Tag Archives: art

Black Banana: Exhibitions of Absence

 

Black Banana: Exhibitions of Absence – the paper

by Novel ‘Idea’ Sholars  and  Maira Nolasco                          

PDF:blackbananaExhibitionsofAbsencepaperdraft2

Introduction

Black Banana is the examination of structural racism in art curation and it’s effects on descendants of Africa living in Latin America. Acting as a metaphor, it sheds light on the absence of those of the African Diaspora in the workforce, and as a part of the overall Latin American cultural project. What are the histories of these erasures, and how does this history prove the existence of a racist hegemony that results in cultural exclusion? When did the whitening of Latin America begin and how does this whitening affect the economy of the black populations as well as their integration into Latin American society? Is the lack of Black Latino representation proof of racist curatorial practices in the Latin American contemporary art world? These are the questions this project hopes to explore. The Black Banana focus is to create awareness around the possible denial of racism and how that denial effects who and what is curated. Ultimately the goal is to provoke an open dialog about identity, hybridity, and access. Continue reading Black Banana: Exhibitions of Absence

FINAL – Black Banana: Exhibitions of Absence – the paper

Introduction

  Black Banana is a brief examination of structural racism in art curation and it’s effects on descendants of Africa living in Latin America. Acting as a metaphor, it sheds light on the absence of those of the African Diaspora in the workforce, and as a part of the overall Latin American cultural project. What are the histories of these erasures, and how does this history prove the existence of a racist hegemony that results in cultural exclusion? When did the whitening of Latin America begin and how does this whitening affect the economy of the black populations as well as their integration into Latin American society? Ultimately, is the lack of Black Latino representation proof of racist curatorial practices in the Latin American contemporary art world? The Black Banana focus is to create awareness around the possible denial of racism and how that denial effects who and what is curated. Ultimately the goal is to provoke an open dialog about identity, hybridity, and access. 

PDF below

blackbananaexhibitionsofabsencethepaperbynovelsholars

THE MURALS IN GUATEMALA AS MEMORY AND RESISTANCE

Memory initiatives have served several purposes: to recover the memory of what happened and make public denunciations, dignity and honor the memory of the victims, promote community organization and social reconstruction, inform and educate new generations, and to demand redress and justice. This paper focus on Guatemalan murals as a memory initiative and as an art form used by the direct victims of the conflict.

NEWSCHOOL_DVALERO_MURALS GUATEMALA

Looking for Blackness | Update

I’ve connected with Mai Elka Prado Gil who is the co-founder of The Afro Latino Project. It’s an organization that has as mission to serve as a digital resource center and archive for the historical and material documentation and preservation of the cultures, histories and experiences of Afrodescendant people in the Americas and the Caribbean. We are planning to get together to talk further about the ways she and her partner, Amilcar Maceo Priestley can help in developing the project, Looking For Blackness. My hope is that it will be a seamless addition to the overall Guatemala project. Mai Elka mentioned that they are connected to the Garifuna and have collaborated on other projects. Right now I’m looking at developing an installation of video, photography and live performance. Included will be a panel discussion on race, art and curation in Guatemala/Latin America. Taking a cue from Julian, who suggested connecting with AfroLatinos here in New York, we can draw out the connections between the American experience and that of Latin America, with regards to questions of racism, curation of art and general access or cultural inclusion. I also have a connect in Belize that I am exploring.

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.

The GIDEST, Krzysztof Wodiczko and his interrogative design

The brand new Graduate Institute for Design, Ethnography & Social Thought (GIDEST) is opening its doors at The New School with a series of interesting seminars from its faculty fellows and other relevant guests. While checking its schedule, I noticed that one of the sessions can be of particular interest for the class:

“Krzysztof WodiczkoProfessor in Residence of Art, Design, and the Public Domain at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard, is world-renowned for his pioneering, large-scale video projections on landmark architecture and public monuments that explore the relationships between art, democracy, war, trauma, and healing. His practice, Interrogative Design, combines art and technology to highlight marginal social communities and add legitimacy to cultural issues that are often given little design attention. ” (From GIDEST website)

We reviewed part of his work during our first class, I believe. His seminar will be on Friday, October 10, from 11:00am to 1:00pm in the GIDEST Lab at 411, 63 Fifth Avenue. For all GIDEST seminars, the speakers will upload in advance on the website some relevant readings that will serve as a starting point for the discussions.

Hope to see you all there.

