ARTECONTEXTO ArT CulTurE NEW mEdiA
Revista trimestral • Quarterly magazine Número 2 • Issue 2 18 € • 23 $ USA
ArTE CulTurA NuEvOs mEdiOs
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DOSSIER: OTRAS FORMAS DE VISIBILIDAD / ALTERNATIVE FORMS OF VISIBILITY Justo Pastor Mellado, Santiago B. Olmo, Lorenz Seidler, Simon Njami, Andrés Isaac Santana, Alicia Murría ENTREVISTA / INTERVIEW: Alexander Apóstol Cibercontexto. Noticias / News. Libros / Books. Criticas / Reviews ARTECONTEXTO 1
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Directora / Editor Alicia Murría firstname.lastname@example.org Subdirectora / Senior Editor Ana Carceller email@example.com Coordinación para Latinoamérica Latin America Coordinator: Eva Grinstein firstname.lastname@example.org Equipo de redacción / Editorial Staff: Alicia Murría, Natalia Maya Santacruz, Ana Carceller, Eva Grinstein, Santiago B. Olmo. email@example.com Asistente Editorial / Editorial Assistant: Natalia Maya Santacruz, firstname.lastname@example.org Directora de Publicidad Advertising Director: Marta Sagarmínaga email@example.com Suscripciones / Subscriptions: firstname.lastname@example.org Distribución / Distribution: email@example.com COEDIS S.L. firstname.lastname@example.org Oficinas / Office: C/ Santa Ana 14, 2º C. 28005 Madrid. España tel. 34 91 3656596 Diseño / Design: El Viajero: www.elviajero.org Traducciones / Translations: Dwight Porter, Jane Brodie, Juan Sebastián Cárdenas, Benjamin Johnson
Colaboran en este número / Contributors: Justo Pastor Mellado, Lorenz Seidler, Andrés Isaac Santana, Simon Njami, David Casacuberta, Eva Grinstein, Alicia Murría, Santiago Olmo, Agnaldo Farías, Natalia Maya Santacruz, Luis Francisco Pérez, Francisco Baena, Pedro Medina Reinon, Mariano Navarro, Mariano Mayer, Alejandra Agüado, Uta M. Reindl, Miguel Wandschneider, Alvaro de los Ángeles, Xavier Sáenz de Gorbea, Pablo Helguera. Especial agradecimiento / Special thanks: Horacio Lefèvre, Juan Sebastián Cárdenas La entrevista con Alexander Apóstol es una versión de la realizada para Kontemporánea / proyecto de arte de Buenos Aires.
arte cultura nuevos medios
art culture neW media
ARTECONTEXTO arte cultura nuevos medios es una publicación trimestral de: ARTEHOY Publicaciones y Gestión, S.L. Impreso en España Fotomecánica: LUCAM Impreso: CROMOIMAGEN ISSN 1697-2341 Depósito legal: M-1968–2004 Todos los derechos reservados. Ninguna parte de esta publicación puede ser reproducida o transmitida por ningún medio sin el permiso escrito del editor. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted by any means without written permission from the publisher. © © © © ©
de de de de de
la edición: ARTEHOY Publicaciones y gestión, S.L. las imágenes, sus autores los textos, sus autores las traducciones, sus autores las reproducciones, VEGAP. Madrid 2004.
