A Sidewalk Portal in Mexico City

Earlier in the year I visited the Mercado Jamaica in Mexico City, an all hours, year round flower market where I met a graffiti crew working on an enormous mural. But this mural not only captures centuries of history surrounding the mercado, its very construction fits within a cultural and political legacy with origins in the Conquest.

Published in Al Jazeera America: With hues evoking a deep-water fantasyland, the graffiti mural renders the era when this mega-city was navigable by canoe and known as Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztec empire. Harvest scenes flow into images of deities worshipped for centuries by native peoples.

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The mural not only honors the past, it is also part of a legacy established by their cultural ancestors, who used “art” to make a statement to the government in the time of conquest. Drawn by the hands of young men raised in the city’s toughest neighborhoods, the mural is both an homage to and defense of a working class area, resembling the visual manuscripts used by the indigenous to defend their rights.

Photo: Keith Dannemiller

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