Jorge Méndez Blake
MUSEO UNIVERSITARIO ARTE CONTEMPORANEO (MUAC)
Insurgentes Sur 3000, Centro Cultural Universitario, Delegación Coyoacán
May 23–September 20
Jorge Méndez Blake's work has always incorporated architecture, books, and archive fever as a haunting exquisite corpse. Perhaps this is best distilled in his recent exhibition, "Topographical Transferrals from the National Library," in Mexico City. Here the artist plays with the physical act of translation, which, as in his video The Topographer (Marking a Series of Points from the National Library to the University Museum of Contemporary Art), 2015, can be quite a painful and arduous process: In the piece, Méndez Blake attempts to move straight through the brush between the National Library and this museum. Also addressed is the act of translating works by memory: The artist invites us to choose a couple of verses from poetry books at the aforementioned library, memorize them, then retype them inside the museum. Finally there is the act of transmitting ideas from one medium to another, most successfully enacted in The Great Poem of Twentieth Century (Mexico), 2015, where he converts each millimeter of each letter from the titles of twentieth-century Mexican poems available at the library into a sculptural installation of thin aluminum poles.
The exhibition circulates among institutions—invasion or hospitable permeability?—and thereby changes our way of perceiving each space as well. A smart and playful nudge at establishments that often seem like dead repositories—for instance, usually one cannot borrow books from the National Library—the exhibition might first appear a little dry, with a few typewritten verses here, a black-and-white video there, a thick book, and an architectural model of the library, but in the end Méndez Blake reveals that translation, like art, is a relationship that is sometimes difficult but very much alive.
— Gabriela Jauregui