by Jennifer Saracino
While living and studying in Mexico City last spring, I decided to take a break from my research and went outside for an evening stroll. I headed towards the Jardín del Arte, a peaceful and colorful park nearby in my neighborhood, San Rafael.
I decided to walk the perimeter of the park, which I had never done before, and stumbled upon the Museo Experimental El Eco. Founded in 2005, the museum presents contemporary art projects by both Mexican and international artists. It comprises part of a group of museums run by UNAM (the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and was designed as an interdisciplinary space where artists are encouraged to present projects that draw from an array of diverse media including film, dance, poetry, and music. I peered past the door held ajar, intrigued by the long dark hallway and a sign that advertised free admission.
I walked down the long corridor and was momentarily spooked by the lone guard sitting in a dark corner. A few masks depicting human faces were propped up around the room, and I scurried in the direction of light and sound. I rounded a partition and sat down at the far edge of a cavernous room. A film was being projected onto a tall partition at least two stories high. On the screen, an older woman practiced a ballet routine.
I realized after several minutes that the film was shot in the very same space in which I was sitting. Sometimes, the movie would flash back to a younger dancer in the exact same position, both physically and locationally, as the dancing matriarch (perhaps it was the same woman, in days gone by?). For me, as someone who had never set foot in the Museo Eco, it was a fascinating moment. I was experiencing the space in both its past and present, seeing black and white photos drawn presumably from the museum's archive. Together, the old woman and I ruminated on her past, and I pondered the history of the building.
From the film, I learned that the space also had a courtyard, and as I bid farewell to the guard lurking in the shadows, I searched for its entrance. A bright yellow wall caught the corner of my eye, and I walked outside into the big, empty space. The jacarandas were blooming in Mexico City, and a tree's purple petals were strewn all over the ground, creating a striking contrast to the bright yellow wall. I looked up towards the sky and attempted to capture the serenity of the moment.
Museo Experimental El Eco
Calle James Sullivan 43
San Rafael, Cuauhtémoc, 06470
Ciudad de México, D.F.
This post originally appeared on my blog, Something to Write Home About