Day Of The Dead Festival – A Reflection

Art & Culture

Mid-week Margarita's? Who could say no? Getting into the Halloween spirit a few days early, I headed over to the amazing Bargehouse space to be part of the Mexican Embassy and Jose Cuervo's Day of the Dead celebrations. 

Before I had a chance to focus my attentions on the art on display, I was offered a rather suspicious looking drink. Feeling rude to decline and without thinking to ask what it was, I swiped a cup of the strange green sludge from the tray and sucked away at my soggy paper straw.

With what turned out to be a Frozen Margarita in hand, it was time to peruse the contemporary Mexican art that had been carefully curated by Arte Mexico. In the upper levels of the Bargehouse we were treated to a hair raising performance from Isaac Olvera. Perched on a high chair up in the rafters, Isaac read some Spanish that, I'm going to admit now, I have no idea what meant, all-the-whilst waving a stanley knife on the end of a long stick around to try and cut down a hammock that was precariously attached to the ceiling next to a live electric cable. After Isaac had come close to death a few too many times, I felt it was time to move on to some less heart-stopping and confusing art and try a different cocktail.

Wandering through the show, for me, the photography stood out greatly from the rest of the works on display and gave a greater sense of the reason for us congregating on such a day. From photographer Graciela Iturbide who took a traditional approach to documenting the Day of the Dead in Mexico, to James Ostrer who's sweet and food laiden models comment on contemporary societies addiction to sugar, whilst at the same time referencing Mexican candy skulls, it was easy to see why the works had been curated as part of the show. 

However, whilst all of the works were interesting and engaging there were some pieces that, in my opinion, didn't really fit in with the rest of the show. As you meandered through the various rooms, the space altering work of Luis Ortega, for example, made for a very obrupt change to the photography that surrounded it. Nevertheless, these small problems were soon forgotten with more tequila being pushed our way whilst we were encouraged to participate in the Drawing Exchange.