Kim MacConnel



For inSITE, 1994, of the possible project locations, the elegant, but near totally degraded, stairway leading up to Casa de la Cultura was the most compelling. I envisioned creating cement cast versions of the plaster figurines hawked in the lines leading to the border crossing. La Casa de la Cultura, built in the 1920’s along with the stairway, created an historic play with cultural history: that these cheap souvenirs of dubious aesthetic sophistication could be seen in the context of the monumental staircase, as something not unlike figures attached to ancient architectural structures. I combed every possible souvenir shop and workshop in search of figures. I found some from the 1940’s—a boy and a girl reading books—along with 60’s Hippy Blood Hound, and more recent Bart Simpson. I cast 60 figures of 30 figurines and attached them to the stairway balustrades. It was called “Stairway of the Ancients/ Escalante de los Ancianos.” It was destroyed before the opening. No matter, it was transformed into an archeological site.

—Kim MacConnel

Stairway of the Ancients is a complex stairway, probably built in the 1920s, leading up to the Casa de la Cultura. It is in disrepair with parts that are eroded or broken. To try to keep within this context, the figurines that MacConnel has cast, purchased from street vendors, are irregular, broken and “antiqued.” The “ancients” are funny, sad, prideful, odd remnants of tourist art.

Curator: Lynda Forsha
Organizer: Installation Gallery
Venue: La Escalinata, Tijuana


IN/SITE 92 was about borders. We wanted to talk about that in a way that was not about physical proximity—rather, we wanted to contrast how two cultures view the treatment of animals (specifically the cow or Bull). We had just returned from a 3 month journey around South India, which is largely vegetarian, and has a reverence for the bull, an avatar for the god Shiva. In contrast, Mexico has a deep reverence for the drama and machismo of the bullfight.

In creating a likeness of the Indian bull, Nandi, we wished to stay close to the craft traditions of both cultures. To build it, we used a light wood and bamboo structure, chicken wire, and a skin of papier mache. This enormous figure occupied a classroom in the Casa de la Cultura in Tijuana, sitting in serene repose like its South Indian model. The walls were covered with newspaper painted with broad red and white stripes found on the perimeter walls of many Indian temples. Over this “wallpaper” were hung three cardboard framed works: and enlarged postcard of stylized bullfighter and bull; a photo of a matador after the kill; and a photo of a dead bull being removed from an arena below a crowd of onlookers.

Ultimately the installation was controversial and prematurely removed.

Venue: Casa de la Cultura, Tijuana
Organizer: Installation Gallery