About New Codex: Oaxaca – Immigration and Cultural memory
at SPARC Venice (CA)
Shuffling stories, by Rosanna Albertini
Stories I report, in fragments, are written by Mexican artists who stayed. Even shuffled, they are only one story of people who saw more than a half of their villages deserted, left behind by thousand of immigrants attracted by the American dream, in search of a better life. Those who remained tuned their lives to a situation of loss, a loss in either case, if the attempt at crossing the border was successful, or was ended by death. They don’t forget nor complain. Four years ago seven women, the Embroidery Ants of Tanivet, started to fill the emptiness of their homes with a soft, embroidered storytelling. Ants are contagious, other local artists joined them from other communities, a curator grabbed the scattered threads and made an exhibition that is now in Los Angeles. I never write reviews in this blog, and this is not a review, it is a tribute to their art, which is built on the local feelings and images, displacing children faces on ideas of stamps, spreading roses on the map of a dangerous journey, sewing red spots on white socks. Art can be a paper airplane, or cactus and birds embroidered on black bandanas, it is the space without limits that the Tanivet pueblo would like to expand to the walls of the border and beyond. Intelligence moving through fingers and hearts. Piercing them, I’m sure.
Art is also a moment of victory over sadness; families look proud to pose in their homes leaving a space in the middle for a projected image of the person who left. They celebrate in that instant the real spirit of their place, and things are easy as if we, the viewers, were also welcomed to share their Mexican dream, the imaginary vision of a family whose members are, finally, all together.
Twenty years without touching the face of our loved ones again.
This Dream Smells of Death
San Francisco Tanivet, 2014
They take the bandana to keep the sweat off and keep the memories alive.
Don’t forget me!
Socks keep the feet protected during the long journey across the deserts.
Tanivet is a pueblo that remembers, and through those memories, continues to live.
And the clock is ticking over the steps, streets, objects, coins, conflicts, doubts, anger, happiness… of children left at home, but not abandoned.
The beast is a huge freight train, the free passage to the American dream.
The embroidery thread represents a mender of situations, a connector between people and their concerns.
Migration is synonymous with absences.
At age 11 I migrated with my parents to Los Angeles, California. I spent three years living in the basement of a building. To school and back. I found no freedom as a child.
As we chase the American dream, we abandon our homes in search of family members who have gone before us.
1920s to the 1940s letters written from Manuel Coronado who traveled from Mexico City to Texas and then on to Chicago.
Projecting the portrait of the immigrant on the walls of those spaces where they lived.
Things are bad everywhere and people are trying to survive seeking employment wherever, facing and risking all odds.
A heartfelt relationship with those who have stayed at home.
I decided to cross illegally the US border, risking my life. After several failed attempts as a result, I landed in jail. I decided not to try again and went on to earn money to go to college to study arts, which has led me to appreciate my culture and develop the occupation that my father taught me: carving on gourds.
The earth as a planet has no borders; it doesn’t belong to anybody.
Our lives will consist of running behind the beast.
Nobody on Earth is illegal. If daily at our borders we witness the crossing of weapons, goods, money and drugs, why condemn a human being?
Hope can travel far on a paper airplane.
The Embroidery Ants of Tanivet: Juana Martinez Santos, Leonida Aragon Grijalava, Rebeca Martinez santos, Liliana Escobar Garcia, Jennifer Grijalva Martinez in collaboration with Rufina Ruiz Santiago and Araceli Gonzales Carrasco embroider on fabric with appliqué and patchwork the personal stories of their lives and community: The Codex of San Francisco Tanivet.
The exhibition New Codex-Oaxaca-Immigration and Cultural Memory, curated by Marietta Bernstorff, is on display at SPARC’s Durón Gallery: 685 Venice Blvd., Venice (CA), through August 28th.