Inside a building complex, we hear the loud thumping of bass, which reverberates down the hall from LaPau Gallery. It’s techno music, an engrossing mix by DJ Regal86 that serves as the sonic pulse for Hasta Que Te Conocí (Until I Met You), 2022, a new video installation by Dorian Ulises López Macías. This immersive, roughly hour-long piece contains hundreds of photos and video clips from Macías’s Mexicano, 2010–, an ongoing visual archive that highlights the artist’s encounters with Indigenous and mestizo people living in Mexico today. This collection of images are inherently political, aiming to shift representation to brown people within a country that so often celebrates whiteness across mainstream media and culture.
You get only a second or two before the images change. In a matter of minutes, you see pedestrians, street vendors, entertainers, bodybuilders, and construction workers: all brown, all beautiful. Some pose for their pictures, claiming their photographic agency, while others—mostly men—are unaware of the camera that follows them. Macías’s images communicate a queer gaze and demonstrate how gay men spot one another and navigate same-sex desire in public space. There are also interior moments of gay sex and related intimacy among the artist, his lovers, and friends. This inside-outside interplay helps to form the narrative of the work, cycling over and over again to reveal how queerness, just like brownness, is embedded in the everyday.
The installation is mesmerizing. The projection’s vertical aspect ratio recalls the screen of a smartphone, and the endless stream of images and sounds grips your attention until it becomes almost unendurable. But after the techno track fizzles out and the screen fades to black, audio from Mexican pop legend Juan Gabriel enters the darkness. Gabriel’s somber words and melody fill the gallery, slowly regaining momentum as he finally utters the titular phrase of his treasured Hasta Que Te Conocí. The artist syncs the ensuing and roaring drama of the Mexican ballad, which features a glorious mariachi crescendo, to a final suite of video footage, delivering a sonic explosion and revelatory release. Here, Macías uses Gabriel’s song to reintroduce Mexico and its people—both to himself and the world—providing an earnest and powerful opportunity to witness the splendid and intrinsic beauty of his country.