The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

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Important Update

February 21, 2009 to May 31, 2009 |

Alejandro Diaz: Blame it on Mexico

In his first solo museum show, Alejandro Diaz uses humor to draw attention to the culturally embedded racial stereotypes with which he is familiar from his bicultural Mexican/Texan upbringing. The title of the show reminds the artist on how easy it is to blame things on others and not account for one’s own actions. It also relates to a 70s pop culture specifically a LP titled “Blame it on Rio” that experimented with the fusion of Latin and American jazz. At The Aldrich, Diaz’s show fusions several issues ranging from quaint stereotypes of Mexican identity, to current issues such as immigrant labor, the economical crisis and the newly revitalize political consciousness.

Diaz is well known for his series of language-related works, cardboard signs. The signs had their origin in the artist’s Even if the cardboard sign format seems be an easy one, it is not that easy to come up with funny, catchy, short sentences that point to so many layers of meaning, many of them pretty awful.That body of work that further his acclaimed cardboard signs by incorporating them into sculptural elements, ultimately reversing stereotypical perceptions.

For example, the artist disrupts an anthropological diorama of ingredients and tools for preparing a traditional Mexican “tortilla” by presenting a cardboard sign that states that Lupe, the cook, is on a break. Assimilated in contemporary culture, she is no longer as quiet, passive, or willing as the stereotype—or a traditional diorama—would proclaim. “Mexican Suitcase” materializes the quintessential stereotype of traveling Mexicans who migrate with their chickens, thus the artist literally includes a taxodermic example in a cage with other belongings. Diaz approaches this situation with humor since by contrast his trips in Mexico have included traveling in modern buses with reclining seats and personal TV sets.

The exhibition will feature the unique, the acclaimed, the only, the extraordinary “World’s Largest Cardboard Sign”, a Texan inspired piece.

Voting, politics and economics also find their way in Diaz work. His take on current economic issues can be traced to the work “Lost Our Lease” comprised of a colorful crafted Mexican birdcage inhabited only by a small cardboard sign stating the reason for its abandonment, the title of the piece.

Recent elections are brought to mind as well. The exhibition showcased a series of cardboard signs that visitors will vote on to choose their favorite hence geting a sticker of a “I Voted” cardboard sign. The elected favorite will be turned into a neon sign to be revealed at the museum’s “Cinco de Mayo” First Thursdays party on May, 7th.

A series of works such as “Visit Our Gift Shop” a neon sign, “Se Habla Espanol” a vernacular street sign, and the work “Please Do Not Touch” a prominent cactus accompanied by a cardboard sign that states this phrase so common in museums culture, all make reference to the institution: the museum and how some stereotypes also play in any exhibition logistics.

The language based neon signs include “Jesus Cheeses” flashing the first word in red and the second in blue. In a gallery on its own, a fifteen feet long pink neon sign states “Visit Our Gift Shop” and an furtive unexpected “Meow” sign flashes in an corner…. Perhaps the cat ate the bird?