Selected by Casey Reas
The Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City is a wide, open street full of speeding cars, strolling pedestrians and dozens of monuments. It’s also the location for recent and ongoing protests against systemic violence against women in Mexico. Julieta Gil started attending these protests in 2019 and they became the foundation for her extraordinary recent work. Her ambitious digital project Nuestra Victoria (Our Victory, 2019-20) received international attention when it was awarded the Lumen Prize in 2020.
Nuestra Victoria takes many forms, but the core is a virtual sculpture created through photogrammetry, a technique for capturing and merging volumetric, digital form with photography. During the protests in 2019, the Victoria Alada monument was tagged with messages like ‘México feminicida’ (femicidal Mexico) and ‘Nunca más tendrán la comodidad de nuestro silencio’ (You will never again have the comfort of our silence) and transformed with paint by protesters. The city responded by boarding up the sculpture to obscure the protest. Julieta was able to capture the monument as it was after the protest, to record the event before it was erased. She translated the high-fidelity record she created into video and photographic prints, but in essence it’s a 3D file that can be downloaded from the artist’s website and shared to make this record public and accessible.
Gil followed that up with works like the video Hombres Ilustres (Illustrious Men, 2021), which pans along digitised scans of the 77 monuments along the Reforma that memorialise ‘the most outstanding’ figures in the history of Mexico – all men, and mostly all military figures. Pedestal para persona digna de ser recordada (Pedestal for a Person Worth Remembering, 2021) is the same size and shape as the plaque on the pedestal of one of these sculptures, but without any names or historical inscriptions; instead it captures various moments of painted and graffitied protest and archives it within wax. Through all of this work, she asks, how can we restore justice rather than monuments?
Julieta Gil lives and works in Oregon. Recent exhibitions include Field Recordings (2022) at Ditch Projects, Springfield, Oregon; and Revertir el Desgaste (Reverse Wear, 2021) at Campeche, Mexico City.
Casey Reas is a digital artist and cofounder of digital exhibition platform Feral File, who lives and works in Los Angeles. His work was included in the Buffalo AKG online exhibition Peer to Peer, 2022