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Artistic Residencies: Chantal Peñalosa

  • Mexican Cultural Institute 2829 16th Street Northwest Washington, DC, 20009 United States (map)

As part of the Artistic Residencies program, the Mexican Cultural Institute and FD13 are proud to present the work of Mexican artist Chantal Peñalosa.

Current FD13 artist-in-residence Chantal Peñalosa will present an audio-visual performance building upon research into the painted murals in the Mexican Cultural Institute's historic 16th Street MacVeagh Mansion. Originally constructed in 1910 as a private home, the building was re-designated as the official Embassy of Mexico in 1921. This same year Guatemalan painter Rafael Yela Günther arrived in Mexico where he met prominent painter Diego Rivera in the early years of the Mexican muralist movement. In 1925, Yela Günther was commissioned by the Mexican government to design a series of murals for the Mexican Embassy's Dining Room, connecting the grand Beaux Arts style architecture to the cultural and stylistic traditions of Mexico. The decision also reflected an interest of the time in indigeneity on the South American continent.

Yela's original murals were eventually painted over. Later, other murals were added with more nationalistic scenes composed by Roberto Cueva del Río, a student of the Rivera mural style of painting that was well-established by this time. This second generation of murals remain in the building to this day and display a cross-section of Mexico-s national history. The scenes range from depictions of the mythological founding of Aztec culture, the arrival of Christopher Columbus, rural and agricultural festivities to Mexico's modern industrialization. As a whole, del Río's murals celebrate the continuity of old Mexico and the new.

On September 28th, Peñalosa invites the public at the Mexican Cultural Institute to engage with these competing historical depictions in a performance that employs sound, visuals, and movement.