The entrance of Museo de la Isla de Cozumel, a two-story white building with arches, palm trees, and a red carpet staircase.

Playa del Carmen Artist Fights for Vandalized InstallationS: Museum Dispute Escalates in Quintana Roo

Mercedes Bautista, a Playa del Carmen-based artist, has appealed to the cultural authorities of Quintana Roo for assistance in repairing her vandalized installation, The Altar of Seeds Vulva. The artwork was damaged while on display at the Museum of the Island of Cozumel as part of The Body of the Poetic exhibition. So far, Bautista has not received any positive response from either the museum or the Foundation of Parks and Museums.

According to Bautista, the museum's director, Isela Carrillo Cupul, informed her that the former director of the foundation had left instructions to repair the damage. However, the current director, Alex Marchán, stated in a meeting that he could not take responsibility for past events and advised her to move forward. Bautista expressed her disappointment, stating that the museum and foundation seem to lack a sense of moral or human responsibility for the incident.

Bautista's appeal to the authorities is not only for the resolution of the issue and compensation for the damages but also to set a precedent for respecting artists' work. She emphasizes the importance of art as a healing force and a means of building a community grounded in human values and virtues.

Bautista stressed that the museum and foundation's lack of action is an injustice. She pointed out that their negligence sets a precedent of promising and not delivering, and neglecting their moral and ethical responsibility towards artists. She believes that artists in Quintana Roo are vulnerable for various reasons and that it is important to question and debate the way art and artists are used.

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The vandalism of The Body of the Poetic exhibition was carried out by a mentally ill individual, against whom no legal action can be taken. While the museum's directorship has acknowledged this, Bautista insists that the institution hosting the exhibition should also bear some responsibility. She criticized the lack of adequate surveillance, stating that the artwork was left in the custody of a trusted institution, not a public park.

In addition to the significant impact of the damage to her work, Bautista has also experienced other forms of symbolic violence. She cited her interactions with the museum and foundation representatives, feeling unprotected as a professional, and the institution's readiness to avoid responsibility as examples of this.

Bautista shared her experiences with fellow artists, friends, and professionals in the arts, leading to insightful discussions. Most have supported her call for compensation for the damage. This support also includes a proposed letter of endorsement from the citizen council for culture and the arts of Quintana Roo.

Bautista, who was born in Spain and is a naturalized Mexican, is a visual artist who also writes. Her poetry has been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. She has won the national poetry awards Paralelo Sur and Beatriz Cienfuegos, and has received grants from the Program for the Stimulation of Artistic Creation and Development (Pecda).