Xavier Cázarez Cortéz | Notes on Looking

Monster Drawing Rally 2012

LA’s fifth annual Monster Drawing Rally, which inaugurated the relationship between Outpost for Contemporary Art and Armory Center for the Arts took place last Sunday, June 17th at Armory Center for the Arts.  100 amazing artists participated. Artists included: Danielle Adair, Steven Bankhead, Joe Biel, Elonda Billera, Holly Boruck, Richard Bott, Brian Bress, Heather Brown, David Burns, Andrew Cameron, Juan Carlos Muñoz-Hernandez, Matthew Carter, Xavier Cázares Cortez, Lorraine Cleary Dale, Luke Davis, Jeseca Dawson, Michael Dopp, Veronica Duarte, David P. Earle, Ariel Erestingcol, Allison Fisher, Diego J. Garza, Paul Gillis, Aimee Goguen, Justin Greene, Margarete Hahner, Lia Halloran, Robert Herbst, Gregory Michael Hernandez, Sergio Hernandez, Onya Hogan-Finlay, David Hughes, Kim Kelly, Olga Koumoundouros, Aitor Lajarin, Daniel Lara, Nery Gabriel Lemus, Jeff Levitz, Kristi Lippire, Patricia Liverman, Karen Lofgren, Nick Lowe, Justin Lowman, Lisa Madonna, Oscar Magallanes, Dana Maiden, Melissa Manfull, Melise Mestayer, Rebekah Miles, Dylan Mira, Melanie Moore, Nikko Mueller, Tracy Nakayama, Hazel Mandujano & Nancy Cahill, with Tucker Neel, Christine Nguyen, Chris Oatey, Gina Osterloh, Michael Parker, Zack Paul, Julia Paull, Alia Penner, Jennifer Phelps, Nancy Popp, Gala Porras-Kim, Max Presneill, Vincent Ramos, Christy Roberts, Jean Robison, Steve Roden, Brett Cody Rogers, Kimberly Rowe, Simone Rubi, Yoshie Sakai, Kristofferson San Pablo, Shalini Sanjay Patel, Finishing School, Jeannie Simms, Jennifer Smith, Niko Solorio, Meriel Stern, Amelia Symes, Brendan Threadgill, Elizabeth Tremante, Chris Trueman, Hataya Tubtim, Carrie Ungerman, Mark Verabioff, Keith Walsh, Matt Wardell, Carrie Whitney, Rosten Woo, Jacob Yanes, Amanda Yates, Carrie Yury, Bari Ziperstein, Weronika Zaluska & Jeff...

Narcos, Feral scapes and Art on the Radio: Edgardo Aragón; “West is More”; Xavier Cázares Cortéz; Radio Break: Pedro Reyes, Brandon LaBelle, & Arnoldo Vargas

Many Mexican artists are tackling the theme of drug trafficking in their work, often by portraying the violence and aggression in ways that are sensational and direct.  One artist who is attempting work in the complete opposite way is Edgardo Aragón, whose first solo-exhibition in the US is on view at Cal State LA’s Luckman Gallery, in collaboration with LAXART. Aragón, who is from Oaxaca, Mexico, takes on the subject of narco-trafficking in a way that is subtle and simple.  The solitary landscapes, which reoccur in his vidoes, indirectly portray the cruelty of these impoverished narco-agricultural regions. The exhibition consists of a video-trilogy.  In Efectos de Familia, several screens show kids, or chiquinarcos (children recruited by the cartel) in what seem like theatrical staged maquettes.  The kids are playfully imitating what the narco does to his victims.  In one video, a little boy stands in the middle of a desolate, dusty landscape.  A truck goes around him in a circle creating a huge dirt cloud, which is meant to suffocate;  this act reveals an actual form of torture.  In a second video, two young boys imitate a violent encounter between two enemies; one boy opens the truck door and pretends to shoot a gun, the other boy pretends to get shot over and over.  There is no blood, no bullets just two kids mimicking a common spectacle.  In another video a boy’s feet are buried in the sand.  He stands in the middle of a deserted, dirt road.  A truck’s lights blind as it then races toward him, in what looks like a game of chicken.  The truck violently...