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Aztec Stadium: Malleable Deed, 2010

In 2010, Melanie Smith brought more than three thousand students from Mexican public schools to the Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, an iconic football stadium – the largest in the country – built for the 1968 Olympics. Ten days before the opening of the Games, the Massacre of Tlatelolco took place in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the capital, where students and civilians demonstrating against President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz were murdered with impunity by military and police.

Each of the students brought together by Smith had a large card with an image. Located by groups at various points in the stadium, both in the stands and on the pitch, to the rhythm of a soundtrack broadcast over the loudspeakers, they raised the cards to create a large mosaic, each individual image working as a fragment of a larger picture. The different groups formed a series of images from the history of art, such as Malevich’s Red Square or Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus, as well as the Mexican nationalistic imaginary, such as the painting La patria (The Motherland) by Jorge González Camarena, reproduced for years in the textbooks used in Mexican schools. They also formed images from mass culture, such as El Santo, the mythical silver-masked wrestler. The soundtrack to the action was a rock version of a Mexican revolutionary march. Between ads for Coca-Cola and Corona, as the students arrived and took their places they could read on the stadium screens the phrase ‘The revolution will not be televised’, a clear reference to the revolution and the student massacre. During the performance, some students, tired of holding up the cards, began to throw things around, while others were hitting each other or laughing.

A witness to the impact of the arrival of neoliberalism in contemporary Mexico, Smith proposes a reflection on the construction of cultural identities. On the occasion of her exhibition at MACBA in 2018, the artist, who describes her work as a ‘giant palimpsest’, explained that the work ‘teaches how the concept of motherland is disintegrated by the oscillation of constructed images’. Like her other works, whether photographs, films, sculptures or performances, Aztec Stadium. Malleable Deed shows the articulation and disintegration of the imaginary of modernity through elements such as bewilderment and absurdity.

Technical details

Original title:
Aztec Stadium: Malleable Deed
Registration number:
Smith, Melanie
Date created:
Date acquired:
On loan
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Audiovisual recording
Single-channel video, colour, sound, 10 min 29 s
Filming by Rafael Ortega
Edition number:
Ed. 3/4 + 2 P.A.
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
© Melanie Smith
It has accessibility resources:

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

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