Above: Our poster in front of the museum, photo of LEIMAY's Floating Point Waves

'been flirting with distant futures and long shores along the city's periphery.  What could have been and what is now.  And scores of grime fighting for a place in my stomach, on the back of my broken neck, my broken face looking at the marching of the tides, that relentless beating and the sounds of the northern lights, the arresting clanging instruments refrigerating our beverages, our houses, our interior trembling.  My skin shivers with accumulated rays, waves ripple within me, with longing desire, undesire, just sea change and chewing on sand.  Rain seeping in through the soles of my shoes, fortune fighting for attention.


I suppose it should be a fitting plateau that I finally got to see my rays of inspiration performing.  It's strangely fortuitous how all of this came to be, and only now reflecting back on this trip to Mexico City to work on the Cuerpos al Borde Festival where LEIMAY performed and curated do I begin to accumulate my history, our history, for the past ten months.  In April of 2012, LEIMAY performed Floating Point Waves at HERE.  That same month, my baby collective, Collectif Experiencia, performed its first show, LightVVORK, at Le Divan du Monde in Paris.  And both pieces worked on the same principles: light as an active performative element, bodies seemingly controlled by higher forces, a score that was at once destabilizing but immersive.  I should also say that my collective is a baby just learning to walk while LEIMAY is a worn master.  And then I moved to NYC, my friend told me I should check out CAVE because it was a fitting place, and before I knew it, here I am, running conectom and as I heard for the first time today, being the right hand man. (the right hand man!)

So we found ourselves in Mexico City.  Cuerpos al Borde is a festival searching for the rhizomatic growth of butoh, at once refusing to label itself as a butoh festival while also endeavoring to suss out the evolution of the form.

El Museo Universitario del Chopo is led by José Luis Paredes Pacho, an enigmatic man who drummed for Maldita Vecinidad y los Hijos del Quinto Patio, a punk band that saw prominence in Mexico City during the 1980s.  I have no doubt that the man was involved with the Chopo Bazar, a DIY market of sorts where one could come exchange records, have chats, and meet others from the growing alternative music milieu in Mexico City.  These events used to take place at the museum until the university and the city broke up the invasion of calm Saturdays at the museum.  These days, Pacho is the director of the museum and continues to fight for new ways in which a museum can catch the spirit of the times.  We had chats over dinners that ranged from punk music, gentrification, and Mexico's social actualization.

Above, the museum, performances happened in the theater on the bottom left

And what of Mexico City? For one, its population ranks 10th in the world, with 8,400 persons per square kilometer. It's an incredible city of blissed-out parks / terraces and grimy subterranean bars, parties from your favorite high school movie mixed in with European tourists trying to make sense of the city.  One of my cab drivers told me that Americans are very rare, and I have to say, when surrounded by Japanese, Mexican, and Colombian people, it's hard not to feel like the American in the room.  

On to the performances! 

I was lucky enough to (finally) see LEIMAY's Trace of Purple Sadness and Ko Murobushi's Krypt.

I can't really do them justice with a typical review.  Words are just words, after all.  

Trace of Purple Sadness

As if the next day's burdens and virtues are mundane tasks

As if your final day's body hovers softly, waiting to be elongated,

Shifted within the earth and maybe spread into the drinking supply

The tides, always the tides calling forth our moist drips on the upper lip,

Forearms glistening sweat, run down bordellos serving juices to the workers

And it's a pounding heat

A formless protrusion from the chest heaving,

Destroyed faces and melancholy places

Hoping,

Hoping for a quick glance to the side, 

A momentous minute of stillness

Of abrasive half-breathed words vomited over a piece of paper

Over a fumbled pair of legs

Grace presents itself in quiet creaking joints

And the elderly yawn over a morning's shining toast

Distant futures gleam a captured spirit

Emancipated spirits croak in their opened cages

Wondering, wandering outside in their broken tides

Moon is shifting

Sun is high

Yet the strawberry skies from our accumulated streetlight safety

Call the two into synthesized harmony

Krypt

MMMMPHH

How many dead bodies does a man receive before ascension?

How many cadavers may we visit before the mirror is too unnerving?

AHGHHHGHGHGH

I am a man in purgatory

The bastard of fabricated stages

The enigma on worn out-faces

What could have been and what is exist in constant bonds

MMMGMGMG and buy me a fucking drink

fucking, cocktail, for heaven's sake

Throw away your matching pants and belt

Throw your damn spirit out the window, 

Along with your televisions, your newspapers, whatever you have ever considered your masters, your teachers, your, joie de vivre, all of it

And shaking, trembling, always looking inside of a decaying mirror, 

Of metal, of the past and the future happening in real time,

Of spit up elegance, the uncanny valley of death

Shining on the faces, the cloud formations, 

They say that animators avoid making their renderings too lifelike

That such flirtation with imitation yields only cadavers

Reaching too close, straying too far

How many dead bodies does a man receive before ascension?

How many cadavers may we visit before the mirror is too unnerving?

There are worlds of backstories, anecdotes, and lineages in this world of butoh.  For one, it's a very niche practice.  Ko Murobushi is acknowledged as the last living link to Tatsumi Hijikata, yet he is quick to brush it off by saying, "Oh, I only studied with him for one year, he is not my master."  And we take these lineages for granted, we identify by whom we studied under, tracing some sort of pathway through time, through history.  Ko insists that what he does is not butoh, it is his own.  Ownership comes into play for both Ximena's performance work and Ko's.  We try to delineate always, away from labels and away from traditions, yet we revisit the traveled roads when we need to quickly explain ourselves, to contextualize, to form a digestible identity.  In the same vein, Ximena has been forming a buffer between her work and butoh as a genre, pushing for the festival's language to take the word butoh and lessen its presence.  It has gotten to the point that butoh is an easy form for audiences, it has its box today, it is being re-appropriated.  Yet, as any powerful art movement, its roots are in challenging the art and societal conditions of the time, distancing itself and really questioning what the limits of art-making are.  Now, having lost its outsider power and having become part of the larger vocabulary employed by dance and performance artists, it is fitting that we should push beyond it, to find another form that can challenge institutions and marketing strategies.  I wrote about this yearning and search for the new form that may destabilize both the art market and art preconceptions in another article.  

Ko and LEIMAY are both on to something.  It doesn't hold a specific form, no shape.  Something transient, on the border, always on some frontier and gracefully making their way into the head.  They haven't left mine yet, still rattling through and activating something new every day.

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