La cosa (The thing)| Centro Cultural España facade Mexico City| April 17th, 2008.
– What`s that? What’s that? Oh, Come on… People don’t know what else toinvent! – That was the first comment I heard coming from a man of about 40 years old who was walking in front of the Centro Cultural de España (CCE) and ran into “the thing”. One month before this, I had been invited by José Miguel Gonzalez Casanova, director of the Medios Múltiples Seminar to make a public intervention in the Historic Centre. I had been making interventions in different parts of the city, with inflatable sculptures made with black trash bags, which shapes were based on my own fears as well as in the citizens’ fears. I decided to do the same but with meaningful differences. In general, the scale of my pieces is related to the space I am going to intervene, like hallways, alleys or bridges: narrow spaces easy to block. In this case, the first idea was to block Guatemala Street with a huge sculpture of fear that had the dimensions of the street itself. This idea was aborted due to security reasons. I wanted to make something really big, I mean, the same scale as the city, and this way I came up with the idea of using the façade of the CCE with an enormous monster, which shape couldn’t be identified and that the object would be impossible to identify: a shape that was an analogy of fear, of uncertainty. So I made some formal variations to the piece until I obtained an organic shape that looked like a tumor while being stuck to the façade. Its name came from this: “the thing”. One can be afraid of anything. It actually is a metaphor of the way the inhabitants of Mexico City feel and this affects our relationships in the public space. My idea was to generate fear but the other way around from our common experience with this feeling. Every time we feel fear is because our existence or our health is in danger. My idea was to materialize what can’t be seen, and generate an experience or idea of fear through the sculpture as a transforming instrument of experience and perception of a space that is occupied by fear, but in a way that this sensation or idea of fear is turned into an aesthetic experience and with it, the perception of the space. To make something ludic out of fear. My pieces are usually ephemeral. They only last a few hours in the space they occupy. In this case, it had to be installed for at least eight days in a row. So I began my research on materials. I ended up making it with black water- repellent fabric (which is used for making umbrellas) and sewed it with nylon thread. The sculpture needs two blowing engines of 1 hp of strength. At the beginning of the setting, the engines went off because the electric installation couldn’t take the voltage, so we had to make some changes to the installation and the problem was solved. On the third day a feeding hose was broken, this caused the sculpture to deflate and the hose had to be fixed. Later, during an open air concert provided by the CCE in Guatemala Street, a strong wind detached some ropes that held the sculpture to the façade and the inferior part of “the thing” was thrown to the air fluttering and tumbling over the nearby buildings. It seemed alive and violent. The people who were waiting for the concert to begin screamed each time the wind pushed it. For this reason the engines were turned off again. The sculpture could only be hung there for five days instead of 8 or 14 days as we had planned. During these days it made people feel uncomfortable and shaken somehow. I liked that.