Psychogeography: #15 – Oqko In Mexico


Based in Berlin oqko is an interdisciplinary label and collective whom have been involved in an array of interesting releases and projects. The collective remains under the radar of many, they prefer to dodge the spotlight and focus more purely on their creative output as a unit. October this year saw the collective travel across Mexico touring cities and venues alike. This comes off the back of an extremely succesful year which has seen them individually appear at the likes of Mutek in Montreal, the ICA in London, Secret Solstice and Berghain in Berlin. 

Two of the members of the collective originate from Mexico City, hence it seemed like a perfectly apt opportunity to invite them to contribute to our psychogeography series. The label's first compilation can be found HERE. They take us through Mexico below…

La Familia está para protegerte, déjanos cuidarte (by Lvis Mejía)

A common afternoon in Morelia, the capital city of Michoacán, one of the 32 states which constitute the Estados Unidos Mexicanos, better known as Mexico. We were crossing the street looking for some shadow to cover us from the insistent sun. Its warm rays outline the historic quarter of the city, defining its Hispanic beauty dyed by the colour of the bricks.

While enjoying the homogeneous experience provided by the avenues, the well-preserved colonial buildings and the simple human interaction of its inhabitants, one realizes the majestic cathedral as the emblem of the city. This, more than a symbolic, coordinate 0 shares a deeply sad episode of the modern Mexican history with Morelia’s main square, the Plaza Melchor Ocampo, placed right next to it, serving as foyer.

Back in 2008 two grenades were thrown into the crowds, during the celebration of the Mexican Independence Day anniversary, killing “officially” eight people and injuring more than hundred.
The initial suspicions indicated that the atrocity was probably the work of the drugs cartels, condemning such tactics of the drug lords in attacking random civilian congregations was unprecedented in Mexican history.

These took place in a time where Michoacán has been one of the federal government's focal points in its anti-drug efforts. The police blaming specifically La Familia Michoacana gang for the grenade attacks, signalized the strategic guidelines of the government in turn, as well the intended “war on drugs” policy.  As a result, La Familia denied it and instead blamed Los Zetas, a rival cartel. All of this instant, but hence deep remembrances, come across when I visit that unique place. A city declared a couple of decades ago a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its accurate preservation of the colonial edifices and the historic centre’s layout. Trying to rather keep this in mind while finding the sought shadow under the clear blue sky, I continued boring my colleagues with my “touristic expertise of the area” while a glamorous silver hearse Rolls Royce, long and imposing, crossed our path. Tears and sorrow drove all of the members sitting inside. They clearly have lost a beloved one. La Familia have lost a closed one.

The loud soundtrack was a festive Mexican-folklore song, alluding both death and prosperity. The Rolls Royce conveying the coffin was followed by two other vehicles, an armoured extended crew cab property of La Familia Michoacana and last, a police truck including officers along with La Familia Members.  The eyes of every single person involved in the event were filled with tears, notwithstanding they stared at every single person looking and followed them/us with the watered eyes, making this one of the strongest moments I have ever been exposed to.

On the back of the armoured extended crew cab, a drawing of La Santa Muerte with the legend “La Familia está para protegerte, déjanos cuidarte” (The family is here to protect you, let us take care of you) was depicted. Nobody dared to take a picture of that time-lapsed situation, nevertheless that suggested feeling of the image in its entireness was disruptive, quite indescribable.
Probably a common scene in Morelia since for two of the ruling organs in power was just a mere act of attending in person to follow the hierarchical proceedings.

Dear Death (by smog)

The way Mexico faces death is quite fascinating. The omnipresent music, colour and skeletons show a more festive way of funeral ceremony and tribute. Embracing death in a less serious, dramatic or frightening way which is more perceivable in certain Christian traditions. In fact, it is often portrayed in monochrome without any space for colours, in a way that it can reach taboo and generate fear.

This fascination around the festive aspect of death rather than it being dismal, helps to face its imminence. As death is everywhere and is present alongside life, representing it in this way is somehow a way to laugh about it and accept it as it is.

“Diablito” (by DEKJ)

The re-organization/combination and exchange of factors that regardless of its constitution, reach completion… A constant modification of the city's order, to generate a system in flux, which far from meeting its ideal archetypical urban design (power and telephone lines, public transport etc..) fulfils its purpose while managing to reconfigure the traditional dynamics of such services and making them accessible through other techniques and methods. Constantly, pulsating, violently.

Aside its immediate disapproval linked to many economic and political factors, these instances dissect and reconfigure the city's infrastructure proposing appropriation and institutional avoidance over payment for a service, a socio-technical phenomenon where engaging and developing individual solutions show a transformative potential yet at times still permeated by the hegemonic idea of individual profit.

*Diablito is the name given to a peeled cable device that allows the obtention of electrical power from the existing general supply (illegally)

Sí,no,sí (by astvaldur)

..seems to be, a functioning chaos. Hidden but visible at the same time, from the smallest details to the biggest mess, a country with most extreme diversity. Where the individual has almost total freedom but still is caged within the blurred lines created by his surroundings.

People take actions in their hands because of what can be perceived as total lack of trust in the social hierarchy, institutions and governmental structures. A place where you feel like you belong even without ever seeing it before.

Sí can turn into a no and a sí before you know, in a place where people still seem to alternate their surroundings without any need to get a stamp.

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