Category Archives: Project Proposals


Taking into account the comments received, this research will have two areas of focus. The first is to know the range of victimization that the conflict in Guatemala generated, and establish the extent of victimization are located some of the Guatemalan artists who have devoted much of their work to keep the memory of what happened.

The second focus, which follows from the first, is to identify those artistic initiatives arising from local communities who are direct victims of the conflict. The idea is to know what kind of initiatives have created, what kind of narrative have chosen, what impact it has had. A not Guatemalan example of this type of art is the community of San Carlos, Colombia, the community created a play that tells the story of what happened in his town, from conflict to reconciliation with armed groups this in order to forgive but not forget.
These are some cases I’ve found that may be helpful:

Mural in San Juan Comalapa

Escuela de Arte y Taller Abierto de Perquin

Embuscada- Empapelada, HIJOS

Grafiti Callejero, HIJOS

Comunicarte (in exploration)

Sergio Ramirez (in exploration)

Kamin (in exploration)

These are some of the academic readings that may be relevant:

Politics in art and art in politics

To reflect the soul of a people: the Guatemalan art

Maurice Halbwachs. From on collective memory. The collective memory reader.

Joshua Hirsch. Post-Traumatic cinema and the holocaust documentary. Trauma and cinema

Jehanne-Marie Gavarini. Rewind: the will to remember, the will to forget. 



Guatemala-U.S. Drug Operation 

“Rural communities in Guatemala are fearful of the military being used to combat drug traffickers because the same techniques are applied that were used in contra (counterinsurgency) warfare,” said rights advocate Helen Mack, executive director of the Myrna Mack Foundation. “The historical memory is there and Guatemalans are fearful of that.”

Quantum Memory: Re-signifying collective memory through physics

Guatemala Timeline

In Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag dismantles the notion of collective memory by arguing that the concept is just an artifice of the power structures that propose an idea of a shared memory when in fact is just an act of collective instruction. This is certain: History is a product of fiction; a tale winner’s decide to tell and to establish as truth for future generations.

But what if a new definition of collective memory could be proposed?

Quantum memory

Some recent research studies in quantum physics hold that time is an illusion reinforced by the linguistic base of human thinking, that time flow is just a way of perceiving our existence in the world. Along with this idea of simultaneity of all events, they propose the notion of “non-locality”, which refers to the existence elements start to share after interaction despite their separation in time (quantum entanglement). Those ideas have triggered very interesting hypotheses in fields alien to physics; one of them, framed in the field of quantum cognition, addresses the nature of memory: It proposes memories as a human strategy to get free from the strings of time, and it speaks about a sort of shared “cloud” from we can pull elements to remember:

“Rather than viewing memory as the accessing of information stored in neural-chemical traces, the quantum mind uses the technology of the brain to direct us to information patterns stored in entangled electrons produced by past interactions. Neural pathways could be thought of as literal pathways that point us to past information states that remain enduring realities in time-space (…) If it is true that information about our experiences is stored in the structure of time and space — rather than the hardware of our brain — an analogy to cloud computing is natural. Brain synapses are like routing software in a personal computer that accesses information stored “in the cloud”. Weaknesses and errors in our memory are caused by limited capacity or “bugs” in the software of the personal computer of our mind. All the information is safely stored in the super computer of the cosmos if we can properly access it.” (Gillespie, 2014)

With this in mind, Quantum Memory proposes an exploration on the blurred boundaries between individual and collective memory. It invites to rethink the latter no longer as a discourse of power, an imposed one, but as a dynamic structure that is built from interactions and in which time no longer exists.

As the collective memory we currently know, this piece will use language as vehicle to explore events. However, instead of proposing a canonized, untouchable discourse, it will allow interaction and transformation. It will offer a version of Guatemalan collective memory that gathers all versions, that refuses to be linear, and that will help people understand Guatemala’s reality and their own.

Quantum Memory and Guatemala Después

Quantum Memory is a project that stands aside Saturno-Guatemala-USA, a digital project from Julio Serrano and Enrique Pazos that will use Saturn’s calendar system to revise the last 30 years of history in Guatemala and pose some questions on the content of history and time as a fundamental organizational structure in society.

