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.