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Please, can I introduce you ...? 2001

residency / project: El Despacho, Mexico City 2001
media: 5 meetings & a postcard (gift to Buenos Aires, one of the city’s most notorious neighbourhoods)
concept: ‘portrait’ of Mexico City based on 5 meetings with people who introduce me in their living /
working space and to one special place in Mexico City

(E) Please can I introduce you my Mexico City.
Diego (my host in MC) invited me (Bibo, visual artist from Holland) to make 'a travel guide' of Mexico City. Because Mexico is the biggest city of the world I decided to zoom in, going for detail. I asked Diego before my arrival to find 5 persons for me:

- a theoretical person (like a philosopher, a curator or historian)
- a creative person (like a architect or a photographer)
- a worker (preferably a cook, food shows a part of the culture)
- a teenager, the young create the future of the city
- a friend, you need always, everywhere a friend, for inside information or when you get into

I was interested in the daily life of these people, their living and working place. I asked them to show me one (personal) view on the city, a place we should visit.
(NL) Please can I introduce you my Mexico City.
Diego Gutiérrez (mijn gastheer in M.C.) nodigde mij (Bibo, kunstenaar uit Nederland) uit om een ‘reisgids’ van Mexico City te maken. Aangezien Mexico de grootste stad van de wereld is besloot ik in te zoomen, voor detail te gaan. Ik heb Diego voor mijn aankomst gevraagd om 5 personen voor me te zoeken:

- een theoreticus, zoals een filosoof, een curator of een historicus
- een persoon met een creatief beroep, zoals een architect of een fotograaf
- een arbeider, het liefst een kok, eten als afspiegeling van de cultuur
- een tiener, jongeren als toekomst van de stad
- een vriend, je hebt overal en altijd een vriend nodig, voor achtergrondinformatie of voor het geval je in problemen komt.

Ik was geïnteresseerd in het dagelijks leven van deze mensen, waar ze wonen en werken. Ik vroeg hen om een persoonlijke blik op de stad te geven, een plek die we zouden moeten bezoeken.


Please, can I introduce you my philosopher: Conrado.
As a personal view on the city he chose the neighbourhood Buenos Aires. If I have to believe the media and the residents in Mexico City, this is the most dangerous area of the whole city, where you certainly should not end up, as a tourist but also as a Mexican.

Buenos Aires is an old working-class area, which used to be on the edge of the city, but which is now near the touristic historical centre. An area full of small garage companies revising, selling and assembling car parts.

It is true that this area attracts small criminality, people stealing car parts in other areas of the city, even on demand, and selling them on the edge of the neighbourhood. To enter the neighbourhood you have to pass these fences operating on the street. The bona fide garage owners of the area want to get rid of their bad name and seize on all possibilities. They seek publicity. They offer space for an art project on their garage doors, which are painted with special cartoon-like graffiti based on the prejudices about the area.
They collaborate with artists who make sculptures from remainders of car parts. These are then placed in the neighbourhood.

Four of these garage owners and an interpreter receive me warmly, show me proudly their businesses, guide me around and give background information about the area. I shake hands of other garage owners, get acquainted with the local inhabitants (Hola, Estoy Bibo, ¿Como esta?, Gracias), am photographed with the local DJ and organise a local youth gang in a pickup truck for a nostalgic photo. At the end of my visit
my hosts take me to the local cafetaria, where they order allkinds of delicious Mexican specialities for me. Afterwards, they bring me home (to my hotel).

The next days, elsewhere in M.C., Mexicans react shocked: “Whát! have you been in Buenos Aires? You really should not do that, much too dangerous!” Later in the conversation they start to become interested how it was, after all they have never been there. I tell them about my good experiences.

Back in Buenos Aires I talk about these reactions. The garage owners ask with interest if people now have started to think differently about B.A.. I feel a growing commitment to this neighbourhood, they are so keen to clear their name.

Even though I have just been two weeks in Mexico City I am already a mediator between Mexicans and Mexicans.

Thanks to my project: 'Please can I introduce you...' it was possible to quickly get into another level of the city. Because of my role as artist, asked to give a view on the city, I was no longer only an outsider (and tourist) but could also add somehting to the city.

I met special people and came in places where even inhabitants of Mexico City not dare to come. By the way, I realized that by his choice of people, Diego (my host) gave his view on his city. Interesting!

Bibo © Januari 2001