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Proyecto Cí­vico / Civic Project

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Nuevo Dragón City by Sergio        de la Torre

From the Abandoned Factory serie by Ingrid        Hernández

We are all the same one (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly)  by Marcos       Ramirez ERRE

The landscape is changing by Mircea       Cantor

The landscape is changing by Mircea       Cantor
Centro Cultural Tijuana- CECUT,
Oct 01, 2008 - Feb 01, 2009
Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico

Proyecto Cí­vico / Civic Project
by Marcela Quiroz Luna

As Estévez and Sanromán point out, "Proyecto Cí­vico distances itself from recent studies of the city as a theoretical model and place of study and focuses instead on its inhabitants, citizens and individuals who, due to political and social conditions, are potential citizens without the right to exercise their citizenship. The individual's position is therefore a fundamental starting point for observing historically valid forms of behavior and reactions that are now being questioned".

As a city of immigrants, Tijuana would be an ideal setting for in-depth study of this phenomena of alienating the individual to the point of invisibility. Daniel Joseph Martí­nez' (Los Angeles, 1957) invention of the Frente Popular de Tijuana (Popular Front of Tijuana, 2008) and the outmodedly existentialist questions that he prints on newspaper sheets for public consumption follows an initial testimony on a horizontal poster placed in the lobby, high on the third floor that asks: "Why get up? Why keep fighting?" Two almost identical blankets made of fragments of different hues of yellow fabric seem to provide an answer: on them Andrea Bowers (Ohio USA, 1965) sewed letters on black cloth spelling the same phrase in English and Spanish: "I was a stranger and you welcomed me / Yo fui extranjero y tú me recibiste". The piece, Quilts of Radical Hospitality, Proyecto Santuario (2008) combines the textile tradition of Afro-American communities with the traditional design pattern of Mexican sarapes. Bowers addresses the "other reality" of the witness to migration by placing a drawing, between the two long strips of interwoven hospitality. The image is of a mother and her son next to a text documenting the inhumane deportation in 2007 of Elvira Arellano.

Marcos Ramí­rez ERRE (Tijuana, Mexico, 1961) and Ingrid Hernández (Tijuana, Mexico, 1974) penetrate the vacuums inhabited by "invisible" citizens that are generated all the more "effectively" in border areas. ERRE's piece, Todos somos el mismo (The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly) (We are all the same one, 2008) establishes in a simple fashion the polarity of a photographic image by positioning on the viewer the Lacanian metaphor of the mirror image, one's self-image, one's exterior image and conscience as a necessary strategy for self-visibility. In Fábrica abandonada (Abandoned Factory, 2004-2008), Hernández transforms the canceled presence of the body-maquiladora into two light boxes that penetrate the eerie seductiveness of recently abandoned spaces. In this case it's the large room of one of many "fly-by-night factories" that appear and disappear in Tijuana's outskirts, manufacturing garments and electronic appliances for the U.S. at very low costs, while evading taxes and operating expenses.

The uncontrollable "aviary exchange" is the subject of another piece in the exhibition, a critical shared narrative subtly interwoven into the PC selections. Bas Princen (Zeeland, Holland, 1975) captures in a large-scale print the concerned gaze of a group of interested protectors of migrant birds on the largest artificial sand dune on the Dutch coast as they surround a flock of stranded swallows in Artificial Sand Dune (2001). Conversely, society as an abstract entity (even as regards the individual) lacking in "human material" is reflected extremely harshly in the videos of Shoja Azari (Shiraz, Iran, 1958), whose featured Windows (2005) is a series of short stories in which there is always a camera in front of or behind a window. Windows, as a symbolic element of Projecto Cí­vico, are used by Azari in a two-fold dimension: to illustrate the dissociation of humanity and community within the conditions and situations that confine cities ad infinitum to the ignorance of the self and the other.

Projects such as those of Francis Alí¿s (Antwerp, Belgium, 1959) "Cuando la fe mueve montañas (When Faith Moves Mountains, Lima, Peru, 2002) and Raúl Cárdenas (Sinaloa, Mexico, 1969) and Torolab's LRPT: La región de los pantalones transfronterizos (The region of the transborder pants, 2004-2005) come across as active attempts to revert the devastating entropy caused by cities on their inhabitants, by setting off an insignificant impulse to activate the social through details.

Alí¿s's well-known piece revolves around the idea of "Maximum effort, minimum outcome" by making a group of 500 people shovel a 500 meter sand dune 10 centimeters away from its original location. This effort at civic integration was recorded on video as an example of an active possibility on the absurd. Here the absurd lies precisely in making the collective effort a collective achievement.

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