The secret lives of superheroes

Dulce Pinzón’s project The Real Story of Superheroes looks sweet, but the underlying message leaves a somewhat sour taste for those unfamiliar with the strife of the immigrant worker. Her latest project, on view at Trinity University through February 22, is a collection of 20 photographs of Latino immigrants garbed in American and Mexican superhero costumes, from Aquaman and Batman, to Chapulin Colorado and Wonder Woman.

Following 9-11, Pinzón noticed that while the country was honoring a slew of deserving heroes we were forgetting the immigrant workers who go unnoticed unless they’re being used as political footballs. She became “very frustrated with politics” and the way media outlets have shunned Latino immigrant workers, who sacrifice themselves for the good of others on a daily basis.

Pinzón originally focused the collection on Mexican immigrants but then broadened her focus to include all Latino immigrants. “Almost all the people collaborated with `for The Real Story of Superheroes project`, I know them personally,” Pinzón says.

Each photograph offers a glimpse into the subject’s life: his or her name, hometown, job, the number of years he or she has been working in New York, and the amount of money each sends home per week/month. These details offer a vantage point, a more personal window into the lives of these unknown and underappreciated individuals. According to Pinzón, the subjects of the pieces didn’t even take into consideration that they were wearing funny costumes: “They knew it was important for the project.”

Pinzón was born in Mexico City and came to the U.S. 13 years ago. While settling in she made guiding observations: “I started seeing Mexican immigration fairly new in New York.” As she held various jobs — one as a union worker — she questioned her surroundings and realized she had to respond to the lack of attention given to immigrants. As for what she hopes people will leave with following a viewing of her project, she says, “Whatever they feel … it’s important for me to get a reaction — that’s what I want to get.”

The Real Story of Superheroes has been exhibited in China, Italy, Australia, and many places in the U.S. Pinzón says “as a show it’s been everywhere.” Recently Pinzón became a Ford Fellowship Foundation recipient, which has allowed her to add more pieces to the series. Her next step is to assemble a calendar from her The Real Story of Superheroes photography. She intends to donate the proceeds to a non-profit organization working on related issues.     

Pinzón is channeling one of her favorite artists, the well-known conceptual self-portrait photographer Cindy Sherman, for her current work-in-progress, People I Like.

“I am photographing divas, rock stars, party-goers, drama queens, and artists. People that fascinate me — all of them Latinos,” says Pinzón. “They are part of what I believe to be a breakthrough in the Latino cultural scene of New York City.”

Pinzón is also involved in Fresa Salvaje, a series of party events produced with independent curator Aldo Sanchez (DJ Papichulo), which incorporates a myriad of elements including music, culture, and visuals from Mexico. Pinzón says that parties such as Fresa Salvaje are very well-known in Mexico and NYC. The night she spoke with the Current she admitted she was a bit hungover from a Fresa Salvaje the previous

The duo avoid typical mainstream music and play psychedelic oldies, mambo, Mexican wedding songs, and telenovela themes and scores.

Pinzón will be in San Antonio this weekend for a reception, and although she’s never been to Texas, she’s fascinated with the state and its close proximity to Mexico, especially with all of the immigration issues heating up.

Pinzón’s works may be a bit in-your-face but it’s provocative. Her previous project, Multiracial, consisted of a series of 16 portraits of people of mixed ethnic origins — the project’s statement “asks the viewer to question the existence of race in nature.” She enjoys the ability art has to stir emotions when it comes to politics, says Pinzón.   

“I don’t think art should be pretty, it should be strong and political.”


w. Dulce Pinzón

7pm Sat, Jan 26
Dicke Building Art Gallery @ Trinity University
One Trinity Place

Public lecture
7:30pm Mon, Jan 28
Ruth Taylor Music Recital Hall
One Trinity Place
(210) 999-7011

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