In a time of extreme social and political polarization, it is urgent to examine the historical narratives on which these ideological differences rest. In Mexico, colonial nationalist rhetoric takes on a mythic quality, and results in the homogenization of Indigenous identity and material culture. Yet art can introduce cracks and fissures to hegemonic histories and excavate the stories concealed beneath them.
For Saúl Hernandez-Vargas, an artist from Taller de Artes Plásticas Rufino Tamayo, Oaxaca, this excavation is literal. I first encountered the artist through the 2017 works Plate #1, #2, and #3 and through documentation of the exhibition No queda nada para nosotros en la espesura (Nothing Left for Us in the Wilderness).