Narrativas del Expatriado

Inspired by the Xin Dynasty terra cotta warriors and motivated by the threat of, at the moment, presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proposed wall, I constructed a life-size army of ceramic mariachi warriors. The portraits on each sculpture are made after real immigrants who have crossed the border by foot. Installed near the border Texas-Chihuahua and facing north within the exhibition space, each warrior shows two faces, after god Janus, in order to look forward to a new life and back towards Mexico and South America. On the back of the figures, each one has a map drawn on their upper garments. Each outline of the map references the state or country where the person came from.

 

The installed army, accompanied by xoloitzcuintli, sacred dogs of the Aztec culture, who protected homes from evil spirits in life and guided their owners’ souls into the underworld after death, silently ponder the complexities of exodus and identity while simultaneously anticipating further fracture within an already fragmented reality. Like the creators of terra cotta warriors my army is modeled after, what I consider the experience of unacknowledged labor and liminal civic status. The terra cotta warriors, produced by nameless serfs for the Emperor’s tomb, are reincarnated as both mariachi warriors and also undocumented workers, who will sweat illegally and be obscured out of necessity and for the comfort of others.

 

Each character is standing in a base made out of a mixture of soil transported from Mexico (Arcilla de Zacatecas) mixed with polyester resin. In a way, immigrants are currently present in the United States; however, they are still standing in Mexican soil, exploring the idea of temporality, memory and identity.

​© 2019 by Rodrigo Lara Zendejas

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