naipes, 2022, mixed media

A mixed media piece dealing with the post-genocidal legacy of the Spanish invasion of Mesoamerica through the medium of “naipes”. These images are accompanied by three text quotations:

“It’s important to begin with the coining of the term genocide. Raphael Lemkin first used the word genocide in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (1944). Lemkin spent an entire chapter defining the term, breaking it down into pieces that would help to clarify what genocide is, how it evolves, and the various forms that it takes on. Lemkin laid out multiple conditions that may lead to genocide, which included Colonial expansion, three method types (physical, biological, and cultural), each with multiple techniques… two phases—genocide as an event as well as genocide as an ongoing process, and multiple other facets and considerations for each genocide such as information on the “genocidists,” propaganda, victim responses, outsider responses, and the aftermath.”

“What’s more, Lemkin’s unpublished notes and essays show that he also based his original definition on the colonization of the Americas, and specifically Spain’s notorious treatment (otherwise known as the “Black Legend”) of the numerous tribes that used to occupy Central and South America.”

“Lemkin left behind copious notes, outlines, and unpublished articles on the indigenous Inca, Maya, Aztec, Caribbean peoples… The cultural genocides are all remarkably similar. Lemkin, in any of his notes that have been made available, does not acknowledge the component of disease responsible for killing the vast majority of the population; however, there is no real need to since he is not claiming physical genocide (which relies on violence and death-tolls to be measured) outside of some documented events of massacres and shifting populations around for the encomienda communities that the Spanish set up. Disease may have hastened the loss of cultural identity, but the fact remains that the indigenous populations were forced into encomiendas/haciendas, had to give up their religion and language, and had their sacred artifacts and locations desecrated. This had little if anything to do with rampant disease (aside from workers in encomiendas being relocated to replace communities wiped out by disease) and cannot be ignored.”

-Kristina Charleston “Reframing the Debate: Spain’s Colonization of the New World as Genocide”

“Entre 1545 y 1558 se descubrieron las fértiles minas de plata de Potosí, en la actual Bolivia, y las de Zacatecas y Guanajuato en México; el proceso de amalgama con mercurio, que hizo posible la explotación de plata de ley más baja, empez ó a aplicarse en ese mismo período. El «rush» de la plata eclipsó rápidamente a la minería de oro. A mediados del siglo XVIII la plata abarcaba más del 99 por ciento de las exportaciones minerales de la América hispánica… en tres siglos España recibió suficiente metal de Potosí como para tender un puente de plata desde la cumbre del cerro hasta la puerta del palacio real al otro lado del océano.”

“Entre 1503 y 1660, llegaron al puerto de Sevilla 185 mil kilos de oro y 16 millones de kilos de plata. La plata transportada a España en poco más de un siglo y medio, excedía tres veces el total de las reservas europeas. y esas cifras, cortas, no incluyen contrabando.”

“Los metales arrebatados a los nuevos dominios coloniales estimularon el desarrollo económico europeo y hasta puede decirse que lo hicieron posible.”

-Eduardo Galeano “Las venas abiertas de América Latina”

“Los navegantes de Cristóbal Colón se entretenían al jugar cartas durante el trayecto del viaje y de igual manera, los pasajeros que viajaron de Europa a las Indias eran jugadores apasionados que se valían de los naipes para matar las largas horas que la nao recorría hasta llegar a su destino…”

-María Isabel Grañen Porrúa. “Hermes y Moctezuma, un Taror mexicano del siglo XVI”


erasure, (2022) digital collage

“Erasure” is a digital collage photo series that deals with the theme of Western censorship by U.S. based social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. The collage is composed of the last three photographic portraits I posted of my grandparents and family on my Instagram art account in 2021 before the platform abruptly claimed a violation of terms and deactivated the account with no further explanation.

This piece engages with the historical erasure of indigenous people by Western institutions through genocidal violence and whitewashed colonial teachings of history and wishes to draw a link to the ongoing successor to this legacy, white supremacist tech companies (Google, Facebook) that actively work to uphold racist algorithms and systems of oppression (Israeli apartheid) against indigenous peoples in the Global South.

“Erasure” was also inspired by the recent controversy surrounding Facebook’s role in fueling the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as well as Facebook and Instagram’s decision to allow for death threats and calls for violence towards Russians to be hosted on their social media platforms this year.