Curatorial Projects > Evidence: Artistic Responses to the Drug Cartel Wars (2013)

Miguel A. Aragón
Retratos (5), 2012
Hand-drilled tar paper with drywall dust

“The content and sources for my images come from photographs published by the media; both in digital and in printed form. These photographs deal with the drug cartel wars in which Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, my native city, has been a primary battleground in the violent war between rival cartels and law enforcement agencies that battle for control of the drug trade into the U.S.

For this particular series I turned to a power hand drill as a drawing tool to obviate an image. The process of creating an image this way is one that is fierce in nature. I started by concentrating on portraits of casualties by the violence, both innocent bystanders and cartel members. Blowing up these portraits enhanced the pixelation of the image allowing me to drill each one at a time, with different size drill bits, through the original matrix and into a stack of paper with a drywall backing. By drilling through the halftone pattern of an image I end up with another form of residue from the original therefore transforming the experience and the image itself. Any form of erasure, however violently destructive, can be seen as constructive in some way; something comes through the destruction, the negation of an image is not actually nothing. The negation takes its form from an erasure of a particular image. It is my intention to transform the image, through erasure, from crude and unbearable into a more beguiling or subtle form for presenting such disturbing images; the void thus becomes a space nurturing memory of what was there before, engaging the viewer into a more lasting experience with this difficult subject matter. What I am looking for, as a result of these deletions is not to forget the horrific crimes these images convey; rather, I am searching for an understanding of what has happened by acquiring a sense of catharsis.” - Miguel A. Aragón

Evidence: Artistic Responses to the Drug Cartel Wars

June 21 – August 31, 2013
Intersection for the Arts
San Francisco, CA

Miguel A. Aragón