Mexico City-based Pedro Reyes’ Walker exhibition, Baby Marx, is an in-gallery film production studio featuring the founders of communism and capitalism. The artist and curators Camille Washington and Bartholomew Ryan chose a Playbill-influenced direction for the gallery guide, featuring the all-puppet cast “bios” and project chronology. And as theater programs often have advertisements, we decided to embed the exhibition’s related events into faux ads. This no doubt contributes to what one curator quipped, the “church newsletter designed by a grandmother” look. (I chose to take that as a compliment!) The guide is illustrated with 1- and 2-color woodcut portraits in the woodblocking style favored by 1930s and 40s Chinese communist texts. Reyes’ studio produced the woodcuts with the help of students: José Antonio Tavira López, Alitzel Abigail Hernández López, Mónica Fabiola García Ramírez, Diana Aurora Gutiérrez Valencia, Ilse Sarahí Ballesteros Aviña, Tanya Nayashell Ramírez Pérez y Francisco Javier Trejo Gómez.
The back cover features a list of tongue-in-cheek “working titles” for the exhibition, including: Baby Marx: With a Vengeance; Baby Marx Returns; Baby Marx Redux; Baby Marx: Full Frontal; Baby Marx: All Access; I Blame Baby Marx; Baby Marx: Speed Protects You; Baby Marx: Prologue; The Emancipation of Baby Marx; Baby Marx 101; The Miseducation of Baby Marx; Baby Marx: The Idea of Good Appears Last of All; Baby Marx: Back to Reality; Baby Marx: Free Champagne; Baby Marx: Judgment Day; Baby Marx: We Don’t Need Another Hero; Baby Marx: Beyond Thunderdome; Baby Marx: BYOB; Baby Marx: 2 for 1; Baby Marx: In Recovery; Baby Marx: Out of Rehab (again); Marx Attacks!; Baby Marx: We Come in Peace, Shoot to Kill!; Baby Marx: Emerging; Baby Marx’s Excellent Adventures; Whatever Happened to Baby Marx?
I suggest adding How Baby Marx Got His Groove Back to the list. (ha!) Does anyone have other suggestions?
Notes on Camp(y ads):
1. The top left ad refers to the premise of the film–a group of children in a small-town library bring Karl Marx and Adam Smith back to life by microwaving their books in the “Smart-O-Wave.” Hopefully no one is encouraged to try this at home. I tried it, and it doesn’t work. :-(
2. The middle ad, with its malapropos style and tone, is by far my favorite. A shout out to Gil Scott-Heron and an abstracted American flag? Yes, please.
3. The far right ad’s meter and key is the promenade of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. (A detail, that if I wasn’t posting a blog on the guide, would remain my dorky little secret) Though not an overtly political piece, it’s still a little wink to the times and tastes of a country on the verge of becoming the world’s first communist state.
We liked the working titles so much that we included them as a single small line of text underneath the title graphics for the show, pictured above (though not visible).
Views of the set interior (above) and set exterior (below): the public library
Reyes, cinematographer and puppeteers (above) and gallery view (below)
Find out more about Pedro Reyes and Baby Marx on the Walker Channel:
A selection of little red books with big ideas in the gallery (above). Since we’re operating on a smaller scale–Baby Marx, puppets, booklets–we thought it appropriate to use pink instead of red. It’s also pretty.