Oaxacan Hearts and Minds
Last summer, the normally tranquil southern Mexico city of Oaxaca erupted in a bloody conflict between state and federal police and a popular front of labor and indigenous groups. The dispute remains unresolved, and that’s pretty much all we know about the matter here in the U.S. Our media outlets have all but ignored Oaxaca, even after independent U.S. journalist Brad Will was killed there in October. This vacuum of awareness served as a galvanizing force behind Antonio Turok’s exhibit of photographs from the conflict currently on view at SPARC, the Social and Public Art Resource Center, in Venice. The images in “Oaxaca in Our Hearts,” sent directly from Oaxaca to SPARC’s Internet portal and shown here for the first time, comprisethe best “news story” on the Oaxaca situation you’re likely to see anywhere. Turok’s black-and-white photographs are formally composed — a march, a brigade of riot police, a funeral, a bus engulfed in flames — heightening the sense of epic civil warfare. The closing image is of Brad Will, dead at the morgue, the serene expression on his face contrasting violently with the exposure of another corpse that Turok has layered over Will’s sewn-up chest cavity. It is an image you won’t likely forget, and it bears haunting witness to the Oaxaca struggle. Oaxaca in Our Hearts: Revolt, Resistance, Realities and Remembering; Social and Public Art Resource Center, 685 Venice Blvd., L.A.; thru Feb. 28. (310) 822-9560.
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