Primera página / Page One Alicía Murría Dossier: OTRAS FORMAS DE VISIBILIDAD / ALTErNATivE fOrmS Of viSibiLiTy
Fragilidad institucional, impostura política, nuevas visualidades: Informe de campo. institutional fragility, Political imposture and New visualities: report from the field. Justo Pastor Mellado
La utopía posible en la precariedad. [Conversación con Michy Marxuac] Possible utopias within Precariousness. [ideas from a Conversation with michy marxuach] Santiago B. Olmo
Progress in Progress. [museum in progress. Viena] Progress in Progress. [museum in progress. vienna] Lorenz Seidler
Artistas en busca de libertad, apuntes sobre la situación en África. Artists Looking for freedom, Notes on African Situation. Simon Njami
En el reverso de la autoridad: Sobre alternativas y la brisa del mar... The reverse Side of Authority: On Alternatives and the Sea breeze... Andrés Isaac Santana
Madrid. Alternativas en la gestión artística. madrid. Alternative Options for Artistic management. Alicia Murría
América Latina, por más y mejores redes. [Entrevista con Alexander Apóstol] Latin America, Towards more and better Networks. [interview with Alexander Apóstol] Eva Grinstein
Cibercontexto David Casacuberta
Noticias / News
Libros / books
Críticas de exposiciones / reviews
After the first issue of ARTECONTEXTO was
and actions within the framework of social
published in February, and while the second
processes, spreading beyond the strictly
issue was being prepared for publication in
artistic sphere, and while this is not new
early May, Spain underwent an upheaval
–the 1960s and 1970s saw these options
that significantly altered the political
actively exercised– it is today that this type
landscape. Pain and rage at the March 11
of approach is being accepted more broadly,
bomb attacks have had a profound impact
to the point that it risks becoming banal. In
in Madrid, the city in which we live. We
other instances, instead of an impulse to
would like to express our appreciation here
find alternatives to the well-trodden paths,
for the messages of solidarity we have
the problems being addressed are those of
received, and very especially those from
the pure precariousness of structures, which
render unviable the normal progress of work. At all events, if artistic practices lack
In a single week, horror in the face of
the capacity to bring about social change
tragedy, manipulation of the news,
–and we must not be naïve– they can and
indignation, protest demonstrations and the
do activate individual changes, if only in
change of political direction determined by
those who are already open and sensitive to
the voters left us with the sensation of
them; this has always been one of their
having experienced, in only four days,
purposes, however radical be the alterations
events which will take much more time to
in their contents, aspects, ways of
be fully assimilated. But, with a mixture or
proceeding, or final results.
sadness and hope, we carry on. Let us not fail to mention that in this new In our second issue we wanted to examine,
political period that is now beginning, the
from different viewpoints and geographic
Ministry of Culture has much to accomplish
locations, the transformations taking place
on many fronts. The statements made by
with respect to the visibility of art, the new
the new Minister are encouraging; but her
behaviour of artists, managers, and curators
first job is to appoint as head of the various
who realise that the traditional means of
agencies people who are well-acquainted
showing and relating artistic productions
with each cultural sphere; and above all,
now call for other media, other discourses,
it is the job of the administration to create
and even other spaces in which to make
channels for exchange and to activate the
contact with the spectator, who, in many
participation of the groups involved, but
instances, has become an integral part of
these groups should also adopt attitudes
these experiences, becoming central to
intended to assume their own
these new practices, as an essential and
responsibilities and not merely wait for the
active element in them. A kind of work is
administration to design cultural policies.
now going on that is aimed both at the production of objects and at the experiences
You are reading a preview!