Krzysztof-Wodiczko-1

Krzysztof Wodiczko, Tijuana Projection, 2001.
Public projection of live images and sound at the Centro Cultural de Tijuana, as part of
InSite 2000. Image from website re-title.com.

In favor of a shared memory

In the year 2005, Guatemala’s government records of the genocide in the country were accidentally discovered. It took extensive efforts from experts and the financial aid of foreign institutions to turn piles of filthy papers into a proper archive. In 2009, after decades of wandering in the dark, the archive opened its doors, with a policy of complete access to the public (unlike other similar archives in Latin America). Finally, Guatemalans affected –directly or not- by the violence between the decades of 1960 and 1990 would have the possibility of getting an answer to their questions.

Currently, the Digital Archive of the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive (AHPN) “includes over 10 million scanned images of documents from the National Police Historical Archive. This digital archive mirrors and extends the physical archive that remains preserved in Guatemala as an important historical patrimony of the Guatemalan people.” (¶1)

LLILASConciliation_1

One of the pages of the AHPN, from the Digital Archive of the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive.

Now, for the purposes of this post, I want to refer to the material of this archive as “images”, and to focus particularly on the photographs that are part of this register, in order to revise their significance and to point out other considerations regarding their power.

Susan Sontag, in her book Regarding the Pain of Others, states that “…photographs help construct –and revise- our sense of a more distant past.” (p. 85). In the case of the AHPN this could not be more true: many of the images helped entire families to properly mourn and to give closure to a phase of horror in their lives. Just by being displayed, this photographic archive acknowledged an era of Guatemalan history that for many years was not addressed by the State.

Furthermore, this archive presents the opportunity to think more deeply about the limits between personal and collective memory. In regards to the latter, Sontag problematizes:

Photographs that everyone recognizes are now a constituent part of what society chooses to think about, or declares that it has chosen to think about. It calls these ideas ‘memories’, and that is, over the long run, a fiction. Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as collective memory –part of the same family of spurious notions as collective guilt. But there is collective instruction. (p. 85)

But the images that conform the AHPN are not the images that everyone recognizes. These are the individual stories of thousands of victims, of many families. The archive already exists as a whole, but it also constructs itself as Guatemalans find their parents, siblings, and children in those records. This archive is within the limits of personal and collective memory. And that borderline is what most interests me.

There’s also a value in the combination of photographs and documents. Sontag alludes to the risks of reading a photograph as the (whole) Truth. She states that while we need photographs to remember, we need narratives to understand. This archive is a visual narrative of the Guatemalan genocide; therefore it is extremely invaluable for those who seek to comprehend this episode.

Now, it’s known that the metaphor is a very useful resource when talking about narratives. This is when art comes into play. In Luke Pizzato’s article The Language of Public Memory art is presented as an “alternative language that can generate more solidarity between the victimized communities and the general public” (p. 40). By saying that, they refer to the artistic work of Minga, a Colombian artistic institution that works hand in hand with communities affected by the violence. However, Pizzato’s reflection could also be applied to the work of many other artists that approach violence and memory in the Americas and the world.

Lets take for instance Ejercicio Volumen, from the Venezuelan artist Teresa Mulet: this piece is a testimony of the thousands of violent deaths that occur yearly in her country, which is my country as well. It is a book in which each page represents a victim. Its impossibility to stand up because of its weight also represents how the situation has become unbearable, and sometimes this kind of images can be more powerful that the very pictures of the victims.

 Ejercicio Volumen

Ejercicio Volumen, from Teresa Mulet. From Trafico Visual`s website.

This post is the very first exercise on discovering how images (photographs, scans, artistic installations) intertwined, can help to build our memory: a shared memory, which is not to say a collective memory (as a discourse of power, an imposed one), if that is ever possible.

Bonadies, Angela (2014). Teresa a través del espejo. Recovered in September 10, 2013, through the link: http://www.traficovisual.com/2014/04/06/teresa-a-traves-del-espejo-por-angela-bonadies/

Digital Archive of the Guatemalan National Police Historical Archive. Recovered in September 10, 2013, through the link: https://ahpn.lib.utexas.edu/home

Doyle, Kate (2010-2011). Guatemala`s Police Archives: Breaking the Stony Silence. Revista: Harvard Review of Latin America. Volume 1.

Pizzato, Luke (2013). The Language of Public Memory: La Asociación Minga and The Authentic Image of the Victim. Revista: Harvard Review of Latin America. Volume 1.

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