A Primer of Happenings & Time Space Art by Al Hansen

By Al Hansen

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Merchants sometimes find that “traditional” crafts sell better after they have been transformed in ways that appeal to foreign tastes. Many rugs from Teotitlán, for example, have designs taken from the work of European artists such as Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, and M. C. Escher. Furthermore, tourists have been willing to buy entirely new crafts that do not have long-standing cultural significance, such as jewelry and wallets with pre-Columbian motifs. The transformation of “traditional” arts and the creation of new crafts conflict with the Mexican state’s aim to promote popular arts as the symbol of the nation’s indigenous heritage.

The globalization at the end of the twentieth century appears to have stimulated the market for tourist and ethnic art. , Barnard 1991; Hall 1992; Innes 1994) advocating the use of “natural” objects in interior design. These texts on interior decorating assume (1) that “ethnic” art is closer to nature and therefore less artificial than its modern counterparts; (2) that the “ethnic” arts of all regions share a common denominator, making them largely interchangeable and somehow comparable on a formal level; and (3) that “ethnic” art represents the final, fleeting testimony to the tenuous existence of rapidly vanishing worlds.

He is from a community about 20 kilometers from Arrazola where copal is abundant. The family members use the wood they buy to make elaborately curved, beautifully decorated lizards that can be hung on a wall. The decoration is done using house paint bought in a store in the city of Oaxaca. The husband and a teenage son carve the pieces; painting is done by the wife and a daughter in her early twenties. The cost of the wood and paint used in an iguana carving is about 4 pesos. The iguanas are bought by the owner of a store in the historic district of the city of Oaxaca for 150 pesos apiece.

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