saco festival de ar te contemporĂĄneo contemporar y ar t festival a n t o f a g a s t a / c h i l e
saco festival de ar te contemporĂĄneo contemporar y ar t festival a n t o f a g a s t a / c h i l e
SACO8 Destiny 8th edition of SACO Contemporary Art Festival July - September 2019 ARTISTS Miguel Braceli (Venezuela), Marcos Temoche (Venezuela-Peru), Paz Errázuriz (Chile), Joaquín Fargas and Guillermo Anselmo Vezzosi (Argentina), Francis Naranjo & Carmen Caballero (Spain), Natalia Pilo-Pais (Peru), Aldair Indra (Bolivia), Ana Alenso (Venezuela Germany), Johannes M. Hedinger y Marcus Gossolt (Switzerland), Anna Uścińska de Rojas y Jagoda Szelc (Poland), Yuga Hatta (Japan), Juan Carlos Guerrerosantos (Mexico), Patricia Teles (Brazil), Stephanie Williams (Costa Rica), Fernando Sicco y Ana Agorio (Uruguay); participants of the workshop Pedagogic Curatorship: Carlos Olivares, Felipe Muñoz, Ángelo Álvarez, Agustín Lobos, Claudia León, Jahir Jorquera, Jordán Plaza y Gabriel Navia; art activators of Bloch public intervention: Rafaela Castro, Felipe Gallegos, David Flores, Teatro en Tiempos de Guerra, Petar Kuzmanic, Natalia Leal y Patricia Díaz (Chile). TEAM director | Dagmara Wyskiel general manager | Christian Núñez management and outreach | Carlos Rendón communication officers | Ivonne Morales e Iván Ávila editor of specialized texts | Carolina Lara webmaster | Juan Troncoso graphic designer | Aldair Coronado education project manager | Carmen América Núñez administrator | Roxana Hernández mediation coordinator | Gabriel Navia museographic support | Daniel Aguayo production and logistics | Nicolás De Terán production assistant| Esteban Pinto camera and video editor | André Salva photographer | Luis Marín other photographs | Carmen Núñez, Ivonne Morales, Roxana Hernández, Gabriel Navia, Carlos Rendón, David Corvalán, Priscila Peralta, Aldair Indra, Joaquín Fargas, Elia Gasparolo local media management| Christian Godoy book editor | Elisa Montesinos translation | Elisa Montesinos y Matteo Fiori art handling | Factoría Desierto EIRL JURY Sandino Scheidegger | Costa Rica-Switzerland Sissi Hamann | Peru Andrés Vial | Chile Anne Brand | Guatemala-Switzerland Dagmara Wyskiel | Poland-Chile CURATORS Cristóbal León | Chile Coca González | Chile Loreto González | Chile Carolina Contreras | Chile
ART MEDIATORS Josseline Alfaro, Ángelo Álvarez, Francisco Baeza, Tomás Binvignat, Javiera Flores, Paola Flores, Fabiola Gómez, Carla Gutiérrez, Natalia Olivos, Marcia Paredes, Silvana Pedrera, Jesús Perdomo, Antica Petricio, Jordán Plaza SACO8 Festival is organized by SE VENDE Collective, Mobile Contemporary Art Platform. Presented by Escondida BHP. Financed by the Regional Government of Antofagasta with funds from the National Fund for Regional Development FNDR 2% Culture 2019; and the National Fund for the Development of Arts and Culture, FONDART, line for the Organization of Festivals and Meetings. ISLA Latin American Superior Art Institute is sponsored by the Program Other Collaborating Institutions from the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage. We are thankful for the support of: Minera; Balmaceda Young Art Antofagasta; Artequin INACAP Museum; Imagen Art Gallery; Chela Lira Art Gallery, Catholic University of the North; Antofagasta Station Cultural Center; Antofagasta Regional Museum; Antofagasta Regional Library; Antofagasta Viva Library; Goethe-Institut; The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia through its Programme Coincidencia for Swiss and South American Cultural Exchanges; Embassies of Brazil, Poland and Switzerland in Santiago; Contemporary Art Space of Montevideo, Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay; Francis Naranjo Foundation; Canarias Crea Program of the Canarian Government; GORE Antofagasta through its Programme Valuing Cultural Heritage; Regional Ministerial Education