To read the full issue, subscribe or visit us at www.artecontexto.com
ProgrEss IN ProgrEss
museum in progress
BY LORENZ SEIDLER The curtain has not risen. And yet the audience of the Milano Scala Opera keeps staring into the depth of a wouldbe stage in frozen intensity as if an absorbing performance was already in progress. Maybe it is. As the visitors of the Vienna State Opera slowly take their seats, adjust their exquisite evening gowns and wait for the opera to begin, they start staring back on a huge image of their Italian, yet virtual counterpart that has been hung on the closed curtain right in front of them. The curtain is gone now. It’s got replaced, as every year, by another artist’s fresh design, thanks to the Viennabased museum in progress. For six years now the initiative has been arranging the occlusion of the controversial original curtain’s design from 1955. In 2004 the image of a suffering christ by German artist Thomas Bayrle is floating in front of the audience. Any connotations to current debates are purely incidential –yet very welcome. Museum in progress has no intention to install any socalled static “public art”. It’s the initiative’s credo that permanent installations quickly lose the audience’s
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attention or even never capture it. Therefore museum in progress constantly searches for new spaces or media carriers for contemporary art. Since 1991 founders Kathrin Messner and Josef Ortner have been consequently finding and using new “interspaces for art” in the public realm: billboards, scaffolding, projections on plain walls, TV-screens in underground stations and the pages of daily newspapers serve as transient spaces for contemporary artists. Then a project gets designated in cooperation with a curator, who chooses the artists, who then configures their spaces according to context and the specific language of their specific craft. No mediation included nor intended. Turning the pages of a newspaper the reader could suddenly get confronted by a a page of drawings, literary forms of text or even a direct artistic experiment with the accustomed layout of the magazine. More extensive campaigns have, for example, transformed the pages of a newspaper into a flipbook or supplemented “normal” exhibitions with more vivid ways of bringing art to the public. Meanwhile the interventions of museum in progess have become a familiar part of their long-term media partners. But to open up new venues of presentation also requires new means of financing. Through its “Art Pool” that united sponsoring money from various companies museum in progress could initiate projects independently – and increase the credibility for all partners involved.Too risky a venture for those boards-of-directors that got recently exchanged in Austria and lack the very important personal relation to the protagonists of museum in progress. Thus this –seen from the arts’ point of view– groundbreaking model was abolished and cooperations have to be bargained individually again.
There is no place like home, 2000. © museum in progress
ALIGHIERO E BOETTI
Cieli ad alta quota, 1993. © museum in progress
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Nevertheless, a strict contractual agreement with each project’s financiers has to guarantee full artistic liberty – and that includes free choice of subject matter. For his participation in the billboard-project “Das Plakat” Felix Gonzalez-Torres chose to examine and publish all destinations of a sponsoring airline since World War II to reveal the interweavement of the airline’s flight routes with the respective political and economic circumstances. Hans Peter Feldmann’s contribution published private photographs of his family mingled with family members of
museum in progress has no intention to install any so-called static “public art”. It’s the initiative’s credo that permanent installations quickly lose the audience’s attention or even never capture it.
the airline’s employees, thus merging the private and the public sphere but also the corporate culture with the modus operandi of a contemporary artist. Gerwald Rockenschaub again explored the modular buildup of the billboard images. His contribution empowered even the billsticker himself to decide the final appearance of each manifestation of the concept. Apart from reaching less conventional audiences with unconventional strategies, museum in progress’ skills in bargaining for unused advertisment spaces allowed the airline’s logo to appear on more than 3000 billboards across the country. At the climax of the cooperation (a period that included the festival steirischer herbst in Graz) the yearly billboard-campaign had spread into more
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than 20 European cities. (and the airline’s onboardmagazine included a jigsaw puzzle designed by Alighiero e Boetti matching the exact size of the airplane’s fold-out tables). To reinforce international exchange is another aim of museum in progress. While an initial project by national curator Robert Fleck in 1991 allowed foreign curators and museum directors to visit the ateliers of Austrian artists, museum in progress negotiated with the airline to allocate one free ticket for each paid seat and allowed 50 Austrian artists to explore and artistically process destinations of their choice around the world. Accordingly, the cooperations with newspapers are no longer restricted to Austrian terrain. Since 2002 the Slowenian daily newspaper “Delo” and the Czech weekly “Respekt” feature direct interventions organized by museum in progress. Through skilfull networking and the systematic use of famous curators museum in progress also enables less prominent artists to access to the spaces that have been made available - but also to acquire more potential partners from the corporate world. Direct cooperations with