March 28 to May 24, 2014
Opening Friday, March 28, 7 to 10pm
In his first exhibition in Canada, Ley Fuga introduces the video work of Mexican artist Edgardo Aragón. A native of the southern state of Oaxaca, Aragón uses three generations of his own family as well as the landscape itself as protagonists in poetic reenactments of rural life under narco rule. Oblique yet harrowing in their elegance and restraint, these videos function as microhistories encapsulating familial narratives and oral histories situated in the spartan aesthetics of the countryside while eschewing the stereotypical visual violence of necropolitics.
In Efectos de Familia, Aragón's younger male family members perform a series of actions that quickly and cumulatively reveal themselves to be re-enactents of traumatic historical events—"a series of small exercises exploring masculinity and the power relationships that exist in Mexican society"—boys miming chicinarcos emulating the infinitely expanding vocabulary of death in the cartels' perverse lexicon of crime and punishment. The dislocative properties of power imposed on a powerless landscape frame La Trampa, a three-channel installation that features a split focus rural vista, overlaid with the performance of a lost but resurrected corrido commemorating the 1979 massacre by Mexican federales of peasants caught harvesting marijuana. In the video, Aragón sends a small airplane over these locations like a ghost, while the camera lingers on the remains of another that never made it out. Matamoros feels like a road movie—a picturesque travelogue, punctuated by security checkpoints, from the tiny town of Otumba in Oaxaca to the Texas border. The narrator, Pedro Vasquez Reyes, gradually reveals his story as a drug mule hauling marijuana and cash in his VW, and his subsequent arrest and lengthy incarnation in Tamaulipas. That Reyes has undertaken this criminal enterprise as a means to support his family becomes particularly resonant when we learn he is a pseudonym for the artist's father.
Ley Fuga ("the law of flight" or simply "vanishing act") is an archaic term for a type of extrajudicial execution commonly used during the Mexican Revolution, wherein a prisoner is shot in the back while his captors simulate his "escape." In this eponymous work, Aragón constructs a symbolic suicide as a man removes his shirt, drapes it on the mast of a small raft in a stream and, as it begins to drift out beyond his reach, fires on it. Describing his output as "the dismembering of my own history, my family, my village, my origins which lead to a deeply pessimistic vision that is borderline nihilistic despite the visual poetics of the work," Aragón nonetheless reveals political and economic realities: occult unsung histories which the power elite—politicians and narcotraficantes alike—would prefer moulder, unremembered and undisturbed.
Edgardo Aragón (born 1985) received his B.A. in Fine Arts from ENPEG la Esmeralda, Mexico City. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at institutions including Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporaneo (Mexico City), MoMA P.S.1 (New York) and Luckman Gallery (Los Angeles), as well as group exhibitions including Resisting the Present, Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Disponible: A Kind of Mexican Show, San Francisco Art Institute, Historias Fugaces, Laboral Centro de Arte Gijon and El horizonte del topo, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. Aragón's work was included in the 3rd Moscow Biennial of Young Artists, the 12th Istanbul Biennial, and the 8th Mercosur Biennial. His films have been screened at festivals in Werkletiz, Marseille and Mexico City. He lives and works in Oaxaca and Mexico City.
Deluge gratefully acknowledges the support of the CRD Arts Development Service through the participating municipalities of Esquimalt, Highlands, Metchosin, Oak Bay, Saanich, Sidney, Victoria and View Royal; the Province of British Columbia; British Columbia Arts Council; Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City.
Ley Fuga is co-presented by Diluvio Arte e Ideas, Mexico City.
Deluge Contemporary Art
636 Yates St, Victoria, BC, Canada V8W 1L3