Mexico City Artists Attempt to Preserve the Capital’s Rich Soundscape: NPR

0

In Mexico City, some artists are building projects and public spaces specifically designed for listening, learning and having fun. (This story originally aired on Here and now July 1, 2019.)



TO MARTINEZ, HOST:

In Mexico City, artists strive to preserve the city’s rich soundscape by constructing projects in public spaces designed to be listened to. Here is a KJZZ report from 2019 with Rodrigo Cervantes.

(SOUND CLIP FROM NPR ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Spanish speaking).

RODRIGO CERVANTES: A short walk from the rowdy street vendors of downtown Mexico City is an old leaning church. And upon entering…

(CHIMES SOUND EXTRACTION)

CERVANTES: … Urban noises are replaced by soundscapes.

TITO RIVAS: We are a museum, but at the same time, we are a space for living and performing art.

CERVANTES: This is Tito Rivas, director of Ex Teresa Arte Actual, a space that focuses on sound experimentation. He says sound art is becoming more and more popular in Mexico City.

RIVAS: There is a certain thirst for listening in the public.

CERVANTES: As a sound artist himself, Rivas was influenced by the sounds and tragedies of the city. And one of his pieces is called “Silence”, a tribute to the Mexico City earthquake in 2017.

(SOUND EXCERPT FROM AN ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Spanish speaking).

(WHISTLE SOUND)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: (Spanish speaking).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: (Spanish speaking).

CERVANTES: It’s an audio collage made from his recorded experience trying to save victims buried under the rubble.

RIVAS: For example, the cries of people trying to find someone are completely emotional.

(SOUND EXCERPT FROM AN ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Spanish speaking).

CERVANTES: Rivas says the combination of contemporary and ancient sounds from Mexico City provides a unique experience for creating rooms and spaces.

JESUS ​​PACHECO: (speaking Spanish).

CERVANTES: Jesus Pacheco presents himself as a cultural agent promoting sound art in Mexico City. He recruits audio artists and underground techno musicians to create unique recordings and experiences. Listen to artist Baby Bruise’s take on a work by avant-garde artist Thomas Glassford.

(MUSIC SOUND EXTRACTION)

CERVANTES: And in the south of the city, at the National Sound Archive of Mexico, thousands of recordings can be heard, many of which have historical value.

(SOUND EXCERPT FROM AN ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JACKIE KENNEDY: (speaking Spanish).

(APPLAUSE)

CERVANTES: This is Jackie Kennedy, who visited Mexico City with her husband, President John F. Kennedy, in 1962. Pavel Granados is the director of the library.

PAVEL GRANADOS: (Speaking Spanish).

CERVANTES: Granados says we tend to think of the sounds of the city as eternal, but they’re not. And so they archive them, from street noise and oral traditions to radio broadcasts and musical recordings. The institution recently found what may be artist Frida Kahlo’s only recording…

(SOUND EXCERPT FROM AN ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FRIDA KAHLO: (speaking Spanish).

CERVANTES: …And also has Mexico’s first recording from the late 1800s – of indigenous Huichol songs.

(SOUND EXCERPT FROM AN ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #6: (non-English language spoken).

GRANADOS: (speaking Spanish).

CERVANTES: Granados says that Mexico and the United States are closely linked in many ways, regardless of the border. And the sounds prove it, like an American crooner singing “La Mentira”, a Mexican bolero, in English.

(SOUND EXTRACTION OF SONG, “YELLOW DAYS”)

FRANK SINATRA: (singing) I remember when sunlight had a special kind of brightness, and laughter had a kind of lover’s lightness. Yellow days, yellow days.

Copyright © 2022 NRP. All rights reserved. Visit the Terms of Use and Permissions pages of our website at www.npr.org for more information.

NPR transcripts are created in peak time by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative recording of NPR’s programming is the audio recording.

Share.

About Author

Comments are closed.