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The Spirit of Mexico

A Photography Exhibition



Michael Orso

Project Statement

If there is one thing guaranteed in life in an industrialized country, it is the ability to endlessly and instantly consume. But we are not just consumers, we have become connoisseurs of exotic products we know nothing about. We ask our friends, “How have you not heard about this?” when few of us take the time to learn about the culture behind the packaging.

Mexican distilled spirits are one of the hottest categories in the liquor industry, and American celebrities from George Clooney to Kendall Jenner to The Rock have capitalized on this trend. While this has meant big business for large and small distilleries alike, it has also come at the sacrifice of the very cultures that the spirits are rooted in because of how these influencers inject their own personal brands into the products that they are promoting.

The Spirit of Mexico photography exhibition is a journey through small distilleries and cultivation farms across Chihuahua, Durango, and Oaxaca, Mexico. Ultimately, the exhibition is uniquely American, not only in its voyeuristic, overtly stylized, docu-advertising visual approach, but also, like American consumers, it is only interested in scratching the lustrous surface layer of the Mexican countryside and the open yet weary working class Mexican artisans, distillers, and laborers who have reaped the benefits of the American obsession with Mexican distilled spirits. So while the exhibition is about the adventure of discovering Mexican distilled spirits and the vast breathtaking landscapes, multi-generation artisanal spirit, intense labor, and rugged delicacy, it also comments on American consumerism and advertising by providing the space to acknowledge that the end product is always beneath the culture and people where it comes from.

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Edition Information

As an artist, it is my job to be upfront with all collectors interested in buying one of my photographic prints from this series about how the artwork will be editioned. Below is a description of how this body of work will be editioned:

1. Exhibition Series: The exhibition series prints will be editioned as a series of 3, 5, or 10 archival pigment prints on museum grade Hahnemühle Photo Rag 310gsm at each size. This method of printing is how the majority of current museum photographs are printed. Each print will be signed, numbered, and come with a CoA.

2. FujiFlex Diasec Acrylic Edition: A select number of photographs will be printed on FujiFlex paper and be acrylic face-mounted using 1/8 inch diasec (TruLife) and sold as one-of-ones with one artist print. This includes Chihuahua at Dusk, The Road to Madera, A Distiller at Work, The Spirit of Mexico, The Fields (Jimadors), Villa La Loma, The Spirit of Mexico. For information about this process, please visit https://www.diasec-usa.com/

3) Dye Transfer Print Edition: Dye Transfer Printing is an old and, in the modern day, a very rare “hand made” printing process that produces prints with unsurpassed color vibrancy and density that last for over 400 years. A select number of photographs will also be printed as dye transfer prints in a series of three images at one size with two artists prints. This includes The Road to Madera, A Distiller at Work, and The Fields (Jimadors), and Villa La Loma. To learn more about this process visit http://www.dyetransfer.org/Site/About_Dye_Transfer.html

4) Museum Print Edition: The Spirit of Mexico will make its official debut at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Durango Mexico in 2022. For this show, there will be a series of 24”x36” archival pigment prints of 40 images from the Spirit of Mexico collection, including photographs not seen in the collection below. These images will be donated to the museum, subjects of the photographs, or local establishments in Durango, Chihuahua, and Oaxaca.

5) Grid Edition: This edition will feature small (TBD - no larger than 11”x14”) archival pigment prints of a series of photographs from The Spirit of Mexico collection where a variety of the works will be arranged, presented, and sold together in a grid-like display. This edition will be a one-of-one and no single framed work may be purchased as an individual artwork. This may feature both images from the collection below as well as works unpublished photographs.

6) Poster Edition: In collaboration with the brand Cardenxe Sotol, there will be an edition of posters of a select number of the photographs below as well as unpublished works from the series that will be co-branded and sold in an altered form. NOTE: These prints will be of substantially lower quality paper and will include branded graphics, and therefore will not be comparable to the premium prints mentioned above.

7) The Unpublished Edition: There are a variety of unpublished photographs that were captured in the making of this show. The artist will issue an edition of 5 of these photographs in any size. This, of course, will not include any of the artworks below, for which the closed edition details have been listed above. 

8) NFT Edition: The artist reserves the right to turn any of the photographs from The Spirit of Mexico into a collection of NFTs to be sold at a TBD edition size.

9) Open Edition: An open edition of 8"x11.5" (letter paper sized) unsigned photographs is to be issued and sold for a set price determined by the artist. 

Edition Book


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