Artist: Cintia Figueroa
Exhibition: Mexico Already Changed
Gallery: Max L. Gatov Gallery East
Instagram: Personal account only
About the Artist:
Cintia Figueroa is a graduate student at Cal State Long Beach, seeking a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts for photography. She is from Mexico City, and finished her undergraduate studies for Mass Communication over in Mexico City. Figueroa studied in Mass Communication, because her parents did not believe that a photography major would provide many opportunities for her as a degree in mass communication would. Also, she is an instructor at Cal State Northridge, teaching an introductory course of digital photography for three years now. Within her classroom walls, Figueroa hopes to teach her students basic photography skills, inspire students, and push the boundaries within their work. Her inspiration roots from her own roots and heritage. In Mexico City, Figueroa worked for a television company where she acquired technical skills through video productions. Also, she shared that the only advantage of working there is the insight that she gained. Figueroa shared with us her process of given the opportunity to continue her studies here in the United States. She came on a student visa, then became a green card holder, and is reaching for full citizenship.
In the gallery, there are two screen projections and a small robot with a mexican flag roaming the room. In one of the projections, Figueroa is performing as a newscaster, which allows her to question the common method of delivering messages through television. She plays with the identity of a wealthy mexican woman who talks about her extravagant plans to leave Mexico. In the video, she has two different wardrobes. The first scene, she is wearing a blazer in representation of a newscaster. In the second scene, she is wearing a beautiful, traditional mexican shirt. In this projection she speaks in Spanish and in English. The second screen projection is a video of slogans from former Mexican presidents that never delivered what they all proposed they would. As for the small robot, its name is “El Roboto” and it roams around the room questioning the identity of its next victim. El Roboto asks a hand full of questions, such as “Are you a polygamist?” or “Are you a member of the communist party?”
Content Analysis :
Mexico Already Changed expresses Figueroa’s migration to the United States, and her thoughts about the robotic system. Her project questions the moral values of Mexico, power dynamics that still exist, and emphasizes on classism. Her video points out how the rich want to stay in power. She believes that Mexico is very corruptive, consisting of many social problems. Mexico has issues in the working class system, in which makes it difficult for people to move up the economic ladder. She understands that the history of Mexico never progresses; classism is embedded in the culture. Figueroa uses humor and sarcasm to tell a story about her experience as an immigrant and the difficult application process. The questions that “El Roboto” is programmed to ask are real questions for people that seek to enter the country with a visa that were asked of Figueroa by immigration officers. She thinks that the immigration process is very robotic, and completely outdated. Figueroa felt that the United States was assuming that she was a criminal, based on the questions that were asked of her. She questions why they never once asked her how she was doing or how her day was going. Figueroa also mentions that she feels as if her art is far more supported at other museums as compared to galleries at CSULB. She was asked to put up a sign that reads “Some pieces in this exhibition may be offensive to some viewers.” She quickly gained upset feelings toward having to put this sign up. I sympathize with her, because how can one put limitations on what we want to share with the world? I feel as if this sign restricts her audience with an open mind, when Figueroa just wants to share her art freely.
Mexico Already Changed did not catch my attention at first, but I found myself walking out and back in the room a few times ( so it obviously had to have caught my attention). I’m not sure if it was because I knew the art had something to do with classism or simply because it was on a topic that upsets me. I am aware of the classism in Mexico, and I am not a very big fan. I dislike that lower or middle class people are unable to move up the economic ladder, it angers me. After talking with Figueroa, I noticed that she was passionate towards this topic due to the hardships that she had to face to enter this country. Many of my family members have applied multiple times for a green card and are denied every time. They work very hard to pay for this application, just to be denied. It’s completely unfair that some people obtain a visa, and others are not. When finishing my conversation with Figueroa, she sentimentality said, “ I would like to see other people pick onions in 100 degree weather.” The left me to think about the hard labor lower class people in Mexico do and the unfairness of it all.