Opening reception September 28th at 7 pm
Viewing, Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th, 12-5pm
In September 2017, Mexico was hit by two earthquakes. The first one on September 7 hit the Isthmus of Tehauntep, a Zapotec region in Southern Oaxaca, knocking down approximately 16,000 houses and causing massive destruction to public infrastructure. The second on September 19 hit Mexico City, collapsing over 40 buildings and killing approximately 370 people. Abraham León Pérez has been travelling around the affected regions ever since, working with artists to interpret their experience through his printmaking initiative, Grafica Nomada. Abraham has brought his technical expertise to each collaboration while giving artists control over their portrayal of the earthquake, and in doing so he has garnered a fascinatingly diverse array of pieces. Some artists focused purely on the somatic sensation of the earthquake, invoking shaking through textural abstract work or recalling the immediate visceral response to the ground trembling at the grocery store (as in the piece “no mames”, an expression which in this context means “holy shit”). Other pieces situate the earthquake as a surreal break from daily life, an upside-down, inside-out world, with houses without walls drawn as Escher-like labyrinths. Most of the work contextualizes the earthquake within history and culture, drawing on a wide range of symbolism and myth from Zapotec, Mexican, and more broadly, North American culture and life. Frida the rescue dog is one such recurring character, a Labrador retriever who made global headlines for saving more than 52 lives between the two earthquakes. In these works, Frida can be seen as an optimistic symbol of bravery through adversity, just as she was represented in the mainstream media. But Frida is a double-edged character: Daniela Granado’s cartoon portrayal of the dog flying in a cape over wreckage as those below cry for help lampoons the ways that the lighthearted “dog hero” narrative functioned as a distraction from more pressing concerns. Each recurring symbol in this series is similarly dense and complex, juxtaposed to create connections between Indigenous identity, colonialism, natural disaster, poverty, spirituality, death, resistance, and other overlapping themes. Taken together this series of 29 prints showcases the myriad interwoven stories that shape collective memory of the earthquakes, drawing on various lenses of personal viewpoint and expression as well as political and cultural context. The overarching story of “Saa Xti Guidxiilayu”, which means Dance of the Land in Zapotec, is that of Abraham. This show tells the story of his travels through Juchitán, Oaxaca and Mexico City, three places he has called home, to connect with old and new friends and reflect on the time their world was shaken.