Chapulines Gratis (Free Grasshoppers)
Harkening back to our Jonathan Harris week, I’ve decided to share a piece that I made while traveling in Oaxaca in September 2013. I’ve never shared this piece, mostly because it felt like a private endeavor not terribly related to the rest of my artwork. Furthermore, our discussions of Harris’ work articulated a subconscious reservation I had in sharing this work– that it felt problematic in terms of a passive attempt to “communicate” through an imposition of “artwork” with real people of a culture in which I was a privileged white male alien. That problem is something that I am often aware of when I have traveled to other countries, but is easier to ignore if you are just playing the part of a tourist-consumer. My attempt to make an artwork that speaks to that feeling of disconnection is a humble attempt to cross that socio-cultural divide. If I had made this piece in an art context in Mexico as opposed to the Zocalo, the central public plaza in Oaxaca City, I would not have presented such a explanatory statement right next to it. But by having a local I met at the copy shop help translate my statement, I felt it would help me communicate to the public better than I could through broken dialogs in Spanish. But I tried that too…
(FYI fried grasshoppers are a popular local snack in Oaxaca)
The text on the card reads:
“When I travel to another country, often I feel disconnected from the people, especially when there is a language barrier. This piece is an attempt to connect with the people of Oaxaca. It is a play on words and also a sincere offering. The meaning of “Chapulines” in English is “Grasshopper”. This reminded me of one of my favorite actors Dennis Hopper. Even if you do not know Dennis Hopper, you can understand that these grasshoppers are free. Thus, this piece is able to create a connection between me and you.
(This aluminum flower was made by a local artist named Enrique)”