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MITLA Place of the dead

  • 67 York Street Gallery 67 York Street London, W1H 1QA United Kingdom (map)
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In an age of growing anxiety and uncertainty, art is more necessary than ever.

In her eponymous début solo show, MITLA Place of the dead, Fernanda Cortes invites us to a contemporary and refreshing interpretation of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).

This uniquely Mexican tradition dates back more than 3,000 years and has been inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Part of what is intangible in this tradition is captured by the difficulty in translating through language; it is not exactly a celebration, and not exactly a set of festivities or rituals as such.

It is a practice, an attitude towards life and death conveyed more completely in art than in language.

The recognisable and iconic motifs of fully clothed dancing skeletons, brides, grooms, children, all simultaneously alive and dead, are not in any way macabre. They come to life through their companionship during ordinary meals, dancing and festivities that mark the passage of time year-round.

The practice lasts anywhere from a day up to a week, and in Mexico it takes shape through various stages of public and private observance, in which the quotidian and the material are transformed to simultaneously piece together the most joyful, the most sacred, the most solemn, the most sorrowful, the most fanciful, and the most mundane.

In this spirit, Cortes week-long show confronts us at the threshold of a seeming paradox, where life is impregnated by death and vice-versa.

Subtly, her work then delicately holds us, like fine stone pieces fitted together without the use of mortar, bringing us into contact with a universal and timeless paradigm for creativity and thoughtful progress. Tangibly, Cortes work is a vehicle for more purposefully inhabiting time through a special soft greeting to the self/being of death and of life in all of us.

The works she will display show a marked progression in her creative development while more fully exploring the themes in her work since she moved to the UK.

MITLA Place of the dead on Artsy
Fernanda Cortes Official Website