From “The Memoirs, Volume Two” :
As the annual festival of Guelaguetza neared, our theater company here,
Teatro Vivo, determined to present another piece of “performance art,”
as we had done in the past, in collaboration with the social movement of
APPO and the teachers’ union. It would feature a giant spider-web
created by the anarchist, graffiti artists of the movement. They would
present a traditional “dance of the plumas” with the colorful costumes
covered in black. It was planned for Mexico City on the last day of the
“official” Guelaguetza, with the actress Jesusa Rodríquez (SEE:
“Encyclopedia of Images”), to be performed at the “Hemi-circle of Benito
Juárez” in the city center. We were looking forward to it.
Sergio asked me to do up some sketches of how our “installation” could
be placed in the hemi-circle and he would send them to the graffiti
artists in Mexico City who would be installing it. I said sure.
So, Sergio is showing the drawings around and everybody likes them and
he comes over to the studio and says, “Well, Bill, everybody says we
really have to do it here in Oaxaca, too, before we do it in Mexico City.”
He tells me it’s been planned for the first night of the “people’s”
Guelaguetza, to be presented one week before the official Guelaguetza.
That’s July 14, in the zócalo.
Wow, I looked at the calendar, three days from now!
He said, You don’t have to worry about a thing, Bill, Claudio and Martha
are already printing the posters today.
I managed to make it over to Claudio and Martha’s and remove my name
from the bottom of the sketch before the poster went to print.
It turned out to be a great poster. Across the bottom they printed what
would become the theme of the whole month:
OAXACA IS NOT IN
FIESTA …IT IS IN MOURNING
It was a popular poster and I saw a lot of them around town. My
friend Diana Ricci took lots of pictures of them. It was
later printed as a hand-out with the “manifesto” the theater wrote on
* * *
Saturday the 14, dawned grey. All day the graffiti artists hung the
giant spider-web from the kiosk of the zócalo.
Sergio came over to the studio around
noon and said he wanted a spider costume or something to be the center
focus of the installation. I thought about it a bit (I didn't have
a spider costume, of course) and then drew a little sketch of the
traditional black ribbon which hangs over the doorways in Oaxaca as a
sign of mourning.
I gave him some black cloth and he scurried back to the zócalo.
The kids did a good job of the "mono."
Saturday night a huge crowd of people were joined by three separate
marches of teachers from nearby villages. The lights of the zócalo
dimmed and the band struck up a slow durge-like dance of the pluma. Our
dancers were covered with a smoky, black gauze. A hush fell on the
crowd. As the dance began, an enormous cheer went up into the night.
I saw Sergio in the audience and walked over to him. “It’s magnificent,
He looked up nervous. “You think so?”
“There is not a doubt in this crowd, Sergio, of your message tonight.”
* * *
The following Monday, I noticed LA JORNADA ran a nice photo of our theater’s “art
in resistance” installation in the zócalo, below.
* * *