Itzel Martínez del Cañizo

(Mexico, 1978)

Child Heroes is a 2-D animated work that the artist Itzel Martínez carried out through a co-participation process with nine children from Santa María la Ribera, and José Daniel Morales (Joze Daniel), a young illustrator who is also from Santa María. The story and characters were created based on emotional maps of each of the young participants, significant trajectories that are closely linked to their subjectivities and their perception of the adult world. The home, the school, friends, the neighborhood, moments of solitude, the constant questions and fears that powerfully filter the reality of childhood experience were framed in contexts of precariousness, gender inequality, and overwhelming violence as a daily norm.

Tara, the protagonist in Child Heroes, is inspired by a daydreaming child who identifies adults as senseless automatons who are part of a malevolent system that destroys any possibility of well being. Tara recognizes that the system is a beast named Samsara who inhabits the bowels of the city. Samsara feeds on violence at different levels and provokes allergic reactions in the children that make them sick, absorbing their colors and spontaneity, thereby turning them into small gray replicas of the adults.

For both the artist and for José Daniel Morales, art director for the project, it was important to highlight the strategies that children create using their imaginaries to counteract an era that is strongly anchored in an adult-centric perspective. The work refers critically to historical characters that embody “heroism” in State discourse, the same ones who are disseminated through the regulatory structure imposed by the school system.

—Violeta Celis

Curators: Osvaldo Sánchez and Violeta Celis
Final Project: 2-D animation

Related Material

After three years of researching and videotaping the dramatic stories of a group of young women undergoing drug rehabilitation in Tijuana (Que suene la calle [Let the Streets of Tijuana Be Heard], 2003–5), Itzel Martínez del Cañizo took on the task of creating a new video for inSite_05 entitled Ciudad Recuperación (Recovery City). As part of this new project, she worked with a group of male patients at a voluntary detoxification program for adults in Tecate. Martínez del Cañizo intervened in the center’s program of rehabilitation through the development of an imaginative game. The group of patients employed video cameras to forge personal narratives about an ideal city, imagining a dignified and inclusive place of their own, constructing a possible Tijuana that would be reinvented according to the desires and ideals of its recovering citizens. In addition to the patients’ vision of an ideal city, Ciudad Recuperación also includes, in contrast, the testimonies of another social group: upper- and upper-middle-class women of Tijuana. The recovering drug abusers who use the video camera to explore and represent the ideal conditions for their social inclusion are conjoined with interviews with women from Tijuana’s privileged classes. These women also imagine and describe an ideal city where they have a place. Ciudad Recuperación functions as an essay on the utopia of belonging within the context of the social reality of Tijuana.

Curators: Osvaldo Sánchez and Tania Ragasol
Venue: MultiKulti Cultural Center, Tijuana.