The Performant: Border crossings

Los Jaichackers take SFMOMA on a magical mystery tour of Pan-American culture

What first strikes the eye about the ongoing “Photography in Mexico” exhibit at the SFMOMA (through July 8th) is the variety. With photos dating as far back as the 1800s, and as recently as last year, the exhibit doesn’t focus on any one aspect of Mexico or any one era, but rather its timeless complexities. Elegantly barren landscapes collide with jostling humanscapes, desert isolation contrasts with urban density, photojournalism and surrealism join forces, capturing the espíritu of time and place over a period of about 150 years.

Underscoring the depth and diversity one might expect from a thoroughly modern land with a population well over 100 million people, Thursday’s “Double Grooves and Dirty Menudo” Now Playing event, whimsically curated by art duo Los Jaichackers, focused on artistic mashups inspired stylistically by both sides of the border, for an evening that defied easy stereotyping of either.

Los Jaichackers are Eamon Ore-Giron and Julio Cesar Morales, both with deep roots in the SF arts community. Their own piece of the evening was a 24-minute remix of Juan Ibez’ 1980s crime drama A Fuego Lento and an electronic exploration of music by Cuban bandleader Dámaso Pérez Prado, “King of the Mambo.” The result was something weirder than even a Alejandro Jodorowsky flick — a psychedelic swirl of images culminating in violence, the deconstructed mambo melodies punctuated by Prado’s distinctive, James Brown-esque, “huh”’s and an array of heavy electro beats.

In the Haas Atrium beneath an installation of lights and moving images by Jim Campbell (“Exploded Views”), Oakland-based “conscious disco” duo ChuCha Santamaria, live-recorded a series of cover tunes, refurbished and reworked into Spanish. Kicking off with a Pet Shop Boys tune (“El Baile del Domino”), bandmates Sofía Córdova and Matt Kirkland powered through several retakes, just as if they were in any recording studio, albeit a recording studio that could hold a hundred or so spectators, (and if they recorded all of their songs wearing dramatic facepaint and surrounded by lit candles). The tracks are slated to appear on their album in progress, so keep an ear out.

But when it comes to reimagining English-language pop songs into anthems for Spanish-speaking youth, it would seem that Los Master Plus, a “cumbiatrónica “ duo from Guadalajara have got a real lock on the technique. Their tongue-in-cheek, nu-cumbia-flavored reinterpretations of Daft Punk, No Doubt, Radiohead, Kings of Leon, and The Bee Gees were “mami”-centric and eminently danceable, and they exuded a certain goofy charm that transcended all language barriers.

Hipster haters take note, “hipster” fashion is now officially a cross-cultural phenomenon, as the skinny jean-wearing, handlebar-mustached El Comanche and Larry Mon as well as enthusiastically costumed fanboys Adrian Manzo and Mario Mejia easily proved, and The Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” will forever be the kickoff melody for a good dance party, igual the context.