Bárbara Sánchez-Kane is a fashion designer and artist based in Mexico City. Her work—in haute couture, painting, performance, writing, and installation—has been featured in several group exhibitions, including “Prince·sse·s des villes” at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris (2019); “Señora!” at Galerie Meyer Kainer in Vienna (2020); “Otrxs mundxs” (Other Worlds) at Mexico City’s Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo (2020–21); “Prêt-à-Patria” at Kurimanzutto in Mexico City (2021); and “De por vida” (Forever) at New York’s Company Gallery (2021).
BASILICA DI SANTO SPIRITO, FLORENCE
At twenty-four, I found myself flying to Italy to study fashion design. Florence was a place of discovery, and Santo Spirito was the space that bridged the gaps between everything that was buried deep inside me and covered by ashes.
The church was home to my very first performances of poetry in motion. It allowed me to cast dreams around broken wine bottles, to learn from lovers and the crumpled traces they left in my bed, to notice my skin when it bristled, and to start mending life’s scars into beautiful bodies, born of SOLRAC . . . to make peace with anxiety while paying mind to all those trails I neglected in the past.
An act of resistance is a provocation.
Self-expression is a vital form of survival.
Basilica di Santo Spirito, Florence, 1980s. Photo: Luisa Ricciarini/Bridgeman Images.
I perform my daily creative exercises under a pseudonym: SOLRAC. The fruits of these labors appear in myriad forms: poetry, illustration, photography, sculpture, painting. As SOLRAC, I am able to better understand the materiality of the garments I construct, their accessories, the set designs for the shows, the soundtrack for each presentation, and the unfolding of every défilé. Identity is unstable and built on an unceasing movement that challenges the ways we construct gender.
SOLRAC, Daydreaming of 100 Picnics in Bed, 2020, ink-jet print, 8 1⁄4 × 11 3⁄4″.
ALLEN GINSBERG, HOWL AND OTHER POEMS (CITY LIGHTS BOOKS, 1956)
Ginsberg knew how difficult it can be to expose yourself, to stay vulnerable, and to trust the ambiguity of the creative process. Sometimes I don’t know whether I’m swimming or drowning while I’m working on a collection—my own body becomes a life raft, alternately sinking and floating.
For all the strangers that helped me understand my presence and trace,
For all those who came before me and lifted me from the ground—
thank you for the free lessons.
RUBÉN GÁMEZ, TEQUILA (1992)
“No creo que ningún elemento del cine mexicano pueda servir para formular una estética. Hay que rehacerlo todo, hay que renovar por completo el cine nacional.” (“I don’t think that any element of Mexican cinema can be used to formulate an aesthetic. We have to redo everything, we have to completely renew the national cinema.”)
The filmmaker Rubén Gámez’s words—and his numinous meditation on contemporary Mexican culture, Tequila—helped me to realize a different concept of Mexicanidad with my clothes. He gave me the impetus to create the “macho sentimental,” an idea that breaks stifling and gendered notions surrounding Mexican dress. I want my work to give the wearer unbounded confidence, and I want the garments to be personal, profound, and full of potential.
Rubén Gámez, Tequila, 1992, 35 mm, color, sound, 85 minutes.
“¡La violencia de genero mata mujeres!” I remember this piece of graffiti, which I once saw in my hometown of Mérida in Yucatán, Mexico. In English, it translates to “Gender-based violence kills women!”
Ana’s art challenges the traditional notions of gender and culture that separate masculine and feminine, natural and artificial, ugly and beautiful, power and submission. It makes us question hegemonic masculinity and the construction of social identities.
Ana spoke for every victim of brutality, of suffering. She turned her body into a map of vexations. I am fascinated by the silhouettes in her work. She has been a great inspiration to me.
The important thing is that I am standing here
In the grave that I dig
Now with a better view
Swimming in the pool of wild fools!
Ana Mendieta, Untitled: Silueta Series, Mexico From Silueta Works in Mexico, 1973–1977, 1973, C-print, 20 × 16″. © The Estate of Ana Mendieta Collection, LLC/ Licensed by Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
VUPOINT MAGIC WAND PORTABLE SCANNER
I bought my portable scanner in 2012. She travels with me everywhere and has been essential to my creative process.
Woke up to a nonsense writing
To a doodle on a wall
Pretending it was a cave
To a body scan
As the warmth of your touch
To a goodnight text
Telling me you are real
Bárbara Sánchez-Kane’s VuPoint Magic Wand portable scanner over one of her SOLRAC drawings, 2021.
MEXICO CITY’S MOMOROOM
Monse Castera, one of the cofounders of the gallery and creative agency Momoroom, is the main reason Sánchez-Kane has been able to take on so many different media.
I call her my “Charlie,” like the mysterious leader in Charlie’s Angels—it’s our joke. I tell her what I see in my dreams, and then I wait to see what she can do. It can be months, even years, before I hear back from her about whether or not we can secure the funding for a new project. But she has a knack for making the impossible possible. She is a blessing here in Mexico City, a real supporter of new talent.
Momoroom founders Monse Castera and Mariana Güell, 2021. Photo: Manuel Zuñiga.
His Autumn/Winter 2000 collection finale is just out of this world.
Look from Hussein Chalayan’s Autumn/Winter 2000 collection. Photo: Alastair Grant/AP/Shutterstock.
ARIADNA THALÍA SODI MIRANDA MOTTOLA, AKA THALÍA
Actress. Chanteuse. Businesswoman. MEGASTAR. Thalía is a Mexican cultural icon, a revivifying jolt of pop splendor. She should have her own solo exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her spectacular outfits from the 1990s, along with the performance of her hit song “Amor a la Mexicana” for a TVE program in 1997, provide examples of some of the most advanced costume design I have ever seen.
Thalía performing at Araneta Coliseum, Quezon City, Philippines, August 21, 1996. Photo: Pat Roque/AP/Shutterstock. Pat Roque/AP/Shutterstock.
LET’S KIDNAP OURSELVES AGAIN
Don’t allow your mind to collect your tales
And bury them beneath the ashes