of emerging galleries who were all new to the fair, trapped in their booths, attempting to network, attempting to makes sales…

These people! The lower echelons. The normal echelons- –
The ones who could not afford to have professional art handlers pack up so they could run off to after parties.
Even with four of us, we were hard pressed to finish emptying our booth by the 10pm cut off. We were in a bit of an uproar for the main lights to be turned back on so we could finish dismantling everything that evening under enough light.
– -after all this time, after all these religions have been introduced into the world, they still do not get enough respect for the work that they do. For making that 1% look so good.

In one of my many strange moods during the long hours under artificial lighting, I thought as the ‘grand dame’ herself, Zelika, walked passed,
Oh, lady, it is by the ‘fairness’ of your looks (and not your hoarse voice) and mostly by the splendid curve of your ass that we are at Zona Maco today.
Then my thought turned even more wry,
But then it is not by these things that any of us are here at all?

Published by AserehT tm

Make good art. Or else.