– Harry Truman
Sugarcane, widely consumed in India and China, was introduced into the Americas at the beginning of the colonial period. The propagation of the crop was particularly rapid in the Antilles. In Mexico, as in other colonies, African slave labor was used in the sugarcane industry.
Until the beginning of the modern era, sugar was a highly valued commodity and its consumption something of a luxury. Nowadays the increase in people’s diets of sugar in any of its forms –sucrose or high-fructose corn syrup– has become a public health issue. High consumption is linked to conditions such as diabetes and obesity, related in turn to a range of chronic ailments and even to memory and concentration problems.
The sugar industry –especially the soft drink sector, but also producers of candy and breakfast cereals– uses both sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as sweeteners, the latter being especially attractive because of its higher potency and lower cost. Many studies have shown, however, that HFCS is even more harmful than sugar. The industrial process required to produce it renders it toxic, in various ways, to the human organism.
There is some uncertainty regarding the information available to consumers in this debate. It can also seem contradictory, since it is easily manipulated by the powerful vested interests of those involved. White Chameleon / HFCS is a reflection on the fictions and sleights-of-hand promoted by modern industry.
Fritzia Irízar takes a stance against the mystique forced on consumers by corporate strategies, that is, by the policies of invisibility that conceal the transformation of ingredients, deliberately and surreptitiously.
Irízar has analyzed the ways capital circulates, questioning the dynamics implicit in values of use and exchange, and exploring the processes of transformation carried out to produce economic value.
Given the increasing use of HFCS as a sweetener and the unfair effect of international trade on the Mexican market, Irízar has turned her attention to the sugarcane processing industry, which was nationalized in 2001, at a time of economic crisis, and then reprivatized this year. This machinery is portrayed in a video set to music played on a bassoon.
As an antidote to the state of consumer uncertainty and the discretional handling of information, this work proposes a return to scientific experimentation, alluding to physicists such as Isaac Newton and his third law.
Irízar also calls on ancestral symbols such as the vine and the serpent. In the cloud of disinformation, science and religious symbols offer a return to the time when we used to explain reality through them.
The artist acknowledges her own lack of certitudes, a condition she shares with others. In the face of this, she has decided to design critical mechanisms to lead us towards truer ways of experiencing and thinking about our environment. Her ideal spectator is one who has a moment to spare to show some curiosity about the world, through the concerns Irízar formulates in her work.
Viviana Kuri & Alan Sierra