La Raza Cósmica 20XX
A suite of 16 screen prints
Screenprint on Stonehenge Pearl Grey
Edition of 10
21” wide x 22.5” tall
La Raza Cosmica 20XX is a suite of 16 screen-prints by Michael Menchaca (b. 1985, San Antonio, TX) printed in collaboration with Master Printer Julia Samuels at Overpass Projects (Providence, RI). This series of screenprints invokes the Spanish Casta (or caste) painting tradition of colonial Mexico, circa 17th — 18th century. Each Casta consisted of a domestic family portrait posing a father, mother, and their (hybrid) offspring in traditional colonial dress. Castas were labeled in Spanish script at the bottom of each portrait according to the racial mixture of their child, as ordained by Spanish doctrine.
Menchaca’s La Raza Cósmica 20XX contemporizes the portraits from a specific 1777 Casta painting entitled Las Castas Mexicanas by Ignacio Maria Barreda. The 16 individual prints in the series feature New World racial combinations as a variety of animal archetypes posing with their Big Tech “smart” devices in the traditional Casta painting form. In this way, Menchaca turns to world mythology to depict a variety of Latinx families as hybrid instruments of digital technology; while correlating Silicon Valley’s domineering societal influence in the 21st century with antiquated forms of systemic oppression.
Artist designed frames are wrapped with screen prints depicting various iterations of social media and Big Tech icons. This patterning highlights the artist's concentration and concerns on the human connection to technology and the imposition and obstruction of surveillance capitalism as the 21st Century’s prevalent form of instrumentarian power.