Weekly Conversations…with Oscar Cueto
You have just moved into one of our studios, how do you like it so far?
I am very excited and motivated! I’ve known das weisse haus for a long time and think it’s one of the most important contact points for contemporary art. It’s a great honor for me to be here and I’m already looking forward to realizing my projects. Mainly I want to implement my project “MUME 2”, which is a project in which I plan to use my studio as a space to show work of other Mexican artists. MUME 2 refers to my first project “MUME“ which I did during an art residency. It is about a Mexican man who tries to cross the border to the USA and suddenly finds himself in Austria. The man – who is in fact a reinterpretation of Robinson Crusoe – wants to bring something from his civilization. After thinking about that for long time it is clear: Art! Meanwhile he finds a hunter’s cabin in the woods, which he transforms into “MUME” (Museum Mexicano). In the second part, this person is supposed to have the possibility to show his projects and work in a room at das weisse haus and invite his family (another artists) from Mexico to attend. The story tells of migration and generations.
Back then, you participated in a residence program in Salzburg. Why have you decided to move to Vienna?
I liked it very much at that time. After my first residence I came to Linz for two more residencies. Finally I decided to move to Vienna. I like that Austria has this perfect world effect, it is very peaceful and everything seems nice, on the other hand people here like to push things under the carpet. There are many secrets to be revealed. That’s why I also like Haneke’s films very much. When I was in Vienna I decided to inscribe myself again at the University of Applied Arts to find my way in the Viennese art scene and to develop further my work.
Here, my work is different to what I did Mexico, as I address political issues and critical situations from another point of view. I also want to create awareness of the situation in Mexico, as for instance in my installation “Aufschlag”. It’s about representing two classes, on the one hand the tennis player who serves on the other hand a man who throws a Molotov cocktail into a crowd. It is really working in the European context and can create awareness. In Mexico the whole thing would be different.
Everybody in Mexico is already confronted with violence in the media every day, it wouldn’t shock people anymore – it wouldn’t have the same effect. Since you can’t fight a thing with itself, you have to create a different approach. For me, this means to a create a fictitious idealized dream world. A world in which you can see that there is another way, that there is hope. Mexico has also just become a country of hope to many people. At the moment it is one of the few countries with a left-wing government in South America.
Sometimes I also feel a bit like a traitor. I think that many of the problems we have – not only but also in Mexico – have their origin in Europe. I often wonder if I sneaked into the other camp. In the art scene it doesn’t matter where you come from and you’re hardly confronted with racism. But outside of this scene, it is quite different. It is a dichotomy in which I find myself. On the one hand, I try to make people aware of the situation in Mexico, on the other hand, I have left my country and found myself somewhere on the other side.
Do you already have some new projects coming up, apart from “MUME 2”?
“MUME 2“ is probably the project on which I work most intensively. Otherwise I am also working on a project about poppy fields. In Mexico those are strictly forbidden. It is one of the main production countries for heroin. Drug cartels often kill their rivals as a threat. I have recreated the situation of Mexico in the “Mohndorf – Armschlag”, as if the same situation was happening here. There will be an installation where the photos will be printed on the floor of a crib. On top of those there will be different sorts of bread. The idea is that, when the visitors take out the bread they discover the pictures and face the situation. It is very important for me that the art work have this interaction with the viewer and have this gaming character without losing the message behind.