Katy's Jean Dress: The 90s are back.

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Katy Perry's 2014 VMAs jean dress

Katy Perry's 2014 VMAs jean dress

Maybe Britney is no longer a sexy Catholic schoolgirl and the Spice Girls aren’t the face of England anymore (Cool Britannia, you’re still in our hearts), but their cheerful era is (finally) back. Pop culture has shown us many signals of this awaited resurrection, this zombie copy of the colorful antebellum times between the end of the Cold War and 9-11, but now we have the final proof: Yesterday, Katy Perry and her quite picturesque partner made their grand entrance to the 2014 VMAs wearing a jean dress and a jean suit. Oh yeah. You read it well. They were wearing a replica of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake’s infamous matching jean dress and suit from the 2001 AMAs.

Ok. I know. They wore the jean outfits in 2001 and not in the 90s. But you know, 2001 was almost from the 90s… It was part of the same cultural era: Britney and Christina were still quite popular, fashion was quite similar from the one of the late 90s and, well, the world was still enjoying that bubblegum pop infested cheerfulness from the Spicemania days. That’s the revived era I’m taking about: A period spanning roughly from the 1990s to the early 2000s.

Britney Spears' 2001 AMAs jean dress

Britney Spears' 2001 AMAs jean dress

Spending the summer at NYU's Precollege made me realize this resurrection. My dorm was in front of Washington Square Park, where I would spend some time with my friends sometimes. Under the bright sunlight coming through the trees, and with the Arch and the fountain in my view, I had my epiphany: I was living in Clueless!  People all over the park where wearing items typical from the era: tie-dye shirts, high-waisted jeans and miniskirts, parachute pants, crop tops, denim on every possible piece, jean overalls, Dr Martens shoes, high sneakers and even those enormous Spice Girl-like high heeled platform sandal.

As I discovered this new (awesome) world, where some hispters (or maybe a new urban species) dress up as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, I started to realize new things in old TV series and films: “the clothing of Friends’ first season seems quite current!” or “Hey! This (outfit Cher Horowitz is wearing) looks like one of my sister’s!”. This soon evolved into a new worldview where I was rediscovering the 90s, like when I realized one of my friends was dressing like someone from Clueless. But fashion wasn’t the only thing being affected by this revival: news of the resurrection where everywhere.

Scene from Clueless (1996)

Scene from Clueless (1996)

First it was the video of Iggy Azalea’s Fancy, the song of the summer, in which entire scenes of the 1996 classic Clueless are revived. Then it was TV: The first thing I discovered was Lifetime’s upcoming new film, The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story (bullsh*t), but soon I found that classic 90s cartoons like The Magical School Bus and the Power Puff Girls where returning in 2016. Finally, I was amazed to see a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles poster in the cinema (I bet we’ll have a Power Rangers film soon): the 90s were back.

Iggy Azalea's "Fancy": a total imitation of Clueless. 

Iggy Azalea's "Fancy": a total imitation of Clueless. 

The reason of this revival is simple: the world is a mess. We live in a planet where people are being decapitated because of their faith in Iraq and where rising sea levels are no longer a sci-fi dystopia but a reality; a world where tiny but powerful corporations cause big unemployment rates and where there has been non-stopping war in the same regions for a decade; a world where the economy failed and where sometimes people seem more interested in their phones than in their friends. It’s normal to look at the past and find enjoyment in it. It’s just a way to escape, an attempt to find happiness in a long-gone time. We are creating a world based on our glamorized nostalgia of the past, a feeling that even people like me, who were infants in those times, can grasp.

The 90s were great and their resurrection makes me more than happy. Their culture, with their pop culture and their fashion, is bringing fresh air to our dark, grotesque and pessimistic situation. Anyways, nostalgia is a cycle that happens during every decade and cultural period. I’m just hoping, after watching Katy’s tribute to Britney (I loved it, okay?), that the Paris Hilton-Juicy Tracksuit-Smallville era nostalgic revival takes long before appearing (Except you, dear Mean Girls, Freaky Friday and White Chicks. You can return whenever you want to.)

 

 

The Republic of Macondo

Yesterday, the world lost a great talent. This Latin Shakespeare, wrought by the jungles infected by parrots and mosquitoes of the south, changed Latin American history forever: Gabriel García Márquez.

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I think, frankly, that to speak of Latin America as a single cultural entity is a Eurocentric point of view. For example: While in Mexico the Day of the Dead is celebrated, in Venezuela Hallacas are prepared for Christmas. Still, Gabriel García Márquez left, directly or indirectly, a mark on all the nations of the region.

