2010 is the year in commemoration of the Mexican Declaration of Independence’s Bicentennial. Miguel Rodríguez Sepúlveda explores topics of Mexican national identity, human economic transactions and the concept of Freedom. Using a transdisciplinary method, which uses concepts of Natural Sciences, Economy, Sociology and Art, he compares the Law of conservation of matter and energy to the consolidation of the so called nation project; expressed in the wearing away of commemorative coins of 1/20 of ounce of Liberty Silver – Law .999. In his work, the artist engraves coins on PVC architectural paper, used in the fabrication process of bills. In order to produce an accelerated wearing away of the coin, the artist, by hand, engraves each one of the coins. This friction stays in the PVC paper and creates a silver mirror. 200 coins were used to create 200 mirrors. Each coin and mirror represents a year of the Bicentennial. Worn out coins are in dialogue with the silver mirrors produced by them. Matter does not disappear. This is a metaphor for the daily use of coins that wear away in our commercial exchanges. This human contact produces a reflection with one another about our national identity. Using money in our daily lives links us with one another. We identify ourselves as Mexican through the constant presence of money in our lives.
As a Latin-American, it is basic to think over national identity issues. The Liberty Silver Ounce is carved with two Mexican myths of foundation applied to national identity. In the front part, there is the Angel of Independence in between the two volcanoes located in the Valley of Mexico. The Mexican national seal is carved on the back; representing an eagle devouring a snake on a prickly pear cactus. These myths happen before and after the colonial times. It is noticeable the absence of the Hispanic component in appointing Mexican national identity. Mythical roots and most of our ethnic origin date back to the pre-Columbian period. Even though the ethnic component includes, a great amount of Spanish blood and other European, African and Asian, the main component is the one founded on the myth of the eagle and the snake. Since the Declaration of Independence in the early Nineteenth Century the philosophical, political and aesthetic codes have come from non-Hispanic Western sources. Mexican political and economic actions have been guided by the Thought produced in France, England, Austria, the USA and other countries of the Americas and by our own Thought. Hispanic heritage of our institutions and cultural identity has been reconsidered ever since.
The image of the volcanoes in the Valley of Mexico, a representative one of the Independent nation, refers to its legend. In this ancient legend the essential ingredient is hope transcending time; the hope of the Mexican people. The Angel of Independence is a golden sculpture of Greek goddess Niké, who represents victory in classical antiquity. The myth depicted in the coin is a symbol about the victory of freedom in a land of hope. This myth represents the emergence of a modern republican form of government in a new geography, in Mexico. A classical symbol in between the image of a pre-Columbian legend is creating a syncretism between Western and Ancient American cultures. An eagle devouring a snake is the Mexican foundation myth par excellence. It was inherited from the Ancient Mexicas who spread their domination over Mesoamerica. It means the founding of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, today’s Mexico City, in a year as early as 1325. An Ancient Mexican prophecy described this sign as the place for their settlement. The name Mexico means “The Moon’s Navel”, so Ancient Mexicans used this myth to establish themselves as a Great Power in the center of their known world. Since then, Mexican national identity has had a hegemonic aspiration. For this reason Mexico is a wide country.
Both myths harbored hopes that have been already dashed nowadays. Mexico is certainly not the center of the world in the contemporary globalized era, nor is its government strictly republican. In 2010 Power is divided among too many actors and much less we can talk about a true independence. Miguel Rodríguez Sepúlveda makes it clear in his work that silver could be, or could have been, the fundament for a true economic independence. Our lack of it has become evident precisely in the use of a currency based on the value of foreign currencies. Not on our silver! On the other hand, the creation of a national identity has not been successful yet. On the contrary, even though the colonial times did not happen in the creation of “what is Mexican”, its contradictions have not been overcome yet. It will not be until these inherent social contradictions from the colonial period get solved, when Mexico can possibly achieve a true national identity and an economic and political independence.
The exhibition consists of a mural with 200 friction mirrors, 200 worn away commemorative silver coins that were used to create the mirrors, portable offset posters placed on piles, free to take by the public and a double channel video installation. Miguel Rodríguez Sepúlveda appropriates time to create his work. Since 2007, he has worked on this project with a complex study methodology. The image affects spectators by questioning their own independence and national identity. The most recent project of this prestigious and well-known Mexican artist opens the door to a great number of questions… -Are we on the way to national success? Is it a failure State what we commemorate? Where are we heading as a nation? What is it to be Mexican? In fact, what is to celebrate the Mexican Bicentennial?
Exhibition will be open on February 11th. 2010 at the Contemporary Art Museum of Tamaulipas.