Author Archives: Marc Weidenbaum

Sitting for a Dream

Dr. Ignacio Chávez of Mexico City was troubled by only a handful of things.

He did not like the bureaucracy at the hospital, where as Director of Cardiology he all too often observed paperwork and politics clogging the institution’s arteries.

He did not like it if his lunch or dinner was tepid in temperature when delivered to his office.

And, most of all, he did not like disappointing his daughter.

All three of these things had now occurred. Dr. Chávez had been overwhelmed by the documentation necessitated by the planned installation of a skylight in the hallway to the children’s ward. He ruminated in his office without any fear of his dinner going cold, because it had arrived cold. And by working late, he had ensured that he would not make it to his daughter’s art opening that evening at Galerías Diana.

The Sound of Dreams

Guillermo Galindo is a Mexico-born, San Francisco–based musician, sound artist, and educator. His work ranges from solo performance to orchestral endeavors, from originally designed instruments to fully immersive installations, from improvisation to sound design. For La Alquimia de los Sueños he pondered the interest that Remedios Varo had in resonance for resonance’ sake. This led him to, among other things, develop a system to turn the hall in which the event takes place into something akin to a single, over-sized speaker cabinet. An adjunct professor at the California College of Arts, he spoke in advance of La Alquimia de los Sueños about the influence of Varo and the surrealists on his work, about the manner in which water can be imbued with special energies, and about the role of sound in dreams.

Burying the Goat

Maximilian I reigned as Emperor of Mexico from 1864 through 1867, when he was executed. His death yielded countless conspiracy theories, making him something like a 19th-century John F. Kennedy. Some of these theories have Maximilian cheating death by bribery, while others have him ferreted across the border by supporters. Many of the theories focus on the supposed participation by Masons, also known as Freemasons: a centuries-old fraternal order that connects dignitaries and bankers, judges and landowners, politicians and clerics around the world. It is a semi-secret society that is famed for its self-mythologizing and for its richly coded iconography, and it remains to this day a lightning rod for paranoid political fantasists.

A Change of Seasons

It is June 19, 1867. Summer has begun. With the change of seasons, the days will begin to get shorter as well as warmer. There is work to be done. There are fields to be tended, but today is a holiday. To the Catholics of Querétaro, Mexico, it is a religious festival, the Fête-Dieu. In a few hours, the date will become associated with another, more sorrowful occasion. For today, Maximilian will die: Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph of Austria, or, to the people of Mexico these past three eventful years, Emperor Maximilian. Today is a holiday, and it will henceforth be a mournful one.