Blog 16 The Handwriting on the Wall

Blog 16 :   The handwriting on the wall                                 13 February 2013

[Note:  Click on the individual images to see a bigger visual.]


One of the things I love about Mexico —I wonder how many of these blogs I have started with that phrase— is what appears to be a Mexican compulsion to write on walls. No, not to write, to paint. Murals. It’s an ancient tradition, as the Mayan murals at Calakmul and the Aztec-Cholultec murals at Cacaxtla can attest. As do the sixteenth-century open air chapels, covered with the frescos that the missionary friars hoped would make the intricacies of Catholic theology and the complexities of the Catholic pantheon comprehensible to the New World’s new Christians. Rivera and Orozco and Siqueiros were Diego-come-lately daubers: new ideologies on old walls.


For the last several years I’ve been photographing murals. Not every one we pass —even in this post-film era I haven’t got sufficient microbytes at my disposal to do that— but the ones that catch my eye. Enough of them have caught my eye that I have noticed some trends.


Murals in Michoacán tend to espouse political views, almost always anti establishment, which is what befits the medium. In 2011 we spotted these in a tiny Trascan Indian town called Cocucho, up near the volcano Paricutín. I believe we posted some of them then. I especiall

y like the Zapatista soldier with the two weapons of revolution: the gun and the pencil. This was on a school building.



Murals in Chiapas and here in Oaxaca often push public health issues.



Some just fill up space, and make sure that your house doesn’t resemble your neighbor’s.


But, just about everywhere, the best ones are merely decorative, with eye-catching colors, pop-art or comic book designs, and an aura of manic weirdness. [10-15]

 Andy Warhol, eat your heart out.