Today on Saturday, March 4, Héctor Zamora presents his new work “Chimera” (2023) as part of Desert X 2023, which takes place through May 7 at sites across the Coachella Valley, California.
The action consists of a group of street vendors selling balloons, scattered in different places between the desert and the city of Desert Hot Springs. The concept evokes the multitude of street vendors who walk the streets of Mexico with clusters of balloons floating over their heads like a cloud of brilliant colors.
In this act, balloon sellers are located along the main avenues and intersections of the city, as well as in its peripheral areas, appearing as mirages where the urban fabric meets the desert. Filled with helium, the balloons in the action take the form of different words that conjure the idea of “chimera”: an unrealizable dream or illusion fabricated by the mind. In relation to the desert, these concepts reflect on the phenomenon of migration and the American dream, which is inescapably associated with attractive promises that unfortunately do not materialize for all who embark on this path. In metallic gray inflatable letters, the words read WONDER, SUN, GOD, WISH, FOOL, HOME, etc. As light floating objects, balloons defy gravity and for some, they can summon the emotions of a happy and carefree childhood. In this act, the balloons function as a metaphor for an ephemeral illusion that we must cling to before the risk of it disappearing into thin air.
“Chimera” makes the invisible visible, paying tribute to the informal economies on which Mexican society largely rests, whose models are replicated by the migrant communities in the Northern countries. In this context, hundreds of thousands of individuals are forced to exercise their adaptive capability to find solutions that allow them to survive and support their families despite adverse social, political, economic, and climatic conditions, resisting to the brutality of the U.S. capitalist system.
Inviting us to rethink our relationship to a landscape that does not have the same meaning for all the inhabitants of this territory, this work highlights a segment of the population whose labor force constitutes a pillar of the American economy, a population that the media and political groups consistently strive to keep invisible. In turn, the concept of the balloons forces us to recognize –with a touch of irony– the nuances of the American dream, as it continues to mobilize migratory flows in search of a better future.