August 31th – October18th 2013
Virginia Colwell’s second solo show in Mexico, Capricho Enfático (Emphatic Caprice), presents a series of drawings, videos, photographs, and actions, based on research she carried out on her father’s work as an FBI agent for the capture of Arturo “El Negro” Durazo in Puerto Rico.
“El negro” Durazo, former chief of Mexico City police during the presidential term of José López Portillo, left behind multiple stories of corruption, extortion, and flagrant abuses of power that turned him into symbol personified of Mexican corruption at the time. The stories gave way to a series of anecdotes and legends about which books and movies were created. Durazo’s story combines both political and historical fact with fiction and the collective imagination. It is represented in Colwell’s exhibition through detailed illustrations, complex videos, and installations.
The works in the show are a combination of information sourced from her father’s archives, memories of her life in Puerto Rico, magazine articles, books, and Mexican movies about the case, in addition to declassified documents that she has solicited from the FBI and Mexico’s State Department. In Capricho Enfático Colwell makes evident the differences between public and private records, official narratives and rumors, fact and fiction. The exhibit generates questions on legal justice, judgement, empathy, power, and, above all, how we know about the past.
The exhibition’s title refers to Goya’s series, “Las fatales consecuencias de la sangrienta guerra en España con Bonaparte y otros caprichos enfáticos,” the original title for the series better-known now as “The Disasters of War.” In this series, Goya combines imagination with historical facts he had observed. Colwell, similarly, doesn’t simply reproduce historical details or make evident the excesses of Mexican corruption and the complex relationship between the United States’ government and Mexican politics, rather, she investigates the overlap of reality and fiction that exists in the collective imagination surrounding the Durazo case and how official versions of history are intricately constructed based on subjective perspectives of the past.