contemporary art

Night of the living uniforms


(Photo by Everett McCourt)

When out-of-towners come to visit me, I send them off to the Anthropology Museum or Frida Kahlo’s house by themselves, and catch up with them later for lunch at the cantina. But one “gallery” where I have accompanied friends countless times is Oskar, a store on Avenida Insurgentes and Calle Chihuahua in the Colonia Roma. Here you can buy uniforms of any kind – night-duty nurse, coffee-shop waitress, French chambermaid, eager bellboy, pit-stop girl and the like.


(Photo by Everett McCourt)

All the mannequins appear to be about 40 years old and wear wigs with the corresponding decades of neglect. They look like shipwreck survivors, or people who've had their hair cut with a lawnmower. Their hands – those that still have them – tend to make expressive or even extravagant gestures, sometimes bent into positions impossible to duplicate in real life. Some are in disturbingly suggestive poses.


(Photo by Everett McCourt)

If you are interested, there is a little more about Oskar in my book, First Stop in the New World (see books page). A word of warning: If you come here hung over, it could be a little frightening. It's almost possible to imagine the mannequins as human beings. Oskar would be a great setting for a horror movie, with the protagonists trapped inside and the mannequins coming to life.


(Photo by Everett McCourt)

Two exhibits in the Centro Histórico



My friend Federico Gama, a collage of whose Mexico City photographs is on the “about” page of this website, has a couple of pieces in an exhibition called Identidades y Fronteras en Iberoamérica (Identities and Borders in Iberoamerica), at the Centro Cultural España on Calle Guatemala #18, behind the Metropolitan Cathedral. It is an unsettling show of photographs that documents various groups of Latin Americans, who travel to other places to find a different life. (Most of them go to other countries, but one of Federico’s obsessions is photographing youths from towns and cities around Mexico who come to live in Mexico City. Two of them, whom Federico refers to as Mazahuacholoskatopunks, are pictured above.) Federico has just begun a blog, the link to which is on the list of “Friends” on the right-hand side of this page. The exhibit is up through the end of August.






Meanwhile, around the corner, at the Coordinación de Literatura de la INBA on Calle Brasil #37, is an ingenious exhibit based on the novel Las violetas son flores de deseo (Violets are Flowers of Desire) by another friend, Ana Clavel. Ana’s book is about Julián, a man who sublimates his desire for his pubescent daughter, Violeta, by creating a series of dolls inspired by his cravings for her. Ana convinced a series of artists to make sculptures based on Julián’s dream-dolls. The show is on through August 15th.