Ximena Cuevas (b. 1963, Mexico City, Mexico) is a media artist and filmmaker. Her father José Luis Cuevas was a leading member of Generación de la Ruptura (the Breakaway Generation), an artistic movement established in opposition to the dominant social-realist aesthetics of the Mexican muralist tradition in the 1950s, which influenced numerous artists and writers, including Octavio Paz, Juan García Ponce, and others. Ximena Cuevas’ own innovative practice offers a feminist perspective on issues of corruption, gender, and social inequalities, often subverting elements of popular culture to uncover “half lies of the collective Mexican imagination.”
Cuevas’ first experience with the moving image occurred in 1979, when she began restoring previously censored films at the Cineteca Nacional in Mexico City. She went on to study film at the New School for Social Research and Columbia University. During the 1980s and 1990s, Cuevas worked on numerous feature films with directors including Costa Gavras, John Huston, John Schlesinger, Arturo Ripstein, and Jaime Humberto Hermosillo. Her works have been exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, New York Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, The Museum of Modern Art, Hammer Museum, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and Anthology Film Archives. She lives and works in Mexico City and New York.
Cinépolis, the Film Capital, Ximena Cuevas, México, digital, 23 min, 2003
In a biting, satirical visual narrative constructed from a stream of found footage, Cuevas relates the appropriation of everyday Mexican life by the culture of the United States. She predicts that this invasion will take the form of a fully branded consumer landscape.
–Sharjah Art Foundation
Corazón Sangrante, Ximena Cuevas, México, digital, 4 min, 1993
In this humorous short, Astrid Hadad, dressed in traditional folkloric costumes and religious garments, sings and performs to a Chilean love ballad before a painterly background of fantastic landscapes. Her hyperbolic posturing enacts the song’s tale of a woman’s heartbreak. This satirical presentation of femininity references pathos and the role of the victim. Cuevas’ use of animation and video montage adds a playful tone to the heartfelt melodrama of love songs, familiar touchstones in all cultures.
–Video Data Bank
Co-presented with Video Data Bank, School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Three Fold. Image credits: all artworks, stills, and portraits courtesy of the artist © Xinema Cuevas and Video Data Bank, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Special thanks to Emily Martin and Zach Vanes.
View next: Tânia Dinis, as part of Media City Film Festival: Spotlight Series