UC San Diego
Phantom League: Refusal as Conceptual Methodology
- Author(s): Hernandez-Vargas, Saul
- Advisor(s): Dominguez, Ricardo
- et al.
In January 14th, 1931, an earthquake destroyed the city of Oaxaca. Usually seen as a natural disaster or a mere human tragedy, the earthquake became, on the contrary, a fundamental political agent in the rise and development of a new city—one completely dominated by tourism. This thesis, along The Phantom League Archive, my thesis show, is an exploration of the concept of refusal, developed by Mohawk scholar Audra Simpson (2014) in Mohawk Interruptus, as a tactic to interrupt or struggle against colonial narratives. The three clay sculptures and two videos I created for my thesis show were designed to interrupt Mexico´s foundational narrative based on a common origin—linked to a pristine Indigenous past—by asking: How is history made to be understood as a dense monolith without cracks or fissures? By problematizing ideas of commodity and rent associated to the materials I use in the making of the pieces, my sculptures arrest both time and narrative, creating a space to interrogate alternative notions of land and territory aligned with Mixe scholar Floriberto Díaz’ work. Additionally, in using the concept of readymade by John Roberts, I open an aesthetic and political discussion of labor in the art work in the context of Latin American art.