As stated in the exercise Narrated City, “the city is a work of fact and fiction”. In this sense, the city constitutes a narrative, which is constantly told and re-told, revisited, interpreted, quoted and translated both through verbal and non-verbal means.
The work of the Mexican film collective called Los Ingrávidos provides good examples of the city as a narrative. Los Ingrávidos often work with archival film footage and archival sounds that they intervene and interweave with other original filmed material and audio, thus creating rich collages. Their aim is to propose new narratives that question and subvert official discourses about the many violent events that have taken and are taking place all over Mexico: from the myriad femicides, to the disappearance of 43 students in 2014, to the increasing number of deaths due to the drug cartels fighting each other, and to the violently repressed student movement on October 2nd 1968.
I chose this particular short film, entitled Olympia, by Los Ingrávidos because it reconstructs the narrative of the 1968 Olympic Games, the first and only Olympics to ever be hosted in Mexico City. The film employs archival images of the Olympic Stadium, the Olympic Village, the Sports Palace building and of the actual opening ceremony of these Games. These images are edited so that they are seen as through a pinhole, and they are accompanied by English subtitles that construct an apparently unrelated narrative. The subtitles describe, first, the situation of some prisoners about which we do not know anything else except how they were treated; and second, the subtitles describe the scene of a family eating at a table.
The contrast between the subtitles and the images that this film constructs offers a critical commentary on the Olympic Games inauguration event. The film reminds us that this opening ceremony occurred just a few days after a large student mobilization was violently repressed by the Mexican government, resulting in many deaths and the imprisonment of students.
Just as this film exemplifies the city as a narrative, it also shows the city as an event, as a construction made of ordinary moments, which are interrupted and marked by extraordinary incidents. In this sense, the city is as much a story as it is a calendar.
Olympia from Los ingrávidos on Vimeo.