El Grito

Grito translation: shout, scream, cry, or proclamation.

In 2010 the Mexican government organized a series of mass celebrations to commemorate the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence and the centennial of the Revolution. The pinnacle of the celebrations came on the night of September 15, when President Felipe Calderón presided the traditional “El grito” ceremony, where the president delivers a cry for independence from a balcony on the National Palace. This event is the most important public holiday in Mexico, commemorating the original “grito”, which marked the beginning of the war for Independence that ended three hundred years of colonialism. Given the country’s current political and social turmoil, prompted by a violent “war” against the drug cartels, numerous public commentators questioned whether there was anything worthy of celebration.

El Grito is a two channel video installation that interrogates the role of this political ritual, the constructed mythology of national heroes, and the legacy of the first war for independence in Latin America. As part of a series of works by Emilio Rojas, this piece uses footage from that “grito” ceremony to present a critical and nonconformist response to the festive atmosphere of that historical night. The artist thus transforms this celebratory cry to one of frustration, collective fear, and anger towards the state’s current paralysis.

This video shows excerpts of the original 30 min. piece that compiles the video footage of the presidential Gritos of Felipe Calderon from 2006- 2010.

This piece was produced at the Banff Centre during the thematic residency “The Theatre of Erosion”, and it is part of a series of interventions and collaborations with his mother related to this celebration. It is also part of a series of works that attempt to reevaluate national symbols and rituals, which include transmutazione peformed at the 54th Venice Biennale, and El himno, which will be performed at Ex-teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City, as part of Transmuted International Performance Festival in April 2012.