Monday, 7 April 2014

Holding out for a hero

Bernabe Mendez from the State of Guerrero works as a professional window cleaner in New York. He sends 500 dollars a month.
What constitutes a hero these days? Yes, I know you were wondering too. According to Bonnie Tyler, he's must be strong, fast, sure, 'fresh from the fight' and 'larger than life', whereas Hollywood would have us believe it is a man (only occasionally a woman) in skin-tight spandex, a cape and a dodgy face mask, with superhuman powers like flight, X-ray vision and ridiculous flexibility.

Photographic artist Dulce Pinzon has a slightly different take on the term. In her exhibition The Real Story of the Superheroes, she argues the notion of the 'hero' began to rear its head in the public consciousness more and more frequently after September 11th, as people celebrate the 'ordinary' firefighters, policeman, builders and street-sweepers who made a dramatic difference that day.

Minerva Valencia from Puebla works as a nanny in New York. She sends 400 dollars a week.
Born in Mexico City, she moved to New York aged 21 and is fascinated by the Mexican immigrant worker in NYC. Many of these unnoticed labourers work extraordinary hours in extreme conditions for low wages which they send home. Mexico relies on the money remitted by Hispanic workers just as the United States relies on their labour. Two nations depend on this manual militia of cooks, food servers, truck loaders, policemen, window cleaners, and construction workers.

Superman Noe Reyes from the State of Puebla works as a delivery boy in Brooklyn, N.Y. He sends 500 dollars a week.
Pinzon has photographed Latino immigrants in their work environment but dressed in the costume of an American or Mexican superhero. A short text includes the worker's name, hometown and amount of money they send home each week. The accumulation of these seemingly insignificant details gives them dignity and relevance and demands that values be questioned. 

Is a hero really someone who beats up the bad guys, or is it someone who cares for their family and seeks to create a harmonious environment, quietly getting on with their daily tasks and supporting the future of two countries. It's definitely worth a thought. Now pass me my cape; I've got some crusading to do.

Juventino Rosas from the State of Mexico works in a fish market in New York. He sends 400 dollars a week.

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