“El primero que ría” is a two-channel video which presents two business suited men with physical traits identifiable as those of the indigenous peoples of Mexico. Identical settings appear in both videos: a deserted landscape of shrubs and rocks. In one of the videos, a long shot of the pair provides a sense of space, while in the other the camera rotates slowly and constantly around the characters. The men play a variation of a French children’s game: “Le jeu de la barbichette”. Both players hold each other by the chin and recite a text which translates to: “I have you, / you have me / by the chin / The first one of us / to laugh / will get a slap.” While in the original version of the game the loser is slapped, in this setting he takes off a piece of clothing. The winner then holds him by the head and bends him over mimicking a fellatio. Nothing is playful about this game. Two men are trapped in an absurd loop, during which each of them plays his role with apathy and bears the consequences with resignation. They execute their actions in a severe mood, making the laughter sound artificial and forced. The process of undressing progressively exposes them to the desolate surroundings, making them appear defenseless, but also revealing them in their own physical nature. During this process, previously hidden marks on the bodies of these men are uncovered: tattoos and scars carve their skins strikingly. All these elements add up to a harsh denunciation of the present state of Mexican society. In the end, both men face each other completely naked and maintaining the initial position: holding each other by the chin.
(Federico Alvarez Igarzábal)