By exploring the relationship between arts and science, both projects support on scientific principles in order to deal with social issues, each one in its own way: While Saturno-Guatemala-USA demonstrates the weight of the notion of time in understanding history, Quantum Memory proposes an alternate version of collective memory that diverges from hegemonic discourses; a possibility of a dynamic, shared memory, accessible to all both in terms of “reading and editing”.

How will Quantum Memory work?

This is still a work in progress. The basic idea is to gather some individual multi-media memories from Guatemala and to have a tag cloud as main interface that allows users to travel between events and that also gives them the opportunity to build upon that new paradigm.

This project hopes to be the genesis of individual reflections not only about Guatemala history, but also about reality as a fragmentary and dynamic notion.

Gillespie, G. (2014). Window to the Past: The Role of Quantum Entanglement in Memory. Journal of Consciousness Exploration and Research. Volume 5. Issue 4. United States.

Sontag, Susan (1993). Regarding the Pain of Others. United States. Picador.

Article for Thursday Workshop – Relationship Between US and Guatemala & Update on Project Investigation

1. Link For Thursday Workshop:

Below is the link of an article that describes the reality of Guatemala, and the US foreign policy in Guatemala. It describes briefly and chronologically the early history of Guatemala, its connection with the U.S including the CIA and the exploitative neocolonialism through banana monopolization (which reminds me of the art that I saw in our Guggenheim field trip and Jessica Kaire’s Such is Life in the Tropics).

A “killing field” in the Americas: US Policy in Guatemala.

2. Update on Project Investigation:

The topic that I’d like to focus is still about enforced disappearance that I have previously posted on our blog. The person who I’d like to interview still hasn’t replied to me yet and just tonight I found out why: because he cannot speak English. I’m concerned about this since I can’t speak Spanish and I think that he is really good to be interviewed and then we can relate him to HIJOS’ proposal. His work is mentioned in the conference of Advocacy for Legislation Against Enforced Disappearances here (read the part where he works as the director, The Liga Guatemalteca de Higiene Mental).

Below are some articles and reports about human rights violations (enforced disappearance included) in Guatemala and other Latin America’s countries:

Guatemala, Silent Holocaust

Enforced Disappearances in the Americas are a crime of the present

Human Rights Advocacy and the History of International Human Rights Standard

Justice and Impunity: Guatemala’s Historical Clarification Commission 10 Years On

Guatemala Memory of Silence

Until We Find Them: The Disappeared in Guatemala

Project Proposal: Psychosocial Look at the Guatemalan Society

Since the beginning of the class, I have been interested in choosing topics that has to do with my personal background; an Indonesian not knowing what was happening in the country’s darkened past, not knowing the real history and only knew the propaganda version of history from the military regime of the New Order. When I started to know the real history, it has been a painful experience for me. Since then, I’ve been in the process of “brainwash reversal.” And that’s why the topics like historical consciousness, historical memory, and the healing of the society are very important for me. I’m fascinated by the effort to preserve the memory of the tragic history through art as well as the healing of it.

And that is also why four questions below are what come to my mind in relation to the topics I’m interested to delve above:

  1. How to reinvent an identity after a long history of repression?
  2. What are best practices to heal the society?
  3. The outlook on the psychosocial of the society with the history of state-sponsored violence and the healing.
  4. How to start a dialogue

As we are all aware, dialogue can build a sense of community and unity after such a repression from the state. One of the gross human right’s violations that happened in Guatemala is the enforced disappearance. When it happened, the society was and is still divided into two: those who agree with what the state had done with the reason that it’s “necessary”, it’s for “the greater good” of the country; and those who disagree (the victims, the human rights defenders, the people who know that it’s human rights violation). What makes it more difficult is : there’s always someone or some people in the top positions or high ranking officials who were involved in state violence, hence, the law impunity. This is, to me at least, how art can be an entry point in making the dialog possible.

This is also the reason why I found Tania Bruguera’s term – as I have also mentioned in my previous blog post – “useful art” compelling. Useful art is a medium that proposes solutions to social and political problems through the direct implementation of art in people’s lives.

