The Mexican artist Colette has tried her hand at cubism, installations, concept and video art. She is striving to have her works shown in one of the most innovative art museums in Latin America (and the world), the Museo Jumex in Mexico City. Together with many other creative people before her, she found inspiration in the artists’ paradise Todos Santos in Baja California Sur with its light, free thinking and rough, raw beauty.
Colette calls herself a feminist, a thinker – a world-class artist. She has even made a name for herself by being a bit mischievous with her contemporaries and following some life advice from her namesake, the French writer Colette: “You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.
Colette confessed to having stolen the America sculpture by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, a working toilet made of 18-carat gold that was stolen from an English palace in 2019. But the theft is a playful political statement, said Colette. It was the gold toilet on display at the Guggenheim, which was nodded to the excessive waste of years by Donald Trump.
Colette is a pig. And her inspiring story was turned into a documentary short film, “Colette the Artist”, which is an official selection of the annual Mill Valley Film Festival in California, which celebrated its closing night on October 18. The MVFF returned in its 43rd year, but as the first drive-in cinema and virtual festival in a year, no one saw it coming. So it is only fitting that a film about an artist pig has also captured attention and hearts.
If 2020 is the year in which everything can and has happened, couldn’t it be the year for an end to the disbelief that a pig can be an artist? “Colette the artist” offers the oppressed world the hope that 2020 still holds joy and possibilities.
Welcome to the Hotelito, such an inspiring place
Like many earlier artists who sought their inspiration in transience and among the trampled, Colette lives in a hotel. She is glad that tourists flock to the famous Hotel California, built by the Eagles and also located in Todos Santos, because she has found a quieter place to reflect (and perhaps also to wallow a little in the mud) in her artist residence in the Hotelito.
The unpaved streets in Todos Santos can lead to anything, the locals often say, and the power of this city to enchant has earned it the official “Pueblo Magico” status, the recognition of the Mexican government for about 100 other small towns full of unique culture, natural beauty and historical significance. Todos Santos is both an artistic and natural oasis; in this otherwise dry desert landscape, an underground aquifer supplies the city with fresh water and palm trees.
Colette is aware that she won the lottery of life in Todos Santos; she was saved by the Hotelito’s faithful gardener, Javier Leon Dominguez (Don Javier), who saved her from being eaten by wild coyotes or becoming bacon. Don Javier hoped that the little piglet he saved would cheer up the hotel owner, Jenny Armit, a British immigrant and former interior designer who moved to Todos Santos 17 years ago.
Armit used her interior designer to create an effortlessly stylish space that is a blend of bold Mexican colors and contemporary architecture. The hotel has been featured in numerous design magazines in the 12 years since its opening. Armit describes it as not fitting into any one style; rather, it evokes a “philosophy of life” and is aimed at those seeking inspiration outside the flat, sterile hotels in the area.
In what Armit describes as a space for creative thinking (her house is also located on the hotel grounds) with “European sensibility, but a true devotion to Mexico”, she has found a way to not only discover talent, but to save it. All her animals on the hotel’s desert farm have been saved: horses, donkeys, goats and more. But Colette is the one where she saw a burgeoning artistic talent as a little piglet.
Don Javier, apart from rescuing Colette, was always her champion. “Colette is an artist. She is not just anybody. She has come to fill the void that we all lack,” he says in the opening scene of the film. He has also nurtured and encouraged her talent, brought her colors and even installed Wi-Fi in her pigsty to give her access to the international art world.
Armit surrounded her pet