Thursday, May 14, 2015

Zandra Rhodes and Cornelius Cardew

Bringing an exhibition about the rebozo, the traditional garment worn by Mexican women, from London to Mexico City is a bit like bringing a Mexican exhibition on the history of tweed to London. And yet, that's what we have at the Franz Mayer Museum, which opened this evening. There is some logic at work. Rebozo: Made in Mexico was curated by the Fashion and Textile Museum in London and showed there last summer, and as part of that process they established an education programme between Chelsea College of Art and Universidad Iberoamericana in which fashion students designed rebozos for the 21st Century, which are shown alongside the main exhibition. 
The rebozo is basically a shawl, produced in many different fabrics and patterns and made famous by Frida Kahlo who wore them as much as a political statement than simply nice thing to wear, though they are that. 
Zandra Rhodes, who founded the FTM twelve years ago in a warehouse near Tower Bridge*, came over for the event. Lovely woman, 74 years old now but as sprightly and whacky as she was at the height of her fame 30-40 years ago. 

From fashion, I hotfooted it to the fabulous Ex Teresa del Arte Actual, a deconsecrated church just off the Zocalo. Gorgeous space, cavernous nave and lots of reverb - the perfect setting for Round 2 of El Nicho's festival of improvised music. Tonight it was Cornelius Cardew's Treatise (1963-67) performed by a group of eight circular-seated musicians, directed by Keith Rowe (of AMM). It's scored, but they look more like artworks than anything a conventional orchestra could follow. It's up to each musician how they want to interpret each sheet (there are 37 in total), or they can choose not to do anything. 
This particular performance lasted an hour and half and I found it relaxing, absorbing and beautiful. Interestingly, when Cardew went Maoist in the early 70s, he totally disowned the piece, as if it were bourgeois, capitalist filth or something. 
Nice to chat with Keith Rowe (born1940, same year as Zandra Rhodes) afterwards. We'd met in Tokyo 15 years ago and he said he remembered, but I think he was just being kind.

(* re-designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, interestingly enough)

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