“Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” Frida Kahlo
Two huge wings stood there just before sunset. Posing to receive the tender spring breeze and the last of the warm sun rays, they call upon any passersby to step forward and try them out. The place is the courtyard of the Cairo Opera House and the wings are no usual wings, they are The Wings of Mexico.
The display of this special piece of sculpture by prominent Mexican artist Jorge Marin was the result of the cooperation between the Egyptian Ministry of Culture and the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs upon an initiative started by the artist himself.
Marin, who inherited his passion for the fine arts from his architect father, is a Mexican sculptor and painter born in 1963 who has been an active figure in the contemporary art scene for the last 25 years. Bronze has been his preferred material for the last ten years, where he employs the lost wax bronze technique.
His work often depicts horses, centaurs, garudas, children and acrobats, along with elements such as spheres, masks, arrows, boats and scales. These concepts are consistent with recurring themes such as reflection and balance. His style has a strong foundation in the integration of baroque dramatic art with a powerful sensuality and a subtle sense of the perverse.
The Wings of Mexico
Marin produced his outstanding piece of sculpture with the objective of having it tour the world, sending a message of peace and freedom to people everywhere. “I created it in 2010 and the success was almost immediate,” he says. The wings are part of an urban art project that includes 13 works by Marin, which all encourage interaction with audiences and create new experiences in public spaces.
Influenced by the age of social media, the freestanding wings invite the audience to pose with them, take a picture and imagine the feeling of flying. This special piece of sculpture was first displayed under the title “Wings of the City” in Mexico City in the same year it was produced, and eventually became iconic of Mexican art.
“I believe that wings are a very universal symbol, and that is why it is well received all over the world,” Marin said, adding that he is honored to display his work to an Egyptian audience.
The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs was enthusiastic about the idea of sending a message of peace and fraternity from Mexico to the entire world, and the wings have started touring globally ever since, visiting a number of cities in Asia and even in the United States. Now, “The Wings of Mexico” are displayed for the first time in Africa and the Arab World.
The ambassador of Mexico to Cairo, H.E. Jose’ Octavio Tripp, proudly says that he has been pushing to bring the wings to Egypt for some time and he believes that people in Egypt, have a high application for culture. “I find it very interesting that this piece allows interaction with the public, and I am quite pleased that the show will go out of Cairo to places like Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan,” he mentioned.
Tripp goes on confirming that “cultural interaction is one of the most relevant dimensions in cooperation with Egypt.” His statement materialized in eight activities over the last year, the ninth of which is this current exhibit.
This unprecedented activity was well planned by the Ministry of Culture towards a specific objective, “Since I was honored to be minister, I was very keen on diversifying our cultural interaction with the world and hosting activities that show diversity to create a balance in our relations with other countries,” says Minister of Culture, Helmy El-Namnam. However, this activity with Mexican artists comes also in another context as Egypt and Mexico will soon be celebrating 60 years of relations.
El-Namnam, who is a notable writer and researcher, speaks very highly and extensively of the Egyptian-Mexican cultural ties and history. He highlights literature as an art that manifests those resemblances recalling the great success of Naguib Mahfouz’s masterpiece “A Beginning and an End” in Mexico. The famous Egyptian novel was not only translated to Spanish, but was also turned into a play and a film, as well as radio episodes in Mexico.
Also, perhaps not many Egyptians are aware of the ancient pyramids in Mexico that were inspired by the Egyptian heritage, or about the Mexico military campaign that was sent there during the reign of Khedive Ismael. After finishing its mission, the campaign left behind several military personnel, the predecessors of whom have established a society of Egyptian Mexicans, according to El-Namnam.
The Wings of Mexico will be here for six months and will be touring a number of Egyptian cities to give audiences, who are not typically exposed to foreign arts and culture, the chance to interact with this very special sculpture.