The second edition of the Hacer Noche The arts festival in Oaxaca opened on September 3 with 20 cultural facilities and unconventional sites, including a radish field and the archaeological site of Monte Albán. Titled Promised Land A tribute to Joe Smooth’s eponymous techno hit, the second exhibition was organized by Guinean-Spanish curator Elvira Dyangani Ose, current director of the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA).
“There hasn’t been a time when I’ve come here and for some reason I haven’t come across a demonstration,” the curator said The art newspaper. “People are so conscious of their engagement with what it means to have active political representation, and that collective consciousness was a core of my imagination.”
In the wake of a pandemic, socio-economic and environmental turmoil, the sprawling festival invites visitors to experience first-hand the opportunities that come from shared engagements. Like many recent biennials that opt for looser thematic ties and freer explorations in their locations – like the ongoing Manifesta 14 in Kosovo or the forthcoming Istanbul Biennial – Hacer Noche aims to provide a catalyst for the public to engage in concerts, interventions, Performances, festivals and meditations throughout the southern Mexican city. From local group Colectivo Amasijo’s trek in search of pre-colonial history in the mountains to Berlin-based collective Slavs and Tatars’ Pickle Bar-cum-Think Tank, the program reflects the immediacy of everyday interactions with ample potential.
“You can call this a biennial if you allow a biennial to be something else,” says Dyangani Ose of why they call Hacer Noche an artist-run festival. “There is a certain rhythm to experience what artists offer here beyond an exhibition.”
Oaxaca-based artist Jaime Ruíz Martinez’s eight-part talk show, La Maquiladora, is an example of the festival’s take on alternative media. The 52-minute chapters examine different waves of contemporary art in Oaxaca through the lens of the city’s political landscape.
“We decided the themes according to how they radically influenced the cultural community and the disciplines of art,” said Ruíz Martinez, “like the death of the painter Francisco Toledo, which allows for an accelerated process of gentrification and exploitation of indigenous subjectivity”. The artist states that the use of mass media is not a revolutionary concept, but “this time it’s not about appropriation; it is about reconciliation and how we can create diverse coexistences that transcend the boundaries of artistic practice, media and institutional work.”
Another local artist, Berenice Olmedo, turns to the more conventional medium of sculpture to shed light on her overlooked depictions, in this case the body with physical limitations. Olmedo’s sculptures of prosthetic legs invite the public to reflect, according to the artist, “disability is not just physical, it’s also political and social.” Resistance to movement and rejection of marginalization are the pillars that Olmedo seeks to build through the sculpture’s immediate tactility. One of their goals is to replace the assumption of the absence of a limb with “a presence”. She believes that the idea of a festival “proposes encounters between bodies and corporeality that together rethink a politics of visibility and multiple futures”.
Hacer Noche translates as “crossing the night”, a moment of transformation and transition from darkness to light and from one place to another. According to Dyangani Ose, the title encapsulates the show’s commitment, which is obscured by the “ritual” potential of the late-night moment. “You’re on a journey, you make a stop and you experience something new,” she says.
The festival’s inaugural edition in 2018 focused on the spiritual and creative connections between 42 artists from Southern Africa and Mexico and drew 100,000 visitors.
- Hacer Noche: Promised Landuntil December 2022 in Oaxaca, Mexico