Mexico City - Interviews

“VIS. [UN] NECESSARY FORCE”: A Journey through Mexico’s Buried Violence

2 years ago

During our stay in Mexico City, we visited Luz María Sánchez‘ studio. The artist guided us through the artworks showcased in her space and told us about her recent projects and upcoming shows she is working on.

Luz María Sánchez is a sound and visual artist,  born in Guadalajara, Mexico where she studied music and literature. Having a PhD at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, she focused on the role of sound in art since its mechanical inception in the 19th century.

Working with both sound and moving images, Sánchez’s work operates in the political sphere, working with themes like the Mexican diaspora, violence in the Americas and the failure of the Nation-State.

We report here, through the artist’s own voice, the engaging narrative about the project which she has been working through the last years: “VIS. [UN] NECESSARY FORCE”.

Luz María Sánchez: “Here in my studio I’m showcasing the result of one of the recent project I’ve been working on. The main theme is the exploration and research about violence that is happening in Mexico right now and since a long time ago.
 As you know, I’ve been working on this theme since 2004: when I was living in Texas I explored themes as diaspora, violence and media, and violence among civilians. I asked myself how common people deal with violence in daily life, how they survive to it.

This first pieces “The Triades” deals with a research on Philipe Calderon, the president of the opposite party. I’ve collected pieces of information derived from newspapers related to violence and drug that had representative images which may not represent violence themselves: they could be images of the Pope, a politician, an artist, Obama, whatever it was linked to violence related to drugs and war. The piece itself ended as a huge mount of data. Images are simply transformed into a volume of data. The ideal place to exhibit this work is an exhibition space with no screening, no sound…Visitors should be free to scroll all the images and information, and at the end, realize that all this comes from 6 years of collecting pieces from 2 newspapers.

After doing this, I started working with images that came up after this experiment. I take out images from the digital, pieces of news transposed into the analog, the real, in a traditional way. The idea is to have different sections and themes of images. They are mainly abut politicians, see for example this one which tells about the loss of two dear friend of Calderon.

A lot of images are about military, politicians, each of them is taken from the digital to the material which is an interesting process, a transposition from the net to the reality. Some images are really poetic, you are captured by some of those, in the multitude of fragments. The technique employed is the traditional silkscreen and I kept the original colors of the images.

When I was doing this research which ended in 2015, I realized that some newspapers changed the way of uploading their images. In 2006 Calderon asked to Mexican newspapers to sign an agreement to stop talking about the war he himself started and that he was loosing; it was something like “let’s stop talking about my unsuccessful war”.
People started looking for blogs and other forms of information: they were uploading images that the local and official press was not showing on their media. There was a certain lack of information, editors had a great power on what to make readers know and what not. Civilians started looking for their own spaces, they started using social networks. Then, there was something that took my attention: people started recording with their mobile phones when they were in the middle of a shooting, for example, and they were immediately uploading their contents on the net. If you search for “Balacera, Mexico” you’ll find thousands of this contents, you see people crying, running, you see the real civilians.

These videos inspired my work “V. [u]nf_1”: I recorded the sounds of them and I realized this work which I made in 2014. This is a sort of speaker, a stereo that records video, music. These stereo are made in China, for example, lots of people buy them at very low prices. I bought it too and when I found this hardware I thought I had the perfect medium to reproduce my work. You can simply touch this piece and reproduce all the content or you can play tracks one by one and understand the experience of this people within a violent context.
Visitors have to turn around the speaker to perceive properly the sounds. Each sound is very different from one another. 
Even if people are used to listen to this kind of sounds – think about movies, tv series, spots and anything on the television – this is much different, this is real and frightening.

This is a piece you can also see at the Museum. The gun and the bottoms have a number through which you can reproduce each track. You can see where “Balacera” was filmed, you can scroll and explore who was the user: it’s a kind of archive, an academic research.

After this, it was very important to me to understand how much civilians need to talk, to share their hard experience. So I came up with this installation (number 2). I started this project in 2014 and in 2015 I had a grant from the Ministry of Culture which cover three years of production (2015-2018) but the project will be ready in 2020.

For this project, I’ve been working with a young psychologist around five problematic areas of Mexico City. I mainly work with civilians that are part of organizations such as “Collima”, for example. Even if most of people are not ready to get into groups and help each other, some of them are trying to meet and support each other to build an organization where families can share their experience.

I do research with civilians, scholars but no institutions are involved, I’m trying to do everything step by step. I don’t want they to feel used, I want they to feel confident. It’s a sort of anthropologist approach, where you have to build the trust.
For some of them, for example, the arrival of artists, journalists and people who want to help them is like the arrival of helicopters: they bring a lot of sand and dust when they arrive but after that, they disappear. That’s why they feel used.

Artwork 2010: this piece shows the process of making a sculpture with a printer. Kids make their drawings and we reproduce them with the printer – a process that involves our interpretation of the drawing -.

We are in touch with the families, they do know what we are doing here in the studio with their kids and they can participate to the workshop, they can talk to me and express their needs. We have not financial supports, except for my grant, but we are trying to crate a networks to help, this is the role of an artist, to me.
Everything I’m working on is going to “Repository: it’s a way of sharing this research, the project, this collection of data, it’s a way to have new partners to access this project. It will be integrated into an archive, a repository that will include maps, photographs, videos, sound files, and digital documents that are being generated through the production process.

We are facing a problem that Mexican institutions are not clearly considering. See for example, the women that are still looking for their disappeared children, you can see how desperate they are, they are completely left alone, and the institutions are doing nothing to help them.

The project I’m working on will be presented in Concordia University, in the gallery space in 2018. I will collaborate with the curator in Montreal. It will include 3d photos and 3d prints which are very easy to be moved.

Mara Sartore

  • Luz María Sánchez Studio. Photo by Teresa Sartore Luz María Sánchez Studio. Photo by Teresa Sartore
  • Luz María Sánchez Studio. Photo by Teresa Sartore Luz María Sánchez Studio. Photo by Teresa Sartore
  • Luz María Sánchez Studio. Photo by Teresa Sartore Luz María Sánchez Studio. Photo by Teresa Sartore
  • Luz María Sánchez Portrait. Photo by Teresa Sartore Luz María Sánchez Portrait. Photo by Teresa Sartore
  • Exhibition view at Luz María Sánchez Studio. Photo by Teresa Sartore Exhibition view at Luz María Sánchez Studio. Photo by Teresa Sartore
  • Exhibition view at Luz María Sánchez Studio. Photo by Teresa Sartore Exhibition view at Luz María Sánchez Studio. Photo by Teresa Sartore
  • Exhibition view at Luz María Sánchez Studio. Photo by Teresa Sartore Exhibition view at Luz María Sánchez Studio. Photo by Teresa Sartore

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