commercial galleries are less common than the prominently placed “Vienna Stripe”, located in the very core of the city, might suggest: two art banners, each 15 metres in lenght and just 1,5m in height, are regularly replaced on top of a wine-market which happily offers its interiors to potential collectors of art and wine. A rotation principle should guarantee all galleries in the vicinity the same amount of exposure-time of “their” artists to the eyes of the visitors to the nearby Secessionbuilding or of the Viennese locals strolling through the everpopular “Naschmarkt”-area. Just across the road the back wall of the former Kunsthalle container facing directly towards the heavily trafficked Karlsplatz had been transformed into a presentation wall. Until 2001 Gerhard Richter, Walter Obholzer, Douglas Gordon and Ken Lum had used this unique space of 500 square meters for specifically adapted presentations. Meanwhile Kunsthalle’s main exhibition center has moved inside the Museumsquartier, its few outside walls are now being self-labelled as “Kunsthalle project walls”. The former yellow box on Karlsplatz was replaced by a smaller pavillon made of glass that should encourage the
passing car drivers to bend their necks to see what’s happening inside Kunsthalle’s transparent project space. Museum in progress is used to adapt to changing conditions. As Joerg Haider became part of the Austrian government in February 2000, curator Cathrin Pichler’s “TransAct” encouraged artists, scientists and writers to react against a threatening cultural boycot of Austria and to publish their statements directly in a local newspaper. After September 11 2001 TransAct 2” examinded and compared the language of political and artistic discourses. While the occasion, size and structures of the projects may vary, the autonomy of the arts stays museum in progress’ prime directive.
Not all sponsoring companies value this combination of flexibility and souvereignty. But even if direct return of investment and market value were the only factors of success, museum in progress could be a gilt-edged investment - at least on the art market: German artist Hans Peter Feldmann’s concept to exclude all text from a weekly news magazine and to publish only the photographs within the layout, was put into practise by museum in progress during the politically highly controversial month of February 2000 in Austria. Currently, each of the remaining copies of this artistic response to political circumstances is being sold at Walther Koenig’s bookstore for the proud sum of 250 Euros. q
Family Photos, 1994-1995. © museum in progress
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Artists looking for freedom
APUNTES SOBRE LA SITUACIÓN EN ÁFRICA
SIMON NJAMI A decade has passed since African art found an audience. It is no longer surprising to find works by African artists exhibited at every important international biennial or at galleries in Europe, Japan or the USA. The appointment of Nigerian Okwui Enwesor as director of Kassel’s Documenta 11 has roused the illusion of a possible and enduring change in the situation of African artists. And this illusion is quite vivid. However, if African art has made its way out of the ditch it is in part owing to reviews and magazines such as Revue Noire, Atlantica or NKA, that have provided a theoretical grounding intended to raise some questions that have eventually nourished a debate that goes back to the late 80’s. Several exhibitions that had Africa as their subject have been organized in Europe or the USA. Nonetheless, in this global village, where the new worldwide economical order has been absolutely imposed as a necessary and unwieldy reality, Africa –deprived of any resource of self-management, in other words, unable to provide the African artists with the necessary means of promotion and creation– has been forced to observe the laws of these economical powers that rule over every aspect of life, including, of course, the art environment.
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Certainly, the illusion of a strong presence of contemporary African art –a presence that can be understood as a larger visibility in the Western world- is only disguising the actual problems that must be resolved within the borders of the continent. Reality is neither sad nor joyful: it is the result of a process that started with the national independences and has settled down definitely just ten years ago. In any case, we must recognize that one of the recurring delusions of African art lies in the fact that its approval has been made possible using Western structures. Accordingly, if African arts can only exist in the Western world, what exactly are they representing? Has there not existed until now a misunderstanding, even a complete contradiction between the point of view that European curators have had about Africa and the perception that the native artists actually have of their own work? One of the most glaring examples
of this intricate situation is that most exhibitions held to show the contemporary scene in Africa have been conceived and carried out in Europe and the USA –and very unusually in Africa. Thus, the showy excitement underwent by the continent does not have any reliable roots. On the other hand, history has taught us that, first of all, it is necessary for every African country to develop by itself the exchange methods and the arenas for debate. Otherwise, the virtual approval we are now witnessing in Europe won’t be anything but a groundless illusion, a mirage. Nowadays, it has become urgent to undertake a deep reflection about the present situation of artistic work in Africa. European exhibitions and conferences are certainly useful, but it’s within the continent where it is important to create the conditions that might perpetuate our contemporary art scene. There is, indeed, an enormous task at hand.
