Employees of Mexico’s public museums and theaters are striking to protest lack of wages, and remixing famous portraits to denounce the ongoing exploitation of cultural labor.
In protest of femicide, the artists painted over portraits of all-male historical figures hanging in the National Human Rights Commission.
The moving results will soon be on view in a virtual gallery by California’s Social and Public Art Resource Center.
The names, painted on International Women’s Day, were scrubbed away around 24 hours later.
The glass work shattered to pieces “as though it had heard my commentary and sensed what I thought about it,” according to Mexican art critic Avelina Lésper.
Even with art on view from dozens of countries, I found myself most drawn to work from local Mexican artists and spaces.
A group of around 40 employees quietly entered the Palace of Fine Arts during an event. They silently held up their placards as many in the audience cheered and yelled “contrato digno” — a call for “dignified contracts.”
One anonymous employee says it worries him that he has not been paid for six months, despite continuing to do his job and sometimes working late nights.
At a Mexico City museum, farmworker unions demanded the painting of the Mexican Revolution leader be destroyed. Their protest escalated to a clash with LGBTQ activists, amounting to violence and use of homophobic slurs.
Dozens of breastfeeding mothers gathered at Mexico City’s Museum of Modern Art in protest of discriminatory regulations, while the Angel of Independence monument was vandalized with feminist graffiti and crocheted hearts.
Residents in anguish over gender-based violence in Mexico City graffitied one of the capital’s most historic landmarks in an act of frustration against government officials.
Artists often use whatever materials they can find, creating works that reflect on the socioeconomic realities of their surroundings.