Secretariat of Antofagasta; Municipality of Antofagasta; Antofagasta Municipal Corporation of Social Development; The Chiloé Museum of Modern Art (MAM); R.P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum; CorpArtes Foundation; Center of Astronomy Universidad de Antofagasta; European Film Festival; AIEP, Specific, Productora Obraz Ltda., Universes in Universe, Hipermédula, El Mostrador, El Desconcierto, Radio Biobío, Artishock, El Regionalista, El Mercurio Antofagasta, Mor.bo, R2tv, CP Communications. Project in accordance with the Chilean editorial director | Dagmara Wyskiel editor | Elisa Montesinos editorial team | Carlos Rendón, Ivonne Morales e Iván Ávila design | Christian Núñez Created and produced by SE VENDE Collective, Mobile Contemporary Art Platform Copies 400 Spanish edition 100 English edition Antofagasta, November 2019 www.proyectosaco.cl www.colectivosevende.cl ISBN: 978-956-401-341-1
Resetting the Compass. SACO8 Curatorial Text | Dagmara Wyskiel
Pairings or We See Words | Sandino Scheidegger
Text for Action Through Doubt | Andrés Vial
Jury Members for SACO8 International Call
Beyond Destiny | Alexandra Mundaca Territorial Conquest: Region of Antofagasta, July-August 2019
Photo essay | Mateo Chacón-Pino
MUSEUM WITHOUT MUSEUM
Uncertain Journey: a Stroll Along the Melbourne Clark Pier | Carolina Lara
Sundays and Holidays | Catalina Mena
Not Worth Interpreting | Carolina Lara
Options for New Languages Inside of a Public Library | Loreto González
The Private in Public and Vice Versa | Carolina Lara 62 When Art Confronts History and Territoriality | Iván Ávila
Erasing Flags, Burying Borders | Carolina Lara
Artistic Reflections From Mars | Jesús Perdomo
The Artistic Dimension of Fake | Loreto González How a Robot Can Change the World | Carolina Lara
Between Aesthetics and Archaeology | Loreto González
We, the Ancestors | Cristóbal León
Who Needs the Academy? | Carolina Lara
Bloch: the Swiss Traveller and His Activations in the Latin American Desert | Ivonne Morales
A Museum Without Works: Subverting Education (and the Language of Art) | Carolina Lara
SCHOOL WITHOUT SCHOOL IT IS IT ISN’T | Carmen Oviedo
On Uncertainty and Landscape as Tools for Listening | Tatiana Benavides 106 Reciprocal Emotions and Learning: When Improvisation Works | Carlos Rendón
The Challenge of Writing About Contemporary Art | Carolina Lara
This Text is Really Dull, Explanatory, Simplistic | Cristóbal León 113 A White Flag Isn’t Surrender | Carlos Rendón
Urban Interventions in Parque Brasil: Young People as Protagonists | Carolina Contreras
Time Stopped: Photography as a Permanent Witness of the Ephemeral | Iván Ávila 119 Hunting Sounds | Carlos Rendón
Contemplating Our Surroundings: the Way Home | Natalia Pilo-Pais
A Virtual Tour or Art Within Everyone’s Reach | Carlos Rendón
Journey Into Oneself | Fabiola Gómez 129 The Simulated Environment and Other Reaches of Contemporary Art | Jordán Plaza 131 Beyond Your Eyes | Gabriel Navia
RESIDENCIES / TERRITORY
Industry Infiltrating Your Body | Loreto González
A Bridge on the Way | Dagmara Wyskiel 140 Art Should Be a Bridge | David Corvalán
Drift, Memory and the Path | Priscila Peralta
Rancheras, Reggaeton & Rock | Dagmara Wyskiel 146 A Fracture in the Memory of the Desert | Loreto González The Utopia of Water | Joaquín Fargas and Elia Gasparolo
A Conceptual Compass with New Cardinal Points | Loreto González 153 Gestures in the Air | Dagmara Wyskiel
Considering Geography From an Imaginary of Space | Loreto González
Blink of an Insect | Dagmara Wyskiel
Other Relationships Between Land and Territory | Francisca Caporali y Daniel Toledo 167 The Unbearable Volume of Silence | Dagmara Wyskiel 168
WHAT’S FOR SALE: SIGNIFICATIVE ACTIONS THROUGHOUT THE DESERT
