Thursday, November 29, 2007
Serious whimsy: Dulce Pinzon & Daniela Edburg
From "The real story of the Superheroes," Dulce Pinzon, All rights reserved
Dulce Pinzon's show, "The real story of the Superheroes," opening December 1st at Kunsthaus Miami, has a serious purpose, but that doesn't mean it isn't lots of fun. Pinzon writes, "The Mexican immigrant worker in New York is a perfect example of the hero who has gone unnoticed. It is common ... to work extraordinary hours in extreme conditions for very low wages which are saved at great cost and sacrifice and sent to families and communities in Mexico who rely on them to survive." So how does Pinzon put across this somber & uncomfortable truth? By making pictures that would delight a child -- or startle a surrealist.
Her show depicts 20 Mexican immigrants at their NY workplaces dressed in the costumes of popular American and Mexican superheroes. Brightly colored & dramatic, the superheroes are pure fantasy, but the settings are authentically mundane. The photos are simply captioned with the worker’s name, hometown in Mexico, number of years working in New York, and amount of money sent each week to Mexico. For instance, the photo above says: "LUIS HERNANDEZ from the State of Veracruz works in demolition in New York. He sends 200 dollars a week."
Think about that... Living in this city off a low-wage job, no benefits, sending home $800 a month... See all the Superheroes.
"Muerte por algodón de azúcar" (Death by cotton candy), Daniela Edburg, All rights reserved
Daniela Edburg is another female Mexican artist whose work can be laugh-out-loud playful without suppressing uneasy undercurents. She says her series "Drop dead gorgeous" is "about the relationship between glamour and death," but, like Pinzon's, her pictures are anything but dogmatic. They can be extravagantly goofy (see the Wizard of Oz-magicked "cotton candy" above) & very funny (see "Muerte por tupperware") Or they can veer toward the unsettlingly realistic (see "Muerte por lifesavers," with its evocation -- conscious or not -- of a pill-popping suicide). They are never dull.
I'm reminded of the Day of the Dead & its capering, clowning skeletons. How important is it that these pictures are made by Mexicans? I don't know enough to answer. But, Mexican or not, these images manage to take themselves both less & more seriously than most I see in New York. I wish more conceptual photography had this kind of flexibility & edge.
Read an interview with Daniela Edburg in The Morning News.