Soundtrack: Ariel Zetina


CAMERON McEWEN: Hi there, this is Cameron McEwen, Coordinator of Performance and Public Practice at the MCA, and we’re talking to Ariel Zetina about her Soundtrack.

Soundtrack is a monthly series on Friday nights where DJs and sound-based artists create live soundscapes reflecting their perspectives on work on view at the museum. So go ahead Ariel, take it away.

ARIEL ZETINA: Um, well, the first thing I really thought of when preparing for this is, a museum is not necessarily a place where—primarily my main goal is to get people to dance, so I feel like I had a lot more open sources to be able to explore. Part of it, being in a collection, is that everything is made out these, these tiny pieces and has all these different tiny things coming together, which also seems similar to me for a DJ set or for, you know, a soundscape that I’m working on. I think Mika Rottenberg is a lot about, her work for me is a lot about being parts of a whole, and I think the whole Direct Message exhibition, that was something that really thematically I was looking at was how, you know, being able to see how different parts recalculated or reconfigured together can make a new whole.

Sometimes just a chaos of noise actually makes things go together, and I knew I was going into some old Chicago house and some acid house. I think that the arhythmic stuff against the rhythmic stuff created a nice tension that I didn’t really expect. And I think it sort of—being like how do we dance to something when there’s also kind of arhythms and other things going on, and how do we dance to something if we’re in like, a bright room. I dunno, I like when people dance in unexpected places.

I ended up spending I think like 30, 40 minutes just in the Mika Rottenberg exhibition initially and I was like, "Ok, I’m gonna go to this first, I’ve been wanting to see her work." You know, her work is so much, ah, mixing diasporas, kind of commenting on where she comes from and also on tiny arhythmic sounds, that really felt important to mimic in her work, as well as repetition.

I think a sense of silliness I really appreciated. You know, I think the people who went to the museum and were able to experience that work, and then were listening to my work, you were able to be like, "Oh, we can actually more jump into this even if it’s a very bizarre thing," and hopefully vice versa. If you’re listening to this and then going to see some of the work that has these more ridiculous elements in it, it’s easier to sort of be like, "Oh, this is something that we can, you know, art can be fun and we can appreciate the fun notion of it, but it doesn’t have to be like, "Oh, this is like stupid" or "This is silly." There can be something profound taken away from it. Because I think so much of the music I play is, like, silly or whatever, and I really always try to like, that sense of ridiculousness I think is really important.

CMcE: Thanks so much for coming in Ariel, we really appreciate it

AZ: Yes, thank you for having me, I had such a good time doing this.

On December 20, 2019, artist and DJ Ariel Zetina visited the MCA, bringing a unique set that combined Chicago house tradition, Belizean punta and brukdown, and her perspective on the exhibitions on view.

The MCA’s Soundtrack series is organized by Curator January Parkos Arnall and Coordinator Cameron McEwen with the Performance and Public Practice team.

About the Artist

Ariel Zetina is a Chicago-based artist focused in music production, deejaying, and writing. Though her music can be considered techno, she takes inspiration from Chicago house, Belizean genres punta and brukdown, and the queer club scene worldwide. These influences can be heard on the 2019 EP Organism on Majía, the 2017 EP Cyst on Boukan Records, and on mixes for Rinse FM, Discwoman, Astral Plane, and NTS. Her cross-genre deejay sets have been heard worldwide. She is a resident at the legendary house club Smartbar, and on Discwoman’s roster.

Caption Context

These film stills feature captions that describe the audio in the works. You can view the works in full with visual descriptions and descriptive captioning