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Rio, Por No Llorar [I Laugh So I Will Not Cry]

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Rio, Por No Llorar [I Laugh So I Will Not Cry]

98.7 x 66.1 cm (38 7/8 x 26 in.)

Alex Donis (Chicago, Illinois, 1964 - ) Primary

Medium and Support: Screenprint
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of Gilberto Cárdenas, 2017
Accession Number: 2017.361

Alex Donis’s complex portrait seems at first to be a celebration of drag queen culture and a colorful portrayal of Brazilian singer and actress Carmen Miranda. Donis approaches this subject with a critical perspective. During the 1940s, Miranda’s characters embodied Hollywood’s stereotypical view of Latin America as a tropical, primitive place. Here Donis has turned her iconic hat into a cornucopia of bananas, pineapples, and coffee, products often cultivated in Latin America by U.S. companies under poor labor and environmental standards. Surrounded by flies, deadly pesticides, and barbed wire, in Donis’s work the fruits allude to the poverty and violence that often fuels immigration to the north. The laughing/crying drag queen, crowned in thorns and adorned with spiked bracelets, belies any comedy. The figure’s dual struggle for gay and labor rights makes this print, to use Donis’s words, “a statement about oppression. It’s about people who struggle to survive while their lands are stripped away and . . . resources siphoned.”

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