In case you hadn’t heard, art imitates life, which is no less true for being a wan, exhausted cliche.
Oaxaca City’s street art, for instance, so troublingly resembles reality that the authorities regularly paint over political murals as part of “civic beautification.” Thus, a visitor to the colonial southern capital who knows something of her history of resistance and conflict might be surprised to see so much un-blemished, white-washed adobe.
Not so in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Most of the art here seems to be of a purely aesthetic nature and thus it is, perhaps, that the local government’s repressive hand is felt to a lesser degree.
It would be a mistake, however, to characterize Guadalajara as passively accommodating and apolitical. It sees its fair share of protests, be they in response to widespread corruption, an epidemic of disappearances, homo and trans-phobic bigotry and misogyny, or the mayor’s recent decision to replace horse-drawn coaches with electric carriages.
But neither is it Oaxaca. There, protestors pull fewer punches. In addition to the tried and true demonstration complete with picket signs and banners, they routinely block roadways with burning tires and cars and lob molotov cocktails and rocks at riot vans and thick-armored police, who merrily return the favor with big, chunky tear gas canisters – and the occasional lethal bullet.