PARIS – The “City Prince/sses” exhibition in Paris presents an imaginary sprawling city, and like Dhaka, Manila or Tehran, it is in a state of constant flux and transformation.
The massive space in the emblematic Palais de Tokyo has been conceptualized by architect Olivier Goethals, curated by Hugo Vitrani and brought to life by some 50 visual artists, creators, designers, musicians and tattooists.
“City Princesses is a show based on an exploration that was carried out over five years in five megacities which are Dhaka, Lagos, Manila, Mexico City and Tehran,” Fabien Danesi, associate curator, told Efe Friday.
“Bikini Wax EPS,” a collective that was founded in Mexico City in 2011, has created the “Sa la na, ayuum laissez faire, laissez passer,” artwork for the installation.
The work is a huge resin orca, a reference to the famed whale, Keiko, who portrayed Willy in the “Free Willy” (1993) movie and who died after being released into the wild, unable to adapt to his new environment.
The sculpture presents a haunting critique of consumerism and globalization as the whale’s exposed carcass spews plastic toys.
“The movie’s premiere coincided with the Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico,” Mauricio Andrade, one of the artists told Efe.
“This whale is Keiko, the mammal from the movie, and at the same time a metaphor for Mexico’s economy with regards to the liberalization of the market in the 90s,” Andrade added.
Andrade is of the opinion that Mexico during this period, like Keiko upon being released into the wild, was hovering between a state of life and death, like a zombie.
“The parts that make Keiko (the plastic objects scattered around him) connect to specific events that happened in Mexico between 1986 and 1996,” Israel Urmeer, a member of Bikini Wax EPS, said.
“They make references to series, products or foods that arrived in Mexico as a result of free trade,” the artist added.
The “Tercerunquinto” collective has revived “Archeology of a political wall,” a 15-years-long exploration (2000-2015) into political campaign posters that were then reinterpreted by signwriters for the show.
We have searched for urban energy which often results in rural energy given that in these cities the urban and rural intertwine, Hugo Vitrani, the show’s curator told Efe.
However, these cities were not the theme of the exhibition but rather a springboard for the contributing creators to delve into questions that emerge from experiencing them.
“Between skyscrapers and shacks, urgency and patience, megacities are undergoing a chaotic expansion, mingling transfers of capital with technological connexions in financial centers, generating urban margins with numerous inequalities,” the organizers said in a statement.
“This vast, disorderly movement transforms cities into ceaseless work sites, favoring imaginary deviations,” they added.