On the subject of cinematic mediation of Mexico, there is a multi-million dollar temporary exhibit in the middle of the Zocalo (central public square of the city) right now. It displays the work of Willy Sousa, a photographer and videographer that creates touristic images and films for the Mexican government. Tens of thousands of people have visited it so far. . It is incredible, from the mirrors and photos of eyes that first meet you, to the rooms full of photos and videos, some up to 20x25 feet, and finally on to the sense-a-round film at the end. The floor is an extension of the sound system and the effect is to bring you inside the beautifully staged video images from around Mexico. It appears to be aimed more at Mexicans than tourists, to encourage nationalistic pride (thus the governmental sponsorship) and, perhaps, PR for people to buy-in to tourism as an economic necessity for Mexico. Today an editorial in La Reforma newspaper noted that tourism is really hurting in Mexico due to external impression caused by the narcotraffic issue. Frankly, I have never seen less tourists in Mexico City.
Not a big stretch to say the exhibit also promotes neoliberal policies. Knowling about corporate sponsorship of 3M and others, plus PAN sponsorship is not necessary to draw that conclusion. The images are colorful images of living traditions, unapologetically nostalgic (hardly a machine in site, and certainly no complications like poverty or the fact that the number of people in Mexico who have intermitent water supplies has now reached nearly 50%). However, it is almost impossible to be cynical when inside the exhibit. It is awe inspiring and everyone applauds vigorously at the end. Frankly, from a technical and visual standpoint, it is incredibly well done. Willy Sousa is an amazing artist. Hopefully the exhibit will make it to the USA. Regardless, check out the following promo video Sousa did for Mexico City to get an idea of his work.
A couple of local reporters and bloggers have critiqued the exhibit for being too expensive in a bad economy. In fact, there are claims that the Federal Government (PAN) paid the local government (PRD) a great deal of money to host it. Mexico City Mayor Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has already been criticized for expensive public entertainments, including a 1.5 million dollar skating rink in the Zocalo over Christmas. It will be interesting to see how people interpret not only the exhibit, but also its political context.