This is not in Spanish looks at the ways in which the Chinese population in Mexico navigates the daily marginalization they encounter there. The neon translates as “this is not in Spanish,” making reference to both the famous Rene Magritte painting “Ceci n'est pas une pipe" as well as signs posted in the windows of Chinese establishments in Mexico.
Nuevo Dragon City is a reenactment of a historical event from 1927 in which six Chinese were either trapped or voluntarily hid themselves inside a building in northern Mexico. Working with this unsettled mystery, De La Torre’s video inquires into the historical and continuing tensions between Chinese and Mexicans. As such, Nuevo Dragon City depicts a symbolic act of self-entrapment in which six untrained actors of Chinese descent silently blockade themselves inside in an empty Tijuana storefront.
Sergio De La Torre has worked with and documented the manifold ways in which citizens reinvent themselves in the city they inhabit, as well as the site-specific strategies they deploy to move “in and out modernity.” De La Torre often collaborates with his subjects, resulting in both intimate and critical reflections on topics like housing, immigration, and labor. De La Torre approaches these individuals not as victim-subjects, but as people who have attempted to reexamine the meaning of their actions in the context of shifting global conditions.