Portrait of SANGREE in Tenochtitlan, an Absolut Art Bar in Mexico City, 2016. Courtesy Omar Rood
Mexican artist duo SANGREE – (René Godínez Pozas and Carlos Lara) – where given carte blanche to fully conceptualise and create an Art Bar, from drinks to décor and entertainment to ambience within an abandoned building. Using Tenochtitlan (The capital of the Mexican Empire in the 15th century) at a starting point the Art Bar is the artists’ literal and conceptual representation of that ancient city.
The island on which Tenochtitlan was built is recreated in the centre of the Art Bar as a large-scale raised platform, featuring replicas of ancient columns based on Aztec architecture. Strands of LED lighting winding across the platform represents the water that once flowed through the city’s canals, and reflective flooring around the structure gives the illusion that the island is floating. LED lighting along the floor also connects the DJ booth at the end of the room to the central structure, which houses the main bar in amongst the columns.
SANGREE’s practice, which explores historical elements in a contemporary context, continues throughout the Art Bar, with assorted sculptures and relics presented as archaeological artefacts in displays and mounted on the walls. A canvas light-box featuring a relief mural of the Valley of Mexico – symbolising Tenochtitlan’s original location – spans the length of one wall. The lights behind the mural continuously rise and fade over time, giving the impression of time passing from dusk until dawn.
The Artist Cocktails are part of a larger game referencing the economic and social systems of ancient Tenochtitlan in SANGREE’s Art Bar, whilst encouraging social connections amongst guests and bar staff. The artists have created tokens – mimicking cocoa beans, Tenochtitlan’s ancient currency – and a selection of these are given to guests on arrival to trade for drinks. The four districts in Tenochtitlan, comprising ‘the religious’, ‘the warriors’, ‘the urban’, and ‘the agricultural ghettos’, are each represented by one side of the main bar, and each side serve different cocktails. Every hour, the ‘district’ – or side of the bar – which serves the most drinks wins.
The installation features a changing nightly program of live music, DJ sets, and performances curated by the artist duo. Performers include NAAFI, a DJ collective from Mexico City who are also artists themselves.
“Tenochtitlan focuses on creating an atmosphere centred around symbolic elements of the city’s geographical context, as well as the dynamic of its behavioural system. The Art Bar is an analogy for the growing visibility of Mexico City within the international contemporary art scene,”
About The Artist
SANGREE is an artistic collaboration between René Godínez Pozas (b. 1986, Mexico City) and Carlos Lara (b. 1985, Mexico City). SANGREE’s practice is a multi-disciplinary approach to popular culture and art history, as well as some of the most fundamental human concerns. They use a mix of materials within their practice – including concrete and inflatables – and often combine elements from pre-Hispanic and mystical traditions with contemporary aesthetics.
Past solo exhibitions include Murmullos de la Tierra at Museo Universitario del Chopo (Mexico City, 2015); RING BELL, SUN, 21EARTH, at YAUTEPEC Gallery (Mexico City, 2014); Temporary Tattoo Studio at Biquini Wax (Mexico City, 2013); and SANGREE en Alemania, at Mucharaum Kunstakademie Karlsruhe, (Karlsruhe, Germany, 2011); DARK KILLER DANCE NIGHT at Casino Metropolitano (Mexico City, 2011); Galería Planta Baja (Cuernavaca, Mexico, 2011); and Los Años Maravillosos at Galería Central del Centro Nacional de las Artes (Mexico City, 2010). Their works was also included in The Principes in Venice, 54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy (2011).