For twenty years and counting, Claudia Norman’s Celebrate Mexico Now Festival (CMN) has provided a vital pipeline connecting the American arts and cultural communities of New York City and Mexico. Following a triumphant post-COVID return to live programming last year, CMN commemorates two decades of programming with an expanded selection of performances, gallery shows, and special events in late November. Confirmed dates for the 2023 festival include presentations in the fields of literature, photography, folk story, culinary arts, and popular music, with more events set to be confirmed in the weeks ahead. In keeping with the festival’s populist ethos, most events are free to attend. Celebrate Mexico Now is sponsored by CUNY/Mexican Studies Institute, the Howard Gilman Foundation, and the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York.
Founded in 2004 by award-winning curator and producer Claudia Norman of CN Management, Celebrate Mexico Now is New York City’s first and only independent arts festival spotlighting contemporary Mexican culture. Over the past 20 years, Ms. Norman has presented nearly 450 artists in partnership with over 150 venues and cultural institutions through all 5 boroughs to audiences of tens of thousands of New Yorkers. Her continuing goal is to share both the rich ancient traditions and vibrant new ideas emerging in Mexico’s vital arts scene by showcasing Mexican and Mexican-American creators alongside US artists embracing Mexican traditions.
CMN is made possible through its partnerships with venues and cultural institutions across New York City, whose engagement creates a platform where established and emerging artists can reach the city’s varied audiences. These close collaborations serve as a point of connection to their relationships between Mexican arts and culture for organizations like World Music Institute, Center for Book Arts, Camera Club NY, The Center for Fiction, the Smithsonian National Museum, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center and The Museum of the Moving Image, all of whom will be contributing resources and space to this season of the Festival.
Boasting a diverse mix of mediums and talent, Celebrate Mexico Now’s 20th season is currently scheduled to begin on November 14, with programming running through November 21 at venues across the city. Early confirmed dates are as follows:
VISUAL ARTS / LITERATURE
Tuesday, November 14 at 6:00pm
Ximena Pérez Grobet: Reading Finnegans Wake
As part of the Artist Talk series at Center for Book Arts, Mexican artist Ximena Pérez Grobet will talk about her creative process of recomposing the text of James Joyce’s novel Finnegans Wake. Using a classic edition published in 1965, Pérez Grobet unbound the book, carefully cut the text apart nearly line by line, then reassembled it visually reworked but still in the original order. The result is four knitted volumes that transform the materiality of Joyce’s language, establishing a new form of reading and a visual tribute to the complexity of the novel and its author. In this exclusive Celebrate Mexico Now seminar, Pérez Grobet will take the audience through the nine-year process of creating, editing, and publishing a limited edition of Reading Finnegans Wake.
Ximena Pérez Grobet is the founder and owner of Nowhereman Press and the director of Artists’ Books for Artists, a commission-based project that encourages artists to translate their work into book format. Pérez Grobet has been creating her own artist books since 1994 and has presented her work in galleries, book fairs, and museums throughout Europe, USA, Mexico, and Latin America. She collaborates with other artists and collectives, producing artist books and special editions. She has worked as an editorial designer, curator, fair coordinator, and in art book production in various publishing houses around the world. Some of Pérez Grobet’s awards and grants include the Art Libris & Banc de Sabadell Award, the Charnwood Book Prize, and the Japan Cooperation Agency Grant.
Wednesday, November 15 at 6:00pm
Daniel Ramos: Eres Muy Hermosa
Celebrate Mexico Now is proud to partner with Camera Club of New York at Baxter Street for the fifth time to host an interactive conversation with Mexican American photographer Daniel Ramos discussing his solo exhibition Eres Muy Hermosa (You are Very Beautiful). The exhibition showcases a series of portraits Ramos made with a 4×5 large format view camera in bars and clubs at night in Monterrey, North Mexico. Born in the U.S. to Mexican parents, Ramos chose to make this body of work to show a refracted representation of himself in the visages of individuals with whom he shares a culture and class background.
Daniel Ramos is an American artist based in New York City but born and raised in Pilsen, a Mexican American neighborhood on the lower West Side of Chicago. Ramos received a BFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2003. He is currently a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow for Photography and was a 2021-2022 fellow at NXTHVN, Artist-In-Residence at Light Work (2021), and Artist-In-Residence at ISCP under the sponsorship of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (2020-2021). Ramos spent every summer with his grandmother in Lampazos De Naranjo, a small town in Nuevo Leon, Mexico until he was 18 years old to keep from falling victim to the gang violence in his neighborhood. In 2012, he inherited his mother’s home in Monterrey, where the idea for Eres Muy Hermosa (You Are Very Beautiful) was born.
