10.23.15: Art, Politics & the City in Mexico and China: Speakers and Curators

Gastón Alzate

CSU Los Angeles

Gastón Alzate is from Cali (Valle del Cauca), Colombia. Currently he is a Full Professor of Spanish at CSU Los Angeles where he teaches Latin American Theater, Performance Art and Literature. During 2011 he was Research Fellow of the Verflechtungen von Theater Kulturen (Interweaving Performance Cultures), Freie Universität, Berlin. Previously, he was Director of Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean Studies (LALACS) at Gustavus Adolphus College (1999-2006). He also served as advisor for the Independent Study group in Cuba, SPAN, University of Minnesota (1999-2000). He worked as Research Associate with David William Foster (1996-1997), and as Teaching Associate at Arizona State University. The central line of his research and publication has been Mexican and Colombian literature with a focus on theater and performance art. His research has generally focused on the connections between Western tradition and Latin American culture, particularly the need to re-accommodate theoretical framework originating in Europe and the US when studying Latin American and US Latino productions. With the collaboration of Dr. Paola Marín, he founded the academic electronic journal Karpa in 2009, devoted to theatrical dissidences, visual arts, and culture. It publishes articles in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. The journal is a peer-reviewed publication indexed by the MLA International Bibliography, which encompasses Latin American and Iberian performing and visual culture manifestations such as political cabaret, dance, performance art, theater, social theatricalities, graffiti, photography, and film. Since 2009 he has been a member of the CSULA Mariachi Band Aguila de Oro (Golden Eagle).

Margaret Crawford

UC Berkeley

Margaret Crawford teaches courses in the history and theory of architecture, urbanism, and urban history as well as urban design and planning studios focusing on small-scale urbanity and postmodern urbanism. Her research focuses on the evolution, uses, and meanings of urban space. Her book, Building the Workingman's Paradise: The Design of American Company Towns, examines the rise and fall of professionally designed industrial environments. Crawford is also known for her work on Everyday Urbanism, a concept that encourages the close investigation and empathetic understanding of the specifics of daily life as the basis for urban theory and design. Another interest is Los Angeles urbanism, which led to The Car and the City: The Automobile, the Built Environment and Daily Urban Life, edited with transportation planner Martin Wachs. She has also published numerous articles on immigrant spatial practices, shopping malls, public space, and other issues in the American built environment. Since 2003, Crawford has been investigating the effects of rapid physical and social changes on villages in China’s Pearl River Delta.

Jonathan Crisman


Jonathan Crisman is the director of No Style, a design and publishing practice, and with Jia Gu he forms LA—BOR, an interdisciplinary art and architecture studio. He holds an appointment in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA where he is Project Director and Core Faculty for the Urban Humanities Initiative, and he holds degrees in geography, architecture, and urban planning from UCLA and MIT.

Minerva Cuevas


Mexican artist Minerva Cuevas’s prolific and international artistic practice is grounded in conceptually and socially engaged actions. Her site-specific interventions take place in a range of settings from the internet to museums to the cultural commons. She creates political and social interventions, produces compelling videos and photographic work, co-opts various means of distribution to get out her message, irreverently and cleverly tampers with corporate and government identities, and makes bold political-creative work that disrupts political and visual economies. In 1998 she founded Mejor Vida Corp. (Better Life Corporation), an enterprise that provides free products and services such as international student ID cards, subway passes, lottery tickets and barcode stickers which reduce the price of food at supermarket chains. Cuevas also creates posters, billboards, and performances; with these actions Cuevas has assumed the role of both a political and artistic actor. Presently she is developing a series of works on the oil industry in Mexico and Social Ecology studies re-adapting early scientific and optical devices such as magic lanterns and microscopes. Cuevas' work has been shown extensively in solo and group exhibitions.

Dana Cuff


Dana Cuff engages architecture and the city as cultural production. She is the lead Principal Investigator for the Urban Humanities Initiative, funded by the Mellon Foundation. As Director of UCLA Architecture and Urban Design’s think tank, cityLAB, Cuff brings a vital discourse to UCLA about contemporary urban design along with a series of design-research projects that engage both students and faculty. She publishes and lectures widely on issues concerning the postsuburban condition, the architectural profession, affordable housing, urban sensing, and the politics of place. She recently edited Fast Forward Urbanism (with R. Sherman, Princeton Architectural Press), and is author of The Provisional City and Architecture: The Story of Practice (both MIT Press). Cuff’s current research explores the nature of “public architecture” today, emergent pervasive computing technologies, design opportunities leveraged from infrastructure, and infill housing.

Michael Dear

UC Berkeley

Michael Dear is professor emeritus of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, and Honorary Professor in the Bartlett School of Planning at University College, London (England). Michael’s current research focuses on comparative urbanism, and the future of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. He is also co-editing a volume on transdisciplinary work in geography and the humanities. He has recently taught courses on urban theory, the state, social theory, and the borderlands.

