Erick Meyenberg begins his process in February 2014. Consistent with his interests in previous works, such as memory, body, music, historical references, and current national events, Meyenberg selects as his co-participants the Lobos Military Band from the Colegio Hispano Americano. The group rehearses on the rooftop next to the artist’s studio, which is located across the Moorish Kiosk Plaza. Meyenberg’s previous works benefited from collaborations of experts in different fields. This exchange of knowledges contributes to the creation of highly sophisticated transdisciplinary installations. The co-participative process of Meyenberg and the Lobos Military Band required a year and two months, during which time the members of the band increased their abilities, creativity, and aesthetic and cultural experiences. As a final product of this process, the band performed a flash mob at the FORUM Buenavista shopping mall. The combined use of sound and choreography in this action was an analogy for the routines of power, the military kinesis, and the gears in the economic and social machinery. Meyenberg built a three-screen video installation as the resulting piece of this process
La rueda no se parece a una pierna (The Wheel Does Not Resemble a Leg)
Erick Meyenberg, 2014
The final result of this project will be a thirty- to sixty-minute performance intervention at FORUM Buenavista, a shopping mall located in Santa María La Ribera. This site was selected due to the large number of young people from the barrio who shop and gather there; it is also a strategic place that attracts a large and socially diverse group with many different interests: from people boarding or leaving suburban trains to those who visit or shop at the enormous shopping mall. A peak hour will be chosen for the Lobos Military Band’s intervention, which is made up of twenty-five boys and girls, between eleven and eighteen years of age, who have graduated from, or are currently studying at the Colegio Hispano Americano, located across the Moorish Kiosk plaza, in Santa María la Ribera.
The performance demands multiple sound, audiovisual, historic, choreographic, and wardrobe rehearsals from the Lobos band and myself, as well as from external collaborators from different fields of expertise (a composer, two choreographers, and a wardrobe designer), who were invited several times, from March to December 2014, and who developed a co-participative dynamic with the band. They were chosen according to five research lines, which I considered essential to plan the rehearsals and to set the creative dynamics of the performance:
- Body language
…the latter being a key element in the performance, and the intersection for all the other elements.
The performance begins when the military discipline confronts the adolescents’ bodies in crisis and constant change. An interesting experience has been to witness the symbolic paradox of opposing forces implicit in discipline against instability and change.
In the performance, the military iconography will be dismantled by playing with—while questioning—the frameworks of order and martial discipline. From that perspective, the piece analyzes and questions the political moment of the rise of order, from the body itself, developing special and temporal dynamics at the shopping mall. The use of the metaphorical crossing of research lines will generate micro and macro landscapes, where the body will be read either as an element within a large sociosculptural macro-landscape, or as a micro-landscape. As the physical efforts of the participating individuals are observed, the military force will be evident in its attempt to overpower the human body and the ways it deforms, rebuilds, and generates individuals, and thus creates unique readings of the body. The idea is to generate collective and personal physical drives.
To achieve our goals, we will rely on the research lines as the compositional structure for the action:
Space: We will use different levels and strategic sites (escalators, circular railings, elevators, halls, lobby, and a screen) at the shopping mall. We will explore visual, sound, and choreographic dynamics that may reconfigure, restructure, and modify time and space at the shopping mall.
Sound: 1) We will use the students’ voices and their experience with some military vocal exercises, as well as some experimental vocal exercises that have been developed during rehearsals. 2) We will also rely on repeating some military calls, which will be modified to a large extent to create sound atmospheres in order to generate stronger emotional ambiances, and omitting some fragments to create new sound codes in the space.
History: The goal, in this regard, is to trace how the boundaries of the country’s military education and discipline have emotionally permeated our current history. The idea is to blur the boundaries between discipline and playfulness, disarticulating the military language.
Uniform: Costumes–uniforms—will have a clear historical reference by using military uniforms of different historical moments in the country, from Aztec times to current armed forces. They will not have any didactic or representational intention. This historical mix—of chaos and anachronisms—will pose a strong criticism to the ever-present notion of the military world, but permeated by the obvious irony of the ensemble, the uniformed individuals will be, in themselves, a living criticism of history.
Body: It is the center and guiding principle for all the activity. It will function as a symbolic entity of society—a group and collective notion—as well as an individual element. The audiovisual part (prerecorded video and sound) will display those micro events that take place in the body of each performer when those individuals are subjected to military and choreographic disciplines.
Thus the piece will involve a choreographic exhibition inside the shopping mall, some military calls and marches, the use of uniforms designed by the Lobos Military Band, and the projection of a video produced specially for the 3600 screen at the Forum Buenavista that will be synchronized with the performance.
The intersecting and overlapping of the main topics will open a space where historical and current times will collapse, where order and chaos, discipline and playfulness will merge.
