“Comic Book Diplomacy,” an exhibition by New York- and New Orleans-based artist Christopher Saucedo, is a series of branded inkjet collages pulled from the artist’s collection of internationally published comic books amassed from decades of overseas travel. Using a red-hot steel branding technique, the artist has removed the center of each book and replaced it with the center of a book from another nation, while embroidering traditional geographical map symbols onto the surface. The result is a body of work that presents a geo-political narrative while also raising questions about the collective, global “moral compass” presented through the tropes and archetypes of comic books.
Before Hurricane Katrina I was playing in our New Orleans backyard with my school-aged children in giant barrels full of water. We calculated each of our displaced volumes by carefully re-filling over-spilled barrels with gallon, quart and cup containers of water. I remember the kids tallying our ‘fluid volume’ on their playhouse chalkboard; we knew how many gallons quarts and cups each of us were. We compared results and laughed and stayed cool in the hot Louisiana summer. I measured in at just less than 29 gallons and my 8 and 9-year old children, who repeated the refreshing but non-exact experiment over and over again, were less than 10 gallons apiece. We all knew the empirical measure of gallons, quarts and cups and we had a personal relationship to each. I made sculpture about it and even a comic strip diagram of the experiment. The August 2005 flood that followed Hurricane Katrina consumed most of New Orleans including my neighborhood, home and studio. When we were allowed back into the city to assess the damage I pried open the water-swollen door to my home and found the residue of a beautiful underwater kingdom of exotic and colorful mold; odor aside my living room looked like an ancient lake bed. Most memorably was a sturdy curio cabinet full of an assortment of seldom-used wine glasses and brandy snifters. Although the floodwaters had gently receded each of these glasses remained full of Katrina water to the tip-top brim. I carefully poured off the water into a big 5-gallon water bottle. I still have that sealed container of Katrina.To make a long story a little shorter and to jump forward seven years to 2012 and another Hurricane, this time in Rockaway Beach, New York, my home and studio flooded again. Perhaps foolishly but with a real desire to witness it all first hand I didn’t evacuate like we did before. As my now grown up son and I were shuffling books and drawings upstairs in waist-high water with flashlights in our teeth to light the dark path I realized we were back in that barrel of water and that the experiment continues. A few days later the Red Cross gave us nicely wrapped emergency blankets, which I saved for this project.