Cobrecita / Pobrecita (2018)

A cross-country alchemic journey

The sheet of copper that I imported in November, 2017 from Cananea, Sonora, Mexico carries the weight of a long and exploitative history of moving commodities, both physical goods and human labor, across the Mexican-American border. Cananea also holds a personal importance as it is where my family emigrated from when they moved to the United States. Stories about how relatives interacted with or worked for the mine have been important in understanding my family and myself as a Mexican-American.

Throughout the first half of 2018, I embarked on an ambitious country-wide pilgrimage with my sheet of copper. Specifically I traveled to: Santa Barbara, the Imperial Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area (all in California); and Detroit, Michigan. Each of these locations are sites of importance, being that I, and other family members, have called them home at one time or another.

I was interested in discovering what it meant to simply exist with my copper. How could our pilgrimage both transform it and me? By developing a relationship with my copper in this way, I realized that the copper was not just as a slab of metal excavated from bowels of Mexican earth but a vessel to hold all of my concentrated questions, thoughts, and insecurities about my identity as a Mexican-American.

I have compiled the documentation from this project into a series of small self-published books titled Cobrecita / Pobrecita, each focusing on the narrative of a particular site through the perspective of myself and the personified perspective of the copper. This collection of books is contained within an installation where each book, and thus site, has a designated “reading space”. Each reading space has a photographic doormat with a google map of the site and and a stool topped by a scanned documentation of the copper after visiting that site.

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