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Untitled (The Disappearance of the Symbol)


Fritzia Irizar

In Mexico, the Phrygian cap was used as a symbol since 1823 with the establishment of the Republic and until the first half of the twentieth century. A symbol of freedom regained from the French Revolution and, at the same time, from the ancient world; when the slaves from Phrygia (now Turkey) were liberated, they would put on this hat, whose name derives from that particular geographical area. Fritzia Irizar takes such a significant image in the history of Mexico as well as all the Republican Latin American countries in order to discuss the construction and disappearance of the political symbols in the collective imagination. In this work Untitled (the disappearance of the symbol), a weaving machine undoes the stitches of a gold threaded Phrygian cap, causing the total disappearance of the object. This action triggers a series of meanings about the ideological fabrication between politics, economy and society.
In America, the Phrygian cap was mainly used in numismatics and heraldry and it represents an allegorical statement of republican freedom imposed by the new Nation States. In this sense, this is the result of an interest that is not born on the social sphere but on the political sphere. The different emblems where the Phrygian cap appears, such as in Mexican coins, show a nation in political transition going from independence towards the constitution of the republic. Therefore, the geared sheaves (pulleys) used by the artist in her work, are understood as an apparatus that controls, manipulates and, at the same time, disappears the construction of symbols according to the political interests in turn. Moreover, the gold thread redefines the value of a symbol with a lost allegorical force. The Phrygian cap, never materialized before in the work of Irizar, is less of an iconographic study, it rather focuses on the possibility or impossibility of freedom. The absence of the object, sets the debate on democracy and the political machinery in motion behind the images and symbols that circulate through the repetition of history.

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