“What the Photograph reproduces to infinity has occurred only once: the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially.” — Roland Barthes (1).
In the years following the 1994 financial crisis in Mexico, artist Victor Arroyo spent his days wandering homeless in the outskirts. Distant from the city centres densely occupied by mass manifestations, Arroyo’s black and white photographs inscribe a different geography of exclusion and trauma. During this period, a heavily devalued currency, financial speculation and capital flight devastated Mexico, and in turn placed her in a vulnerable geopolitical position subservient to a new neoliberal order. Within this climate, the artist created a series of photographs developed and shown here for the first time in eighteen years. The film negatives were silently stored in a copy of Umberto Eco’s Opera Aperta (The Open Work)—one of the few books the artist carried with him on his dramatic journey. Photographs of crumbling buildings are visually contrasted with seemingly tranquil images of the sea, which are in fact Arroyo’s last sentimental snapshots of a place steeped in vivid family memories. These photographic remnants speak of loneliness, isolation and abandonment. Juxtaposed with fragmented writings and a blurry video document of the assassination of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio; an event that remains in clear focus in Mexico’s collective memory. Through quiet reflection, the cinematic landscapes in Crisis act as a personal memorial—one of forgetting and remembering.
Roland Barthes. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill & Wang, 1981: 4.