This fall MOCA welcomes Marfa artist Camp Bosworth to Tucson with the exhibition Plata o Plomo. Bosworth was born in Galveston, Texas in 1964 and received his B.A. from the University of North Texas in 1989. Influenced by life in a border state, Bosworth’s monumental wood sculptures address narco culture with a keen synthesis of tongue-in-cheek humor and politically charged zest. In Bosworth’s words:
“Living in Texas I am highly influenced by the traditions of artisans, ranging from wood workers and spur makers, to guilders and gunsmiths. As a Texan who lives on the Mexican-American border, I have also been unavoidably influenced by Narco Corridos, the politics of the border, and the ongoing cartel wars. Just as narco corridos tell the stories of the drug lords in song, I try to tell them through my sculptures. In scale, my work mimics the cartels’ larger than life exploits, and tries to tell the stories of their accumulation of status and power, of the transformation of poverty into wealth, of campesinos into drug lords.”
North of the border, there is a longstanding fascination with mafia and gangster culture, manifesting in everything from Hollywood films to Tucson’s festival devoted to John Dillinger. What does it mean for a society to romanticize the criminal? What economic and social conditions lead to a perversion of a system that fosters this romanticization and how have traditions and conditions in the North perhaps influenced this trend South of the border? Plata o Plomo simultaneously highlights and critiques our collective pathological celebration of gangster culture in the Americas.