30 January 2008

Gabriela Leon Exhibit at UCSC

This exhibition is a multi-media artistic response to the popular revolt and resistance that unfolded in Oaxaca in 2006 and the first traveling solo exhibition outside of Mexico for artist Gabriela León. Some of the elements of the exhibition will consist of a "barricade dress" made of barbed-wire, tire treads and mattress springs found amidst the detritus; a video projection of the artist wearing the dress walking among protesters and police; a sound installation that evokes the voices of the crowds; and tarps inspired by the temporary living structures during the lengthy protest.
Gabriela spoke at the opening of her event and posed a question that presents itself to her; 'what is the role of an artist during times of social conflict and injustice?' "It is impossible not to be affected by a situation that goes over and beyond one's limit of tolerance, confusion, frustration, euphoric hope or anxious despair. My response to the Oaxaquenan conflict was to walk peacefully with my dog wearing a dress made from the evidence of the social awakening repressed with violence."
Leon contextualized her art with the chronology of escalating violence and repression in Oaxaca. By the time Leon walked through the Zocalo on a Sunday of November 19th 2006, the people of Oaxaca had been attacked during peaceful protests with tear gas and guns, shootings had been taking place during the night, the military and PFP had taken over the State, a group of women peacefully and remarkably took control of local radio and television stations to break through the media black-out, the dialogs between the teachers union, the government and APPO were going nowhere, a demonstration of thousands of people walked from Oaxaca to Mexico City, students were kidnapped, 21 members of APPO went on a hunger strike, Indymedia journalist Brad Will had been shot, Vicente Fox had ordered the intervention of the federal police, whom illegally attacked the University and escalated their violence. After the infamous attacks of November 2nd, human rights organizations announced that 98 people were declared disappeared for politically motivated reasons, 93 people were jailed, 109 wounded and 15 dead. On November 18th (one day before the art demonstration of Gabriela Leon) a woman was raped by members of the Federal Police in the Zocalo.
"These were very emotion times", Leon expressed and began to re-address her originally posed question, "I found myself responding in unconscious ways, not having any particular idea in mind. I started collecting random objects from the barricades, the streets, from the demonstrations. I gathered ashes and soot from the burned-out tires, wires from the burned mattresses used to keep the protesters warm and safe during the night. I was interested in these objects because the barricades represented outposts of peoples' hopes and resistance, whereas the police and paramilitary barricades reflected the magnitude and scale of state power. Forming in my mind was a general idea that the leading history of this struggle, no matter what the final outcome, needed to be captured and preserved and not sanitized into oblivion."

Senson Gallery
Porter College, UC Santa Cruz
Exhibition: January 29 - March 8, 2008
Tuesday-Saturday noon to 5:00PM.
* Admission is free and parking is free on Saturdays.
For further information please call 831/459-3606.

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