Lotería Nacional presents Mexico’s socio-political situation from the perspective of the artist, who makes use of theoretical speculations regarding methodologies of archeology and the social sciences in order to develop interventions in public space, drawings, videos, and objects. The reflections presented revolve around the idea of “reality” as a socio-cultural construct and are firmly connected to central aspects of Mexican society that go beyond its basic political or religious structures.
The project is divided into three chapters or “moments” that appropriate public space and its symbolic structural meaning. Various artistic strategies are employed to achieve this including placarding graphic works along the avenue of Colonia Sta Maria La Ribera, gaining closer access to urban situations via video documentation, or the intervention with megaphones from a wagon selling scrap metal in order to communicate a new message.
In the exhibition space at La Miscelanea University UNARTE, Puebla, Mexico, the three moments outlined above are presented concurrently in order to establish a formal and thematic dialogue between the works. The chanting of demonstrators from 8. November 2014 (in Video 1) serves as background for the organ music, which accompanies the restorers working on the facade of the National Government Palace (Video 2). Through a megaphone lying on the ground, the voice from Moment III, systematically repeats the listing of methodological actions associated with digging and excavating an object.
Acción Día de Muertos
Protests over the “disappeared” students in Ayotzinapa took place under the slogan “They took them alive, we want them back alive.” Given the political circumstances and the strong presumption that the students are dead, the demand “of wanting everyone back alive” becomes an impossible request. While the all-or-nothing nature of the demand remains legitimate, it exposes a radical ideological structure that is determined wholly by chance and a reality that more closely approximates a game of Russian roulette. Under these circumstances relying on fundamental human rights is imperative.
The phrase “43 or nothing” was drawn on forty-three pages of the Mexican National Lottery’s infobooklet. These were installed in public space along the Colonia Santa Maria La Ribera during nighttime placarding actions on November 1-2, 2014. In the lottery’s symbolism the number 43 is a metaphor for balcony, connected here to the meaning of the popular Mexican term balconear.
Balconear is vernacular for “standing on the balcony” or trying to conceal something obvious.
8 de Noviembre
The various social and political levels of representation that can be detected in the physical constitution of a city reveal the structures of power and order to which society is subjected. Cultural expressions often reflect these structures on a superficial level. On November 8, 2014, a group of anarchists among the demonstrators protesting Ayotzinapa spray painted anarchist slogans on the facade of the National Government Palace in Mexico City, and tried to burn down the gates while chanting: “Death to the government, long live anarchy.” On November 8, 1519, Hernán Cortés and Moctezuma II met at the same location for the first time. The National Government Palace was built with stones from the palace of Moctezuma II, after it was attacked, looted, and destroyed by Hernán Cortés.
The work 8 de Noviembre consists of two video projections and a table “adorned” with diagrams, on top of which is situated a model of the National Government Palace with burned gates. The first video shows television footage of the incident on November 8, 2014. On the opposite side of the gallery a second video projection shows a group of restorers at work on the facade of the National Government Palace.
Compra-Venta / Cavar-Fosa
Every archaeological method can be reduced to the banal action of digging a hole. But the act of digging a hole is not archaeological per se. Both Mexico City as well as Tenochtitlan were built on the premise of covering existing structures with stones in order to create a new physical and symbolic structure embodying the social, political, and cultural values of the “new” rulers. Over time, it is necessary to uncover again what was once buried in order to rewrite history.
Compra-Venta / Cavar-Fosa is a sound intervention in the form of a wagon for selling scrap metal, where the typical announcing of objects offered for sale is substituted by a listing of historical or forensic reconstruction techniques. The voice speaks methodically about the digging and excavating of “objects,” which is the basis for current materialistic culture and represents the most effective way of generating myths.
Publication ARTMargins (MIT Press)