Saturday, March 12, 2011

Mexican boycott of its fiesta in France hits artists hard as more dominos fall

Jose' Rivalino and one of his 11 mammoth statues.
Mexican sculptor Jose' Rivalino’s 20 tons of 11 anthropomorphic statues never found their way to Paris.

They’re docked at Rotterdam. 

Rivalino remains docked outside Mexico City in his near empty warehouse-studio pondering his future.

His works should have arrived in Paris via the Seine on 1 March following the 25 Feb. faux launch of 12 months of 360 planned events celebrating Mexico’s cultural wealth--in France--"The Year of Mexico in France."


The multi-million Euro diplomatic fiasco and international legal fracas has all but killed any hope of cultural reincarnation.

Rivalino’s exhibition, “Nuestros silencios,” (“Our Silence”) becomes another victim of the Franco-Mexican cross-cultural diplomatic war after French President Nicolas Sarkozy dedicated “Mexico in France” to the plight of convicted 36-year-old Florence Cessez, who is serving a 60-year prison sentence for kidnapping (2008) in Mexico.

A Mexican appeals court on 10 Feb. affirmed Cessez’s conviction. Sarkozy immediately retaliated. Mexico responded in kind. 

Sarkozy and France want Cessez to do her time at home, not in a Mexican prison. Mexican prisons aren't so bad, say the Mexicans, and besides about 60 percent of us think she's guilty, so there.

More of Jose' Rivelilno's works.

It’s another domino to topple in a succession of tragic news for artists and the art consuming public. 

See ArtTraveler post of 1 March ("Artists, public victims of Franco-Mexican cross-cultural cockfight.")

Since the Mexican government killed financial support for its own fiesta in France, Mexican artists morphed into manifestantes, protesters. 

They’re understandably angry. More than a year of preparation, soaring expectations, all trashed.

More than 700 Mexican artists since 20 Feb. signed an online petition criticizing their government.

They accused Felipe Calderon, Mexican president, like his antagonist, Sarkozy, of playing them as pawns in a political popularity chess game, a pissing contest that may endear each leader to a nationalist-prone audience at home.

The outlook, as I opined in my 1 March post, appears less than hopeful. The tipping point of no return closes in. 

More gloom and doom.

Le Figaro calls the Florence Cassez diplomatic drama an “affair of state.”

It also suggests this crisis will have a knock-on effect, damaging bilateral trade between the two sparring nations.

Jose' Rivelino looking smaller than his work.
I call it an affair of stupidity and testosterone gone wild that got a bit personal and nasty.

Mexican writer and former Mexican ambassador to Paris, Carlos Fuentes, accused Sarkozy of acting like Napoleon. 

Not far off the mark, but still not cool to say on the record.

Mexico, in its own macho extremism, has withdrawn all financial support for its artists, as absurd as Cessez's 60-year prison term.

This needless cultural clash of wills has already cost the Mexican government about 23 million Euros for preparation, insurance, transportation and promotion of the artists, according to journalist Frederick Saliva, reporting on 6 March.

Unless these two giant personal and collective egos resolve this crisis and muy pronto, they will hijack the entire Franco-Mexican cross-cultural fiesta.

In this cultural war, there will be no winners, only losers.

Rock on and practice peace and love.

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will be at peace.” 

William Gladstone

Jimmy Hendrix, paraphrasing William Gladstone (1809 - 1898), who said: 

"We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of peace."

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM).

Considering a walking holiday in our Andalusian mountains? A week-long sculpture or mosaics workshop? See: and

Today's ArtTraveler video reveals a slice of Spanish life in our village of Canillas de Albaida, the religious procession of San Anton, patron saint of animals. Enjoy.

Rivelino's 11 statues doing time in Rotterdam.

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