Juan Carlos Mendizabal y Radio Free Clear Light Collective | El Salvador | U.S Diaspora
(Itzpapalotl) Mariposa Negra | 2012-2013
Mixed media video installation booth | SOMArts
From the Artist:
I left El Salvador in 1981 after my mother and I were arrested in the middle of the night by the military. We were released several days later and my mother was given “no promise of life.” My grandmother quickly whisked us away to the airport and we arrived in San Francisco, where I have spent the majority of my life. I have visited El Salvador many times since that sudden departure but I feel that I live in between two worlds–not quite American, not quite Salvadoran.
When I was a boy, I knew El Salvador was my home. The streets were familiar and my sense of identity was rooted in the oppressive heat, the jungle and the shadow of the ever-‐ present volcano. That plane ride in 1981 blurred the meaning of home and identity–I no longer fit there, yet I am not quite right here among the fog and clouds. I walk in both places like a ghost, unable to completely move on, unable to return. I have known many immigrants who feel the same way. Although the Peace Accords were signed in 1992 and technically there is no war, I can never return to the identity that was left behind. That place within the symbolic order has vanished.
Itzpaplotl was created not only to represent, but to actually re-‐create the experience of a shift in identity. The booth stands in for the human body. Within this construct one can observe the isolation and subjectivity of the senses of perception. It is through these senses that a notion of identity is formed. When the perceptions are altered, the identity shifts correspondingly.
The images appearing on the monitors are composed of footage I captured in El Salvador along with excerpts from the movies and cartoons I enjoyed as a boy and iconic scenes from the civil war. Drawing from my 20 years of experience as a composer and electronic musician, I have composed an accompanying soundscape to be experienced in tandem with the visual elements.