Ximena Cuevas

Ximena Cuevas

Ximena Cuevas

Born in Mexico in 1963.

 

 

Ximena Cuevas is a film and video-artist who looks at contemporary society in her hometown of Mexico City with a bittersweet and passionate eye. Cuevas’ work is primarily known for its irony in exposing the myths of the “typical, middle-class Mexican family”, of their social customs, and of their normative expectations concerning heteronormative relationships and concepts of beauty. Her videos deconstruct the hypocrisy and the half lies – as she calls them – of the collective Mexican imagination, through a parody of their traditional portrayal in popular culture. Her camerawork is “expressive and inventive, her editing style jaunty and edgy, her musical taste unerring. Whether her subject is lesbian romance or heterosexual machismo, you couldn’t ask for a better guide,” said critic B. Ruby Rich in 1998.

From age 13, for a period of two years, Ximena Cuevas viewed an average of four films a day. At sixteen, she repaired old movies in the Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City, and two years later, worked as an art assistant on Missing by the cineaste Costa Gavras. Eventually she studied film at both the New School for Social Research and Columbia University in New York City. In the 1980s, she carried out all kinds of jobs, from script supervisor to assistant director, from art director to stand-in, for more than 20 feature films, including Under the Volcano by John Huston (script supervisor and production assistant), The Falcon and The Snowman by John Schlesinger (art assistant and stand-in), Mentiras Piadosas by Arturo Ripstein, and Encuentro Inesperado by Jaime Humberto Hermosillo (assistant director). After buying an 8mm video movie camera in 1991, she began to focus on her own work, becoming obsessed with the micro happenings of daily life.

Her single-channel video vignettes assume the layers of lies and contradictions covering everyday representations of reality. Cuevas systematically explores fictions of national identity, colonization of the mass imaginary, and taboos in gender-relationships, redefining the meaning of documentary film with humour.

For the Jakarta Biennale 2017, Cuevas created a new montage of found footage and her own frames, crossing from truth to fiction and back, while often featuring herself in some sort of melodrama-invoking self-portrait. In a fiercely lively montage – to which the score contributes significantly – she unmasks the artifice of different kinds of “performers” presented in mediated imagery: herself, actors from telenovelas, or normal people from all sorts of backgrounds staged in the most varied genres of television entertainment.