A group of fashion designers, writers, and visual artists meet almost every week in Mexico City to create posters, costumes, and performances. Once they figure out a “visual concept,” their art creations walk alongside thousands of protesters against the winning presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
“Protests are festive and chaotic moments,” explains graphic artist Cristina Paoli who belongs to the movement Arte por la Izquierda (Art for the Left). “In my opinion, it is always useful to create a visual concept to help outsiders understand the agenda and voices of the protesters.”
Arte por la Izquierda started meeting every week before the July 1st elections in Mexico with the goal to denounce unfair media coverage on the recent presidential campaign and accusations of illicit use of funds, and buying votes through gift cards by the PRI, which was the single ruling party in Mexico for 71 years.
To grab attention through massive protests in Mexico is a difficult task. On any given day, there is an average of eight street protests in Mexico City, which has a population larger than New York City.
The group of artists gets plenty of press coverage and word of mouth recognition. At their debut on July 7th, they covered statues with plastic bags of Soriana, the supermarket chain accused of selling the gift cards used by PRI in exchange of votes. Artists also dressed up as cashiers and distributed fake gift cards with the slogan “SoPRIana” (playing with the supermarket and the party’s name).
“People stop to take pictures of us and they immediately share them on social media,” explains visual artist Claudia Fernández.
Originally, the artistic group was intended to draft public policies to promote the arts in Mexico and present the project to the future administration, explains artist Helena Chávez. But when students started the movement #YoSoy132 against the front-runner candidate, the artists decided to join protesters to give those events an artistic touch.
After the July 1st elections in Mexico, tens of thousands of people have participated in protests in Mexico City called “#Megamarcha” (mega protest) as well as in other cities across the country. On Thursday, July 26th, a group organized a 24-hour protest in front of Televisa headquarters, the TV station accused of selling press coverage to PRI winning candidate.
The Arte por la Izquierda website displays a manual for protesters with posters that can be downloaded and ideas for upcoming protests. Many citizens embrace the protest strategy because they’re “a parody and everything is festive and humorous,” says Fernández.
Photo Credit: Arte por la izquierda.