EDUARDO SARABIA RELACIÓN EN UN INTERÉS – SINALOA, MEXICO
In Sinaloa, Mexico, one of the largest drug capitals of the world, there is a chapel dedicated to Jesús Malverde, the protector of traffickers, where his ubiquitous images are adorned with flowers, candles, and other offerings. Outside the chapels’ main entrance there is a wall where local families and traffickers purchase and hang personalized marble plaques thanking “Saint Malverde, the angel of the poor.” One of the plaques today reads, “Gracias por todo. [Thank you for everything.] Eduardo Sarabia.”
It was in Sinaloa that Sarabia’s grandfather Felipe embarked on a treasure hunt for the lost stash of gold of the legendary revolutionary general Pancho Villa. The artist consistently returns to Sinaloa to explore his family’s, as well as the local narco culture’s fever for money, status, and power. Through ceramics, drawings, and installations, Sarabia pursues the narcoculture’s fervor and how truth and fable construct the world in Sinaloa.
In 2003, Sarabia established Pacific Discovery Group of the Americas, a treasure hunt venture, with a mission to uncover the gold that his grandfather could not find. To avoid conflict with the local cartels, he and his team went disguised as a film crew; although the search did not yield any gold, he returned with the video work Lo Quiero Todo (I Want It All) (2003), a staged piece of Sarabia’s request for fortune at the altar of the narco-saint Malverde. Sarabia continued to make works related to Sinaloa following the hunt: colorful praying Saint Malverde bust sculptures; hand-painted blue and white tiles, plates, and vases with imagery of pills, marijuana plants, and guns, and also parrots and roses, or code names for cocaine and amphetamine; emblem-like drawings of upward crossed (or warring) swords, interlaced with the aforementioned symbols and icons; traditionally woven carpet with writing that reads “Amor y Paz (Love and Peace)” in blood-drips, a nod to the spray-painted narcomantas, or narco signs, that the cartels use to show smuggle routes in and out of Sinaloa.
It was in 2018 that Sarabia revisited the chapel in Sinaloa and commissioned his own plaque giving thanks. The exhibition “Relación en un interés (Relation to an interest)”, Sarabia’s first solo presentation at Tommy Simoens, Antwerp, is a culmination of the 15 years of Sarabia’s research into Sinaloa, its society fervent connection with the drug culture and industry, and the myths that enable it.