Untitled (Nature of Imitation)
Diamond .02 inches
In early 2012, the Sierra Tarahumara suffered the effects of a drought unusual for this region that severely depleted agri cultural plots and livestock. Public attention grew in response to a supposed wave of suicides within the Rarámuri community, attributed to their unbearable poverty.
In an exercise revealing the absurd, diametrical distance in society, Irizar requested that members of the Rarámuri community donate hair in order to produce an artificial diamond, created by extracting carbon molecules from human hair. The resulting crystal incarnates the contrast between the superfluous ambitions of a particular social sector one that aspires to these symbols of wealth and can commission them as personalized objects and the basic needs of a community whose survival hinges on conserving one of Mexico’s richest cultural legacies.
Nature of imitation
Fritzia Irizar fluctuates between alchemy and taboo. With her work Untitled (Nature of Imitation), she found a reason to critically observe ritual phenomena that range from political spectacle and mundane guilt to the idea of immortality and symbolic transcendence.
An American company called Infinity Diamond manufactures diamonds out of carbon extracted from natural hair. The creation of this precious stone seeks, among other objectives, to function as a posthumous memory materialized in something more than the ashes of the deceased, as hair contains all of a person’s biological characteristics. Irizar used this new method with different members of the Rarámuri community, who donated their hair when aid from international organizations and charities was present in the region during a famine.
And so begins the taboo: the use of a highprofile media moment and a vulnerable community in order to create art; an act that could be interpreted as a profanation of an indigenous community’s principles or an act similar to Samson’s loss of strength, when Delilah betrays him by cutting his hair. That being said, hair, known as an element with regenerative powers, has been used since the time of ancient cultures as a trophy and ornament, as well as a mechanism for seduction and memory. The diamond, symbol of power, exploitation, and colonization, is an ostentation that has ambiguous ethical connotations in the present day.
And so begins the alchemy: in turning hair into diamonds, the artist focuses on the idea of permutation, the configuration of one form into another through a symbolic act. Halfway between a trophy and an offering, a diamond represents the perpetuity of an event that is remembered and forgotten. In this way, Irizar sheds light on the ethical and economic implications of a historical occurrence through an object synonymous with luxury and power. Irizar makes no attempt to feign a lavish transaction or act as an agent of social change for the Rarámuri people. Her intention is that the diamond be incorporated into the contemporary art circuit as any other object to be consumed and that, thus, it participate in that market.
Consequently, this diamond is testimony, a document, a kind of oblation that could be linked to the clay balls, containing human hair, which were used in ancient Egyptand accompanied the deceased an offering transformed into an eternal representation of immortality, poverty notwithstanding.