In Date Poder, André Magaña presents new sculptures that blur the lines between colonial perspectives, popular culture, and traditional Mexican-American visual histories. Using commercially available fabrication and sculpture techniques, Magaña reconsiders the social and material weight that consumables and foods impart in the perpetuation of colonialism and the formation of Mexican American identity.
Inside the gallery are eight low relief sculptures appearing to be in a state of semi-storage or disarray, staggered, composed, leaned, and hung. The pieces are “softened” replicas of Emperador cookies, a product manufactured by Gamesa, Mexico’s largest manufacturer of shelf-stable cookies and a subsidiary of PepsiCo. These cheap snacks use the aesthetics and language of the Empire, (which bring with it colonialism, white supremacy, and militarism) to signal power and desire. The marketing strategy and language around Emperador products reinforces this by using hybrid “Ibero-Trojan'' warriors as proxies for the product. The mascots, and the cookies, are framed as aspirational: objects that can be consumed for power. The title of the exhibition, also a slogan used by Emperador in ad campaigns throughout the late 2010s, translates to “give yourself power” or “empower yourself.” The branding of the product aligns power, and the sweetness of the cookie, with whiteness, plunder, and colonization.
Strewn across the floor of the gallery are other enlarged confections of now ubiquitous symbols of Mexican Culture: conchas, makeshift Raspado syrup dispensers, Pelon Pelo Rico, and a Don Julio bottle. Magañas’ chosen medium, that of 3D printing digital designs and slowly building up sculptural layers until they no longer resemble their plastic origins, operates in parallel to their representative content, enacting a real-time slowing down of contemporary material production. For Magaña, the animation of these sculptures, and their ability to resist the social conditions of burdened histories, situate a practice grounded in an imagined future where colonial power is replaced with a memorialization of survival.