Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Photos: The Mexican Immigrant Worker As Superhero

I just ran into these awesome photos by artist Dulce Pinzón that portray real Mexican immigrant workers as superheroes at their actual jobs. So Catwoman is a nanny, Mr. Fantastic is a waiter, and Aquaman works at...a fish market.

From the site:

"The Mexican immigrant worker in New York is a perfect example of the hero who has gone unnoticed. It is common for a Mexican worker in New York to work extraordinary hours in extreme conditions for very low wages which are saved at great cost and sacrifice and sent to families and communities in Mexico who rely on them to survive."

These photos will be on display at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago in an exhibit called "Declaration of Immigration."


  1. Whatever, eff those photos. Patronizing piece of crap.

  2. Mordicai, I have to disagree with you. The artist is Mexican herself, with strong feelings about the way immigrant workers are regarded by a society who often treats them as "invisible."

    Also, as the daughter of an immigrant from South America, I can confirm that some of my mom's first jobs and job opportunities were not awesome, and some of the ways she was treated because of her thick accent and immigrant status were not awesome as well. Some people thought she was "stealing" their jobs and shouldn't be there in America. And her sister worked several jobs here as a nanny and housekeeper. If you want to talk patronizing, try working as a maid for some rich clients.

    So if this woman wants to celebrate these people as real heroes, I say let her.

  3. Who is the hero pushing the wheelbarrow? I see antennae but I can't think of who it would be.

    And is that Destro leading the pro-union rally?

  4. I love this. They are indeed the true heroes, sacrificing daily for the betterment of others.

    I find it interesting that the gigolo sends home less money then the cook. I would have thought that job paid better.

  5. Is it pedantic of me to find the message kind of lost or diluted in the pictures where there's a guy dressed as a Mexican wrestler and another as El Chapulín Colorado? El Chapulín is already a Mexican snark on the standard American superhero idiom.

    I don't know much about art, but I know how to overanalyse Chespirito characters.

  6. I kinda like this concept also in the sense that superheroes tend to be treated with distrust and suspicion in the current mythos.

    And what is Civil War about other than people who are "illegal" having to reveal their identity and be counted?

  7. I'm a little disturbed that somebody can look at pictures of real people in these positions and just say "eff these photos."

  8. Tilt, I don't think including a luchador in the project dilutes the message. Especially not when it's somebody dressed as El Santo, who practically was a real life superhero during his life -- at least, the original was. The son's career seems to be entering its' decline now.

  9. I saw these at the Montclair Art Museum back in January as part of thier superhero display. They were set up in the first room off the entrance with the Superman, Spider-Man and Flash costumes worn in those pics on display in the middle of the room. Some were pretty cool, others we all got a chuckle out of in a non-negative way.

    They also had some good company, as immediately leading from them was a tribute to the Kuberts, and then after a brief interlude with some native American artwork we went into the complete history of comic books.

    Good times.

  10. Boy named Art, I guess the thing that put my antennas outta shape was that for the most part those images are standard US heroes, not being subverted per se, but in an interesting context. But two of them are "Mexicans are doing it for themselves!" kind of images to me (not even Mexican, dating one). A whole gallery of one or the other, I could see, but mixing and, I'm just letting the obsessive compulsive part of me do the art criticism.

    (now to risk the moderation slowdown causing me to post something someone's already posted before me)

    Patrick C, the wheelbarrow hero is El Chapulín Colorado, a creation of Mexican comedian Chespirito. El Chapulín was the inspiration for Bumblebee Man on the Simpsons. YouTube it and be amazed!

  11. I think those are cool. We need reminders like this that there's dignity to be had in doing a job and doing it for others.

  12. i really like this.

  13. no contaban con mi astucia!

  14. Crumbs, this is hardcore stuff. Thanks for the hookup. It makes me think of something Joseph Campbell said. Something about how the greatest moments of heroism are in the quiet despair of solitary moments of suffering by the ordinary person.

  15. De verdad que buen enoque de esa problemática. Le ganaste al director de hancock.

    Try to traslate: Really what good point o view. You won to the hancock´s director.

  16. If they're LEGAL immigrants, then I can agree they're heroic in a way.

    If not, then not at all do I consider them heroic in the least.

    Both Canada and the US are far more likely to accept anyone with a claim of refugee status. Recent figures I've seen had the US at accepting about 25% of all applicants, and Canada nearing 1/2. Anyone coming into either country illegally may be doing so for "heroic" reasons, but the execution destroys any such claim of heroism.

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  18. I think these images are very cool, and dare-I-say original. I'm quite biased because 1.) I'm the son of two Mexican immigrants, born in Los Angeles (sometimes California is more of its own country than part of the US or Mexico) and 2.)I dig superpeople.

    I have a bit more to offer, but with all due respect Val, I'm not sure if this is an appropriate forum to do so...

  19. I love those pictures. While I question the choice of el Santo and el Chapulin since it seems that the pictures were intended for American audiences and I don't think most are familiar with the huge cultural background behind the two, I think it's a wonderful set. My personal favorites are the Mr. Fantastic waiter, and the Green Lantern superintendent.
    Although I giggled at the Robin giggolo.

  20. What Jeff said.

    I wish the artist would've made a distinction between LEGAL and ILLEGAL immigrant. There is a difference.

    If these are legal immigrants, awesome.

    If these are immigrants with work visas going through the proper, legal channels to become U.S. citizens, awesome.

    If these are illegal immigrants, they're criminals. Hence the term "illegal."

    As Valerie said, the artist is depicting the way Mexican immigrant workers are regarded "invisible" by our society. I empathize. But if the artist is trying to make us (the audience) sympathize with illegal immigrants, then my empathy starts and ends with that.

  21. People should take some of that anger directed at illegals and REdirect it at the industries that rely on them with the full knowledge they're doing so.

    You know- companies that don't want to pay living wages, don't want to pay taxes on employees, don't want to involve themselves in things like employee/family health benefits or 401K plans.

    Certain industries rely almost exclusively on illegal labor and have helped create an economy where this kind of labor is actually a necessity. Doesn't matter whether you like that idea or not- these companies have partnered with the U.S. government to create an entire sub-economy where illegals are a vital cog. California, Texas, Georgia agriculture industries, I'm looking at you...

    They've made this underclass a necessity, otherwise their precious bottom-line might rise and cut into profits. Yet you rarely hear anyone complaining about the U.S. citizens in their business suits who are complicit in illegal immigration. Nope, it's just easier to blame the immigrants. They don't have as much political clout as those who use them for financial gain.

  22. Actually, I was hoping no one would bring up illegal immigration, but I guess it was inevitable. I don't see anything in these photos that actually makes it relevant.

  23. I love this work. I am a photographer myself and love when the comic world and photo world collide.

    I think you would enjoy Susanne Middleberg's work on Wonder Woman. I can't find the link to her website at this time but I found her work through here:

    Hope you enjoy