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To the right are racks of shelving holding illicit, possibly confiscated goods: automatic weapons, elephant feet, cardboard boxes that promise “Cloralex” but contain who knows what. Large, black vases inlaid with elaborate, 24-carat gold line drawings of marijuana, naked women and dice sit on two pedestals. A short video projected on a nearby screen features a young man who is granted a wish by a puppet, followed by jazzily-soundtracked aerial footage of a large city—as if Jesus had accepted the devil’s mountaintop offer of empire. To the right of the video hangs a banner, crocheted to resemble dripping spray-paint, proclaiming “La Venganza de Moctezuma”: Moctezuma’s Revenge.
Eduardo Sarabia’s installation Drifting on a Dream at The Mistake Room is rank with the smolder of vice—drugs, weapons, garish taste—as a shadow economy. As such, Sarabia repeatedly declares the underpinnings of capitalism as seedy, pregnant with the threat of violence, and most importantly, escapist. Sarabia’s aesthetic is overwhelming, and deftly rendered—a cast porcelain “swimming pool” floor piece references gambling (dice), violence (AK-47) and fantasy (mermaid), all seemingly the bedrock, or soup, of leisure. His depictions of women, invariably naked or fantastical (as in the mermaid), as just another in the list of goods/vices available in the criminal economy go critically unremarked upon. A mural along the back wall, picturing the tendrils of a large plant curling around various signifiers—among them a shiny diamond, L.A. Dodgers cap, and a number of animal heads—offers a quiet counterpoint.
The ostensible lynchpin of Sarabia’s exhibition is the dream, with its twin, paradoxical connotations of drift and aspiration. The tendrils of Sarabia’s practice, including the marketing of a personally developed brand of mezcal, and the creation of an expedition company for which Sarabia formed an LLC, nakedly, even uncomfortably, mirror not only the global economy but the capitalist hustle infecting the art market as well.
One print shows a diagonal cut through scenes of farming, industry, and leisure. It is unclear if Sarabia intends the relation of one to the other to be linear or circular, but both work and leisure are glamorized and problematized throughout his exhibition. The high life promises unfettered access to worldly desires; as such, the vice economy underpinning it concentrates wealth at the top for those involved, at least those who survive it. Moctezuma’s Revenge transubstantiates diarrhea into the revenge of living well, or at least fast.
Originally published in Carla issue 10