Down and Out in Mexico

Dutch artist Ronald van der Voet, better known by the pseudonym Zedz, received a surprise one day when his artist’s Facebook page was tagged in a post from a Mexico City art gallery, in which it was announced that he would be participating in an exhibition there in February. The post, translated from Spanish, stated: ‘Zedz is an infamous Dutch graffiti artist who current lives and works in Mexico and will be exposing his works this February 17 in our gallery’. Zedz, who is currently based in Milan, and not Mexico, had never heard of the gallery, Art Affairs Sue, and thus was unaware of any plan of showcasing his work. The post contained no images of either Zedz or his work, and instead showed images of work in a style completely unrelated to any of Zedz’ material.

What do you do with a gallery that is posting ‘fake news’? In Zedz case, you totally embrace it. ‘Let’s travel together to Mexico, and put this show together’ he posted on his Facebook page. Instead of fact checking, Zedz decided to fact create, and with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, he had enough money to carry out this plan. Within 48 hours he had purchased a flight to Mexico City.

Yet things grew even more mysterious. Researching the post further, Zedz noticed that a large majority of the people who liked the post were situated in either Bangalore or Sri Lanka. No actual residents of Mexico City had liked the post or Facebook page. Finding a list of staff members on the gallery’s website, many of the names and photographs listed failed to match corresponding Facebook or Linked-In profiles, bringing further suspicion on the existence of the gallery.

Ronald went on with his journey. On Facebook he wrote: ‘I do realize that I am going to live and work in MC and thus will be living the gallery’s lie’. However, on the day of the opening, Ronald was unable to find the gallery. The Facebook address led him to a street in the upscale residential area of Polanko, with no sign of any prior existence of a gallery. Dialling the listed telephone number led to no connection, and was the final confirmation of the gallery’s non-existence. Returning to Facebook, that had by now become his travel blog, Ronald wrote: ‘I am sorry to look back on a bit of an unsuccessful mission, me not being able to trace down anything of “the other (Dutch artist-) Zedz” nor the gallery (also the phone line didn’t work). Nevertheless I collected a lot of material to contemplate over and the painting and enchilada’s where great.’

Unable to track down the mystery gallery, Zedz was nevertheless able to fulfil what the Art Affairs Sue had promised, a Mexico City inspired collection of work. The collected materials and newspapers found on his trip now serve as rich inspiration for a series of screen prints, and collages that he gave away as gifts to those who helped make his journey possible.

After confronting the gallery at the end of his trip, pointing out their obvious mistake, Zedz received a comment from the gallery declaring its existence as an upper-class institution, but with a clear refutation of any collaboration with Zedz, whom they referred to as ‘lower-class’. From this moment on he was no longer able to access Art Affairs Sue’s Facebook page the next time he searched for it.

Photography by Ronald van der Voet
Text by Alicia Hansen