Ivonne del Valle

UC Berkeley

Ivonne del Valle is currently working on two projects: The first one has to do with the long process of the drainage of the lakes of Mexico City starting in 1607 and finished during the Porfiriato or—depending on the sources and the perspective—unfinished until now. She is interested in analyzing the relationships among technology, religion, culture, and government articulated by the Mexicas, the Spanish empire, and the Mexican nation as seen in their handling of the climatic and hydrographic situation of Mexico City’s location.

In the second project, she is studying the role of the colonization of America from the 15th century onward in the development of new epistemologies and political theories. She wants to explore the ways in which first, the unprecedented violence of conquest and colonization, and secondly, the need for a correct administration of the colonies, brought about important theoretical, technological, and epistemological changes which may have been conceived to be practiced in the colonies, but which in the long run transformed the way Europe understood and fashioned itself.

Tatiana Flores


Tatiana Flores (Ph.D., Columbia University) is Associate Professor in the Department of Art History at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, with a joint appointment in the Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies. A specialist in modern and contemporary Latin American art, she is the author of Mexico’s Revolutionary Avant-Gardes: From Estridentismo to ¡30-30! (Yale University Press, 2013). A revisionist and interdisciplinary account of Mexican modern art as seen through two avant-garde movements, the book received the 2014 Humanities Book Prize awarded by the Mexico Section of the Latin American Studies Association. It was also runner-up for the Photography / Art category at the Southern California Book Festival and the Los Angeles Book Festival in 2013. Professor Flores is active as an independent curator and art critic. She was an invited expert for the launch of the Getty Foundation initiative Pacific Standard Time 2: Latin America – Los Angeles, which is supporting exhibitions of Latin American art in Southern California in 2017, and is advising on two related exhibitions. She also served on the selection panel for About Change: Latin American and Caribbean Artists in the Twenty-First Century organized by The World Bank Art Program in 2011-2012. Her recently curated exhibitions include Wrestling with the Image: Caribbean Interventions (Washington, D.C., 2011), Disillusions: Gendered Visions of the Caribbean and its Diasporas (New York, 2011), and Medios y ambientes (Mexico City, 2012). Flores was the 2007-2008 Cisneros Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. A regular contributor to Art Nexus, her writings have appeared in such journals as World Art, Third Text, Woman's Art JournalReview: Literature and Arts of the Americas, and ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America. She is a member of the editorial board of ASAP/Journal, the scholarly journal of The Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, and also serves as field editor for exhibitions of modern and contemporary art in New York and internationally for caa.reviews.

Rubén Gallo


Rubén Gallo is the Walter S. Carpenter Jr. Professor in Language, Literature and Civilization of Spain at Princeton University. He is the author, most recently, of Proust’s Latin Americans (2014), an essay about Proust’s Latin American circle of friends in turn-of-the-last century Paris. Gallo’s other books include Freud’s Mexico: Into the Wilds of Psychoanalysis (2010), a cultural history of psychoanalysis and its reception in Mexico; Mexican Modernity: the Avant-Garde and the Technological Revolution (2005), an essay about the Mexican avant-garde’s fascination with machines, and two books about Mexico City’s visual culture: New Tendencies in Mexican Art (2004) and The Mexico City Reader (2004). 

He is the recipient of the Gradiva award for the best book on a psychoanalytic theme and of the Modern Language Association’s Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for the best book on a Latin American topic. He is a member of the board of the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna, where he also serves as research director. His current project is  “Cuba: A New Era,” a book about the changes in Cuban culture after the diplomatic thaw with the United States.

Photo credit: Terence Gower

Daniel Hernandez


Author of Down and Delirious in Mexico City (Scribner 2011), Daniel Hernandez is a journalist, author, editor, on-camera host, and producer based in Mexico City. Hernandez has been Mexico bureau chief for VICE News after serving a year as editor of VICE Mexico's print magazine. He writes for VICE in English and Spanish, and has reported from Chile, Peru, Colombia, Argentina, in much of Mexico, and across most of Southern California. Previously, he worked in the Mexico City bureau of the Los Angeles Times (2010 to 2013), where he covered breaking news and wrote news and features for the L.A. Times print edition in news and arts. He's also been a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times in L.A. on the downtown Metro desk (2002 to 2006) and at LA Weekly (2006-2007). Daniel has been a contributor to Gatopardo magazine in Mexico, Art in America magazine, and occasionally on "Latino USA" and "All Things Considered" on NPR. He was born in 1980 in San Diego and studied English literature on a Regents' & Chancellor's scholarship at the University of California, Berkeley. He served one year as editor-in-chief and president of The Daily Californian.

