Sangree, installation view of Tenochtitlan, an Absolut Art Bar in Mexico City, 2016, highlighting Aztecs culture. Image courtesy of Omar Rood
MEXICO – Tenochtitlan, a site-specific Art Bar collaboration between Absolut and Mexican artist duo Sangree, was a major attraction at the Material Art Fair, Mexico City. Translated literally as ‘place of abundance’, the Absolut Art Bar pays homage to the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, which was located on the same site that is now Mexico City.
For the project, Sangree – René Godinez Pozas and Carlos Lara were given absolute creative freedom to conceptualize and create their Art Bar based on their understanding of Aztecs history. From drinks to décor and entertainment to ambience, they had absolute creative license. The result is an insightful re/creation of the past with contemporary insights that gave prominence to Aztecs culture.
Inspired by Tenochtitlan – the capital of the Mexican Empire in the 15th century – Sangree’s Art Bar combines Aztecs history with contemporary ideas to achieve a conceptual representation of the ancient city. Located in an abandoned building, the island of Tenochtitlan was recreated in the center of the Art Bar.
Consisting of large-scale columns in the style of the ancient Aztec architecture, Sangree’s Tenochtitlan is a reminder of the glorious history of the Aztecs. Surrounding the columns are strands of LED lighting. Meandering across the platform, the lights were used to represent the water that once flowed through the city’s canals. The reflective flooring around the structure gave the illusion that the island was floating.
Tenochtitlan follows in the artistic practice of the Sangree. In their work, the artists explores historical elements in a contemporary context. In the new project, they combined assorted sculptures and relics to represent archaeological artefacts of Aztecs and their tradition. Mounted on walls, they bring the past to the present.
A canvas light-box featuring a relief mural of the Valley of Mexico – symbolizing Tenochtitlan’s original location – spans the length of one wall, giving credence and authenticity to this installation. The lights behind the mural continuously rise and fade over time, giving the impression of the passing of time from dawn until dusk.
The Tenochtitlan installation was not just about art but also fun. In addition to the art, Sangree worked with an Absolut mixologist to create a series of unique Artist Cocktails. Inspired by the fruits and spices historically used by the Aztecs, they incorporated the tastes and smells of their culture, including hibiscus, chili, and cacao.
The Artist Cocktails were part of an overarching reference of the economic and social systems of ancient Tenochtitlan. Guests were given tokens – mimicking cocoa beans, Tenochtitlan’s ancient currency – to trade for drinks.
Divided into four districts, the Tenochtitlan comprised of ‘the religious’, ‘the warriors’, ‘the urban’, and ‘the agricultural ghettos’. Represented by one side of the main bar, each side served different cocktails. Every hour, the ‘district’ with the most popular Artist Cocktail won.
In addition to art and drinks, there was also live music, DJ sets, and performances that illuminated Aztecs culture. Curated by the artist duo, this section of the installation included NAAFI, a DJ collective from Mexico City who are also artists themselves.
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