Thursday, November 16 at 6:00pm
Mexico Writes Now: An Evening with Carmen Boullosa,
Ximena Santaolalla, Naief Yehya, Alvaro Enrigue and Oswaldo Zavala
Join us for a unique opportunity to hear from some of Mexico’s leading voices in academia, poetry, novel and essay writing as they share their experiences living and working in New York City. Along with acclaimed writer Carmen Boullosa, authors Ximena Santaolalla, Naief Yehya, Álvaro Enrigue and Oswaldo Zavala will read their work and share their favorite Mexican films, photographs, and paintings with the audience. The group of authors will have a fascinating exchange of ideas centered around their writing practice and the way their Mexican identity permeates their work.
Carmen Boullosa is the author of a dozen volumes of poetry and has published nineteen novels, two books of essays, and ten plays (with seven of those produced and fully staged). Her work has been published by leading literary houses in Latin America and Spain and translated into ten languages. Her novel La otra mano de Lepanto (Siruela, 2005) was acknowledged by an international survey as among the top works of literature written in Spanish in the last twenty-five years. Boullosa has lectured at NYU (Chair Andrés Bello), Columbia University, Georgetown, La Sorbonne, Cambridge, UCLA, Yale, Stanford, Berkeley, the Library of Congress, UNAM, and Suprema Corte de Justicia (Mexico), among other universities and institutions. She has been awarded seven NY-EMMYs, collaborated with visual artists, exhibited her art at Museo Carrillo Gil in Mexico City, and written and produced the film Las paredes hablan (2022).
Álvaro Enrigue is a Mexican writer. His work has been awarded the Herralde, the Poniatowska and the Ciudat de Barcelona prizes, among others, and has been translated into 15 languages. He lives in New York and teaches at Hofstra University.
Ximena Santaolalla is a writer and psychotherapist for early childhood violence survivors. She has a law degree from the Center for Research and Economics Teaching (CIDE) in Mexico City and a Masters in Literary Creation from New York University (NYU). Santaolalla worked as a lawyer and associate professor at CIDE and currently works as a law and psychotherapy consultant. Her first novel, A veces despierto temblando (Sometimes I Wake up Shaking) won the Mauricio Achar Award in 2021.
Naief Yehya is an industrial engineer, narrator, essayist and cultural critic who has lived in Brooklyn since 1992. He writes for several publications in Mexico, Spain and Latin America and has published four novels: Sanitary Works (Grijalbo, 1992), Going Home (Planeta, 1994), The truth About Life on Mars (Planeta, 1995) and Ashes and Things (Random House, 2017). Yehya has also published numerous short story collections and essays. His work has been translated to Italian, English, and French. His essay and fiction works address the impact of technology and the porn phenomenon in media, politics and culture
Oswaldo Zavala is a journalist and professor of contemporary Latin American literature and culture at the College of Staten Island and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He is the author of La modernidad insufrible. Roberto Bolaño en los límites de la literatura latinoamericana contemporánea (2015), Volver a la modernidad. Genealogías de la literatura mexicana de fin de siglo (2017), Los cárteles no existen. Narcotráfico y cultura en México (2018), and La guerra en las palabras. Una historia intelectual del “narco” (1975-2020) (2022). He co-edited, with Viviane Mahieux, Tierras de nadie: el norte en la narrativa mexicana contemporánea (2012); with José Ramón Ruisánchez, Materias dispuestas: Juan Villoro ante la crítica (2011); and with Magdalena Perkowska, Tiranas ficciones. Poética y política de la escritura en la obra de Horacio Castellanos Moya (2018). He has published more than fifty articles on contemporary Latin American narrative, the U.S.-Mexico border, and the links between violence, culture and late capitalism.
MUSIC / CULINARY ARTS
Saturday, November 18; Time TBA
Diana Wangeman and Jesús “Pat Boy” Chablé:
The Present and Future of Ancestral Practices
Diana Wangeman and Jesús Chablé are members of indigenous communities who, through very different formats of artistic work, strive to preserve ancestral indigenous practices. Wangeman contributes to the awareness of culinary preservation of ancient forms of corn cultivation and preparation through her popular Brooklyn tortilleria and restaurant Sobre Masa. Jesús “Pat Boy” Chablé, born and raised in Mayan territory, is both performing and teaching adolescents of his rural community in Quintana Roo, Mexico to rap in Mayan, utilizing the worldwide appeal of hip hop as a way to preserve the Mayan language. For this unique event, Wangeman will discuss the 64 lesser-known selection of corn varieties and unique ingredients that she works with in her restaurant and speak more about the traditional cuisine she offers, followed by a rap concert by Pat Boy, who has been flown into the US by CMN exclusively for this event.
