These teeth have gnawed away at my memory for weeks since I saw this small Diego Rivera mural at the MOMA. Interesting note: When we entered the exhibit, we walked into a sea of sprawling legs — a group of children diligently drawing, laid out on the floor, right in front of this painting. On worksheets with number two pencils. Drawing these dangerous, snapping jaws with abandon.
Those glorious white canines ripping around and into your subconscious. The snarl of the subjugated. The blood lust of the warrior. Although it is the jaguar knight’s knife that is doing the dirty work here, it’s the teeth that snap up the glory. Teeth that could shred the flimsy veil of “reality.”
So yes, the painting calls the poor of 1910’s Mexico to rise up against their oppressors, recalling the conquistador’s invasion into the Aztec civilization in the 16th century. But if you watch closely and listen, you may hear a feral rattling. . . parts of you that have been exiled from your mind. Those that may one day show their glinting white teeth.
“You’re my witness, I’m your mutineer.” Warren Zevon from the song Mutineer, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (An Anthology)