Kirsten Larson

UC Berkeley

Currently in her fourth year as a dual-degree candidate in the Master’s of Architecture and Master’s of City Planning programs at the University of California, Berkeley, Kirsten’s work and research focuses on the intersections between the Arts, Planning, Architecture, and Urban Theory in cities of the Global South. Her current thesis work, specifically, is sited in São Paulo, Brazil. Along with Karin Shankar (PhD candidate in Performance Studies) and support from UC Berkeley's Global Urban Humanities initiative, Kirsten is co-editing an interdisciplinary web publication titled P[art]icipatory Urbanisms (to be launched in Fall 2015). P[art]icipatory Urbanisms is a compilation of interviews with urban practitioners, arts and activist groups in São Paulo and New Delhi, and a critical anthology of peer-reviewed articles, examining the triangulation of urban participation, aesthetics, and politics. Kirsten has a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago with emphasis in Public Art, Art Education and Architecture (2008) and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in Architecture, Brazil (2010).

Padma Maitland

UC Berkeley

Padma Maitland is a PhD student in the Departments of Architecture and South/Southeast Asian Studies. He is the co-editor of Light of the Valley: Renewing the Sacred Art and Traditions of Swayambhu and founding editor of Room One Thousand, an interdisciplinary journal on the intersection between the humanities and architecture. Padma's current research focuses on the development of modern religious sites in India and the impact of exchanges with South Asia on the counter-culture movement in California.

Edward J. McCaughan

San Francisco State University

Edward J. McCaughan is Professor of Sociology at San Francisco State University. He earned a M.A. in Latin American Studies from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Over the past four decades, McCaughan has published several books on social change in Mexico, including Art and Social Movements: Cultural Politics in Mexico and Aztlán (Duke UP 2012), The Famous 41: Sexuality and Social Control in Mexico, c. 1901 (Palgrave, 2003, co-edited with Robert Irwin and Michelle Nasser), Reinventing Revolution: the Renovation of Left Discourse in Cuba and Mexico (Westview, 1995); and Beyond the Border: Mexico and the U.S. Today (NACLA, 1979, co-authored with Peter Baird). He is currently working on a book about art, identity and LGBTQ movements in Mexico. McCaughan is on the editorial board of the journal Social Justice.

Mia Narell

UC Berkeley

Mia Narell is an artist, writer, and 3rd year student in the Masters of Architecture program at the College of Environmental Design and a member of the editorial board of Room One Thousand, the architecture journal. Her visual artwork is based in experimental book arts and installation. She has been an artist-in-residence and curator at ABCo Artspace; and has exhibited her work in the Bay Area and New York City. She also works as a designer of spaces and places whenever possible.

Jesusa Rodríguez

Resistencia Creativa

México 1955.
Actriz y directora de teatro.

1980 dirige ¿Cómo va la noche Macbeth? adaptación a Shakespeare
1983 Donna Giovanni, adaptacion al Don Giovanni de Mozart y Da Ponte
1988 El concilio de amor, de Panizza
1989 Yourcenar o cada quien su Marguerite, y Crimen de Yourcenar.
1990-2004 Con Liliana Felipe restauran el Teatro La Capilla y fundan El Hábito
1996 dirige para video la ópera Cosí Fan Tutte de Mozart y Da Ponte.
2000 actúa en Las Horas de Belén con el grupo Mabou Mines de NY.
2001 a 2004 imparte 25 talleres para mujeres indígenas y campesinas en México.
2005 dirige y actua “El Maíz”.
2008 presenta El Primero Sueño en el Claustro de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
2009 escribe, actúa y dirige el espectáculo “Diálogos entre Darwin y Dios”.
2010 escribe, actúa y dirige el espectáculo “La cruda del Bicentenario”
2011 Escenifica la Ofrenda Olmeca No. IV
2012 Escribe, dirige y actúa “El sexto sol con Liliana Felipe.
2013 Dirige las cartas de Frida “ópera de toilette” de Marcela Rodríguez.
2013 Dirige “Los Vecinos” canciones de Liliana Felipe con a Orquesta de BC.
2014 Dirige la ópera para niños: “Apoidea”de JM Delgado.
2014-2015 Escribe, dirige y actúa: Juana la Larga.

Premio como mejor actriz por El Concilio de Amor. Festival De Las Américas, (1989)
Recibió el OBIE award del Vilage voice de New York (2000)

Juan Carlos Rulfo


Ciudad de México, 1964. Director, producer, photographer and promoter of documentary films, Juan Carlos Rulfo graduated from Communication Sciences at Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, UAM, then specialized in movie direction at Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, CCC.

He is one of the most important filmmakers of contemporary Mexico. His films have been shown worldwide and have won several national and international awards at film festivals, including those at Guadalajara, Morelia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Bacifi, Miami, Madrid, Biarritz, IDFA, Karlovy Vary and Sundance. At Sundance, he received The World Documentary Jury Award in 2006. He has received scholarships from Rockefeller & MacArthur, the Guggenheim Fund, and el Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte, in Mexico. He was awarded the Humanitas Prize, considered the film version of the Pulitzer Prize, the Haskell Wexler Prize for best photography, and the Educational Leadership Award from the World Fund of New York.