So, in this project, I would like to interview someone who is Guatemalan, an activist, a writer, and deals with the advocacy against enforced disappearance.

His name is Marco Antonio Garavito Fernandez. He’s from Purulja, Baja Verapas, Guatemala. He works as director of de La Liga Guatemalteca de Higiene Mental. He studied psychology. He just shared his experience about practices in advocacy against enforced disappearances in a conference in Manila, Philippine at the Asian Federation Againts Involuntary Disappearances.

With his background, it would be interesting to look at the psychosocial reality of Guatemalan society. My plan in to interview him about this and ask him to share with us his experience. I will record this interview and put it as a 10-minute video. I’m going to need some help with what questions should I ask that’s going to be aligned with our Spring exhibition.

His background and experience seem really connected with one submission from Flor de Maria Calderon of HIJOS ((Hijos por la Identidad y la Justicia contra el Olvido y el Silencio), with title: Memoria Territorio en Disputa. HIJOS is an organization with activists formed by children of the disappeared. Their proposal for Guatemala Despues stated that:

It is an opportunity to systematize our artistic practices by not only producing works that rescue historical memory, but by reflecting on the content and impact of our work and measuring it transformative potential…. This has been our battle against oblivion. It not only keeps their memories alive, but it also keeps their/our hopes for a better Guatemala, their dreams, our utopias, alive as well.

They will use dialog to edify a sense of community. They will gather opinions about what people think of their ‘Empapeladas’ (=photographs of the disappeared, tortured, executed by the military during the war against the revolution, and have them glued onto walls in public places in an effort to bring their faces to the streets).

I think if we can connect him with HIJOS project, it would be great. He could work together with HIJOS in presenting their work through a psychosocial lens, for instance. Or, they can be involved together in the gathering opinions of HIJOS’s Empapeladas and get an insight that can be beneficial both from the perspective of advocacy against the enforced disappearance and from the perspective of the children of the disappeared. Both perspectives would be a useful input that can be used to answer questions about the reinvention of a lost identity, best practice to heal society, a new outlook in building and healing of the society, and it can open more chances for dialog across Guatemalan communities.

Proposal: Looking For Blackness

Novel Sholars
AMC – Guatemala
Fall 2014

Proposal: Looking For Blackness


Looking for blackness has as it’s main focus identifying the gaps in presentation of
Afro Latino art through the curatorial practices of the region. Through the research of historical references of the African slave trade and its impact on Latin American/ Guatemalan society, the hope of this exploration is to eradicate the erasure of Afro-Latin peoples, their culture and artistic expression through the exposure of the deep seated racism that is evidenced.

The Issue-

Though blacks in Latin America make up a significant amount of the population, they are currently underrepresented in the curatorial practices of it’s art world. Many factors may lend themselves to this reality still the question remains; is this an issue that plans to be addressed? Acknowledging the differences between the mind set of Latin America and its American counterpart regarding race, the understanding that the Mistiso population has within its makeup Spanish, Indigenous and an African contingent, a common thought is that the mixture of peoples makes racial difference less important. The question remains, what is lost in this thought and how does it aid in the suppression of specific populations? For example in the case of places like Cuba, to mention racism is considered an act of sedition as they consider themselves a mixing pot of cultures and traditions. With that being said, where the catastrophic conditions of poverty and questions of access affect the darker side of the equation, this philosophy becomes problematic.
Data illustrates that race continues to be one of the most persistent predictors of poverty in the Americas, which is particularly troubling because African descendant populations tend to speak their nation’s language as their mother tongues — whether it is Spanish or Portuguese — and are in close proximity to urban, coastal, port or mining areas, which tend to be centres for employment and economic growth opportunities. A targeted approach to eliminating racial gaps is needed to combat discrimination and lack of access to opportunities for these large communities.There are an estimated 150 million African descendants in Latin America, according to the World Bank in 2006, which makes blacks the largest marginalized racial or ethnic group. In contrast, there are approximately 28 million indigenous peoples in Latin America, according to 2007 estimates, also from the World Bank. This makes the African descendant population five times larger than the indigenous population.
Race and Poverty in Latin America – UN Chronicle

Economic and educational access is probably the most relevant factor with regards the artistic representation of The Afro-Guatemalan/Latino communities. Over the past few weeks I have seen very little representation of Indigenous artist and no representation of Afro-Guatemalans/Latinos artists. Where are the communities and what art is being produced? Should we assume that there is no cultural artistic expression from the Afro-Latin communities, particularly in Guatemala?

