Jean Lowe



I selected a classroom in Casa de la Cultura in Tijuana for my Insite ’94 project. I liked the idea of playing off the original and ongoing use of the building, and as my work was (and continues to be) focused on our relationships with other species, I decided to do an installation (A Lesson in Civics) that dealt with how we are taught to compartmentalize our feelings about animals—some are sweet, some are nasty, and some taste good. The art critic Dave Hickey dismissed my piece as elitist and tone deaf for exhibition in Mexico. I found that attitude to be patronizing. A discussion of an issue that involves all cultures would seem to me to be fair game anywhere.

—Jean Lowe

Curator: Lynda Forsha
Organizer: Installation Gallery
Venue: Casa de la Cultura Municipal, Tijuana


IN/SITE 92 was about borders. We wanted to talk about that in a way that was not about physical proximity—rather, we wanted to contrast how two cultures view the treatment of animals (specifically the cow or Bull). We had just returned from a 3 month journey around South India, which is largely vegetarian, and has a reverence for the bull, an avatar for the god Shiva. In contrast, Mexico has a deep reverence for the drama and machismo of the bullfight.

In creating a likeness of the Indian bull, Nandi, we wished to stay close to the craft traditions of both cultures. To build it, we used a light wood and bamboo structure, chicken wire, and a skin of papier mache. This enormous figure occupied a classroom in the Casa de la Cultura in Tijuana, sitting in serene repose like its South Indian model. The walls were covered with newspaper painted with broad red and white stripes found on the perimeter walls of many Indian temples. Over this “wallpaper” were hung three cardboard framed works: and enlarged postcard of stylized bullfighter and bull; a photo of a matador after the kill; and a photo of a dead bull being removed from an arena below a crowd of onlookers.

Ultimately the installation was controversial and prematurely removed.

Venue: Casa de la Cultura, Tijuana
Organizer: Installation Gallery