OaxaCAlifornia: Through the Experience of the Duo Tlacolulokos

On display at the Museum of Latin American Art from March 1, 2020 - Present

By Museum of Latin American Art

Wherever You May Go (2017) by TlacolulokosMuseum of Latin American Art


Dario Canul (b. 1986) and Cosijoesa Cernas (b. 1992) form the collective Tlacolulokos. Both artists are from the town of Tlacolula, Oaxaca, Mexico, a Zapotec community located in the Central Valley region of the state, and an important center of Zapotec culture. This community has had strong ties to southern California since the 1940’s, when a large number of agricultural workers migrated to the state. Today Oaxaca is also one of the regions within Mexico with the highest migration to the United States.

Tlacolulokos work with a variety of graphic techniques and media such as video, audio, prints, photography, and painting. Their work is figurative and combines different styles such as street art, easel and mural painting, and screen printing. Their work takes place in the streets and in artistic spaces. Through their work, Tlacolulokos offer a reflection of local reality, and the struggles and problems of their place of origin.

Many Mexicans have had to migrate to the US in search of a better life. Those who belong to the various indigenous communities of Oaxaca have been migrating for many decades.

As a result of Oaxacan migration, it is said that California is also Oaxacalifornia; describing a binational culture, a region both real due to the large migrant population but also imagined.

Transcending territorial divisions, it describes not only a continuous flow of people, but also a network of symbols and a culture in reinvention, secured by networks of solidarity and belonging.

And That Is How They Hid the Sun (2017) by TlacolulokosMuseum of Latin American Art

And that is how they hid the sun interpretive narration.

In the mural, a priest represents the violent process of spiritual conquest. Religion is depicted in the murals through its contradictions: as a powerful union, and also as a form of social control.

The Size of Your Suffering (2017) by TlacolulokosMuseum of Latin American Art

And That Is How They Hid the Sun (2017) by TlacolulokosMuseum of Latin American Art

The Angels Sing Their Praise to God (2017) by TlacolulokosMuseum of Latin American Art

The Angels Sing Their Praise to God interpretive description.

A young man holds a ritual candle that dates to pre-Columbian Oaxaca and is an important religious symbol for collaboration, exchange and sharing, also known as Guelaguetza in Zapotec cultures.

The Size of Your Suffering (2017) by TlacolulokosMuseum of Latin American Art

We can see a woman reading a book as a symbol of the need to know one’s own history; a way for the artists to stress the importance of recovering the knowledge that originates from cultural tradition.

The signs indicate areas of LA with a strong Oaxacan migrant presence. The phrase “A City the Size of Your Suffering” expresses the great difficulties that migrants face upon their arrival to the US.

The women in traditional clothing represent the communal networks and dignity that are maintained when families are separated by migration.

The dance regalia is for the Zapotec “Dance of the Feathers,” which depicts the first meeting between the Spanish and the Aztecs, and mixes it with elements associated with Chicano culture in LA.

Through a search for one’s roots, Mexican migrants in the United States have recovered elements of the pre-Hispanic past, which at times ignores the Native cultures of today.

Remember That The World is Mine (2017) by TlacolulokosMuseum of Latin American Art

In this mural, the artists present a figure who represents the exact opposite of migration – those who stay in Mexico, but whose families live in the United States. Communities and nuclear families become divided by a border.

Smile Now, Cry Later (2017) by TlacolulokosMuseum of Latin American Art

Smile Now, Cry Later interpretive narration.
Credits: Story

The mural series “For the Pride of Your Hometown, the way of the Elders and In Memory of the Forgotten” by the artistic collective Tlacolulokos comprised the exhibition Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in L.A. produced in 2017 by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Public Library as part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.
The Library Foundation commissioned the 11 - piece portable mural series from the artists collective Tlacolulokos. The murals were installed as a site - specific work in the Central Library from 2017 - 2018 in juxtaposition to a series of permanent murals on view at the central Library since the 1930s. The Getty Foundation provided major support for this exhibition. Additional support was provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Exhibition at MOLAA curated by Gabriela Urtiaga, MOLAA Chief Curator.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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