From Axayácatl to El Chapo: Rethinking Migration and Mexico’s War on Drugs in Gabriel Garcilazo’s Dystopic Magical Codex


  • Adriana Miramontes Olivas University of Pittsburgh
  • Gabriel Garcilazo



In this conversation between Gabriel Garcilazo and Adriana Miramontes Olivas, Garcilazo explains his interest in appropriating popular culture and historical documents such as the sixteenth-century Codex Azcatitlan. His artwork Dystopic Magical Codex (2015) examines the recent war on drugs in Mexico and its consequences through spatial and temporal elements that reconsider concepts of borders, nations, and trade. The conversation is introduced in a brief essay in which Miramontes Olivas contextualizes Garcilazo’s codex. She argues that Garcilazo criticizes state apparatus rhetoric on the war on drugs and harsh immigration policies, demanding the conceptualization of alternative solutions that could reduce both the carnage and the exodus of those living in fear. He also warns, as have other contemporary artists from Mexico, against new forms of colonization and master narratives that homogenize and hamper border-crossing and interaction among cultures.

Author Biographies

Adriana Miramontes Olivas, University of Pittsburgh

Adriana Miramontes Olivas is a doctoral student in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. She specializes in contemporary art from Mexico. Her research examines artistic responses that challenge the state apparatus as artists reflect on and protest the violence, corruption, and impunity that have devastated Mexico in the last decades. The focus of her research is site-specific installations, performance, and video art.

Gabriel Garcilazo

Artist Gabriel Garcilazo (b. 1980 Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico) received a master’s degree in visual arts from the Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas (San Carlos) of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in 2015. He has exhibited in Mexico, Spain, and the United States and his artworks are in numerous collections




How to Cite

Miramontes Olivas, A., & Garcilazo, G. (2019). From Axayácatl to El Chapo: Rethinking Migration and Mexico’s War on Drugs in Gabriel Garcilazo’s Dystopic Magical Codex. Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture, 8, 98–118.