Wall Art in San Cristobal de las Casas

by Luke Bartolo


 In a rounded corner of the Earth,
 sun god, 
 war god, 
 faded mural by a bodega,
 points to Pepsi. Or
 at least he would
 if he had a hand, an inclination,
 a claim to be heard
 by heads made only
 to hold cheap sunglasses.
 Blue religion in two dimensions,
 brother of the Zapatista,
 postcard for the people
 and impassive 
 under the aegis 
 of the montane cloud forest to the south. 
 In urban margins,
 alongside crass trappings, 
 the eagle gods endure
 as icons of the iconoclastic  
 and the corners remain
 as rounded as 
 the tourist’s critique.  

This photo of street art was taken in the Mexican mountain-top town of San Cristobal de las Casas. Its depiction of the Aztec deity Huitzilopochtli (pronounced wheat-zee-lo-potch-lee) is representative of the tension felt in the southernmost parts of Mexico, where revolutionaries still have a strong presence and fight on behalf of the Mayas. The Maya people are the most populous of Mexico’s indigenous groups yet still remain largely impoverished like many other indigenous peoples the world over. I took this photo in 2014 because it exemplified the contrast between the town’s indigenous roots and the imposition of European architecture and commodification.

Luke Bartolo is a writer and illustrator living in Western Sydney, Australia. He has written both fiction and non-fiction for a range of publications such as English in Australia, Cambridge University Press’s Checkpoints series, Into English, the journals mETAphor and Teaching History, and the Western Sydney University textbook Charged with Meaning. His writing draws upon history, science, and mental illness.

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