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"Katharsis": Lucha Libre Documented @ Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach

Juxtapoz // Friday, 02 Aug 2013
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The Katharsis exhibition is comprised with images from the Photography Collection of Fundación Televisa, becoming a documentary and artistic tour through the real and imaginary arenas of Mexican wrestling or lucha libre. Entrenched within pop culture since the 1930s, lucha libre has become for Mexicans an obsession harkening back to gladiator battles and Aztec warriors. The public is not resigned to the role of spectator; but instead, they fervently participate in the complex and boundless theatricality of lucha libre. The exhibition will be on display at the MOLAA in Long Beach through September 15, 2013.

The fights, at once corporeal and symbolic, bloody and cathartic, have created unquenchable sources of imagination that transcend the limits of the ring. From television to comics, graffiti to digital animation, journalism to film, there has not existed a medium of visual expression within Mexican pop culture or the fine arts of the 20th century that has not given tribute to the mythic luchador.

Upon developing as a genre of mass entertainment, lucha libre mexicana succeeded in establishing an aesthetic that was simultaneously bizarre and refined. In the masks, designs, and characterizations of the combatants there is combined and recreated the most dissimilar iconographies and traditions. The history of the world, its most trite archetypes and stereotypes, all the possible incarnations of good and bad, have passed through the Mexican ring.

This exhibition, composed by images from the Photography Collection of Fundación Televisa, divided into themes such as Rituals; The Mask; Ladies of the Ring; Santo: The Silved Masked Man; and Society of the Spectacle, is a documentary and artistic review of the dual realities and imaginaries of the realm of lucha libre mexicana. These images, produced as a journalistic project, retrospective study, as well as a documentary and artistic venture, cover a period of almost seven decades. Authors of three generations, a heritage of documentary films, and archives of specialized journals have nourished this miscellaneous body of photography, no less varied than the universe it references. This project of visual history is merely a peek into the iconographic materials of the multidisciplinary spectacle that could well be considered one of the paradigms of Mexican syncretism.

 

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