|American Apparel Spring 2012 campaign.|
Monday, November 12, 2012
The second work of Julio Salgado's that I chose to profile is one of his most popular: the Undocumented Apparel mock-up campaign. Like the majority of Julio's work, this piece is one of several that were done in response to racism and Latina/o fetishism. American Apparel's "California" campaign featured a white college student modeling a new accessory: a Mexican farmworker.
The use of the Mexican farmworker was deeply problematic for Julio. As an aside, campaigns such as these seek to capitalize on images to attract more revenue, often at the expense of marginalized identities. The use of "Raul" the farmworker was not just to create a false sense of community between him and a young hypersexualized woman, it was done to attract positive publicity or its "support" of farmworker labor. Julio's pieces which imitated the aesthetics of the original campaign gathered attention from several major news outlets, one among them the news website Colorlines In the article discussing this piece Julio speaks on his thoughts about the American Apparel image:
“My first thought was, this is so unrealistic,” says Salgado. “I did construction work for a couple of summers while I was in college, and I worked with guys who looked like that - you know, day laborers. And that image in the ad brought me back to one time when we were working on a hotel, putting in tile. Women who look like that model were walking by, and would pass by and totally not pay attention to us, would ignore us. The reality is, people like that usually are ignored."
By creating his own mock-up campaign, Julio was able to provide what the original campaign did not; a platform for the voices of those who were misrepresented in American Apparel's original. Julio's artivism features real undocumented immigrants and their own statements and stories. Telling the real, purposefully uncomfortable truth that the original ad campaign chose to erase.
Julio's Colorlines interview + article: