The invention of the Outskirts: Concerns, experiences, and feelings through the eyes of 12 women artists.

The invention of the Outskirts: Concerns, experiences, and feelings through the eyes of 12 women artists.

26/01/2022
By Ariel Gil Soriano

Reflections from a life far away and yet so close to Mexico City.

Inaugurated on November 6, 2021, and completed on January 8 of the present year, The Invention of the Outskirts  (la invención de la periferia) addresses life from the perspective of various artists from Mexico City’s periphery. 12 women, mostly from the State of Mexico, comment on what it is like to live and travel – as artists and as women – through the edges of the city.

Curated by Marejada Indisciplina, an independent project that seeks to make women’s artistic practices visible, The Invention of the Outskirts exposes, through the eyes of young artists, what reflections arise from daily life at the fringes of such a centralized City.

Mounted in Galería Unión, a place next to La Lagunilla market, Marejada Indisciplina exemplifies through this exhibition multiple alternative modalities which allow access to arts and culture in areas that are far from committed to the canons that govern the art world.

Adjacent to the Mexican capital, the State of Mexico draws panoramas diametrically different from those perceived in the political and social epicenter of the country. Mexican municipalities such as Ecatepec, Nezahualcóyotl, Texcoco, and Coacalco; although no more than an hour away from the center of Mexico City, have few cultural spaces and display the scars of the precariousness and insecurity that plagues our country.

According to data from the Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System, the State of Mexico is the sole entity with the highest number of alleged femicide crimes committed from January to November 2021, with 130 in total.

The artists who took part in this exhibition are no strangers to what lies behind these figures. Using art as an expressive vehicle, they show the problems present in their lives as women from the outskirts.

Below, we comment on the works of the 12 artists who participated in The Invention of the Outskirts.

Yesica Mendoza (Mexico City, 1993, @yesicamendoza_art)

Yesica exhibits two drawings in black ink and paper. The first of these shows what looks like a grid formed by houses, it could well be a photogram of any of the hills of the Valley of Mexico that have been reached by the urban sprawl.

The second is the almost zenithal view of a tianguis, which is recognizable by the heterogeneous net of tarpaulins and tents that block the sun from each of the stalls. In the background, “Community Center” can be read off a small billboard, reminding the viewer that a tianguis, a market, whether it be itinerant or fixed, is itself a center of communion, and represents the core of existing relationships within the neighborhoods. Beyond being a center for buying and selling, it is a place where experiences are shared and daily lives are forged.

Mitzy Corona, (Ecatepec, 1996, @olta_an)

Also with an eye on the agglutinated hills, one of his embroideries reads ” Hills below houses/above houses…” (Hills below houses/above houses…). A second work by Corona contains the following words: “Enraizar. To move. In-ground.”, thus synthesizing the artist’s life in the periphery.

Gabriela Sandoval (Nezahualcóyotl, 1990, @gabosanrex)

Gabriela recreates a billboard she found in Milpa Alta, Mexico City; “No to the Chinese nopal” is written in black letters, next to a caricature of an old Chinese man with a yellow complexion and a sparse beard. The popular expression says “more Mexican than the nopal”, doesn’t it? Yet for some years, now, it has become increasingly common to hear that this cactus, fundamental to the Mexican diet, is already grown in China and grows very well, so much so that it is believed that what we might be consuming is far from a national nopal, revealing certain touches of xenophobia and a sense of outrage.

Sandoval’s reflections also focus on photographs of ropes, tarpaulins and eyebolts that go to the ground, elements of tension that make up the skeleton of a Nezahualcóyotl tianguis. These structures, ephemeral, mobile, are born and die on the same day, but will rise again next week.

Paola Eguiluz (Ecatepec, 1986, @paola.eguiluz)

Eguiluz revisits romantic landscape paintings, thus imagining a past that does not exist in the chronology of the municipality where she comes from.

In retrospect, almost 2 centuries apart, The Watchman of Ecatepec rests in the same place and does so in front of a landscape very different from the urban grayness that surrounds him today: The Watchman prostrates himself on the shore of a lake on a small dock; three women watch him stand next to a windmill on a cloudy day.

Framed, we see a landscape with romantic airs, completely fictitious, as if searching for a more idyllic and less sinuous origin to one of the places where death constantly stalks its women.

 

Ketsueki Koibito (Coacalco, 2000, @ketsueki_koibito)

In one of her works, the artist also takes up the figure of The Watchman. In the drawing, she stands behind the winged man to contemplate what he sees: a vast landscape dominated by spectacular buildings and rooftops. There are no other monuments or buildings full of magnificence.

Another drawing frames the seated Dancer in an environment very different from that of his past exhibition at Museo Jumex in 2019. Koons’ work intermingles with the urban landscape complete with a torta stand, suggesting a scenario in which the streets can coexist with artistic expression, where the barriers of the traditional gallery are broken.

 

Cynthia Fuentes (Nezahualcóyotl, 1997, @azucar.m0reno

The Soumaya and Jumex Museums have left Polanco; railroad tracks, trash on a dirt floor, and a hill choked with houses frame the new headquarters of the Soumaya Museum; on the other hand, the Jumex Museum resides next to one-story houses in a neighborhood bordering Mexico City.

The reflection suggests the possibility of decentralizing cultural and artistic spaces to take them to places where there is little, or almost no so-called “cultural offer”.

At first glance, the conjunction of these extravagant structures with the landscape of the periphery seems dissonant, although there are probably those who also think the same of the inhabitants of the conurbation when they attend these institutions, full of stigmas and classist prejudices.

Carla Rivero (Ecatepec, 1999, @rivero.vc)

Rivero draws a fence on Avenida 608, behind Metro Line B; the fence holds the phrase “We are the voice of those who are no longer with us”.

It is increasingly common to see these types of graffiti as a way of protesting the violence and insecurity of which women are constant victims in Mexico. We see graffiti whose permanence is fleeting in comparison to a crisis that seems to have no end.

A short time later, the fence that Carla immortalized was back to normal.

Pamela Zeferino (Nezahualcóyotl, 1989, @pm_zf)

In 1986, the Technological University of Nezahualcoyotl hosted the Scotland-Denmark, Denmark-Uruguay, and Uruguay-Scotland games in the World Cup of that year. Known as Estadio Neza 86, the stadium has been awaiting remodeling for years; people say that if today, during a soccer match, a wave were to break, the stadium could fall to pieces.

In Pamela’s work, there are 3 paintings with thousands of people performing such an ovation. The artist suggests that collectivity can destroy structures as rigid as concrete and steel, structures that seem otherwise unalterable.

Seeking to overcome the obstacles of being a female artist living in the periphery, Pamela, like many others, finds another livelihood mechanism in the sale of clothes and articles through social networks. She’s a ‘neni’, as they have been known for no more than a couple of years.

The artist takes up the characteristic aesthetics that nenis use in the photographs of the products they offer.

Nahomi Domínguez (Ecatepec, 1997, @dia.3000)

As if the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been going on for more than two years now, was not enough, the women inhabitants of Ecatepec, like Nahomi, do not consider the virus as the sole constant predator that could end their lives.

Being aware of this, the artist creates a body diary based on the question: What would happen if I ceased to exist? Chewing gum, fingernails, lost earrings, and falling hair are the testimony of her passage through the physical world; if Nahomi no longer existed, these vestiges would be given to her mother.

Ana Karen Rodríguez (Texcoco, 1993, @anakarenrosan)

On plastic plates, Ana Karen illuminates the silhouette of the plants and bushes that grow unevenly on street corners.

Corners that remain illuminated, that give life. These places are an object of reflection for the artist, knowing that, as a woman, walking down the street in Mexico can mean an infinite number of dangers; these spaces, most of the time illuminated, are portrayed as locations that safeguard life.

Sofía Castillo (Ecatepec, 1997, @soffi.caz)

The photographs show us María del Rosario Gutiérrez, Charito is what she’s called. At 42 years of age, 3 children and 2 granddaughters, Charito drives a combi. “It’s been hard, but we’ve made it,” Charito, who has been a single mother for 15 years, shares.

In the photos, Charito sits behind the wheel of her unit, also showcasing a pink dashboard. The steering wheel and her mouthpiece have Hello Kitty’s face on them.

Sofia shows us how Charito has managed to appropriate a space traditionally associated with men.

Larissa Alcántara (Ecatepec, 1993, @larissadeltiempo)

“Which weighs more?” asks Larissa as she holds in front of us, framed, a lock of hair and a bundle of hair.

A kilo of cotton weighs the same as a kilo of lead, in a way, but the amount of lead is less than that of cotton. The lock of hair and the bundle of hair, as Larissa explains, have different origins: The bundle of hair is the result of a year’s collection, while the strand has been yanked out in an act of violence.

The pain and the consequences of an act committed with violence weigh more, however, the weight of the decision and the autonomy with which the author has collected each hair in full use of her freedom should be greater.

Ariel Gil Soriano

Teto profesional, ambivalente entre Héctor Lavoe, Bob Dylan y Taylor Swift. Absoluto detractor del Borrego Viudo.

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