Co-participants: Antonio Tapia (Conductor of the Lobos Military Band), Ernesto Berumen Herrera, Abigail Díaz Gómez, Cassandra Itzel Gaona Hernández, Jaqueline Michelle Gutiérrez García, Julio César Hernández, Amanda Martínez Bordona, Leslie Mejía Ramos, Mauricio Morales Nolasco, Moisés Morales Nolasco, Mariana Mudrow Bernal Ramírez, Axel Ortiz Moreno, Carolina Ortiz Ramírez, Karla Pech Sotelo, Natali Rodríguez, José Antonio Rodríguez Delgado, Giego Rodríguez Hernández, Luz Montserrat Rodríguez Ornelas, Alan Job Rubio González, Elisa Pilar Salazar Gaitan, Brenda Strempler Alcibar, Jassina Torres Kassab, Sebastián Varguez López, Gerardo Gabriel Victorino Gómez, Samanta Zagal Aquino, Arantza Zamora Esquivel (members of the Lobos Military Band of the Colegio Hispano Americano).
Research at the Santa María La Ribera barrio begins. The purpose is to define the co-participative frameworks for the project. Based on tours of the barrio, conversations and dialogs, Meyenberg begins to define the core of his proposal and the collaborative strategies to activate and produce his project.
Based on his fields of interests, Erick Meyenberg begins discussions with a military band from a school at the barrio.
As part of the collaborative process with the Lobos Military Band, the artist proposed a summer course to explore acoustic and digital resources; to experiment choreographic and wardrobe aspects; to study the history of military bands; and to ultimately generate an interdisciplinary project that would also involve other professionals such as the composer Alejandro Castaños.
As part of the exchange of creative experiences with the Lobos Military Band, Meyenberg organized more sessions focused on the relations of choreography, the iconic references to military bands performing in public, and the physical and sound experience in contemporary performance. The band held the first working and social session at Casa Gallina.
1-15.- Meyenberg and the Lobos Band hold several sessions with choreographers Nadia Lartigue and Esthel Vogrig during which the members of the band explore choreographic gestures inspired by the movements they use when playing; they also explore physical expression possibilities.
18.- The Lobos Band met with costume designer Adriana Olivera, with the purpose of using costumes as a tool for communication and symbolic construction.
Erick Meyenberg begins the production of his project, which involves a performance of the Lobos Military Band that will intrude on the daily dynamics of the FORUM Buenavista shopping mall. Based on the band’s five topics of interest: space, sound, history, uniforms, and body, Meyenberg implemented different language resources to take these notions to their extremes and to transform the traditional dynamics used by the band. As part of the intervention at the FORUM, images of the band will be projected on a 3600 circular screen on the escalators of the shopping mall. The images are the recorded exercises of the band at different locations, including their own school, Tlatelolco, and the Monument to the Revolution.
24.- Erick Meyenberg holds the first recording session with the band at the Colegio Hispano Americano. These and other activities are recorded with three cameras directed by Julien Devaux. Félix Blume records the sound and a video drone is also used. The first exercise session is focused on the spatial appropriation of the three levels of the school, using the choreographed movements developed during previous discussions.
31.- Erick Meyenberg holds the second recording session of the Lobos band at the terrace and in the empty levels of the Centro Cultural Tlatelolco. Some exercises were also made on the esplanade in front of the church at the Plaza de las Tres Culturas (or the Plaza of the Three Cultures), so called because it is surrounded by buildings from the three most significant historical periods in Mexico: pre-Hispanic, Colonial, and Modern. The actions included some of the choreography used when playing their instruments. Also included were dynamic transformations of military calls and of spatial appropriation movements. The band was asked to perform in their traditional uniform.
5.- The third recoding took place at the Monument to the Revolution, which was begun during the Porfirio Díaz administration with the purpose of being the Legislative Palace, but construction was interrupted by the Revolution, and years later the structure was used to build a monument to the Civil War. During this session, the Lobos Military Band practiced exercises of spatial appropriation at the surrounding Plaza to the Republic, the cupola of the Monument, and the viewpoint; they also explored distorting traditional military calls and mimicking wolf howls.
Erick Meyenberg and collaborator Martha Uc editing the video to be projected on the 3600 screen at FORUM during the performance.
27.- The Lobos Military Band intervenes the daily dynamics at the FORUM Buenavista shopping mall, using sound and choreography that reveal the analogy of routines, military kinesis, and the gears in social and economic machinery. Using sound, choreography, and costumes (everyday clothing, school and military uniforms from different historical periods) the military band, working as a machine, occupy three levels around the main escalators, appropriate the circular space, and interrupt the traffic dynamics. This sui generis “parade” was punctuated by actions with flags and military calls such as the bugle call. Simultaneous to the performance, images of the band recorded by Erick Meyenberg at the Monument to the Revolution, Tlatelolco, and the school are projected on the 360o screen of the FORUM shopping mall. The performance, as a flash mob, intervenes the space by surprise, occupying a space where the heavy traffic of dissimilar groups is a daily routine. The performance is a critical commentary about political and economic power, about the country’s situation, and the ways contemporary society conditions individuals.
Erick Meyenberg starts the post-production of his piece. He is preparing a three-screen installation with the recorded material of the collaborative processes in the different locations, as well as with the dynamics at the mall. Several experts help Meyenberg with the editing process: Martha Uc, Félix Blume, and Alejandro Castaños.
Exhibition Brochure from Yerba Buena Center for the Arts/ October 14, 2016