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Most African artists that today enjoy a certain notoriety have moved to Europe, and they did so, not because -as someone may hastily believe- Europe embodies for them a sort of promised land, but simply because Africa is not yet in a position to accept and fully understand a work of contemporary art. As a matter of fact, we all know that contemporary art has always had to negotiate many obstacles all over the world. Every day artists are waging crusades against any kind of conservatism, especially in those non-industrial societies where Tradition is still palpable and burdensome. Globalization of references –even though it permits the survival of a few ones- creates a gap between those creations that we might describe as “local” and those, let’s say, “international” creations we have recently seen at Kassel, Venice or São Paulo. As a consequence, African artists are now confronted with a dilemma: they have to create significant works deeply rooted in a culture and in a particular territory, and at the same time, they must make those works as visible and available as possible. The efforts made until now have been usually intended for promotion, ignoring the very sources of creation. The actions performed at last year’s ARCO –actions that might be repeated in later editions- were aimed to support the development of local resources for creation and networking. In any case, to create an environment that may promote the flourishing of an art anchored in a local culture takes a firm political will. Nevertheless, we find ourselves forced to recognize that, in the last few decades, it has been in Europe where most initiatives were launched –a situation that dates back to the first half of the 20th Century. Such a state of things has caused the emergence of both colonial habits in the old times and neo-colonial practices back in the 60’s. The efforts directly undertaken by the African States –back in those days when there was a conscience of how important it was to favor the hatching of an original contemporary art- did nothing but place the seal of an ideology that eventually blocked the personal development of African artists. However, long before the arrival of these national orchestral arrangements that were supposed to defend Autenticity, Negritude or
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Panafricanism, the first studios had already been imported by the colonizers. The emergence of a Western concept of “African artist” is strongly related to the imposition of Christianity and to the eruption of new religious customs that enjoined us to conceive the world in a different manner. If Western modern art celebrates God’s decease, in Africa, the advent of such new artists determines, rather not the end of gods, but the ebb of their influence and their relegation exclusively to esoteric practises. The old artist who, until then, had presented his talent in the ancient ritual ceremonies, was replaced by a mutant whose actual influence on society we cannot foretell. In the meantime, as the art revolution in the Western world was at its summit, a new strain of missionaries began to travel through Africa in order to mold these hybrid creatures in their own image. The arising of a concept of artist announces those deep changes underwent by Africa, launched thus to the universal modern age. Moreover, a whole referencial system within the symbols suffered a remarkable mutation. Cities gradually become crucial and Africa, which until then could be considered a rural continent, experienced an evolution with lasting effects. In this new context, the artist who used to play a social, aesthetic or religious role became a sample-figure from a past on the verge of extinction. The arrival of these missionaries of art in the 20’s would favor the invention of a new artist, lonely and individualist, inclined to personal creation and master of his own universe. And if sculpture –an ancient practice whose origins have got lost in the ocean of time- has always been essential, watercolour, crayon and painting on canvas have also become increasingly important in the artistic production of the continent. Of course, art is not a main concern by itself, but it undoubtedly represents the ultimate principle of sophistication, of civilization, and it is also the last stage in the process of absolute emancipation. Now, if we talk here about the invention of the artist it is only because his creation process involves a variety of elements. In a continent where artistic forms are all the more indistinguishable from each other as they all belong to the same scenary and they all collide to produce the same
EILEN PERRIER effect, the division of art in its six different disciplines, according to the classification taken from the Western history of art, introduces a confusion about art that is still prevailing in the so-called pre-industrial societies. Such a literal transposition of concepts and thought, constructed
Courtesy: IV es Rencontres de la photographie africaine. Bamako 2001
upon other contexts, did foster a series of questions that have barely been resolved, even in our times. As a result, the teaching (even though it would be more fair to use the term introduction) of painting here in Africa was carried out in an anarchic and empirical way. If at a certain
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moment painting made an attempt to undermine the aesthetical grounding of African societies offering a new viewpoint more in keeping with their principles, the truth is painting was not entitled back then to successfully assume this self-imposed duty. Calling these earlier studios opened in Africa by the name of schools would be as if historians nowadays talked about schools when referring to currents such as Poto-Poto (Congo) or Oshogbo (Nigeria), just to mention two of the pioneers who worked without a pre-arranged method, without a plan, without a pedagogical project.
