My involvement with “Guatemala Despues” began over a semester ago, in Spring 2014, and since, with each new speaker we have been introduced to, my interests within Guatemala have broadened. Because of the high volume of performance/ installation art, I, a self proclaimed non-artist, have seen the art coming out of Guatemala as not typical of what’s around. Artists like Regina Jose Galindo, whose 2003 piece “¿Quién Puede Borrar las Huellas? “ have shown me a bold and socially aware community that is fed up with the erasure of history and demand to be acknowledged, even if it means leaving a trail of actual human blood in front of the national palace. Time and again we have been introduced to a strong aesthetic, a medium I appreciate very much so.
The aspects of Guatemalan society that have intrigued me have been race centered; understanding the race relations in a country whose horrific genocide was led with goals of wiping out indigenous groups, whose horrific genocide, that lasted 36 years, was left unknown to citizens from towns over, even for years after. The race relations of Guatemala have been presented as strict, with many rules that are understood within the country. With the majority of the country identifying as indigenous, mestizo and/or ladino, but the power laying in the hands of the minority-white (affluent) community the race relations seem poorly distributed throughout the city.
My personal project along with my partner, Novel Scholars, Black Banana, aims to represent the black community of Guatemala, a marginalized group within the country. The black identity is part of the latin american identity. The majority of slaves were transferred to Latin America, migrating throughout the Americas and Caribbean. Guatemala included. Today, there is a black community in coastal areas of central america, some countries with stronger representation than others. Guatemala’s representation of their black community is seen as a disturbance, something they have forgotten about but that is still around. Our project rose out of what we noticed as a lack of black stories from a country that we know to have multiple ethnic groups. It aims to explore this absence in Latin American art curations, particularly in Central America.
I would like to continue my exploration of race relations in Guatemala, specifically how it ties into the memory and identity of the people, through interviews captured on film. My goal is to collect footage of Guatemalans talking about the race relations within the country and how it has influenced how they see themselves.
The in-class comment “i don’t always understand art,” or something like that, is a thought that is never too far from my mind on museum visits. For this trip to the Guggeinheim I wasn’t sure what to expect, going in with the image of “a man walking into a cow” from the previous class I was up for anything.
The first thing i encountered were the musical instruments everyone was staring at, waiting for the first person to play them, waiting for the general permission to actually touch the art. Although I don’t recall the artist’s name I found it be a great introduction to the exhibition; a don’t take this so seriously approach. The aura of the Guggenheim changed as more people dared to play with these cymbals.
The exhibition was filled with mixed media, nothing close to “classical.” (Classical being a term that’s up for discussion) I enjoy this different approach to art, especially in a space known for it’s strict definition on “classical ” art. Albeit, a few pieces were lost on me without context, others needed no prior knowledge to understand how strong they were, even in their simplicity.
Carlos Motta’s screen print, ” Brief History of US Interventions in Latin America Since 1946,” was the piece that took me away, the one that reminded me this generation of artists have a lot to work off. The list of US interventions touches the surface of how many times the US has mingled in Latin American affairs, providing a foundation for the current despair in many of the mentioned countries. The success of this piece is similar to the cymbals, in that people can be apart of this art; they can read it, think for themselves and best of all take a copy home (or multiple if like me you want to share with others.) This takes the piece out of the museum, a place in the Upper East Side with a particular audience.
I started off at New School in the documentary studies program. I produced, edited, filmed, cried and sweat over a short documentary about a soccer team in Brooklyn. The soccer team is made up of latin american men with a shared history of immigration. After their long days of work they make their way to a local middle school gym, where they play about 5x/ week-for some of them it is their income.
Before New School I was studying anthropology, human rights and art studio at Hunter College. I hope to merge all of these interests into a visual anthropology fusion.
i’m currently working on two projects. One is called “black banana,” with Novel Scholars, exploring the lack of afro representation in central american art. The second is “border/culture,” a web series for the boundaries that exist between cultural identity, both real and imagined. (www.border-culture.com)