Cuauhtemoc Buddha

Text by Mariana Morales

Buddha as a religious and historical figure remains distanced and even seems a bit exotic in the Mexican imagination; the known commonplace of rubbing the belly of a chubby and smiling figure is closer to a cult to fetish than to a manifestation of religiosity. Joaquin Segura and Renato Garza Cervera appropriate it in order to produce an artwork which mixes it with the face of a famous mexican art historian, art critic and curator who for many has the power to accelerate or hinder the careers of artists in development: the result is a hybrid image loaded with meaning, symbolism and clichés.

The piece had its origin during the International Symposium on Theory of Contemporary Art in 2006 in Mexico City, where, in the fashion of antique vendors who offered the “movie character” at the exit of cinema theaters, when an open and in that moment anonymous edition of small polyester replicas was sold on a street stall, surprising even the curator who in consequence of the impression sprained a foot, as noted back then on a published newspaper review.

Overwhelming as the character portrayed and ironized by the piece, are the proportions of this sculpture in a bigger version which alters not only the dimensions, but the material and the posture; here the artists take the boldness (one more) to turn it upside down as happens with the famous catholic saint, Saint Anthony, in order to ask favors to him through a symbolic torture. The result is more complex and the irony, placed that way, is powered with a dose of religious kitsch Catholic religiosity, faith and hope that settle on an unattainable figure.

It is, itself, a heavy local joke, the caricature of Cuauhtémoc Medina, but also, through irony as a creative resource, this piece questions the power figure of the curator / critic. It transcends the small circuit of contemporary Mexican scene to refer to the hierarchical scale where the artists seem to be well below the critics and curators, and also refers to the lack of real a art critique which becomes involved in the development of artists and not only justificating indulgently in order to insert them into the market. Joaquin Segura and Renato Garza Cervera recover the power of the artist as creator, as who finally has the last word in the complex ecosystem which art produces.