Year of Germany Mex, Dix and the friends of the volcano

The Bundesjugendorchester
The Bundesjugendorchester | Photo: Bundesjugendorchester

The German-Mexican friendship goes deep, although it is mainly lived out beyond the spotlight. Now this is changing: This June sees the launch of the Year of Germany in Mexico—with more than 1,000 events over the course of the next twelve months. One of the highlights comes from Gera.

Year of Germany Mex, Dix and the good spirits Tuesday March 22, 1803. Following the crossing from Ecuador a Berliner goes ashore at the port of Acapulco. An exciting year begins for the German—traveling under the Spanish flag—in the North American country about which very little is known back home. Alexander von Humboldt, as the man is called, explores the port city’s environs and then strikes out from the Pacific coast to the capital, Mexico City. Once there he deciphers the great Aztec calendar stone unearthed at the Plaza Mayor, then continues his travels, visiting mines and drainage systems before finally ascending the El Jorullo volcano.

Humboldt recorded his adventures in his diary. His accounts of the volcano, which first arose 44 years previously, delight countless readers back home, inspiring adventurers to undertake the ocean voyage and pay their homage to El Jorullo. Mexico proves captivating. It is the beginning of a centuries-long friendship.

June 6, 2016: A politician from Berlin disembarks from the plane in Mexico City. For the Federal Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the journey is far less arduous than it was for Humboldt, however the enthusiasm remains. Thus it comes as no great surprise that Steinmeier has come to launch the Year Of Germany in Mexico. A special year in many respects. Under the motto “An Alliance for the Future”, the country will play host to more than 1,000 events over the next twelve months. Science, culture, education, innovation, mobility, and sustainability—the spectrum of themes is very broad. “As a member of the G20, Mexico is an important partner for Germany in solving the global issues affecting our future”, stated Steinmeier. “That is why we intend to further expand our political, economic, and cultural cooperation and network our societies more closely.”

A highpoint of this Year of Germany is already provided in the opening event. Admittedly this is not too difficult as the event programme is full of highpoints. In this case it is of a musical character. A German-Mexican youth orchestra, brought together solely for this event, will give a concert at the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City under the direction of the conductor Alondra de la Parra. The opening day will also see the inauguration of the German Pavilion in the building of the former Galeria OMR in the heart of the capital, followed in the evening by a Creative Night with electronic music and art performances in the hub of the new Berlin creative network, Platoon.

Into the 21st century through the “Science Tunnel”

On the subject of highpoints: In June and July an exhibition of the work of Otto Dix will be held within the context of the Year of Germany with the title: Violence and Passion. Dix and Mexico is an especially good match, as the director of the Kunstsammlung Gera museum, Holger Peter Saupe, explained to MDR radio. The expressive qualities of Mexican realism bear a strong resemblance to Dix’s style. The date is also good. This year celebrates the 125th anniversary of the birth of the artist from Gera. On this occasion three paintings from the collection of the Kunstsammlung, along with a further ten permanent loans from the Otto Dix Foundation in Liechtenstein, will be brought to Mexico. These include the Self-Portrait as Smoker from 1914 and Saint Christopher from 1939. Dix’s work polarizes to this day. “He provided us with a graphic portrayal of the events of World War I”, stated Saupe.

Further highlights: An entire week will be dedicated to the theme of sustainability. The Mexican professor for Intelligent Systems, Raúl Rojas, who teaches in Germany, will be advancing the development of autonomously controlled cars in a joint project with Mexican universities called Visions of Urban Mobility. At the industry trade fair Hecho en Alemania numerous German companies with a presence in Mexico will be presenting their innovations. And finally, the Max Planck Institute’s Science Tunnel will be showcasing the megatrends of 21st century science.

A special feature of this Year of Germany: It is reciprocal. A Year of Mexico will be taking place at the same time in Germany. This was already opened back in April by a state visit to Berlin from Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto and his wife Angelica Rivera. Concerts, theatre performances, and events of all kinds will also be held here—including the exhibition The Maya – Language of Beauty at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin.

Whether on the political plane, in the economy, or with respect to education: Mexico and Germany have cultivated close relations for decades. The Goethe Institut plays a prominent role in the area of cultural cooperation. Founded in Mexico City in 1966, the institute offers intensive language work as well as a high quality, modern cultural program. The Year of Germany in Mexico is organised by the Federal Republic of Germany. The Goethe-Institut Mexico is responsible for local project management and realization.