PRINT September 2003


Daniela Rossell

Daniela Rossell is an artist based in Mexico City. Her photography is currently on view at Philomene Magers Munich Projekte and ArtPace, San Antonio.

  1. KEMBRA PFAHLER Lead singer/founder of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black and inventor of such vaunted movements as “availabism” and “antinaturalism,” Pfahler will debut a line of black-and-white ready-to-wear apparel this month at American Fine Arts, Co., New York, to coincide with Fashion Week. Titled “Salò vs. Jaws,” this presentation will showcase a surf-goth line inspired by the daytime, evening, and traveling looks of the members of her controversial rock band. And, yes, the films of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Steven Spielberg do serve as inspiration.

    The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black (Alice Moy, Bijoux Altamirano, and Kembra Pfahler). The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black (Alice Moy, Bijoux Altamirano, and Kembra Pfahler).
  2. HERMANOS CASTRO, ESTÉTICA UNISEX Have you ever set your hair on fire? If so, you know how fast it burns. One day I happened to glance into this salon at 162 Sonora Street in Mexico City and saw a man sitting calmly while flames licked at his head. A closer look revealed that, instead of scissors, barber Luis Castro was using a small torch to give him a trim. Later, Luis and his brother José informed me that this technique, as old as the Roman Empire and now rarely practiced, is an excellent remedy for hair that’s thinning due to stress and depression. For five dollars, men and women can have their split ends sealed like the tip of a shoelace.

  3. ENRIQUE METINIDES, EL TEATRO DE LOS HECHOS (Ortega y Ortiz Editores, 2000) Looking through Theater of Facts just makes me feel lucky to be alive—and in one piece. Photographer Enrique Metinides has taken and collected pictures of car crashes and other daily catastrophes in Mexico City since he was a child in the 1940s. Eventually he gained access to cordoned-off crime scenes through connections to police and medical workers, and the result is a sensational archive that turns you into a speechless witness of one skillfully composed death after another. In an autobiographical text included here, Metinides reminisces about a time when photojournalists worked alongside the police and longs for the days of saved seats on ambulances and access to the freshest misfortune.

  4. “RULING CLASS: THE FABULOUS FAMILIES OF MEXICO CITY” (W magazine, June 2003) Mexico City is so fucking caliente these days that even famous photographers like Tina Barney make it south of the border—only to breathlessly sugar-coat the days and nights of those “deeply festive, deeply wealthy locals.”

  5. LOS TIGRES DEL NORTE, 20 CORRIDOS INOLVIDABLES (Fonovisa Records, 2003) My all-time-favorite norteño band just released this compilation CD/DVD, which includes many “unforgettable” narcorrido hits and seven of their best videos. Four brothers and a cousin from Rosa Morada Mocorito in Sinaloa, Mexico, formed the group in 1968 to help out with the family’s finances. Their lyrics tell of hardship and betrayal in the narcotics trade and the struggle of Mexican immigrants in the US. Here’s lead singer Jorge Hernández describing one of their songs: “It speaks of the history that we had when all this land was ours—Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, and Colorado. . . . If we go by centuries, we’re more American than the sons of the Anglo-Saxons. . . . Who is the invader here?”

  6. AUDIO SPOTLIGHT A noise complaint–free existence is almost within our reach. This new technology, developed by Dr. Joseph Pompei of Holosonic Research Labs in Watertown, Massachusetts, projects and directs sound as if it were a beam of light. It’s thrilling to imagine establishing your own aural boundaries: Whoever is within range of the beam hears high-quality sound while others nearby hear virtually nothing. Turn up the bass!

  7. LUNA CORNEA This elegant photography magazine is the best you can find in Mexico. It appears three times a year, and each issue explores a particular theme or genre absolutely advertisement-free. Issue number 10 (September–December 1996) focuses on photographic documentation of ghostly phenomena, with pictures dating back as far as 1870. The editors have a flair for integrating authored work with anonymous photos retrieved from private individuals and medical, educational, press, and government archives, bringing nameless images into a context where we understand them again.

  8. SIEGFRIED KRACAUER, THE MASS ORNAMENT I’ve had this book for many years now. Revisiting it recently (bored out of my mind by the thousand things I had to do, including this Top Ten), I found this: “People today who still have time for boredom and yet are not bored are certainly just as boring as those who never get around to being bored.”

  9. SALA DE ARTE PÚBLICO SIQUEIROS (Mexico City) During the ’60s, communist muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros turned his home into a public art space and, in 1973, donated it to the “people of Mexico.” Today, the organization is directed by Itala Schmelz and run by a creative young team who have brought it back to life. I’m particularly looking forward to their November event “El Futuro + Acá,” a festival of futuristic imagery as represented in obscure and hilarious Mexican science fiction films made between the ’40s and the ’80s, many unseen since their original release.

  10. TARA DELONG, YOU DO THE MATH (Fatal Recordings, 2003) DeLong’s first solo release on Berlin-based feminist label Fatal Recordings kicks ass! (“I just might vomit / On John, Jacob, and Muhammad,” she explodes in the title freestyle rap.) You Do the Math is a crossover album, but backward: from English to Spanish, from the US to Mexico, which cracks me up. It includes “Orgía de Sangre,” a touching duet with her foul-mouthed gangster father-in-law, and “Silicone Joan,” a ballad about plastic surgery that sends chills up my spine. Fatal Recordings, founded four years ago by Hanin Elias, is itself Top Ten–worthy. Visit the website at, read essays by Johanna Fateman and Kathleen Hanna, then sound off in the online forum. And why is Tara on this list? You do the math.