if African arts can only exist in the Western world, what exactly are they representing?
The concept of art brut or outsider art, as it has been named in the United States, was forged beforehand in those early studios. Such a brand name was responsible, for instance, for the fact that on the occasion of the first exhibit of Lubaki’s work –a domestic servant from the former Belgian Congo promoted to the rank of artist-, which took place in Paris in the 20’s, many spectators thought that they were being baffled, persuaded that the infamous artist did not exist. However, if these spectators were puzzled about the actual existence of the Zairean artist, they are not the ones to blame but rather the artist’s reality itself. Thus the transference of collectivity to certain individuals, randomly chosen by the pedagogues along their journeys, would provoke absurd situations.
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As we have seen, the old masters were not taken into account anymore during the teaching process. In this way, the artist –since the early watercolorist who first got confronted with Western aesthetics- was inventing himself. For art historian Pierre Gaudibert, these experiences, taken as a whole, turned out to be a dead end: “Europeans created a series of schools and studios. Most of them endeavoured to stimulate an authentic, spontaneous and “naïve” African art, but their inspiration –more or less unconsciously- on European or traditional models gave birth to a series of “de-cultured” mutants, amongst which were quite unusual cases of original hybridism”1. Although one of these first studios was created in francophone Africa –more precisely in Ivory Coast in 1923 by Charles Combes-, it was in English-speaking Africa where most of these “schools” were established, the most decisive among them being Kenneth Murria’s (Nigeria, 1927), Margaret Trowell’s (Kampala, Uganda, 1937), Mac Ewen’s (Salisbury, Rodhesia, 1957), and, despite its chronological delay, Susana Wenger and Uli Beir’s studio, based in Oshogbo, Nigeria; this latter studio would be the training place for artists like Twin Seven Seven or Bruce Onobrakpeya. In the francophone region of the continent stand out both the studio created by Pierre Romain Desfossé and Laurent Moonens, in Lubumbashi, and Pierre Lods’ studio, located in Poto-Poto, Congo. In 1961 both studios joined President Senghor in his plan to create l`Institut des Arts de Dakar [Dakar Art Foundation]. These initiatives, of which we have mentioned scarcely a few examples, would set forth a series of questions regarding the methods employed by their promoters: quoting Gaudibert again, we might say that as one faction wanted to encourage their student’s “authenticity”, conversely, the other faction prefered, in some cases unconsciously, to drive theirs into this or that artistic tendency. Then, the actual role of the artists was not always clearly defined, and because of the influences they experienced or the definitions of art they had to assimilate, the whole process offered a diversity of viewpoints that eventually would cause the emergence of the earliest African artistic currents, which, in some cases, are still a point of reference. As a matter of fact, and overlooking how much subjectivity every precursor aimed to instil in his teaching,
these early experiences did in fact constitute, nevermind how successfully, the bases upon wich the African artists have tried to find their own way. We only need to take a glance into the 60’s to confirm that cultural emancipations eventually turn into a political struggle. Among the fieriest supporters of this theory we find Léopold Sédar Senghor, President of Senegal, who in 1966 organized the first world festival of black arts in Dakar, an occasion for the artists –despite that ideas in that time were instilled with a strong nationalism- to become aware of the need to create their own vision of the world, and at the same time to avoid the image imposed on them by their own teachers. In the 70’s, in Senegal, the artists Issa Samb and El Hadj Sy –endorsed by Léopold Sedar Senghor, at that time president of the Republic and an enthusiastic upholder of the arts-, founded the Agit’Art laboratory, a space to keep creation away from official art. This “agitation” was not able to produce a modern lab –at least not in the sense we describe the labs created in the 90`s as modern-, but all the same it was a experience where society, politics and artistic creation were fused, a space for freedom not tied up to any market or material production obligation. Currently, the