PRINT Summer 2017


View of “Tercerunquinto: Doble fondo” (False Bottom), 2017, Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City. Photo: Rodrigo Viñas.

SOCIAL STRIFE bequeaths to history a form of abandoned and unrecognized literature. Wall drawing, or graffiti, is one of the most accessible strategies for recording dissent, indignation, and rage in public space. In our work we emphasize the ephemeral nature of graffiti, as it is invariably authored by elusive and anonymous figures. We deconstruct the transitory and clandestine nature of these street-level expressions to explore the aesthetics and poetry that form the core of what is, in essence, a social grammar of sadness.

Since the destiny of these communal records is to disappear and be forgotten, we designed a variation on archaeological cataloguing to preserve dozens of politically driven tags and slogans that militate against various authority figures. The tags are transferred and preserved on fabric via cloth dipped in solvent. To counter the marginalization of graffiti as mere vandalism, we adopted academic and scientific methodologies for the restoration and conservation of cultural artifacts, as well as techniques from archaeology and anthropology—fields that are themselves highly ideologized.

In collaboration with specialists from these fields, we designed a registration form and protocol to identify and analyze graffiti. The information from the forms, along with the accompanying photographic documentation and the preserved tag, is organized and catalogued, thus legitimizing and memorializing the routine labor of graffiti removal. Our emphasis on conserving these scrawled messages calls for their reframing as national heritage in order to open the possibility for an analysis of the archaeology of rage.

Doble fondo” (False Bottom), our exhibition at Proyectos Monclova in Mexico City this past winter, was titled after our work of the same name. The site-specific piece contextualizes the graffiti works by constructing the sensation of a false reality through the installation of an imitation floor on top of the original, replicating it as faithfully as possible. To stand on it is to be eerily aware of being in a place where there is no security, where reality is clearly a simulation: a sensation that seems to grow more familiar each day.

Tercerunquinto is a collaboration by artists Gabriel Cázares and Rolando Flores, Founded in 1998 in Monterrey, Mexico. The artists are currently based in Mexico City.