The Other side of the Alamo: Art Against the Myth

The Other Side of the Alamo: Art Against the Myth at Galeria Guadalup 723 S. Brazos St. San Antonio is open Monday thru Friday 9 am to 5pm.

Over 20 select Chicano/a artist are tasked with countering the mainstream myths of the Alamos Iconic Status through their traditional and non traditional paintings, sculptures, and installation work. The OtherSide of the Alamo is Curated by art historian, curator and cultural worker, Ruben C. Cordova, Ph.d.

Varela has her video documenation of her installation Enlight-Tents as part of the show.

Laura Varela  and Vaago Weiland’s Enlight-Tents, public art installation at the Alamo for Luminaria Arts Night in San Antonio.  Texas, March 14, 2009. Video by Laura Varela, 2009. Cordova writes:

“Vaago Weiland and Laura Varela Enlight-Tents, photographic documentation of public art installation at the Alamo for Luminaria Arts Night in San Antonio, Texas, March 14, 2009.

Varela explains the rational behind this installation: “the Alamo represents the European invasion of this continent,” as well as “the assumption” that European culture “was superior to that of the native inhabitants of this area.” The Spanish sought to subjugate and convert the indigenous peoples to Catholicism. For Varela the chapel of the Franciscan mission that is now called the Alamo serves as a symbol of Spanish efforts to colonize. This chapel is also a material remnant of this colonizing mission. The conquest of Mexico by the U.S. rendered this building a symbol of Euro-American efforts to subjugate and annihilate indigenous peoples.

Curator Ruben Cordova and artist Laura Varela

The projections of indigenous and mestizo faces on the Alamo façade were acts of resistance, as well as specific reminders of indigenous perseverance. Varela recalls her motives behind the projections:

“I projected brown faces on the Alamo because I wanted to explore faces and words that ground us right here in San Antonio as indigenous to this place. I also wanted to show who we are now as Mexican Americans / Chicanos. We are the true definition of Raza Cosmica through our mestizaje.”

Varela elaborates: “We wanted the spectator to interact with the tents, and to have to navigate the area to be fully immersed in this experience.” The thin, light-pierced surface of the tents, dramatically illumined at night, “represented the heartbeat and soul of the people who lived in balance with nature.”

Varela notes that she and Weiland also conceived of this installation as a way of addressing the importance of shelter in general and tents in particular: “Generations of mankind lived and traveled in tents. Everything took place in nature or these tents: life, love, birth, and death (Weiland 2009).”