A Humble Abode
by Jessica Del Curto, Extra Newspaper
In a new exhibit titled “Diálogo” at the National Museum of Mexican Art, three artists set out to create a conversation between seven mother-daughter pairs in Pilsen and Little Village.
About two-and-a-half months ago artists María Gaspar, Adriana Baltazar and Esmeralda Baltazar took video cameras into the homes of seven local women and videotaped them having discussions with their daughters.
“The conversations touched on identity, love, being a mother, sex, going away to college, being a leader,” said Gaspar. “All of these kinds of ideas and concepts that we form as we are growing and becoming adults and mothers.”
In the art installation exhibit, which runs until Dec. 31, the artists recreated the homes of the women they visited, with a bedroom, a living room, a dining room and a kitchen. Furniture and decorations were actually lent to the museum from the women they interviewed.
“When we interviewed all of these women, we would be really mindful as to how their house looks. Almost all of the items, including refrigerators and stoves, were all donated by friends and families and the women who participated,” Gaspar said. “So the installation is kind of an eclectic mix of all of these different homes that we went to.”
The exhibit was created with the sense that a home is a sacred concept, “Since some of us are trying to get away from home, some of us are trying to return home, and all of us either feel comfortable or uncomfortable at home,” Gaspar said.
The interviews between mother and daughter are then projected onto a wall in the kitchen so visitors can watch the dialogue as they roam through the home.
“In this installation we are trying to present the dynamic lives that these particular women have had, as well as representing women from various stereotypical roles that we have all kind of accepted, showing that these women are housewives, leaders, artists and visionaries,” Gaspar said.
The women’s ages ranged from 5 to 67. The children were prepped with conversation topics, and the adults were, for the most part, free to discuss whatever they wanted.
One conversation in particular, includes a 17-year-old daughter speaking about sex with her 40-something mother.
“I was really surprised, the mother really wanted to talk about it, and the daughter was like, ‘This is really weird,’” Gaspar said. “The mother says, ‘You are going off to college, and you are going to be 18, and it’s going to happen and I just want you to be careful.’ I think, stereotypically, we think mothers are the ones who don’t want to talk to their children about sex.”
Gaspar said she learned a lot while videotaping the mother-daughter conversations, and in a way she felt like a counselor, although she never said anything.
“It was just so personal, and I felt very humble to be allowed to witness the conversations,” she said.
Mostly, it made her want to be closer to her mother.
“I was sitting there filming, and it gave me a moment to reflect on my relationship with my own mother. I thought, ‘Man, life is short,’ and I have a pretty amazing woman in my life, and I really want to be able to share things with her. I think sometimes we get caught up in our lives, especially as young professionals.”
For more information on “Diálogo” go to http://www.myspace.com/refleccionesproject