How the CMA’s MIX Event Went Virtual: Or How to Fit 2000 People in Your Living Room | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Jul, 2020

How the CMA’s MIX Event Went Virtual: Or How to Fit 2000 People in Your Living Room | by Cleveland Museum of Art | CMA Thinker | Jul, 2020

“It was a great marriage between the DJ, the visual artist, and the CMA staff,” McPherson says. “Seeing how everything came together in a virtual space for a communal experience gave us all goosebumps.”Since that experiment was successful at bringing people together in a virtual space, the virtual MIX: Viva will celebrate the diverse sights and sounds of Latin culture in honor of the current exhibition A Graphic Revolution: Prints and Drawings in Latin America. The night includes a live DJ set by Cause&Effect (Jean Paul Hernandez) and animated visuals by Texas-based artist Michael Menchaca, whose video art combines imagery from video games with ancient Maya texts to explore Latinx identities.Hasta La Casta by Michael Menchaca on view in A Graphic Revolution: Prints and Drawings in Latin America.“Michael Menchaca’s print Hasta La Casta is featured in the exhibition. His artistic training is in printmaking, but he also uses digital animation and video as part of his practice. We thought the vibrant colors and energy of his videos would be perfect for a party, and coincidentally, when we reached out with this idea, he said producing visuals for a party was something he’d always wanted to do, so he’s excited. His video work speaks very much to the themes of Latinx culture and identity in our exhibition,” McPherson says. “For example, Menchaca’s La Raza Cósmica 20XX is a two-minute digital animation that presents a mythical reinterpretation of Jose Vasconcelos’s mestizo identity theory.”Video courtesy Michael Menchaca’s La Raza Cósmica 20XXShe and her team have prepared a digital toolkit for MIX: Viva that includes instructional merengue, bachata, and salsa dance videos from Afro-Caribbean duo Caribe Conexión, who also provide a social context of the origins of each dance; a Spotify music playlist from Cause&Effect; downloadable virtual backgrounds designed by Menchaca to use during the Zoom party; a list of area Latin restaurants to order dinner for take-out before the party; and more. Caribe Conexion will also perform at the beginning of MIX: Viva. “Dancing in a virtual Zoom party can be a bit intimidating for some, so they will help us keep everyone on their feet and break the ice as our party starters,” McPherson says.Check out this Spotify playlist for MIX: Viva created by DJ Cause&Effect featuring merengue, salsa and bachata music.A virtual MIX also allows the presentation of an original poetic response to an artwork in the exhibition, Belkis Ayón’s print I Always Return. The poem is written and performed by actor-poet Andrew Aaron Valdez, who hosts Voces Fuertes Open Mic at the Julia de Burgos Cultural Arts Center. “We asked Valdez to respond to an artwork with an original poem and asked DJ Cause&Effect to select a soundtrack to accompany the reading, so it’s a DJ who has responded to a poet who has responded to an artwork,” McPherson says. “We couldn’t really do this on-site because there would be noise bleed from the music into the exhibition space. Those are the kinds of technical things that get solved in a virtual space through a video collaboration.”Cleveland’s Young Latino Network is a co-host of MIX: Viva, which is supported by Chase Private Client. “The mission of YLN is to empower the Latino community through leadership and civic engagement. During MIX, YLN will help us keep the Zoom chat lively with fun polls, shout-outs, and games. They’ll also be reminding partygoers to register to vote and complete the census. We greatly appreciate having YLN as a community partner to help us connect with anyone who wouldn’t want to miss this celebration of Latinx culture,” McPherson says.McPherson is planning virtual MIX events for every other first Friday: October 2 and December 4. She looks forward to creating experimental experiences in a virtual world.“At a virtual MIX, we can do things that we can’t do in the atrium,” McPherson says. “For example, we can work with other collecting institutions to develop an experience in a neutral space. We can marry our collections in a virtual world. We don’t have to worry about whose house the party is going to be at!”


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