Lobby Huichol (Mexico City)

Mexico City. Hotel Lobby. There’s a slippery gray slope between art exhibitions and commercial art endeavors. I have always had an aversion and deep mistrust of exhibitions in places like hotel lobbies. I went out of my way to see this excellent Huichol Arte Bienale, but I still felt uncomfortable about the context. An intricate Huichol watchdog stood guard as travelers socialized in the lounge area…

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An elaborate coffin was lined up parallel to the check-in desk.

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A vibrant Huichol torso faced the entry where the taxis pulled up…

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And bell boys circled around an impossibly huge skull in the middle of the lobby space…

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It was a current exhibition representing a serious regional art form. And I sensed that it was also on sale. There was a table manned by Huichol representatives. They were there to answer deeper questions about the symbolism of the art… and yes, there was a price list… I suddenly felt sympathetic to their dilemma; after all a hotel lobby is an obvious place to solicit financial support for an important artistic tradition.

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On the way out I passed this panel telling visitors WHAT NOT TO THINK! Make no mistake, this negative text is meant to correct visitors (and shame them for their misconceptions)

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