I have been looking at the work of the Garifundo which at this point seems more performative. With further examination my hope is to discover more of the ways in which art is expressed in these and other Afro-Latin communities. With more research; interviewing historians, and the actual people of the regions in question, I hope to uncover the artists and more of the work. Once the work is uncovered, I would like to explore original ways of presentation that might establish a relevance within the contemporary art context.

The Garifundo

The Garifuna (/ɡəˈrɪfʉnə/ gə-rif-uu-nə; pl. Garinagu in Garifuna) are descendants of West African, Central African, Island Carib, and Arawak people. The British colonial administration used the term Black Carib and Garifuna to distinguish them from Yellow and Red Carib, the Amerindian population that did not intermarry with Africans. Caribs who had not intermarried with Africans are still living in the Lesser Antilles.
Today the Garifuna live primarily in Central America. They live along the Caribbean Coast in Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras including the mainland, and on the island of Roatán. There are also diaspora communities of Garifuna in the United States, particularly in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and other major cities.

Example link
Black in Latin America Series: Full Episodes


Roatan Island Honduras

Research: Looking for Blackness- The search for Afro-Guatemalan/Latin contemporary artists.

Blackness in Latin America and the Caribbean: Social Dynamics and Cultural Transformations (Blacks in the Diaspora) Volume 2 Paperback – October 22, 1998 by Arlene Torres (Editor), Norman E. Whitten (Editor)
Book Presentation of Pigmentocracies: Ethnicity, Race, and Color in Latin America
Pigmentocracies is a richly revealing analysis of contemporary attitudes toward ethnicity and race in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, four of Latin America’s most populous nations.
Based on extensive, original sociological and anthropological data generated by the multi year Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America (PERLA), this landmark study analyzes ethnoracial classification, inequality, and discrimination, as well as public opinion about Afro-descended and indigenous social movements and policies that foster greater social inclusiveness. A once-in-a-generation examination of contemporary ethnicity, this book promises to contribute in significant ways to policy making and public opinion in Latin America.

****The “Book Presentation of Pigmentocracies” is part of the public programming leading up to our second transnational conference Afro-Latin@s Now: Race Counts! to be held in New York City on October 23-25, 2014.

The story of the afrolatin@ forum
Faces of Afro-South Americans

Published on Jun 27, 2013
“Mongulu” from The Garifuna Collective’s album “Ayó”
directed by Garry Bassin / The Listen Project

Black in Latin America E02, Brazil: A Racial Paradise Collective

Garifuna Heritage Foundation mission statement


The LatiNegr@s Project

Arturo Lindsay: The Professor-Artist

Though the Panama-born Lindsay grew up Roman Catholic (“I wanted to be a priest, but then I discovered girls”), occasionally attends a Buddhist temple off I-85 (“Buddha was a pretty slick dude”), and edited Santería Aesthetics in Contemporary Latin American Art for the Smithsonian.

Additional media links:

Research for Conflict in Guatemala – presentation
Looking For Blackness – Race Conflict, Curitorial Practices & Art in Latin America
Henry Luis Gates executive producer
Black in Latin America
45:33 – 50:47
Mexico and Peru
Costa Chica – coastal African region
19:35 – 23:10
Memine Pynguine – La caricatura en Mexico
Stamp – popular comic book beloved by Mexicans

Israel Reyes Larrea / teacher /radio show to raise awareness Rights of black people in Mexico
27:16- 29:24. You can’t be great if you suppress the identity of a people

Mestizo is problematic

Afro Peru
Susana Baca – singer ( the soul of black Peru)
30:00-33:00. Estimated 2mil that live in Peru