Diana Wangeman was born and raised in Oaxaca, where she grew up milling corn and learning the intricate process of nixtamalization from her mother, the well-recognized chef and owner of Tierra Antigua. Although she graduated from medical school with a surgeon degree, Wangeman grew up around corn and has always been cooking traditional dishes from older generations.
Pat Boy started his solo career in 2009, performing genres such as reggae, pop and reggaeton in the Yucatec Mayan language. Besides paying homage to social justice leader Jacinto Pat, ‘pat’ means to create something new in Mayan and ‘boy’ symbolizes the desire to take creative work by the Mayan speaking community beyond borders. Pat Boy is also the co-founder and producer of ADN Maya Producciones, a company that fosters young talent and creativity across the Yucatan Peninsula. He produces the Ko’one’ex K’aay Rap Ich Máaya Festival, a cultural platform that supports the creative process of Indigenous young artists, and facilitates Rap Ich Máaya T ́aan, a methodology he created for bilingual kids and teenagers that promotes the practice of Mayan language through rap improvisation and rhyming.
Monday, November 20 at 6:00pm
A Tribute to Lourdes Grobet
Celebrate Mexico Now pays homage to the late Mexican photographer Lourdes Grobet by presenting the last two projects she completed before her passing. The documentary Bering, Reunión Familiar (Bering, Family Reunion, 2022) was Grobet’s second feature film and part of a larger project about the Bering Strait, which included another documentary, photographs, video works and conceptual pieces. This tribute also presents Laboratorio de Teatro Campesino e Indígena, medio siglo de historia (Indigenous and Country Theatre Laboratory. Half a Century of History, 2022), a book she developed and photographed for over 30 years. Grobet’s daughter and son, Ximena and Juan Cristóbal Pérez Grobet, will share valuable insight into their mother’s creative process and their experience as collaborators on these projects.
Lourdes Grobet (1940-2022) was born in Mexico City and studied visual arts under the mentorship of Mathias Goeritz, Kati Horna, and Gilberto Aceves Navarro. Grobet eventually discovered photography and started experimenting with the medium, which eventually led her to study graphics and photography at the Cardiff College of Art in Wales. Upon her return to Mexico in the late 1970s and following her drive to work from a community-based perspective, Grobet joined collectives such as Club Fotográfico de México (Mexican Photography Club), Grupo Proceso Pentágono and the Consejo Mexicano de Fotografía (Mexican Photography Council). One of the photographer’s most distinctive projects was capturing lucha libre (freestyle wrestling), including iconic wrestler El Santo. Grobet also created in theater, film, and video and that work can be found in collections and museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Mexico City and the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.
Tuesday, November 21 at 7:00pm
SHIFT with Antonio Sánchez and Bad Hombre, Thana Alexa, BIGYUKI and Lex Sadler; Echoes in Proximity; and Ampersan
Co-Presented with World Music Institute
Mexico Now concludes its 20th edition with a unique showcase of contemporary sound co-presented with World Music Institute. Audiences will witness an outstanding group of award-winning musicians blending genres and styles to create a dynamic music experience. Ampersan’s fresh approach combines Mexican folklore and poetry with electronic instrumentation. Echos in Proximity, a recent project by Carlo Nicolau and Juan Cristóbal Perez Grobet, delivers experimental jazz-ambient with bass, violin, piano and drums. To finish the night, Antonio Sánchez’ SHIFT, part of his Bad Hombre project, will feature guests Thana Alexa, BIGYUKI and Lex Sadler, who will explore and deconstruct language and voice as a source of rhythm.
Ampersan is one of the most original and promising bands in Mexico. With over a decade of music creation under their belt, the group has remained connected to Mexican folk music, sound experimentation and poetry. Ampersan mixes instruments and traditional rhythms with genres such as rock, electronic and son. They have collaborated with artists such as Jorge Drexler, Rubén Albarrán, Juan Manuel Torreblanca, David Aguilar and Los Cojolites, among many others, and performed in numerous countries in Europe and South America. Their music has been the soundtrack to documentaries, animations, short films, contemporary dance and puppet theater. Ampersan is a sensory journey that celebrates Latin American identity and cultural diversity.
