the permanent revolution (an ideological screwball comedy) by pedro reyes
at museo jumex, mexico city, mexico
may 18 – june 15, 2014
curated by josé esparza chong cuy


when ‘the hand of the market’ threatens to replace a mexican public library with a shiny new ‘mega tower’ – three young mexican bookworms enlist the help of historical figures to help save their beloved ‘biblioteca’. and so leon trotsky, steve jobs and julian assange appear alongside david alfaro siqueiros, frida kahlo, and diego rivera in the mexican artist, pedro reyes’ ideological screwball comedy ‘the permanent revolution’ which opened at museo jumex in mexico city this weekend. the plot includes political intrigue, romance, philosophy, conceptual art, debauchery, technology, espionage, explosions and guaranteed entertainment for the whole family, addresses philosophical questions and political matters that have a direct impact on our lives, making the story that much more explosive.


permanent revolution teaser

pedro reyes with puppets from ‘the permanent revolution’
photo © designboom



the real, the absurd, and the ironic are chock-a-block as pedro reyes explained to designboom:



DB: please tell us a bit more about the idea behind the permanent revolution?


PR: fundación jumex arte contemporáneo use this floor of museum as an activated space – for activities that reach audiences in different ways than a traditional art exhibition might do and so they commissioned me to work on a public performance, something that the audience could participate in. baby marx had been sleeping for last two years and I was sure this was the perfect opportunity to bring him back.


DB: for people already familiar with baby marx – what’s new?


PR: the permanent revolution is closer to a theater production whereas baby marx was done for the camera. baby marx was short sketches that lasted just a few minutes whereas this over an hour long with many more characters than before, now we have 25 in total. when there’s there no performance, visitors can roam around the stage and discover the miniature world and see the puppets up close. there’s sculptures of the characters made in stone exhibited with some ‘making of’ materials like early sketches of the characters and studies for the puppets. over the duration of the exhibition we will also hold some agitprop workshops where people can learn how to protest well.

pedro reyes with puppets from ‘the permanent revolution’
photo © designboom



DB: how did you settle upon this final cast?


PR: when I was given this opportunity from jumex it was all about making my wildest fantasies come true! all the characters are well known both internationally and in mexico so hopefully people can relate to who they are and what they stand for.


DB: without giving too much away, please could you tell us about the story?


PR: the story is about a library that some children want to save from being demolished by a mexican corporate tycoon (who wants to build a new skyscraper in its place). they set about doing this by using the smart-o-wave, a magic microwave that manifests authors back to life by way of their books. it’s a sort of intellectual de-froster!


first they bring to life karl marx and adam smith but they turn out to be useless at raising funds. so, they then turn to frida kahlo, diego rivera and david alfaro siqueiros to paint some murals in the library so it will become a heritage site that can’t be destroyed legally.


the artists smart-o-wave their muses for their murals – rivera brings back trotsky and siqueiros awakens stalin – this leads to re-ignited romances, murder attempts and so on…


DB: how does steve jobs fit in to all of this?


PR: the tycoon ‘salim rascagarra’ uses the smart-o-wave to bring to steve jobs to life and gives him the job of convincing everyone that libraries and books are redundant and when all the information in the world can be held on the latest digital device – the iWey.

frida kahlo, diego rivera
photo by moritz bernoully | courtesy of fundación jumex arte contemporáneo

julian assange and steve jobs
photo © designboom

che guevara and leon trotsky
photos by moritz bernoully | courtesy of fundación jumex arte contemporáneo

david alfaro siqueiros and salim rascagarra (corporate tycoon)
photo © designboom

stalin and lenin
photos by moritz bernoully | courtesy of fundación jumex arte contemporáneo

hypatia (librarian) and mony’s dad
photo © designboom

stalin mural
photo © designboom

steve jobs mural
photo © designboom

che guevara stone sculpture
photo © designboom

karl marx stone sculpture
photo © designboom

leon trotsky stone sculpture
photo © designboom

frida kahlo stone sculpture
photo © designboom

lenin stone sculpture
photo © designboom

behind the scenes – the exhibition features artwork used to design and develop the puppets
photo © designboom

sketches of the different characters that appear in the permanent revolution
photo © designboom



created by pedro reyes
curator: josé esparza chong cuy
scenic director: daniel rajunov
script: fernando canek, daniel rajunov, pedro reyes
cast: johnny calderón, aura de cárcer, renne cossio, césar enriquez, julio maldonado, neri paredes, sandra poo, alessandra viza, antonio zacruz
project manager: carlos sánchez (estudio pedro reyes), laura vieco (fundación jumex arte contemproáneo)
stage manager: daniela madrid
lighting, special effects & props: cocolab
original score: héctor ruiz
audio design: federico crespo, mco studios
marionette production: takumi ota
set design: roberto bonelli
set production: carlos cosío,
press: despacho de proyectos
producers: fundación jumex arte contemporáneo (the permanent revolution), moisés cosio & fundación alumnos47 (baby marx)