Deborah Aschheim: Bienvenidos Los Presidentes is a multidisciplinary exhibition about collective memory and mythology that blends archival research, community interviews, and a broad range of source material with drawings, photographs, and video.
Artist Deborah Aschheim is interested in the cultural mythology of the 1960s and early 1970s and for the exhibition Bienvenidos Los Presidentes she will focus on the visits of Presidents John F. Kennedy (JFK), Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), and Richard Nixon to Mexico. President Kennedy traveled to Mexico City in 1962 to meet with Mexican President Adolfo López Mateos as part of Kennedy’s Latin American “Alliance for Progress” plan; President Lyndon B. Johnson met with Mexican President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz in 1966 to oversee the settlement of the Chamizal land dispute; and President Nixon traveled to Puerto Vallarta in August 1970 to meet with President Diaz Ordaz to finalize the Chamizal treaty and to discuss border relations. All three of these U.S. Presidents honeymooned with their wives in Mexico and spoke about their early connection to the country south of their border.
Through Aschheim’s research at the JFK, LBJ and Nixon Presidential Libraries, the artist has made drawings based on the historic Presidential visits and these images were used to trigger and record community memories, both social and political, of this era in Puerto Vallarta.
Aschheim met with long term Puerto Vallarta residents, including senior citizens, retired government workers, tourism industry employees, and former activists to incite personal memories that were recorded, transcribed, remixed, and integrated into a complex illustrated bilingual narrative. Drawings were also created based on peoples’ personal photos of the Lopez Mateos to Diaz Ordaz era, the Nixon state visit, and participants’ family photos that help formulate the Puerto Vallarta of the 1960s.
Yet, the exhibition will move beyond the local, encompassing a broader historical context that will reference foreign policies; the 1968 student movement and protests; the ‘68 Olympic games; the initiation of the War on Drugs, etc. —the inter-related cultural and political manifestations that were happening on both sides of the border.
Aschheim is blending the personal and the political to create a complex experience of collective memory that is simultaneously rigorous, personal, and emotional.
Bienvenidos Los Presidentes exhibit opens November 26, 6 to 9 PM and continues until January 17, 2015 at 598 Juárez, esq. con Aldama, Centro.