MEXICO CITY — On Sunday, January 7, while employees of the Museo Experimental El Eco were on holiday break and the space was all but empty, a group of young artists scaled the museum wall in what they called a “symbolic takeover.” The group, called “Los Hemocionales,” protested against the museum’s programming, which, according to them, hasn’t lived up to its promise as an experimental institution. El Eco, which is run by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), was founded in 2004 with the mission to exhibit experimental art both modern and contemporary. In an email sent to the local art community, Los Hemocionales said that museums should work more closely with local communities.
On Sunday morning, the artists jumped the wall at El Eco and proceeded to break windows, set off smoke bombs (an article on the Excelsior newspaper website suggested instead that they “activated the extinguishers to provoke clouds of smoke”), and damage a bronze work by artist Yolanda Paulsen.
A bystander who preferred to speak with Hyperallergic anonymously said concerned witnesses called the police. According to our source, the cops showed up about 15 minutes later but left shortly after, apparently because the officers felt there was no emergency after the protestors allegedly explained that they were undertaking an artistic action. While the members of the group were inside the museum, they tried to contact El Eco Director Paola Santoscoy, according to the email sent by Los Hemocionales.
However, Santoscoy told Excelsior that she never received a call from any of the artists directly involved in the takeover. “On the side of the museum, it seems quite violent to start a dialogue by throwing a rock through a window,” she said. The whole event lasted about one hour.
On January 9, the National Autonomous University of Mexico announced that it would be filing charges against those responsible for the damage.
“We consider that institutional spaces don’t represent our generation or include all of the artistic discourses possible,” wrote Los Hemocionales in the email sent out after the fact. The group’s name references Mexican painter Mathias Goeritz’s 1960 manifesto, Los Hartos (“the fed up”). In his manifesto, Goeritz decried “functionalism, decorative calculus … and all of the chaotic pornography of individualism, the glory of the day, the fashion of the moment, vanity and ambition.” In their email, Los Hemocionales write: “We’re fed up with discourses that are in no way syntheses of our time and don’t reflect the true concerns of art that ask about our here and now.”
While the artists are anonymous, members of the art community have claimed to know the members of Los Hemocionales and dispute their status as marginal. In an unpublished article posted to his Facebook account, Mexico City art critic Eduardo Egea said a significant number of the artists have been involved with popular alternative art spaces in the city, and that several of them have exhibited work at El Eco and the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC).