By Geneva Gamez
Taking off every first Thursday of the month is TNT, the Thursday Night Thing at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) in Downtown. This month’s collective is “Informal Economy Vendors” by Julio Cesar Morales. The collective explores the ill necessities of living in a country where “formal” labor resources are lacking. It depicts the notion of a standard of living that needs to be met at all costs, even if it means creating your own way to get by.
Morales was born in Tijuana, Baja California, however, he grew up on both sides of the border. He moved to the Bay area to join The San Francisco Art Institute, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in 1996, and has since exhibited work in all of California, and most recently in Cuba.
“Informal Economy Vendors” are those who use recycled objects, usually exported from the United States into Baja California, to create and produce vending carts to sell their goods. These vendors are called informal economy vendors because they don’t belong to any one specific party but their own, they usually sell their goods at extreme undervalued costs and struggle on a daily basis to make ends meet.
Morales’ grandfather was an ambulant vendor for thirty-five years, which may be the reason why Morales wanted to further explore and expose himself, and others, to the harsh truth about being an informal vendor in the streets of Mexico. Anyone who has lived or even traveled into Mexico, has seen these vendors, contemplated the hard labor, and has more than likely never given much thought to the process of production.
At this exhibit Morales plays with photographs, paintings, video and music. The overtone is that of a disturbing lack of balance. This is seen in the photographs and paintings, where shadows accompany rolling wheels with objects flying across the air; the video is a never-ending image of an auto shop built on a hill of rubber tires and gives the impression of a shack. There’s also a panoramic view of homes built out of rejected garage doors from this side of the border. These, Morales says, are normally purchased for twenty-five dollars a piece, meaning one hundred dollars gets you four walls of shelter.
The music, just as the rest of his work, implicates the social disturbance the artist is projecting to his audience. The disturbing sound effects of a long introduction to the great sounds of electronic music with a touch of Nortec, and a cut off beat that never let you start nor finish the vibe with it’s distorted intermission created much tension and complimented the rest of the show perfectly.
Unfortunately, the live performance by Morales was only a one-night deal, however, his show runs through November 14th.
MCASD Downtown 1001 Kettner Blvd. San Diego 619.234.1001 www.mcasd.org