The Walls of Progress
‘The Walls of Progress’ is the title of an ongoing project, a series of 16 walls, which is an investigation into the social phenomena and visual imagery found in adobe brick walls in the highlands of Peru. These walls are very often used as canvases to exhibit a series of hand painted murals that contain propaganda. Some of them display political content, in which diverse parties promise progress and development through a series of slogans and logos. Others promote and sell diverse consumer products, using striking fonts and colours. They are renewed and updated every season pending developments on the political landscape of the country.
The interest in the work is to point out the tension between old traditions of brick making and modern ideas of consumer capitalism. The process of making adobe bricks involves a huge amount of physical labour, mixing earth and straw with bare hands and feet, shaping them with wooden moulds and leaving them to dry in the sun for weeks. Using this natural material ties in with indigenous ideologies, which assert the up-most respect and religious veneration for nature and the earth as a life giving force. The walls blend graciously in the amazing scenery and provide a shelter to protect them from the forces of nature itself.
The collision between this ancient method of building and the modern tactics of advertising, project the reality of how these rural areas are gradually becoming part of a globalised world. It also portrays a sterile promise of ‘development’ and a ‘better quality of living’ in a country that has suffered the detrimental consequences of colonialism and imperialism through a corruption and the ever-present shadow of the Western world.
The gradual crumbling of the walls represent not only the idea of a soon-to-be extinct past, but the future of a new order, made of concrete landscapes. The murals expose the ongoing false promises of progressive change through the juxtaposition of such slogans and imagery onto a background that can barely hold the words themselves.
'Poyecto Pais', which translates into 'Project for a Country' or 'National Project' was a small political party in Peru, which today mostly no one remembers, and which participated in the regional and presidential elections of 2006. Due to the lack of political followers, the party retired itself from the elections a few days before the elections, and the party disappeared.
In the fake adobe wall constructed by Garrido-Lecca, the national project shows its fissures and begins to crumble.
Ximena Garrido-Lecca was born in Lima, Peru in 1980. She lives in London.
Garrido-Lecca will exhibit 'Proyecto Pais' at the Frame section of the Frieze Fair with Revolver Gallery.
Visit Garrido-Lecca's website: www.ximenagarridolecca.com
See Garrido-Lecca's previous project, exhibited at Saatchi Gallery, here.