Jim Mendiola

Jim Mendiola

Exhibition: Nov 8, 2001 – Jan 13, 2002

As a filmmaker and fourth-generation Mexican-American completely embraced by American culture, Jim Mendiola finds his duty in recovering and revising regional history and analyzing traditions from a Latino perspective. Often produced in his hometown of San Antonio, Mendiola’s films are an energetic mix of pop cultural criticisms and revised regional histories, which emphasize the complexities of the contemporary Mexican/American/Texan experience. Loaded with subcultural quotations, Mendiola’s films merge traditional Mexican culture with Latin and American culture. The artist’s brand of contemporary fiction is produced with a mixture of documentary and narrative styles intended to break the mold of Latino stereotypes. His films meld documentary techniques and narrative forms into an unique hybrid obscuring the boundaries of genres via a public discourse questioning history’s authors and who recorded history is tailored to benefit.

For his ArtPace residency Mendiola collaborates with fellow resident artist Rubén Ortiz-Torres on a project about the Alamo, the most popular historical landmark in San Antonio and a symbol of Texas’s independence from Mexico in 1836. With particular attention to history’s cyclical nature, the artists emphasize the process by which the Alamo has become a blend of battle myth, holy shrine, tourist spectacle, and archeological site that is an important, yet enigmatic, component of Texas history. By focusing on its current status as a tourist destination, the artists borrow the vocabulary of the tourist trade in creating an installation comprised of a 3-D movie, two linticular hologram prints of a dis/appearing Alamo, and a life-size wax sculpture/fountain of rock star Ozzy Osbourne. In an infamous 1982 incident, Osbourne was arrested for desecrating the Alamo and was then banned from playing future concerts in San Antonio. Mendiola’s and Ortiz-Torres’s wax figure wryly approximates the event with carnival-like exactitude. By highlighting unusual historical occurrences such as this, the artists emphasize how these events have become incorporated into the Alamo’s exaggerated and often manipulated history. The movie, sculpture, and prints encourage the viewer to search for a means to redefine the Alamo by sifting through its problematic past and symbolic value.


Jim Mendiola

San Antonio, Texas, USA

Born in 1963 in San Antonio, Texas, independent filmmaker Jim Mendiola grew up harboring a strong interest in creative writing, photography, and television. He studied photography at the University of Texas at Austin and, while working at the 1992 TENAZ Theater Festival in San Antonio, was inspired to begin experimenting with filmmaking. Pretty Vacant, his first narrative film, was released in 1996 and funded by San Antonio and San Francisco art grants. The film, about a Chicana punk rocker obsessed with the rock band Sex Pistols, was critically acclaimed and screened in numerous film festivals in North America, including the 2000 Havana International Film Festival and Generation ñ exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. In 1997 he received a Rockefeller Intercultural Media Fellowship, and in 1999, Mendiola was awarded the Gateways Fellowship for documentary research on Mexican-American family photos in South Texas.
The artist’s second film, Come and Take It Day, was chosen for participation at the 2000 Sundance Filmmaker’s Lab and premiered in 2001 at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s CineFestival in San Antonio. Funded by the Independent Television Service Project and PBS, Come and Take It Day will be broadcast nationally in spring 2002. Starring Jesse Borrego and Jacob Vargas, the film uses Texas history as a backdrop for a multifaceted story of betrayal, greed, and friendship. The sequel to Pretty Vacant entitled Speeder Kills is due to be released in 2002.
Mendiola worked as the first Curator of Media Arts at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco from 1995-97 and was the director of the San Antonio CineFestival in 1996. He contributes regularly to The San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Antonio Current, Frontera Magazine, and the Internet magazine Politico. Mendiola divides his time between San Antonio and Los Angeles.
Cuauhtémoc Medina, independent curator and art critic from Mexico City, Mexico, chose Jim Mendiola for his ArtPace residency. Medina has written extensively on contemporary art and is a former curator of contemporary art at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil in Mexico City.

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Cuauhtémoc Medina

Mexico City, Mexico

Cuauhtémoc Medina, independent curator and art critic from Mexico City, Mexico, has written extensively on contemporary art and is a former curator of contemporary art at the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil in Mexico City.

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