Carlo Nicolau was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Mexico City, where he began studying classical violin at age nine. He later continued his professional studies at the National Conservatory in Tours, France. In New York City, Nicolau formed the progressive rock band Devil’s Breakfast, and opened music houses Big Rumble Music and Razorhead Music. He has worked with a wide range of artists including choreographers Stephen Petronio and Sondra Loring, and filmmakers Dominic Engel, Alejandro Springall and Chris Anthony. In 2022, Nicolau won an EMMY Award for his Original Music on CUNY TV’s series I Am a Dreamer. His awards also include a Clio Award (1995), a Telly Award (2017), and Best Original Music Award at the Milan Film Festival Gold Awards and at the Florence Film Festival.
Juan Cristobal Pérez Grobet was born in Mexico City and studied at the National School of Music (UNAM), the Dick Grove School of Music in L.A., and at LaFaro Jazz Institute in CDMX. Pérez Grobet has composed music for films, including Ladies Night (Gabriela Tagliavini, 2003), Los Trapos Sucios se Lavan en Casa (Diego Muñoz, 2012), and Bering, Family Reunion (Lourdes Grobet, 2022). He won the Diosa de Plata Award for the original music composed for the film Sin Remitente (Carlos Carrera, 1995), and has been nominated three times for the Ariel Awards. Pérez Grobet has composed and produced sounds installations such as Prometeo Unisex (13th International Festival of Electronic Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil 2001), El Nuevo Hombre de Bering (NegPos, Nîmes, France 2012) and El nuevo hombre de Bering (Museo del Chopo, CDMX, 2019). His work is marked by diversity of styles, the interest of daring to explore and willingness to enrich his knowledge through collaborations.
Emilio Teubal is an Argentinian pianist, composer and arranger based in New York. He has recorded over twenty albums, including the 2018 Latin Grammy Winner album “Vigor Tanguero” by the Pedro Giraudo Group. “Futuro”, his latest release, has been included on the list of Best Jazz albums in Bandcamp for February 2023. Teubal is the winner of the 2022 Ise-Shima Art Committee’s 1st Popular Music Composition Competition in Japan, a recipient of the 2007 Meet The Composer’s prestigious Van Lier Fellowship, and NYSCA grantee for a composition commission award. He has performed in venues such as The Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Le Poisson Rouge, and Joe’s Pub. He has also performed and recorded with Marta Gomez, Sam Sadigursky, Erik Friedlander and Satoshi Takeishi, among others. For this year’s Celebrate Mexico Now, Teubal joins Carlo Nicolau and Juan Cristobal Pérez Grobet as a guest performer in their latest project Echoes in Proximity.
Rex Benincasa has been a freelancing drummer and percussionist in New York since 1978. He has performed with the Concordia Chamber Players, Eurasia Consort, BaBan Chinese Music Society, Apollo’s Fire, Ensemble Caprice, Alba Consort, The Sebastians, Seraphic Fire, and American Ballet Theater. CDs and/or movie soundtracks include Marty Balin, Karen Mason, Foday Musa Suso, Douglas Cuomo, Philip Glass, Sesame Street, and NFL Films. Rex has also performed on 35 Broadway shows and likes all kinds of music. For this year’s Celebrate Mexico Now, Benincasa joins Carlo Nicolau and Juan Cristobal Pérez Grobet as a guest performer in their latest project Echoes in Proximity.
Antonio Sánchez, born in Mexico City, is a four-time Grammy Award winner. Sánchez pursued a degree in classical piano at the National Conservatory in Mexico and later enrolled in Berklee College of Music and New England Conservatory. Since moving to New York City in 1999, Sánchez has become one of the most sought-after drummers on the international jazz scene. His popularity soared when he scored Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), for which Sánchez won a Grammy award. Additional film/tv projects include EPIX network’s Get Shorty and Hippopotamus among others. He turned his upset over social injustice into a tribute to every immigrant’s journey in his epic musical statement Lines in the Sand. Sánchez is the recipient of three Echo Awards, Golden Globe & BAFTA nominations and has been thrice named Modern Drummer’s “Jazz Drummer of the Year”. His new album SHIFT (Bad Hombre Vol. II) features Sánchez playing virtually every instrument on the album in addition to being its producer. SHIFT features Trent Reznor, Dave Mathews, Kimbra, Ana Tijoux, Meshell Ndegeocello and more.
Additional programming, tickets pricing, time of performance, more information on these dates, and additional media will be communicated soon.
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