Provoking both the surprise and ire of many Mexicans was a study published in early 2009 by the United States Joint Forces Command, which grouped Mexico with Pakistan as “two large and important states [that] bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse.”
Since that report, the Mexican government has conceded there are in fact wide swaths of the country — primarily along the Pacific coast and Northern border — which now exist outside of Mexico’s rule of law. From a state-based understanding of governance, these territories are anarchic, but they are clearly not without order. Theirs is an order manifested by the extreme wealth and violence of the drug trade.
In Entropy and Art, Rudolph Arnheim wrote, “A revolution must aim at the destruction of the given order and will succeed only by asserting an order of its own.”
Accordingly, in Artemio’s mandala works, we find a distilled mirror image of an apolitical revolution already underway, based on an order imposed by violence and an apathetic public’s apparent willingness to be consumed and dazzled by it. Guns, grenades, bombs, and machetes assemble themselves according to the same laws that govern the perfect and infinitely variable crystalline structures of snowflakes.
In this way, Artemio's choice of Gesamtkunstwerk — the universal artwork — as a title for his exhibition represents a tacit, tragic acknowledgment. When German composer Richard Wagner first popularized the term, he used it to describe a new form of performance that would subsume all of the arts. However, in the context of Artemio’s exhibition, Gesamtkunstwerk instills in the art a more sinister undertone: the idea that the order reflected by his mandalas is already an inescapable — and perhaps natural — totality.