Miguel Ventura’s (b. 1954, San Antonio Texas, U.S., based in Mexico City) collages juxtapose an array of apparently disparate elements: Classic Modern architecture and contemporary iconic Starchitecture, modern and contemporary art, images of celebrities, contemporary artists, politicians, dead bodies, a swastika every now and then, all arranged beautifully in intricate patterns. Similar juxtapositions appeared in a gigantic collage as part of Ventura’s 2008 installation Cantos cívicos at MUAC (University Contemporary Arts Museum, Mexico City), which gained the artist censorship, a civil lawsuit and accusations of making a “carnival of symbols” in which he effectively juxtaposed (not amalgamated as many claimed) Nazism and neoliberalism.
Crossing the Margins of the Encounter and the Ghosts of Coloniality: Clarisse Hahn’s Mescaline (2017)
Dismantling the organism has never meant killing yourself, but rather opening the body to connections that presuppose an entire assemblage, circuits, conjunctions levels and thresholds, passages and distributions of intensity, and territories and deterritorializations measured with the craft of a surveyor.
Ciguri is the very mystery of all poetry.
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaux
Clarisse Hahn’s (b. and b. Paris, 1973) Mescaline (2017), is a narrative about the consequences of the mutually ignored crossing of the margins of an encounter. The events unfold in a small town in the Wirikuta desert in the northern center Mexican State of San Luis Potosí. It features a young European couple on a “Mystical Tourism” trip in search for the magic cactus, the peyote, in desert. They are cultured and curious and have traveled to Mexico following the steps of Antonin Artaud and Henri Michaux, looking for the secrets of the earth that can be revealed in the experience offered by peyote intake. For over 5000 years, peyote has been considered by Huichol and other indigenous peoples as a sacred food. Its consumption produces hallucinations during religious ceremonies, which they believe helps them develop healing capacities and communication with their gods. For them, all living beings have a soul and thus the peyote plant possesses a spirit and wisdom to share. For decades, travelers after Artaud – but also Carlos Castañeda, the American anthropologist who wrote extensively about his experiences with peyote – have traveled to Catorce to embark on a spiritual journey in the desert.
Sara Eliassen’s (b. and b. in Oslo, 1977) site-specific video-intervention for her project The Feedback Loop, which also encompasses a film and conference program and an exhibition at Munchmuseet on The Move – Kunsthall Oslo, Dronning Eufemias gate 34, was displayed in Oslo Central Station for one week in June 2018. To devise the intervention, Eliassen parted from the idea that it was important to break through the daily flow of the images that surround us – the sensible regime – in a dense public space. For the project, screen time from advertisement spaces in Oslo’s Central Station was bought. Some of the screens have the format of giant smartphones, others are more traditional large displays and in them, Eliassen inserted five versions of a (10-) 30 second long video that pop up simultaneously on all screens interrupting the stream of local commercials.
“Ghost fishing” describes a highly destructive phenomenon that is activated when fishing nets get detached from their vessels and begin catching fish, coral reefs and other forms of marine life autonomously. As a consequence, entire ecosystems are being wiped out, and if left unattended, ghost nets will keep on fishing on their own for the next several centuries. This phenomenon is one of the narratives behind Julieta Aranda’s (b. Mexico City, 1975, b. in Berlin) installation Ghost Nets at the OMR Gallery in Mexico City in the Spring of 2018. At the center of the gallery, we encounter a gigantic bone suspended from the ceiling by nylon nets and bound to the floor by three bundles of ropes.
If an art necessarily imposed the shock or vibration the world would have changed long ago, and men would have been thinking for a long time. Gilles Deleuze, Cinéma II, p.152
The crowd’s chaotic moment is indeterminate, but to fetishize this indeterminacy dematerializes the crowd, extracting the affective intensities rupturing a given setting from the rupture itself, as if a crowd event were nothing more than a semantic confusion. Jodi Dean, Crowds and Party, p.126
An age that has lost its gestures is, for this reason, obsessed by them. For human beings who have lost every sense of naturalness, each single gesture becomes a destiny. Giorgio Agamben, Means Without Ends, p.53
“Uprisings”, curated by Georges Didi-Huberman, traveled from the Jeu de Paume to the MUAC (University Contemporary Art Museum) in Mexico City in the Spring of 2018. The exhibition gathers documents, artworks, photographs and books that represent, embody, document or symbolize historical events or aesthetic strategies relating to moments of political agitation, social disorder, acts of insubmission, insurrection or revolt.
I disagree with the way in which power is exercised in Mexico, but I participate in the consensus, as I choose not take up as a personal task to bring power down. Cuauhtémoc Medina (AM, 38)
Art has a political effect, among other things, because consciously or unconsciously culture workers as well as mass media celebrities all take part in representations which are producing hegemonies. Cuauhtémoc Medina (AM, 446)
Cuauhtémoc Medina’s book Abuso mutuo (Mutual Abuse) establishes the landscape of art production in Mexico from the 1990s until 2013. Compiled by Daniel Montero and Edgar Hernández, it includes published and unpublished texts written for conferences about curating, artist monographs, texts in which he takes a position and texts with which Medina participated in both national and international debates.
When we are not elucidating the fact that the reality of humanity in the second decade of the 21st Century has literally become sci-fi, we can ponder that neoliberal common sense implies hostility to caring about others and to contributing to collective well-being and is therefore against public schools, social security, immigration and to public institutions in general. It also means that governments now function to create conditions for private interests to maximize wealth, because neoliberal common sense believes that profits and economic growth will trickle down from the top and that eventually everyone will profit as well. If the trickle down of riches from the top fails and inequality remains or worsens, then neoliberal common sense preaches that the cause is the personal failing of disadvantaged individuals and communities suffering. As a result, hoards of economic refugees or what I prefer to call “redundant populations” (which include dispossessed originary peoples, climate change and war refugees as well as illegal immigrants everywhere and the pauperized and the global unemployed working class) have been emerging throughout the globe. Aside from existing under bare surviving conditions, the redundant population is the backside of a phenomenon I have observed and that has been described by Rana Dasgupta as a symptom of how now sympathy and solidarity in human beings are blocked in one direction and emerged in another: in Delhi as in Mexico City, many privileged women or women from the richest families treat both members of the redundant populations and their inferiors with fear and contempt and yet devote their spare time to caring for stray dogs: from collecting food and blankets for them, to taking them to the vet when they are sick, going through great troubles to find adoptive families for them.
In Silvia Gruner’s (born 1959 in Mexico City, work in Mexico) work, the loop is the medium and temporality a mental structure in order to deliver mentalscapes of inhabitable locations. In her work, the surfaces of objects and the figments of the mind correspond to each other and film and video go beyond their status as indexes to function as analogies that suggest emotions, moods or states of mind.
Allotropy, from the Greek “allos” (other) and “tropos” (form) means “of another form”, and in chemistry, it designates the property of some chemical elements to exist in two or more different forms. Indeed, allotropes are different structural modifications of an element, atoms bonded together differently. Giving the title “Allotropes” to my blog, in no way implies a collection of writings that is not systematic, but rather, it describes the ways in which recurrent, urgent topics and debates on contemporary issues are articulated in the texts.
An array of concepts, signifiers, theories and practices such as: feminism, postpolitics, art, human rights, neoliberalism, globalization, the sensible, film, criticism, anthropocene/capitalocene, originary peoples’ struggles, redundant populations, modernism/decolonization, global warming, branding, etc. will be addressed, as they will combine and recombine giving new shape to diagnoses, ideas, tools, explanations and proposals.