Finding a home for your demons
La Cucaracha, the Spanish folk song after which this work was named, is of contested origin. While its basis has remained the same, describing a cockroach that has lost a leg or two and struggles to walk, its many verses have been improvised according to the needs of the moment. Historians have traced the song as far back as the early 1800s, yet it is widely accepted that it gained prominence during the Mexican Revolution when rebel and government forces alike invented lyrics that commented on major political figures, the events of the war and its effects on civilians. Contemporary versions have referenced marijuana use and been performed by Looney Tunes character Speedy Gonzales.
The jingle-like refrain, combining humour and derogation, is tied deeply to the specific geopolitical, historical and pop-cultural expression of Mexico – a place where hyperviolence, the joyful treatment of death, extreme machismo, expanded viewpoints on gender, dogmatic Catholicism, a reverence for the supernatural, cyclic autocracies, the provision of equitable social housing, chronic desperation and a communal outlook have all somehow found a way to coexist.
Pieter Hugo. Yossi Milo Gallery