Professor Carlos Aguirre – University of Oregon
33:31-34:24. Malyanbo Slave Market Pizarro brought first slaves to Peru in 1527
Lima was considered a black city 30-40% black
Diseases desmated the indigenous so they the Spanish brought slaves over 100thousand to work the sugar plantations and silver mines

Black Artisan inspires cult
Largest procession was inspired by unknown Angolan slave 17century El Senior Deyos Malagros 33:37-36:10

Another Painter documented life in Lima over 100 years ago Pancho Veraro free black man
Professor Maribel Arrelucea Barrantes
National University of San Marcos 36:05-38:54

Cotton Pickers – black town of El Carren
Only 27% finish high school only 2% get a college education – Reinvention as Heartbeat of Afro Peruvian Music – Chebo Ballumbrosio
Public Apology
Monica Carillo head of LUNDU fights against images like Negro Mama

He talks about the denying of access to society that the ancestors help to create

Afro-Guatemalan are Guatemalans of African descent. Afro-Guatemalans comprise 1-2% of the population. They are of mainly English speaking West Indian (Antillean) and Garifuna population. They are found in the Caribbean coast, in Livingston (a Garifuna settlement), Puerto Barrios and Santo Tomas. During the colonial period, African slaves were brought in, but have mixed with the general population and can be referred to them as Afro-mestizos. So, due to miscegenation, the majority of black people became in Mulatto (50% black-50% white) and Zambo (50% black-50% Amerindian), and these in turn became in Quadroon (75% white and 25% black) and Cambujos (75% Amerindian and 25% black). Due to centuries of miscegenation, Afro-Guatemalans (aside from the Garifunas) today form part of the country’s mixed-race, non-indigenous ladino population.

Arts, Advocacy & Reach

Throughout this course (so far) I have been introduced to arts and media under a different shade, rather shocking and conceptual pieces that challenge my mind and pose questions  pertaining to why arts ? Though I have no background in the Arts field academically, professionally or even culturally I am gradually finding myself appreciating how arts is a venting tool that may heal societies, and address current pressing issues.  Having said so, I also realize that arts cannot be treated as an island or singled out in a manner where it’s expected to operate solely.

Another angle into arts, I believe, is creating advocacy , public engagement, spreading the word which also comes with a special eye that looks into aspects such as budgets, sponsorship, supporters, safety and security as well as education.  I find myself interested in this area where mechanisms and strategies are made enabling the wheel of arts to move forward.

After seeing the documentary “Waste Land”, I have recently been following *Vik Muniz the Brazilian artist featured in the documentary. Vik who’s a photographer uses unconventional materials in displaying his photos such dust, garbage, chocolate syrup and sugar. In “Waste Land”, he took dramatic photos of his subjects and then asked them to remake the photos from garbage. As a result one of the photos was auctioned in the UK for $50,000 which was injected to the landfill workers association. Also another interesting photography  project he did was taking photos of children in a sugar cane plantation , where the end result were portraits made out of sugar symbolizing that how the sweet product isn’t so sweet to these children after all.

Waste Land Trailer

Vik-Muniz-Valentine-The-Fastest picture07_Tiao_at_JG_Waste-Land-HIGH FilmLead-WasteLand-570

The key element in Vik’s approach is how he engages his subjects in the process of making a unique piece of art. This was very evident in “Waste Land”.  Through these engagements the stars of his pieces learned more about arts, through arts they were given a voice to communicate their concerns. By the end of the project these people felt very confident to represent themselves to media and publicly engaged with news outlets, Tv shows and exhibition visitors and have had the courage to change their lives drastically. 

I am very impressed with the model Vik created to feature his works and how it became a global product rather than issues limited only to Brazil.  In due course I am very interested in investigating Vik Muniz  framework, what makes it successful? How did he reach out to international communities? what differentiates his works from others? Arts , a public property or a commercial product or both? Giving back to society, an obligation or genuine passion? What is the life span for his projects and are they sustainable?  In light of this investigation I would also like to research the role of advocacy in channeling Latin American/Guatemalan arts and if Vik Muniz model could be replicated.

