The Progressive Walls is the title of an ongoing project, 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.