My aims in travelling to Mexico were to develop Conceal, working towards a publication including this project alongside two other bodies of work. I also wanted to share learning practice with organisations in these 3 locations and increase my international experience and presence for future exchanges.
Receiving the A-N travel grant allowed me to commit to travelling to Mexico. In turn giving me the opportunity to seek definite projects with each institution I was in contact with.
MARCO Museum of Contemporary Art is based in Monterrey, in the north and more industrial part of the country. Having already work with MARCO as part of Tate’s BP Art Exchange programme (which ran from 2013-17) running a series of workshops with artists, students and the public, I was encouraged to return independently to continue Conceal.
My trip began with a week at MARCO.
Indira Sanchez, head of learning, was hugely instrumental in helping me to develop Conceal, inviting participants with various communities in monterrey to the gallery to be involved, organising times and dates for meet ups. Also, during my week in Monterrey I teamed up with Artists Danny Treacy (http://www.dannytreacy.com) to run a four-day project, The Portrait as Transformation. Even though our approach to the Portrait is in many ways different, it made for an exciting collaboration relating to the transformative and performative elements of photography. The participants worked through a series of interconnected activities exploring transformation using the body, clothing and location to develop a final body of work. During the workshops, I invited each of the participants to spend some time make a Conceal portrait with me.
One workshop was with a group of young people aged 14/15yrs who regularly visit the museum. They’re response to Conceal seemed both visceral and a in ways a literal response to what they see in aspects of Mexico’s media. They talked about the images we were making together as representing the way they feel about Mexico or the violence that can be openly portrayed in some parts of the media. This reminded me of a similar response by young people, around the same age, perhaps slightly younger, in Chiapas and Oaxaca in 2015/16 when I started the project. I am keen to consider this response more carefully and work with young people aged 12-16 in the UK to see what their instinctual response will be.