Message to Salinas, Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin, Jan-Feb 2011

The work Message to Salinas was made during SOMA Summer in Mexico City 2010. Motivated by the questions regarding the visibility and presence of ex-president Carlos Salinas in the social and political life in Dublin, I began researching what quickly emerged as a highly contentious issue in Mexico. Carlos Salinas de Gortari, elected under dubious circumstances, was president of Mexico from 1988 to 1994. His memory and the effects of his time as president are very much present to this day, indeed are etched into the collective consciousness of the Mexican people.

Salinas left the country, allegedly fearing he might be charged with the murder of his chosen successor, arriving in Ireland in the Spring of 1996, he took up residence in Dublin.

In Message to Salinas I attempt to give the people a voice, providing them with the opportunity to send Salinas a personal message. I invited Mexicans, via facebook, to send a message to Salinas in Dublin either by video or email. These messages were made and delivered in good faith, unmediated, retaining and preserving the charged and genuine expression, bewilderment, anger, admiration, regret, with which they were originally imbued.

In the piece Solidarity I explore the betrayal and misplaced hopes invested by a whole generation in Salinas’ social reform programme. Mexicans have a deep respect for their flag, which is treated with the utmost care and reverence. By cutting into the flag therefore, serious and forceful statement is made about this betrayal. Behind the violated flag are images of Mexican billionaires, many of whom benefited directly from the privatisation of the State companies,. The large gap between the rich and poor in Mexico is disquieting and has grown steadily since Salinas’ presidency, causing unrest. This gap is also the subject of both the photographic work and the neon piece I’m Yours For Money. This work emphasises that there is little correlation between time and money in Mexico - vendors sell all sorts of paraphernalia on the streets, things they find, collect or make, earning only cents for a whole day’s work. The photographic works, focuses very specifically on the garbage workers who have no permanent contracts and therefore no rights, no pension and no social services. The way a city deals with refuse, can tell you a lot about a city and its economics. Exhibited also is Salinas’s book Mexico: The Policy and the Politics of Modernization, written in Ireland as well as a propagandist book on the Solidarity reform programme.

The book which contains all the e-mail responses has been selected for the Berlin Reading Room 2011 and the DVD has been selected for Artprojx, New York, March 2011

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