For those of you who are not into politics all that much these days, here’s some information - the Mexican general elections are scheduled to be held on 1 July 2018. The campaigns are in full swing, but there’s one name that does now show on the list of official candidates, yet there are posters, slogans, marches in that name.
For those of you who are familiar with the street art scene, that name is likely familiar - ±MAISMENOS±.
The Portuguese artist Miguel Januário has been in Mexico for a month, preparing for his first solo show in the capital city, titled ¡Por México!. During the time of his residency, he’s been creating the very body of work that will be on display at Celaya Brothers Gallery, from May 11 through June 16th, composed of a selection of sculptures, objets d’art, installations and performance that will reflect on the political organization that manages contemporary urban societies.
As his show comes right before the Presidential elections, Miguel Januário decided to pose as an anonymous candidate through his ±MAISMENOS± project, by creating a simulation of a political campaign which also included a march, held on April 21 in Mexico City, which protested for the future of the country.
But how will this endeavor speak of the situation in Mexico, and the way people’s votes, marches and voices could bring true change?
We talk to the artist to find out.
WE ARE LIVING MORE OR LESS TIMES
MORE OR LESS TIMES
MORE OR LESS.
CHANGE AND FUTURE
ARE ON OUR HANDS
AND IN OUR CONSCIOUSNESS
MORE OR LESS.
THESE ELECTIONS ALLOW
TO BUILD AND CREATE A DIFFERENCE
WE BELIEVE IN EQUALITY,
IN SERIOUSNESS, IN HOPE.
MORE OR LESS.
¡WE WANT JUSTICE AND REVOLUTION!
MORE OR LESS.
¡VOTE FOR MEXICO!
¡VOTE MORE OR LESS!
Widewalls: For our readers outside Mexico, what can you tell us about these elections? Why is it important to address them (especially as a non-Mexican citizen)?
±MAISMENOS±: Elections can be a very important and decisive moment, but people need to be aware of who they are electing and what tactics and rhetorics are used to get their vote.
México is a country with so much potential! Unfortunately, there are many social differences, poverty, impunity, etc. Such a massive country could give more opportunities to everyone that lives here.
That is why these elections are important. For what I felt talking with people around, in general, they are aware of the need to change, of their potential and of the political difficulties for change.
People start to be more aware that mainstream politicians don't seem very interested in changing the status quo, using the same rhetorics and seeing voters as means to reach an end.
An outsider perspective is always important, you get to look at things with your own experience and with different eyes.
Widewalls: What can this new, anonymous candidate, “provide” for the Mexican people? How is he different from all the rest, more or less?
±MAISMENOS±: This candidacy can provide thought, generate awareness and discussion.
It's the most honest campaign and describes México (and every country around) at its best. Everything is more or less. How are you? More or less. How will the next president be? More or less. How is the future going to be? More or less.
It's different because, apart from results, it already won!
Widewalls: What can you tell us about the march you led on April 21?
±MAISMENOS±: We wanted to hit the streets and provoke the public with a disruptive discourse regarding the main issues in México.
The goal of the March was to make people more aware of the importance of the elections, of its veracity and trueness, of their choices and that these specific electoral moments should be addressed with more rationality.
Our intention is to 'neutralize' the political party marches, we could be anyone, we are everyone.
We want change. More or less.
Widewalls: What does change in a good direction need in order to happen, in your opinion?
±MAISMENOS±: For real change, we will need a real social and educational transformation.
Here, specifically, I think there are some straightforward measures that could make a real change.
Justice reform, redistribution of wealth and real education are the pillars of a better society.
These principles, if put into real practice, would change many things and would surely change society in time.
- With real justice and a fair judicial system, we could fight impunity and get back the people's trust in institutions. The good examples and practices must come from above.
- With redistribution of wealth, we would have more social equality and opportunities for everyone. People would trust more one another and would have no need to be corrupt because they would have more perspectives on a good life. This would also put everyone on the same scale, ending the terrible notion that some people are more important than others. People could make their dreams come true and apply their energy to positive things instead of having to think about what to eat the day after.
- With education, we could create more awareness and culture and live with better principles and values, less greed and selfishness, creating better relations as a society, more trust, more freedom, open-mindedness, development and empowered people.
These three things are those that power masters don't want to change. They want a complicit justice, keep the wealth in the hands of a few and have a poor education system so people are smart enough to run their badly paid jobs, but dumb enough not to make questions and demands. It's in our hands to demand such changes.
Personally, I think the rest comes after: better jobs, less consumption, better transportation, etc, which brings a better environment, more respect towards nature and society as a whole.
It's not impossible. More or less.
Widewalls: What are the works within the More or Less campaign about, more or less? How would you describe the experience of making them?
±MAISMENOS±: We are simulating a political party headquarters and campaign. We have a candidate, political propaganda to spread, we are interviewing people on the streets and we will give people the chance to practice their vote with a ballot box and voting sheets during the opening.
Our campaign focus on the use of words and concepts and the way political clichés should be addressed, thought and scrutinized.
The most interesting thing of all this intervention is its ethnographic perspective, the relations it creates and the way people relate to it.
So far it's been very interesting listening to the people, confront them and get to know what they have to say, what they think.
Personally, I'm having a very good time, very stimulant and exciting!
Widewalls: How would you say these artworks are different, and how do they relate to the rest of your oeuvre?
±MAISMENOS±: For some time now MaisMenos is directing itself into a more political party perspective. We are working back in Portugal to make a real political party, so, many of the most recent creations of the project surround this subject.
Here in México is the first time we do the full package: campaign, interviews, candidacy, and voting. We are looking forward that the whole set of the residency and the show will give a broad perspective of our goals.
We also want to create awareness regarding the incongruences between our political and financial systems and how they oppose in promising something, i.e. democracy vs neo-liberalism, something MaisMenos has been addressing for so long now.
Other subjects, like post-truth, are also being addressed here, the way you can create false realities and manipulate with communication.
There is also a research basis for all of these interventions and the ethnographic work: a paper will be written with the all experience, the results and all the data that will be gathered.
Widewalls: The works will be on display at Celaya Brothers Gallery in Mexico City. What can you tell us about your relationship with them?
±MAISMENOS±: Yes, from the 11th of May on. Everyone is invited to come and to practice their vote on that day.
The people here are great, I'm loving working with them, being here and since the beginning, we're having the best relation.
Widewalls: What’s next for ±MAISMENOS±?
±MAISMENOS±: Besides the formation of the political party in Portugal, gathering signatures and specific events related to the formation of the party, there are a few festivals and shows awaiting, in Lisbon, Denmark, and Canarias for now.
We will continue to make the party a reality!! Vota MaisMenos!
Featured image: ±MAISMENOS± Photo credit Miguel Manso, ±MAISMENOS± artworks. All images courtesy the artist and Celaya Brothers Gallery.