Miguel Aragón places an enlarged, cropped version of a found newspaper photograph over a copper plate; he drills through it, then uses the copper to print the black-and-white image. An anonymous face—a corpse—becomes abstracted close up, made visible only through distance yet understood only with close study.
Aragón, from Ciudad Juarez, a Mexican border city known for fatal drug-cartel violence, has seen endless pictures of deceased bodies. The repetition of similar events, the sights of similar bodies, desensitizes us—as one face morphs into another, and as together they morph into shapes, abstractions, and numerical data, the very real loss of individual human life is forgotten. By transforming and re-presenting the image, the artist heightens its impact. Its reality, and our own mortality, is seen and recognized anew. Aragón wants us to understand the deaths of people—regardless of their sins or innocence—in border-city drug wars in human, rather than numerical or notional, terms.
Does the truth of the violent scene of a murdered corpse disappear behind the intricacy of an artwork, or reemerge through it? And who is being appeased—as the work’s title Aplacado suggests—by this image?
From the exhibition: Other Side:
Art, Object, Self (August 12, 2017 – January 3, 2018)