He is also currently working on the development of his next project: Érase una vez, Once upon a time

“My work has been defined by admiration for the forms and uses of words; by personal origins and roots, memory, and time; and by nature and justice. So far, my work making films and creating images has given me the opportunity to snoop into the lives of other human beings and to learn from other people, which has helped me imagine, perhaps, a better future.

"A creative work cannot be brought into existence without us first having explored our personal roots. This process translates into a delightful adventure that opens our minds. Any personal vision cannot be genuine if it is not examined in light of that individual's surroundings, which keeps all of us in communication with each other. Stimulating personal as well as communal development is basic in the face of the imminent steamroller of globalization.

"I love my country. I am interested in developing new narrative forms in order to explore those Mexican themes which also have a universal transcendence. I believe in justice and I have faith in the future; therefore, my work seeks to pay tribute to the manifestations of spirit, time, and nature – because they are permanent.”


De panzazo, el drama de la educación en México.
Full length documentary, 2012.

Carrière, 250 metros.
Full length documentary, 2011.

Los que se quedan. Those who remain.
Full length documentary, 2008.

Será por eso.
Short movie, 2010.

El crucero.
Short movie, 2007.

En el hoyo. In the pit.
Full length documentary 2006.

Short movie in Diminutos del Calvario 1, 2000.

Experimental, 1999.

Del olvido al no me acuerdo. I forgot, I don´t remember.
Full length documentary, 1999.

El abuelo Cheno y otras historias. Grandfather Cheno, and other stories.
Short movie, 1995.

Karin Shankar

UC Berkeley

Karin Shankar is a Ph.D. Candidate in Performance Studies in the Department of Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies. Her research interests include urban space and social art practice, contemporary experimental aesthetics in India, political economy and culture, and feminist theory and aesthetics. Along with Kirsten Larson (dual-degree student in Architecture and City Planning) and support from UC Berkeley's Global Urban Humanities initiative, Karin is co-editing an interdisciplinary web publication titled P[art]icipatory Urbanisms (to be launched in Fall 2015). P[art]icipatory Urbanisms is a compilation of interviews with urban practitioners, arts and activist groups in São Paulo and New Delhi, and a critical anthology of peer-reviewed articles, examining the triangulation of urban participation, aesthetics, and politics.

Winnie Wong

UC Berkeley

Assistant Professor of Rhetoric Winnie Wong's research is concerned with the history and present of artistic authorship, with a focus on interactions between China and the West. Her theoretical interests revolve around the critical distinctions of high and low, true and fake, art and commodity, originality and imitation, and, conceptual and manual labor, and thus her work focuses on objects and practices at the boundary of these categories. She has written on product placement in the Hollywood film industry, popular culture and public space in postcolonial Hong Kong, performance art and consumer rights activism in 1990s Beijing, and American trademark law and experience design. More recently, her work has focused on image-making practices at the heart of modern and contemporary encounters between China and the West. Her book Van Gogh on Demand: China and the Readymade was awarded the 2015 Joseph Levenson Prize by the Association of Asian Studies and named one of the Top 10 Art Books of 2014 by Hyperallergic.

Lawrence Yang

UC Berkeley

Zi-Qiao Lawrence Yang is a Ph.D. student in Sinophone Literatures and Cultures with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. He received his MA in comparative literature and a B.A. in English, both from National Taiwan Normal University. His broader theoretical interests include phenomenology, cultural criticism of The Frankfurt School, affect theory, and bio-politics. He is currently exploring the questions of ephemerality/monumentality in 19th and 20th century Chinese/Taiwanese literatures and material cultures, with a particular focus on architecture.

Maite Zubiaurre


Professor Maite Zubiaurre initiated her career as literary translator from novels in German into Spanish for the publisher Alfaguara. She holds a degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University, and taught at the University of Texas, Austin, UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), ITAM (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México), and USC (University of Southern California), before joining the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Department of Germanic Languages at UCLA. Her areas of expertise are comparative literature; gender studies; urban studies; cultural studies; modern and contemporary Peninsular literature; European (particularly German) and Latin American Realism; Latin American women’s fiction; and Latina and Chicana fiction. She is the author of El espacio en la novela realista. Paisajes, miniaturas, perspectivas (Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2000), a book-length study of the dialectics of space and gender in European and Latin American realist fiction; and of Cultures of the Erotic. Spain 1898-1939 (Vanderbilt University Press, 2012), the first scholarly monograph that analyzes the diverse visual and textual representations of the erotic in Spanish popular culture during the so-called “Edad de Plata” or Silver Age (1898-1936).