miércoles, 24 de octubre de 2007

Field Trip Pt 2: Los Ausentes

The field trip adventure from last blog entry continues...

That same day that I went to San Augustine Etla with the kids from our art workshop, we continued on to the studio/ranch of Oaxacan artist Alejandro Santiago, situated nearby.

He just finished this really amazing and huge project called 'Los Ausentes' (the absent), for which he built 2501 waist-high clay statues. Each statue represents a person from his home town Teococuilco (a small pueblo in the Sierra Norte area outside Oaxaca City) who has emigrated to the US. The statues are now on display in Monterrey.

He said that today Teococuilco is practically a ghost town; only elderly folks and a hand full of women and kids live there now, since almost all of the working-age men and their families have moved to the US or to bigger mexican cities like Mexico City, Puebla, or Oaxaca in search of work.

The emmigration situtation in Teococuilco is super-common. Alejandro said he could have done the same project about nearly any small town in Oaxaca, or most other Mexican states for that matter. Emmigration rates from Oaxaca state are exceptionally high though: Oaxaca is the poorest state in Mexico, and the fallout in the agricultural industry over the last few decades (largely attributed to free-trade agreements like NAFTA and competition from heavily-subsidized US corn) has devistated the area's corn-based economy.

Here's some photos!

The artist talking with students about the Ausentes project and emigration. Everyone in the group had close family and friends who had emigrated to the US.

Students looking at some of the emigrant statues that weren't included in the final piece.

One of the emigrants standing guard at the artist's ranch.

Students making their own mini-emigrants out of clay. These girls are sisters. One of them made an emigrant jumping over the border wall, and the other made an emigrant waiting on a bench for a coyote to sneak him over the border.

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