Tuesday, October 13, 2009
la curtiduría 2007
In 2007, when the price of tortillas doubled, thousands of Mexican families were affected. Corn is the country’s food staple. Many families watched their food supply drop steadily, and were forced to buy alternatives like bread. This drastic change in diet had a significant nutritional affect. Equally important is the fact that corn is the foundation of our CULTURE, because the word “culture” comes from the verb “to cultivate”—cultivate the mind. Mexico’s identity was modeled on corn, or to be more exact, they were modeled on each other, through time until today.
Corn represents a dialogue between nature and man in simultaneous evolution. Unlike other grains, no one has found a wild ancestor from which corn might have descended. The most widely accepted hypothesis today is that it descended from Teosinte, a wild grass, which shares some similarities and many differences. Another peculiar trait of corn is its inability to reproduce. The bract covering and the way in which the grains are arranged and firmly embedded impede the distribution of its grains. It needs man. Its symbiosis with human beings is complete.
In 1982, National Museum of Mexican Culture determined that corn wasn’t domesticated; it was created.
Following the bad news of the hike in tortilla prices, Marietta Bernstorff, curator and activist Chicana, who resides in Oaxaca, launched a call for entries for Oaxacan women, natives and residents, inviting them to participate in a collective exhibit in the alternative art space La Curtiduria.
The show united the voices of 15 women. Each voice spoke visually of the different definitions of what corn is to a Mexican. Some demonstrated the symbiosis between this crop and its harvesters and consumers. Others laid emphasis on the future of corn, which like many other crops, is losing ground in the battle against genetically altered foods.
The state of Oaxaca hosts the widest variety of native corn races. A large portion of its population still cultivates these crops in their fields.