The Celebrate Mexico Now Festival brings contemporary Mexican culture to New York City. It’s curated by Claudia Norman, New York City’s leading producer of world-class Mexican culture.
The Festival has a special relevance because though Latino in New York City is mostly Caribbean, across the United States Latino is mostly Mexican.
We are sister countries. Two thirds of the mainland United States was once Spanish Mexico (New Spain). Like the Monarch butterfly, we have long-standing two-way migration patterns. As a mostly Indigenous country, Mexico reconnects us with the first Americans who were once a continuum of peoples from Alaska and the Northwest Territories of Canada to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of Chile and Argentina.
In some ways, the contemporary culture of Mexico City is more progressive than the contemporary culture of New York City. The Celebrate Mexico Now Festival is always worth looking into. It illuminates a little bit of who we are and who we can be.
16th Celebrate Mexico Now Festival
The 16th annual Festival is at various locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens from October 7-13, 2019. Most events are free.
One of the documenters of the Harlem Renaissance was a Mexican illustrator
Monday, October 7, 2019 ~ Cartoonist Rafael Barajas “el Fisgón” talks about the impact of Mexican illustrator Miguel Covarrubias on both the Harlem Renaissance and Mexican Renaissance at the Colombia Journalism School in Morningside Heights, NYC at 7pm. Free with RSVP
Covarrubias (1904-1957) helped define how the world imagined the Harlem Renaissance (ca 1918-1935) through his book Negro Drawings (1927) and caricatures for The New Yorker and Vanity Fair.
This Jazz Age work is familiar, but you probably had no idea the artist was Mexican. Covarrubias also influenced other caricaturists like New York’s beloved Al Hirschfeld.
The Mexican Renaissance (ca 1920-1950) was happening around the same time. Covarrubias influenced both social movements.
This period was also the beginning of Mexican Muralism which was a form of preliterate communication that has since spread around the world. The work of Covarrubias provides another dimension into the creativity of the Mexican Renaissance and its impact on the world at large.
Mexican Photographers Document the Impact of Globalization on the Mexican Landscape
Tuesday, October 8, 2019 ~ Photographers Clemente Castor, Carlos Iván Hernández and Federico Martínez show us what was left behind. The exhibition at The Camera Club of New York in Little Italy is on view through October 26. The Mexico Now reception is from 6-8pm. FREE
Globalization has unexpected impacts. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) increased cross-border trade to the benefit of both the United States and Mexico. But it also caused Mexican migration to the border and the abandonment of Mexican farmland.
The founder of the Surrealist art movement, André Breton famously described Mexico as the most surreal country in the world. These photographers show that it still is.
The Morelia International Film Festival is one of Mexico’s influential Film Festivals
Wednesday, October 9, 2019 ~ The Festival screens a selection of short films from this influential film festival at School of Visual Arts in Chelsea, NYC at 7pm. FREE
Mexico, not Spain, is the center of the Spanish-speaking world and Mexico has a world-class film industry. It was influenced by Spanish-Mexican filmmaker Luis Buñuel (1900-1983) and by Mexico’s proximity to Hollywood, just a two-hour drive away.
This is a great chance to see what young Mexican talent is doing.
Mexico is an Indigenous Country
Thursday, October 10, 2019 ~ The Festival hosts a screening of 68 Voices, 68 Hearts, a series of short films that tell Indigenous stories in their native tongue with a panel discussion at the Center for Fiction in Fort Greene, Brooklyn at 7pm. Tickets $10
The numbers vary depending on how you count them, but in 2015 about 25 million people or 22% of Mexico’s population self-identifies as Indigenous. Mexican law recognizes 62 national Indigenous languages.
One of the practices of colonizers and slavers is to strip away your language. It’s incredible how Indigenous languages survive in Mexico.
In the United States we have long been taught that Indigenous people are primitive. It’s not true. Indigenous people have developed a sophisticated symbiotic relationship with the land that is healthier and more sustainable than our own industrial society. We just didn’t see it.
In the United States, Indigenous life has been largely destroyed, but it survives south of the border. As environmental degradation and climate change progress, Indigenous ways may be the key to the survival of us all.
Créssida Contemporary Dance
Thursday-Saturday, October 10-12, 2019 ~ This contemporary dance company from Merída, Yucatán, México makes its New York City debut with a contemporary dance workshop and performances of works that express Mayan and contemporary Mexican world views.
Thursday, October 10 ~ Dance workshop at Rioult Dance Studios in Astoria, Queens at 5pm. FREE with RSVP
Friday, October 11 ~ Performance at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City, Queens at 7pm. $10 (promocode MexicoNow)
Saturday, October 12 ~ Performance at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Long Island City, Queens at 3pm. $10 (promocode MexicoNow)
Maya Burns Trio
Friday, October 11, 2019 ~ Maya Burns, a musical child of California and Baja California, México brings her own style of multicultural Jazz to Terraza 7 in Elmhurst, Queens with shows at 9:30 and 11:30pm. $15 at the door
In the Latin World, Sunday is Family Day
Sunday, October 13, 2019 ~ The Festival ends with a family brunch, photo exhibition by Cuevawolf and auction to benefit Make the Road NY at Cantina Cumbancha in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at 12pm. Tickets $40
Make the Road NY is a non-profit organization dedicated to reuniting families separated at the border.
To describe Latin culture in one word, the word is family. Across the Latin world, families gather on Sunday. Latin cities and town can be a little eerie on Sunday because everything is closed and there is nobody around. Everyone is at their family home or with their family in the park or on the beach.
In New York City, most of us are far away from our families, so we make our own. Being away or losing your family teaches us just how important it is. Family is really what makes us human.
The Celebrate Mexico Now Festival is an expression of the Latin family.
For more information, visit mexiconowfestival.org