Artemio, Ruben Gutierrez, Ximena Labra, Mark Powell, Joaquin Segura, Marion Sosa
Curated by Yautepec Gallery
Live With Animals Gallery
210 Kent Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
11 Dec 2009 - 15 Jan 2010
11 Dec 2009 - 7pm - 10pm
On the 1st of December, in an otherwise quiet middle-class neighborhood of Mexico City, there was a shootout at a Starbucks. The target was a crooked former police commander who had been receiving a princely stipend as an informant to the Sinaloa cartel. After having been fished out during an anti-corruption sweep, he made the apparently incorrect decision that he'd be better off biting the hand that fed him in the federal witness protection program.
In Mexico (as in much of the developing world), a Starbucks offers a flimsy sentiment of safe first-worldness, like a micro-island of hygienic US-exported civilization amidst taco stands and the hoi polloi. It's little wonder that several of the latte-sipping patrons that afternoon of the shooting were severely psychologically traumatized by the event. Plenty of folks are killed everyday in Mexico — over 16,000 in the last three years alone thanks to President Calderon's war on the cartels — but one wouldn't expect it in a Starbucks.
The intention of this show is neither to perpetuate stereotypes nor to cast Mexico in a negative light but to engage with a line of work in contemporary Mexican art that manifests a clear relationship to the actual social conditions in which it was created. Just as New York City witnessed a cultural renaissance during its hardest hit years of the 1970s and 80s, Mexico City is now experiencing its own. While Mexican art of course runs the gamut of both style and theme, our interest is in those artists who have situated their practice quite squarely in the confusing cultural moment the country happens to find itself in.
As this show is actually the second-half of a cross-border "gallery swap" between Yautepec and Live With Animals, it seemed relevant to frame it within the context of the recent Starbucks shooting. Given that Starbucks has packaged a unitary idea of the American good life and brought it successfully to culturally disparate locales around the world, that particular intersection between its extensively focus-grouped American ideal and the violent reality of daily life in Mexico seemed like a moment of international dialog that had been largely absent. Obviously these realities cannot exist independently of one another in perpetuity.
The illusion of safety seems best represented by the video piece Vigilante by Ximena Labra, in which an armed guard recorded from behind reveals itself to simply be a motorized dummy on a track. Her work is flanked by two short videos created by Joaquin Segura (Hangover and Someone Else's Doc Martens) in which he documents actual crimes he committed. Seriously disturbing, their inclusion here does not represent an implicit apology or pardon but solely serves as a sobering example of the reaches of recent contemporary art in Mexico City.
The works of the remaining four artists — Artemio, Ruben Gutierrez, Mark Powell, and Marion Sosa — move from representations of violence at its most systemic, structural level to the most intimate and familial.
Artemio's mandalas — fashioned out of a veritable arsenal of guns, knives, and machetes — convey an intrinsic total order based on the tools and power of violence. Ruben Gutierrez, through his continued investigation of text and image vis-à-vis the global entertainment industry, appropriates icons of Hollywood action and horror films in a manner intended to question his own mortality. The subjects of Mark Powell's photographs dwell beneath layers of narrative mystery where an implicit violence becomes the source of morbid curiosity. Finally, Marion Sosa, through a litany of scratching, burning, and stabbing acts upon on old family photos, takes aim at the personal destruction caused by familial conflict.
— Brett W Schultz and Daniela Elbahara
La galería Yautepec (México, DF) se enorgullece en presentar la segunda mitad del intercambio de espacios con la galería Live With Animals (Brooklyn, NY), basándose en el éxito de su colaboración inicial llevada a cabo en el mes de agosto en la Ciudad de México con los artistas de artistas Live With Animals y Secret Project Robot.
El viernes 11 de diciembre, Yautepec y Live With Animals inauguran la exposición titulada Asesinos — una provocadora (y a menudo terrorífica) exploración sobre la violencia proveniente de varias perspectivas característicamente mexicanas. Con la participación de los artistas Artemio, Rubén Gutiérrez, Ximena Labra, Mark Powell, Joaquín Segura, y Marion Sosa, Asesinos intenta enmarcar la compleja y penetrante naturaleza de la violencia dentro de la sociedad mexicana contemporánea misma que parece definirla cada vez más.
Desde lo sistemático hasta lo íntimo, Asesinos presenta la violencia en México de la misma forma con la que se ve a través de una lupa y un espejo, una combinación que obliga al público estadounidense a replantear su propia distancia y aislamiento de los problemas que acontecen en el Sur del continente.