Sounds Like Isolation to Me
Mario García Torres in collaboration with Rodrigo Ortiz Monasterio
January 31, 2015 – April 12, 2015
In its role of museum as a working space, La Tallera inaugurates one of the most recent productions of the artist Mario García Torres – Sounds Like Isolation to Me, a project initiated in Berlin and that our institution transforms into an in-situ proposal by displacing it to a space where groups of artists and intellectuals of the 1960’s and 70’s used to meet and discuss their political postures. In this way, Mario García Torres constructs a micro history based on Cuernavaca’s historic charge, an urban environment that gave rise to multiple laboratories of XX century thought in Mexico.
Sounds Like Isolation to Me is a museographic essay that begins by considering the role that missing and recovered fragments play in a narrative, to ponder the seemingly irreconcilable antagonism between the avant-garde’s social consciousness and the romantic notion of isolation as a space for creativity. As a backdrop to this narrative is the oeuvre and practice of Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997), an American-born Mexican-naturalized experimental composer.
Nancarrow left his country in 1940, escaping political harassment due to his leftist political views, and upon arriving in Mexico, quickly found himself within a group of artists and intellectuals, some of them modern muralists. In this self-imposed exile, he worked in relative professional isolation within the studio his friend, the artist and architect Juan O’Gorman, designed for him in Mexico City. There, he wrote and recorded the greater part of his works, mostly compositions for player piano.
Although the specific relation between Nancarrow and David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896-1974) has not yet been proven, a series of common interests and coincidences feed this supposition. Among these, the great commitment both of them felt for the communist ideals, their active participation in this movement, as well as a number of shared intimate friendships. The possibility of such encounter ever happening frames the beginning of this presentation; meanwhile, Nancarrow’s sporadic but constant presence in Cuernavaca, towards the end of his life, defines the narrative’s limit.
Concepts such as the delay and acceleration of ideas, as well as the repercussions of failure over time, are explored in order to draw a cosmology of possibility and synchronicity within the realm of invention. In his interest to explore those untold fragments, García Torres seeks to put Nancarrow’s practice in a broader perspective that goes beyond the confines of the musical realm by gathering original papers and reproductions of important documents that belonged to him, as well as works by other artists that accompanied him, personally or remotely. Rescuing recorded tapes, tuning a piano, and writing and rewriting letters are among a number of gestures used to articulate, from a contemporary point of view, the nodal points argued in this museographic essay.
Sounds Like Isolation to Me was presented in its first version in the 8th Berlin Bienniale for Contemporary Art. The piece forms part of TBA21-Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection, Vienna. For this new lecture and historic construction Mario García Torres collaborated with the investigator, also Mexican, Rodrigo Ortiz Monasterio.