“I’m the Hugo Chaves of art world; I want to make something populist, to make something that anybody has access to” Vik Muniz

As for the Guatemalan artists submissions I find myself gravitated towards two projects Sitio-sena and Los Cuatro Elementos (Fire, Earth, Air, Water). Since my interest is inspired by Vik’s Muniz work I can’t help but see that both projects resemble Vik’s work stylistically  in using unique materials in portraying a certain vision.  I am very interested in meeting with these artists and learn more about their thoughts and vision and to possibly to compare their previous artistic works to the ones they will submit to the New School taking into account the lessons learned from previous projects. What I would like to add to these projects (if possible) is how to translate these efforts into a wider audience by making it more relevant ? 

Through the platform of arts I have seen great examples of dealing with issues of social justice, healing distorted historical memories but most importantly I am seeing a  two way dialogue between artists and viewers where together they try to reflect, reshape and reveal a true image of a past or current reality. 

An Interesting Fact:

It’s been said that Vik’s exhibition had the largest turn up in history which made it come second to Picasso. Not only that the exhibition lasted for few years but also the advocacy campaign is still running.

Vik Muniz (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈvik muˈnis]; born in 1961, São Paulo, Brazil)[1] is a Brazilian artist and photographer. Initially a sculptor, Muniz grew interested with the photographic representations of his work, eventually focusing completely on photography. Primarily working in series, Muniz incorporates the use of quotidian objects such as diamonds, sugar, thread, chocolate syrup and garbage in his practice to create bold, ironic and often deceiving imagery, gleaned from the pages of pop culture and art history. His work has been met with both commercial success and critical acclaim, and has been exhibited worldwide. His solo show at MAM in Rio de Janeiro was second only to Picasso in attendance records. In 2010, Muniz was featured in the documentary film Waste Land, directed by Lucy Walker, which featured Muniz’s work on one of the world’s largest garbage dumps, Jardim Gramacho, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. The film was nominated to the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 83rd Academy Awards.[2][3] – Wikipedia

Resources  to consider:

The Voice of the Voiceless- Project Proposal

During the decade of the 70’s and 80’s, Latin America had a period of conflict, military dictatorships, and clashes between left and right ending with: massacres, forced disappearance, forced displacement, sexual violence, homicides, genocide, torture, etc. Years after their processes of transition from war to peace and from dictatorship to democracy, the victims of these unfortunate events still struggle to make a memory, and not to leave in the past what happened, because even after 40 years of violence, people do not recognize what happened, because they consider it oblivious.

Latin America is in a struggle for collective memory and impunity resents its past; there are still difficulties to understand the complexity of the experiences, motivations and consequences of the repression experienced. One of the tools used for collective remembrance is art, art understood as a memory tool and denunciation against impunity, which has been used before, during and after the period of repression.

Those who make this art, I understand and analyze them in two different groups. The outsiders artists, who are committed to collective remembrance and denunciation of human rights violation, but who are not direct victims of repression and conflict; these artists, know well what happen in their country, they understand the suffering of their people, but have not experienced the conflict or the violence by first hand. On the other side are the insiders artists, in this case I understand them as the direct victims of the conflict and repression, who through the arts express not only a claim against what happened, but also their individual memory, which feeds the collective memory and reveals the truth that is being denied, a recognized example is the filmmaker Rithy Panh.

In this project I analyze the struggles for memory of local communities who have used art as a tool for collective remembrance. It is about knowing how victims of conflict expressed their specific stories and their particular views of the past. I pretend to analyze the resources chosen by the victims, how they intervene to bring attention into their project, and the kind of narratives they used: visual, theater, murals, photography, or painting.

The idea of this project is to change the view of art in the context of conflict. No one speaks of giving voice to the voiceless, is about hearing the voice of those we assume are voiceless. It is not about to show the pain of the victims through the art of others, instead is about the art made by victims who explains their own pain, their own memory.

Note: I’m not quite sure about this, but depending on the information that I find, it will be interesting to open a blog where people can find this kind of initiatives.