more African artists are confronted with the international market (particularly thanks to the biennials that are being gradually established across the continent, from Dakar to Bamako, passing briefly through Johannesburg), the more we verify the need to create an environment where the flourishing of contemporary art may come truth. Indeed, until now, the only spaces available to the artists –given that all the museums created under the euphoria of independence never did get their duties done- have been the culture centers from abroad. It was in the 90’s when galleries began to open all across the continent. And even though these spaces are not always what we might call a traditional gallery, their very existence allows for a diversification of the artists’ options. Of course, the obligation to make a profit forces these gallerists to exhibit works of art affordable in the context
of a local market. This situation excludes, generally speaking, those artists more audacious and free, creators whose works are not made to decorate a bourgeois living room. However, in the last few years, as has been occurring in Dakar (particularly in Atiss gallery), in Abidjan, in Yaoundé (Africréa), in Douala (MAM) and in Bamako (In Chab gallery, focused on photography), the views have become more accurate and, under the influence of African biennials, the requirements are gradually on the rise. Nevertheless, the most avant-gardist creators are still feeling frustrated and right now we observe the surfacing of groups of artists assembled to establish a sort of off-scene. Les Huit Facettes in Dakar, the Cap Siki in Douala, the Ezra Possible in Kinshasa, among others, are some of the groups that have the purpose to work outside of a market that has despised them. Their objective, as that of the rest of these collectives, is to create alternative solutions where the necessary infrastructure -or even the tools that might fit their needs- hardly exist, there where there is virtually nothing. Some of these collectives have been favoured by ongoing institutional help. This, for instance, was the case with Douala, which, as it turned out, created the Doual`Art private center; or as it happened in Kinshasa with La Halle de la Gombé, a culture center that offers its spaces to the initiatives of artists without interfering with their work. These collectives, besides fulfiling their strictly artistic purposes, have become aware of the importance to intervene in their environment and in this sense their projects often show an open social dimension. It is clear that on a continent with a feeble economy and where culture is still a negative priority, a contemporary landscape might come to light only through these kinds of initiatives. In that light, every experience and every attempt will make possible an enduring environment for a lasting contemporary creation. q English translation: Juan Sebastián Cárdenas. 1 Pierre Gaudibert, Un pop`art d`Afrique, in Silex # 23, 1982.
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For good, in some instances, and for ill, in others, we have left behind us the literally utopian notion of the Internet as a no-place in which our society’s social and political constraints do not apply. The net is increasingly a potentiator and facilitator of our actions, desires and fears in the “real world” (if indeed the “virtual world”
ever existed). This dispatch of news from the world of the Internet and art is focused on the writer’s immediate environment — Barcelona, artists and creators he knows and who are doing noteworthy work. And it also serves as a letter of introduction of this writer.
David Casacuberta Sevilla
Educational web site Autobahn: A Map of Electronic Music www.mediatecaonline.net/autobahn This web site offers a reflection on how five key cities (Detroit, Ibiza, Manchester, Berlin and Tokyo) turned out to be vital to the development of electronic dance music (techno) and how these cities transformed themselves thanks to the cultural and recreational potential of this music. It is less a history of techno (though one learns a lot) than an analysis of the social and cultural implications of popular music and its feedback relations with particular cities. The most noteworthy aspect of this project is certainly to be found in its graphic side. Eschewing the spectacular but insubstantial graphics that now flood the net, Rosa Llop has done a good job in taking up Otto Neurath’s Isotype project, developing an iconic system in which the coherent representation of information takes precedence over mere aesthetic bedazzlement.