The biggest feature that unites the heterogeneous societies of Latin America is  incoherence and absurdity. Our societies assimilate and normalize the incredible and the unthinkable. We are exotic lands where the president speaks with reincarnations in the form of birds, being a witch is a job, and superstition is science. It's not backwardness or lateness, it is rather sick joke from the universe, determined to distort reality. Magical realism, the genre of the works of García Márquez, exists and Latinos live in it. 

Gabriel García Márquez, through his works, taught us something that Victor Hugo or F. Scott Fitzgerald could not: the reality of the Latino human. He was the heir of Gallegos and the king of magical realism, he was a Francisco Herrera Luque on continental scale.

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El Gabo justified our quirks: They're there just because. He taught us that absurdity is part of the real order of the south and those things that for other cultures is magical realism, for Latin America is just realism.

He also showed us, like Herrera Luque, that our story is perennial and it's doomed to repeat itself and to spit those archaic archetypes again and again. Our regional mythological figure, the dictator, arises decade after decade without end.

But more importantly, that the crazy and unreal town - The setting of his main work "100 Years of Solitude" -of Macondo exists and we are all its inhabitants.

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An example of this absurdity: Last year, Miss Venezuela Gabriela Isler was being crowned Miss Universe in Russia while in her Motherland people were looting. Just read Toto Aguerrevere's blog (In Spanish), one that shows the absurd and the humorous of Caracas' society: A society that dries their hair when going to the beach. 

Sometimes we hate that surrealism, but like it or not it's a part of us that sometimes cheers up our existence in some way. His contribution to our society is a complex and complete justification of ourselves and that was the esoteric secret of his works.

That is the legacy of El Gabo. He taught us that Latin America is a place without beginning or end, a snake that devours itself. He showed us that in 100 years the story was the same, repeating eternally in the solitude of the routine. He showed us that there isn't a last Aureliano and that the cyclical history of Macondo, and its predestined end, will keep rolling until Latin America disappear in the ocean waters.

You will always be in our hearts.

Thanks GGM

Rest in Peace.

Art in Revolutionary Venezuela: Abandonment and Isolation

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Yesterday I discovered, after reading an article in El Universal (One of Venezuela’s most important newspapers), that urban "art" (Yes, the truth is that urban art and I don’t have the best relationship) had been chosen for the Venice Art Biennale. For me, it seemed like a bad idea. Somehow, it only fuels the idea of rt enacted in the Bolivarian Revolution: A mix of naive appearance between the folkloric, the indigenous, the Marxist, urban art (Since it’s artists are usually related to the slums) and the political art that attacks the "Tyranny of the Fourth Republic, the fascist right and the exploitative bourgeoisie”...

It's time to restore the national talent, and I don’t ask for high culture (Because I believe that it no longer exists in the visual arts, there is only a valuable hybrid with low culture created after the Second World War), I just ask for our big and small artists to be valued. Like all leftist "anti-imperialist" revolution, the value that avant-garde once had has been disappearing for being considered "oligarchic and bourgeois". The Museum of Contemporary Art (Which has pieces by Miro, Picasso, Rodin, Vigas, Soto, Vasarely, Bacon, Reveron, among others) is almost empty of visitors just like the Museum of Fine Arts (which has pieces by Picasso, Andy Warhol, Egyptian Art and much more). The disappearance of about fifteen artworks (including Matisse’s Odalisque with Red Pants, which was found by the FBI last year at a hotel in Miami Beach) has been reported since, approximately, 2001.

1998, with the beginning of the Revolution, the word “people’s jumps to the foreground. Museums, in disrepair, have become centers of populist exhibits and extremely native art (and by that I don’t mean Soto and Cruz Diez, I mean Amerindian baskets. Overused ethnic art), creating a favorable environment for the ideas of the demagogues who killed our art. In these "exhibitions of the people" there is no rigor or judgment.

Museums, disastrously unified and full of the kind of political Latin art worthy of the Cold War, are no longer an international jewel and they have closed themselves off to the Western art styles, adopted by most artists. With no museums that promote contemporary art and the international wonders we have, a large group of Venezuelan artists were forced to leave the country and like that Venezuela isolated herself from the global art movements: Brewing the populist Bolivarian art...

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Nevertheless, I just hope that this dark period of our history and culture will be over soon, and that art originated in Castro’s ideology disappears from our museums, giving way once again to the avant-garde and to our great talents. I hope we can see once again our stolen art on the walls of the museums and we can see the infrastructure of these remodeled and even being expanded. I hope that within a few years, insecurity and her companions (the other Venezuelan tragedies) will not be obstacles to, finally, re-enter to the Museum of Fine Arts and admire the Marilyn Monroe of Andy Warhol who expect that the once excited great crowds return and rejoice with their colors.