La Vida Sin Fin | National Museum of Mexican Art | Museums | Chicago Reader

La Vida Sin Fin All Ages Closing (Theater and Galleries) Member Picks Recommended

When: Sept. 26-Dec. 14 2008

As it does every year, the National Museum of Mexican Art's Day of the Dead exhibit reared up and knocked me flat on my ass. Room after room is packed with meticulously detailed work; by the time you stagger back out into the street you feel like some preposterously talented craftsman has taken out your skull, carved it all over with intricate whorls, painted it with bright primary colors, and slapped it back onto your neck so hard that your teeth rattle. A couple of pieces stand out from the ravishing blur. In Carlomagno Pedro Martinez's ceramic Mexico Giving Birth to Its People, probably the single most disturbing image of the show, a black turkey with a human skull for a head sits atop a pile of skeletons struggling to get free. The Yollocalli Youth Outreach ofrenda features a papier-mache tree plastered with blurry photographs and covered with monarch butterflies, the photos seeming to press downward even as the innumerable wings prepare to take flight. Diana Solis's Playing War is a delicate drawing of two boys--one, with a skull and antlers in place of his own head, flying kites made of cadaverous, cartoony animal heads; the other merging with a tree as he holds onto one of its branches, which is also a rifle. The show deals with the shift from life to death and back, mixing love, fear, and humor in a disorienting zombie chorus that's both cacophonous and sublime. --Noah Berlatsky

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