PENACHO VS PENACHO
A performance that attempts to question and set into motion, or better, into wrestling, the Penacho de Moctezuma-a headdress made of quetzal feathers that allegedly belonged to Moctezuma Xocoyotzin (1466-1520)-and the complex, differentiated, changing relations of power that go along with it. On March 19, 2011 at the arena López Mateos, shortly after midnight, the luchadores Crazy Boy and Superdevolución Copilli Quetzalli face each other in the ring.
The so-called Penacho de Moctezuma, that is also named Federkopfschmuck, feather headdress, copilli quetzalli or quetzalapanecáyotl by the anthropologist Zelia Nuttal, has been part of the collection at the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna (Austria) since the 19th century and it has not been exhibited since 2004. In the last few decades, many countries have demanded the restitution of important cultural pieces to their countries of origin. A large number of art and cultural artifacts, among them the penacho, have had a long and troubled history. As most of these objects have now come under close analysis by postcolonial consciousness, that their location in places outside their countries of origin are inherently problematic, the copilli, too, has faced several readings, discussions and calls for restitution. With a budget of 930 USD of my savings, I immersed myself into the process of working closely with the luchadores, organizing, promoting, making photos and a comic, meeting journalists, choreographing, listening, explaining, discussing and clarifying. I consider that each shift of context-exchange with the luchadores, press, arena, exhibition (Europe)-as only one possible “scene of translation,” an exploration and “production of difference.” I attempted to listen without imposing my way of thinking, provided and discussed the lines for press’ interviews and releases, and the course of actions before, during and directly after the lucha with Crazy Boy, who in his role fights for Mexican Power, and Superdevolución Copilli Quetzalli, whose role I created and who fights for the controversial copilli. It was not an easy task. Not only because I had to deal with constantly changing financial matters, but also with different economies of desires, spectacle, power and success.
On March, 19 2011 Superdevolución leaves the arena defeated, while Crazy Boy celebrates his triumph by asking two boys to join him in the ring. The copilli he had just won and the penacho he used during his entry are dedicated to the two boys. On the way out, however, Superdevolución promises revenge.