Sunday, August 01, 2010

What Do You Think?

Some of my readers may miss this comment on the blog entry about Luces de Historia y Libertad. I think it brings up a couple of good points so I'd like to know your thoughts on these issues.

JW's Comment: Of course, we are just looking at small static images online, but my first reaction was that this is not really appropriate for a church, not even with today's popular culture. Didn't say anything, just showed the pics to the Mexican better-half who is, quite frankly, in a word, appalled.
JW
-Mexican bicentennial/French artist?
 
My Reply: JW, You bring up a couple of interesting points. I thought it was a little strange that the Mexicans employed a French Artist to do this work. In general the Mexicans are very nationalistic. I can't imagine them employing an artist from the USA but maybe a Frenchman is okay since they killed off Maximillan by way of the firing squad and got rid of the government imposed by the French.

The other issue, the light show on the church.... I did not think that was odd at all. There is such a strange mix between the Country of Mexico and the Catholic church. We were in the Jardin with hundreds of Mexicans watching the light show and all of them seemed delighted and proud of their country and the bicentennial celebration. I have not heard of anything negative in any of the Mexican newspapers about the light show or the fact that it is projected on the face of the Parroquia church.
 
Calypso of Viva Veracruz blog has already weighed in with a comment about the light show being projected on the church: JW - I guess throwing some colored light on the Cathedral is more disrespectful than pummeling its surfaces with explosives? Often the case in our area; much celebrating with fireworks that often pellet the building. Oh well one mans revelry is another's revoltion I guess. 

What about some of the rest of my readers:
 
1. What do you think about a Frenchman being employed to do the light show?
2. Do you think it is inappropriate for the multimedia light show about the history of Mexico to be reflected on a Mexican church?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

We like reading and dreaming about Mexico when we're not there, and decided to comment about the "castle". Sorry for coming across as judgemental. France in Mexican history, we think, does little to justify commissioning a Frenchman instead of a Mexican artist for an exhibibition celebrating the Mexican bicentennial. Even after deconsecration, appropriating a former church for a museum or selling it for a discotheque is inappropriate.

JW

Billie said...

JW, I didn't think your comment was judgemental in a negative way. I thought you brought up two very valid points. I wondered if other readers had some thoughts about the two issues.

Maybe the French just have a way with light shows. In 1985 Jean- Michael Andre Jarre produced Rendez Vous Houston, A laser and music show watched by 1.5 millon people in Houston to celebrate the 150 anniversary of the city and state as well as the 25th anniversary of the Space Center. I never gave a thought to the fact that a Frenchman instead of a Texan (or US citizen) was hired to help with that celebration. It was a fabulous show.

mcm said...

As I guess most know, churches in Mexico are property of the government (or the Mexican nation). I'm not entirely sure how this works regarding the interior, or events in the church (although I think the church has veto power there), but my understanding is that what's done to the exterior is the "call" of INAH.
The relationship between the government and the Roman Catholic church is complicated, to say the least....
The commissioning of a French artist for the lighting design does seem odd -- it would be interesting to see if there were any comments on this in the local paper.

Suzanne said...

It seems very open minded and very much shows how times have changed and people have figured out how to come together to create something across borders that transcends old war and historical and personal wounds.

As for inappropriate to show it on a church? How is it different that the public taking mass in locos costumes - the devil, goat, transvestites, the grim reaper, on el dia de los locos or bringing cows, chickens, goats, burros and dogs into the church to be blessed in June, or the outright pagan catholic festivals taking over both inside and outside of the church for their cross-religious festivals?

I think Mexico is way more tolerant and respectful of other cultures, especially those within their own country in that respect. They have learned to embrace the ambiguity of it all and long ago people figured out that to keep their heritage in the conquest the priests let them perform their rituals in the church. It works for everyone.

The church has always been the holding place for these things however disparate and doesn't seem a bit out of place to me.

Suzanne said...

It seems very open minded and very much shows how times have changed and people have figured out how to come together to create something across borders that transcends old war and historical and personal wounds.

As for inappropriate to show it on a church? How is it different that the public taking mass in locos costumes - the devil, goat, transvestites, the grim reaper, on el dia de los locos or bringing cows, chickens, goats, burros and dogs into the church to be blessed in June, or the outright pagan catholic festivals taking over both inside and outside of the church for their cross-religious festivals?

I think Mexico is way more tolerant and respectful of other cultures, especially those within their own country in that respect. They have learned to embrace the ambiguity of it all and long ago people figured out that to keep their heritage in the conquest the priests let them perform their rituals in the church. It works for everyone.

The church has always been the holding place for these things however disparate and doesn't seem a bit out of place to me.

Anonymous said...

Indeed the French do have a way with a lot of things. Where we come from a lot of folks think many things French are tres chic. It's like you've said, Mexican nationalism shouldn't be underestimated, and on the bicentennial, in this case, it may have been.

We'll shut up now and hope we didn't spoil the feedback.

JW

Jonna said...

I am a little surprised that it wasn't a Mexican artist commissioned to do this. However, Mexicans are very appreciative of art of all kinds and perhaps using a world famous artist in this medium trumped the nationalistic urge. There is also the idea that this is a homage to the Mexican revolution from the home of another famous revolution.

Putting these images on the Cathedral doesn't surprise me at all. As MCM mentioned, there is a complicated (at least to us) relationship between the church and the government. In addition, Hidalgo was a priest and used his church to issue the first Grito and a banner of the Virgen de Guadalupe as his war standard. So, using the church to celebrate the bi-centennial makes sense.

The first time we saw a full mariachi band PLUS a large troupe of Aztec dancers in full costume and dancing in front of the altar during a mass, it was kind of shocking. Mimi was raised Catholic and she kept shaking her head and saying "my mother would die if she saw this." Since then we've seen lots more that would shock in some areas but is normal here. I have to say, I approve. I think the value of keeping the church at the center of the community's life and its celebrations is more important.

1st Mate said...

If the talent required resided in the mind of a Frenchman, why quibble?

Mexicans are very proud of their churches and I'm sure they were thrilled with the light show. Of course it was gaudy, but I'm sure it was one of the high points of the celebration for a lot of them.

Anonymous said...

A church is just a building. Catholic churches were always decorated with gold etc so why would it be a problem to "decorate" the outside with lights? I think that fear of decoration in churches is from the protestant/puritan wing of christianity. Bring it on! - if there is a god hanging out in a church he/she would probably like the decoration too.

deb did it said...

I do not think inappropriate....but honestly I felt like I was in Disneyland. I LOVED the church at night in it's natural light, or on fire, glowing in the sunset. Good food for thought.