Untitled (Portrait of the Bourgeoisie)
Confetti made out of a replica of Siqueiros’ 1939 mural Retrato de la Burguesía
Video 8’ 18” Photograph: 39.3 × 60 inches
Shows the process for the “Proyecto Fachada” at the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros (Siqueiros Public Art Hall), commissioned in 2014. The façade of the saps building Siquieros’s 1939 mural for the headquarters of the Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas (Mexican Electrical Workers Union), entitled Portrait of the Bourgeoisie was printed to scale. The print was then shredded into pieces the size of confetti. The entire surface of the façade was covered in slow drying glue. As an inaugural event, and in an environment marked by a festive air, paper projecting cannons were set off allowing the image of Siqueiros’s mural to be spontaneously reconstructed in tiny pieces across the front wall of the building.
Portrait of the Bourgeoisie
Based on a photographic record of the four panels comprising David Alfaro Siqueiros’ 1939 mural for the headquarters of the Sindicato Mexicano de Electricistas (sme, or the Mexican Electrical Workers Union) in the San Rafael neighborhood the building currently housing the sme’s stifled resistance after the disappearance of the Compañía de Luz y Fuerza del Centro (Power and Light Company of Central Mexico) in 2009 as well as the negligence that continually jeopardizes the country’s architectural / historical heritage, Irizar created a fullscale replica, printed on paper, which she then subjected to a shredding process until transforming it into confetti. During the inaugural event for the presentation of this piece, which was commissioned by the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros (saps, or Siqueiros Public Art Hall), more than 30 kilograms of shredded paper were launched into the air with cannons in order to reconstruct, across the saps façade, the image of the formerly allegorical mural, a dynamic mass of remains as if from a street party or fair.
The action’s festive reference emphatically points to the set of social and political customs that offer a series of distractions and basic satisfying benefits in order to distance individuals from political processes and social conflicts utilizing illusory, fantasy driven environments that provoke and promote forgetfulness. Irizar thus establishes a parallel between, on the one hand, the mechanisms of infor- mational obstruction, cancellation, or disappearance that are typical in artistic practice, and, on the other, the many political and social tactics directed toward strengthening or preserving power; she also plays with methods of appropriation and reprocessing as a creative strategy.
Obliteration is a common exercise in artistic process, whether as a declaration of principles the classic example would be Erased de Kooning Drawing by Robert Rauschenberg in 1953 or as a natural part of the creative process. Siqueiros and his team made various corrections to the mural Retrato de la burguesía [Portrait of the Bourgeoisie]; the most iconic change involved removing an image of children killed in the attack on Guernica innocent victims of fascism during the Spanish Civil War. Siqueiros decided to superimpose an image of robust gold coins, alluding, in his words, to the objec- tive, dynamic essence of capitalism and the bourgeoisie. Irizar reproduces this image cancellation process by using, for one thing, the final version of the mural, and, for another, the symbolically obliterated piece during its creation the only photographic register recovered. In documenting the destruction of the mural replica on video, the representation gains a kind of tacit strength, as it is unexpectedly turned into an ode to the inevitable mechanization of workers’ efforts at the very heart of modernity. Simultaneously, it points to various cancellation processes within the art world, as well as to thousands of known moments—and moments yet to be discovered—in our national history.