"CRÓNICAS: Seven Contemporary Mexican Artists Confront the Drug War"

In "CRÓNICAS: Seven Contemporary Mexican Artists Confront the Drug War" which is a multi-media group show featuring seven Mexican artists, each of the artists' work examines the culture of violence that has been so prevalent in Mexico over the past few years. While the mediums of the artists are very varied, the tone and feel of the show is one of consistence: Mexico is apparently a very scary place.

Ivete Lucas assembled more than 500 videos for her piece ¡Felicidades Mexico! featuring footage of local Mexican political and international news shows, government accounts as well as clips of the escalating violence of the country. This footage is intercut among videos of Americans visiting Mexico for spring break. Death and destruction makes way to tequila shots and beach bikini dance parties. Its impact is quite effective. What is going on with this country? How can these two, vastly different, scenarios exist in tandem? As the images move across the screen, a happy-go-lucky, infectious song backed the videos adding to the eeriness of the theme.

One of the most interesting, although least traditionally artistic, pieces is by Pedro Reyes. As the story goes, Reyes created a movement, of sorts, in an attempt to curb the gun violence in his hometown of Culiacán. He challenged citizens to voluntarily drop off their guns to be melted down and turned into shovels. The result was miraculous. Fifteen hundred and twenty-seven weapons were turned into 1,527 shovels that were used to plant 1,527 trees across the country. The walls of Vine Street held five of these shovels to illustrate this story. The shovels will be used for a tree planting event in Houston's Guadalupe Plaza Park on February 23. The story is one of the more inspiring and hopeful pieces of the show, which otherwise is quite bleak.

As this is FotoFest one might have hoped for more photography, which is sparse. Artist Jorge Arreola Barraza's series of photos showcase the destitution of Juárez from an economical perspective. Empty streets, boarded up shops and blank white billboards demonstrate that the violence of the city has taken its toll in so many facets, not just with guns and drugs. The streets are haunted and desolate.

Even more upsetting are the photographs of Fernando Brito's collection entitled Your Steps Were Lost In the Landscape. Brito's lush and gorgeous color photos feature outdoor settings and by all intents and purposes the imagery is stunning save the dead bodies littering canvas. One after one, the photos show the real and actual result of the violence of Mexico. Corpses, either forgotten or unnamed, gunned down, murdered or in a seeming attempt at escape, are the focuses of Brito's artwork. Several of the pictures are so upsetting; it is difficult to look at them for very long. Where Barraza captures the sociological aspect the crimes of the country has caused, Brito gives a brazen illustration of the real horrors.
Mondays-Saturdays. Starts: Feb. 1. Continues through March 9, 2013


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