The protests that have swept Mexico over the past few months are about more than 43 missing college students; Ayotzinapa has come to represent the country’s frustration with the government’s inability to stem the worsening rash of crime, corruption, kidnappings, and “disappearances” under the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto.
To bring attention to the broader problems afflicting the country, a group of actors in Mexico City (on Twitter as @elarteresiste @artistasenluchahas) been staging street performances in public squares and ritzy shopping centers.
“We are doing this performance to try to touch people and teach them not just about what happened in Ayotzinapa, which was definitely the shit hitting the fan, but also to raise awareness about all of the disappearances and murders that we see here day by day,” said actress Leonora Cohen, who came up with the idea.
The performance art involves audience participation. Actors randomly approach people on the street and ask them if they’ve seen the person pictured in their photograph. When the unwitting participant replies no, the actor goes on to describe the missing person in full detail. The person’s reaction to the photograph and story of the missing person becomes part of the performance.
The hope is that by directly confronting people with stories of missing people, Mexicans will reflect on the underlying issues that led to the Ayotzinapa tragedy and take action to change the course of their country.
“We ask people to keep looking for [the missing students], but especially to do something so that this doesn’t keep happening,” Cohen said.