Problems of Neoliberal Realism in Mexican Painting (New Mexican Muralism)
Daniel Aguilar Ruvalcaba
“There are some things money can’t buy”
(Engineers of the neoliberal soul)
Problemas del Realismo Neoliberal en la Pintura Mexicana (Nuevo Muralismo mexicano) / Problems of Neoliberal Realism in Mexican Painting (New Mexican Muralism) is an intervention designed by Daniel Aguilar Ruvalcaba for the Proyecto Fachada series. This proposal seeks understanding through ongoing exploration of the logical structural and policies that prefigure the ways works of art are consumed, defined, valued and circulated under capitalist modes of production.
The mural painting presented by Daniel Aguilar Ruvalcaba is a reproduction of the reverse side of a 100 peso banknote, taken from the special commemorative edition printed on the Bicentennial of Mexico’s Independence and Centennial of the Mexican Revolution, which reproduces one of the proletarian murals painted by David Alfaro Siqueiros. The installation displayed on the museum’s façade consists of an exact scale representation of this original paper money, recreated through the use of a variety of printing techniques including 3D printing, inkjet printing and elevated printing. Aguilar Ruvalcaba’s intervention draws ironic and poetic comparisons that question the mechanisms through which social and cultural customs of neoliberal contemporary society operate.
In 2010 the Bank of Mexico (Banxico) printed a set of commemorative coins and currency to honor the abovementioned historical events. According to the informational pamphlet issued by Banxico, the central graphic element in these banknotes is a fragment of Siqueiros’ mural Del Porfirismo a la Revolución (From Porfirianism to the Revolution), also known as La Revolución contra la dictadura Porfiriana (Revolution against the Porfirian dictatorship), which depicts the populace rising up in arms and “dynamically” surrounding governmental leaders in a triumphant act of revolution. This excerpted fragment of an image taken from the painted mural remains ironically encapsulated inside the very symbol of capitalism itself: money.
For Daniel Aguilar, Banxico is distorting the meaning of Mexican Socialist Realism by printing a fragment of Siqueiros’ mural on paper currency and thereby replacing its meaning with another ideological substance: Neoliberal Realism, as presented in Ruvalcaba’s Nuevo Muralismo mexicano. When reproduced in this way, the graphic no longer celebrates the triumph of the working class, but rather that of the world population’s 1%.
Problemas del Realismo Neoliberal en la Pintura Mexicana makes explicit two determining economic factors that are frequently eschewed: the disconnect between the exchange value and use value, and also the ex nihilo creation of currency. Contradictions like these are the cornerstones underpinning the ongoing crisis of representation in the neoliberal age, materializing on a daily basis in the profound dissociation between the price of goods and their real production value and saturated with modes of circulation that increasingly dismiss money itself as a concrete object in favor of more virtual realities of economics.
For this exhibition, the artist took out a bank loan to cover the costs of artistic production.
Curator: Mariana Mañón