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Internet as Public Space: Beyond the Cyber utopias. www.hangar.org This workshop takes place on May 5-8 in Hangar, and is directed by Mercé Molist (a wonderful journalist with Ciberpaís) and this writer. The idea is to consider how the Internet is a space of public, social and political empowerment, and to discuss, in a round-table format, such issues as the digital divide, access to cultural capital, new models of intellectual property, social software, and Internet legislation. More than answers, we seek above all new questions which help us to understand a little better the public space/private space interaction from the viewpoint of IT and communications technologies.
The E-zine Neural www.neural.it This has nothing to do with Barcelona (it is an Italian project) but it is related to our knowledge environment. Neural â€“along with the inevitable Googleâ€” is our almost daily visiting point for information about digital culture and art. Few Internet spaces have so much information of such high quality about digital art initiatives. For those who are more comfortable with English than Italian, an abbreviated English-language version is available at www.neural.it/english.
The Blog Motz.antville.org Mariann Unterluggauer is an excellent Austrian radio journalist who divides her time between Vienna and Barcelona. She is an expert in the social and cultural implications of digital technologies, and her web log (blog) is brimming with information and thought which almost go beyond the surface and seek to analyze the causes of certain practices in the digital world that we often take as given. Equally impressive is her knowledge of the history of the new media, which is what enables her to identify the bluffs and the lack of substance in many projects that are supposedly cool. Her blog is mostly in English, but there are some texts in German and Spanish. CIBERCONTEXTO / ARTECONTEXTO / 97
The Book Cyberculture Collection of Gedisa/Premio Eusebi Colomer www.gedisa.com www.fundacion-epson.es/cast/premios/colomer.htm If we compare the quantity and the quality of English-language publications on digital art and culture with those published in Spanish, we may burst into tears. That’s why this collection by Gedisa that is dedicated to cybercultures is so important. In addition to good translations, it carries the three essays awarded the top Eusebi Colomer awards granted by the Epson Foundation. The essays deal with the social and cultural implications of the new digital technologies. Pieces like “Chat Genre”, “Collective Creation” and “My Name is Kohfam” show that it is possible to produce quality reflections in Spanish on digital culture. These awards will continue and it is to be hoped that some readers will have a go…
A Collective Construction Project Unconditional Air License www.platoniq.net
Platoniq is an artivist collective based in Barcelona, essential in the development of the city’s digital art, both by organizing conferences and by carrying out their own projects. Their latest project, Unconditional Air, includes a special copyleft license, centering on our country. For the air it breathes, digital art needs alternative models of intellectual property, and those used so far, such as the GNU license or the Creative Commons, were too much focused on software and conceived within the U.S. legal framework. That’s why it is so important that this copyleft should be developed for artists in our country. Let us encourage all digital artists who are not content with customary forms of copyright to consider and adopt this new type of license.
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The Artistic Web Site Jodi www.jodi.org In principle, everyone interested in digital art should visit this web sire, but it is no less true that, at times, the pioneers are buried under the everyday news and may pass unnoticed in the frenzied world of the new technologies. Accordingly, here is simply a reminder of this pioneering web site by the artists JODI who spent a few years in Barcelona and did much to help crystallize the digital scene in that city. If you haven’t yet visited it, do so now, and if you have, we think it is always worth another visit.
The Mailing List
Nettime-lat (www.nettime.org) Nettime is a pioneering list devoted to the critical analysis of the new technologies, especially in their artistic aspects. Thinkers of international renown, such as Geert Lovink, or curators of new technologies, such as Broeckman, commenced their reflections here. Given its power and interest, new versions appeared in different languages. Nettime-lat (or “latino”) is the Spanish-language version. It is a space in which artists, critics and electronic art theorist share links, projects, and views. Subscribing to this list is one of the best ways to keep abreast of developments in the Latin American context of electronic art.
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