The DOLLAR OF IGNORANCE is a banknote designed and alienated by Roberto Arámbula, which is part of his socially critical long-term project LA BESTIA.
The detailed banknotes show various reproductions of the animal portraits of Arámbula's oeuvre. The many visual elements on the banknotes are coded messages that express his thoughts.
Not without reason is the similarity in name as well as in visual aspect to the US-Dollar. In Arámbula's work, this globally most important means of exchanging goods and merchandise become a means of immaterial exchange of critical thinking. As in the previous parts of LA BESTIA, Arámbula deals with the topic of an ailing system and its responsible persons. In concrete terms, Arámbula is concerned with showing that money is more present, more valuable and more powerful in the collective perception than any other existing construct of values - whether ideological, political or religious.
What is special, however, are the performances that Arámbula creates with the DOLLAR OF IGNORANCE. Through these he seeks direct interaction with the audience or lets them become actors themselvs. Thus, his social criticism becomes tangible on an emotional and personal level. On this basis he has succeeded in giving his Dollar a social significance in addition to its artistic significance.
The first performance with the DOLLAR OF IGNORANCE took place during the G20 summit in July 2017 in Hamburg. On the night of Donald Trump's arrival, Arámbula rained 50,000 of his own created Dollar notes on a dispute between police and G20 critics. This initially led to confusion among those present. A few moments later the conflict seemed largely forgotten and both parties showed great interest in the money falling from the sky.
With LA BESTIA, Roberto Arámbula has succeeded in creating a powerful cycle: from the real-life problematics that he analyzes and abstracts in his pictures to the recontextualization and tangibility through the dollar performances.
In his latest art project "La Bestia", the Mexican artist Roberto Arámbula deals with the big issue of migration. “La Bestia” consists of four parts, which he calls chapters. Each chapter stands alone for itself, but it is only the sum of all four parts, which provides deep insight into Arámbula’s complex view of the social, economic, and political factors underlying and triggering migration.
The first chapter consists of black and white oil paintings depicting urban scenes, locations and moments of the inter-American Migration in Mexico. Thousands of Latin Americans cross Mexico each year without papers in search for a better future in the U.S. Their perilous journey as a stowaway on the top of freight trains they call “la bestia” (the beast) has been gaining notoriety as one of the most dangerous migrations in the world. Arámbula’s analysis of this journey bring forth strong and disturbing paintings, picturing the fears and hopes of the migrants and travelers. This artistic escalation is also the basis for the other chapters of “La Bestia”.
The second chapter is a video installation, which was realized in Guadalajara, Mexico: The clips show parts of a documentary film displaying wildebeest migration across the vast land, which has, in turn, been projected onto a moving freight train. In the four minutes between the train’s first honk and emergence and the end of its transit, countless wagons pass through the screen. The tragedy tied to the issue of migration becomes apparent when this artistic projection is superimposed by "real" human actions: It shows how migrants try to jump onto the moving train. The analogy between wildlife on the one hand and human society on the other creates an oppressive atmosphere, which makes migrants’ existential needs directly palpable.
The third chapter consists of portraits – again in black and white. These artworks represent key personalities from politics, business, and Mexican society that – in one way or the other – are linked to the issue of migration. The special feature: The paintings look like typical business headshots, but Arámbula’s "men in suits" have the heads of powerful animals. Here the artist refers to the second meaning of the word "Beast": monster.
Desperation and hope, sorrow and joy, failure and fame, decadence and altruism, shadow and light, black and white, these are the extremes Roberto Arámbula deals with in his oeuvre.
WORK IN PROCESS
WORK IN PROCESS