General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 1 Mar 2021/6 Grass
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Patolli and coffee in New York

Fran Ilich: ‘Aridoamérica Winter Plan’

We were intrigued to hear of Mexican artist Fran Ilich’s mutli-disciplinary project Aridoamérica, that ‘employs social organisation, economic and financial experimentation to support art, activism, gaming, labour, life, writing and politics.’ Ongoing since 2005, for 4 months in 2017 he has turned a shop front space in Williamsburg, New York, into a neighbourhood coffee co-op and community resource, welcoming visitors to ‘convene, converse and barter for Zapatista organic coffee while playing the ancient Nahuatl game of Patolli....’ (Compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

‘Coffee. Conspiracy. Community Chest’
‘Coffee. Conspiracy. Community Chest’ (Click on image to enlarge)

Hosted by the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP) in New York, the idea is to offer the public ‘a place of respite during a time of “transition to a new global climate”, and in so doing ‘to create together content, experiences, everyday life... Coffee. Conspiracy. Community Chest’.
Juliana Cope, Director of Development and Programs Manager at ISCP, describes the experience:-
’Sitting in this street facing gallery space has the feeling of privacy but also of possibly being observed. Once players begin to get into the game of playing Patolli, the environment can become very intense. For kids the competitive part of wanting to win becomes part of the experience, though they tend to do very well entering Xochipili’s “universe.” For curators, there tends to be no way in. For gamblers there is the desire to keep playing of course. It can be a very rowdy or quite quiet game with offerings going to or cycling the greater community...

‘The environment can become very intense...’
‘The environment can become very intense...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

‘... In the case of this project, of course, the game is being played within the context of a larger art project so the rules shift and change. Offerings are given such as services and goods to the god of Xochipili who then either allows or does not allow the potential players into the game. In terms of traditional indigenous cultures, our understanding is that in some cases those who gave more were not in fact losing goods, but demonstrating their power.’

‘Xochipili either allows or does not allow the potential players into the game...’
‘Xochipili either allows or does not allow the potential players into the game...’ (Click on image to enlarge)

We wish the project well, and are just sorry we can’t nip over to New York to give Fran a game...

Pictures: Fran Ilich playing Patolli with visitors at El Museo de Los Sures founded by Southside United HDFC-Los Sures Executive Director Ramon Peguero, Aridoamérica Winter Plan, Offsite Project organized by the International Studio &Curatorial Program, December 2016.

This article was uploaded to the Mexicolore website on Mar 06th 2017

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‘The Aztecs, patolli and gambling’

‘Fran Ilich: Aridoamérica Winter Plan’ ISCP feature
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