RESETTING THE COMPASS SACO8 CURATORIAL TEXT | Dagmara Wyskiel If anyone knows how to anticipate the present, it is creatives. They have the gift of knowing ahead of time what is about to come, even if they don’t fully understand it; perceiving, for example, the danger of the thunder before it turns into a storm. These are not supernatural powers nor occult knowledge, but probably rather a special sensitivity, pertaining to the interplay between an attentive gaze that sees beyond the visible and a mind that deconstructs what it perceives. An outsider within society, or at the very least, a guardian of the fringes in the face of social norms, herd dynamics, beliefs and rituals. Craftsmen are suspicious of the glorious future, wherever they happen be, they simply sit back and observe as society puts on its spectacle of daily news. It’s not worth getting up on the political stage if it isn’t possible to finish even the first act due to personal differences with the script. But they continue being part of the cast from the mezzanine, maintaining a double role as both spectator and participant at the same time, which allows them to perceive processes, tensions, and dance moves that at times lead towards a precipice unseen by those on the stage, due to their angle of perspective. The noise of the speakers impedes perception. Attention slips away. Last year we were wondering about origin, now we investigating the idea of destiny, stretching out in an existential arc between the questions Where do we
come from? and Where are we going?, between arrival and departure in the grand airport of infinity. We are seated at the meeting point, a little bit lost, it must be said. In these times of crisis in the western world, whether it be with religions, the generalized disparagement of governments, or the reappearance of the weed of extremism along with the false hope of quick fixes, it seems that our compass is not working properly. The system is not responding. Fatalism, a philosophical doctrine present to a varying degree in all religions, considers events to be inevitable, negating the freedom of individuals while imposing the unavoidable. It’s all said and done, we are but puppets in a show written by some divine power. This way of thinking can be terribly attractive, as it liberates us from any and all responsibility for our actions. Do we design the paths that the river takes or are we but logs adrift choosing neither watercourse nor the place where we are to be spit out? The future is here, only in a little while. And the present doesn’t exist, for as soon as we think of it it becomes the past. We can disregard the fleeting moment –but never its origin– if we hope to catch a scent of what is to come. We are left with two powerful tools capable of lifting up the –rightfully sagging– self-esteem of Homo sapiens: Science and Art. An evolved society would replace priests and politicians with scientists and artists. We must prepare ourselves for this, exercising our skills: choosing what to leave behind and what to take with us, anticipating the swells that await us en route to ports and connections, both personal and universal, planning transfers and final destinations. SACO8 proposes to understand the role of the artist as subject capable of moving ahead of his or her time, pulling back the curtain to uncover something that has only been glimpsed, so that we may perhaps get the chance to reset our compasses.
PAIRINGS OR WE SEE WORDS | Sandino Scheidegger During my stay in the Region of Antofagasta, I gathered fragments of random remarks I happened to overhear at the festival, which combined with my own photographs, are reconfigured into visual stories for this publication.
Everyone here is either running the world or setting it on fire
Antofagasta has seen more change than a Las Vegas slot machine
So quiet, you can practically hear yourself listening
SACO translates art into a more universal language â&#x20AC;&#x201C;one that can be understood
For all that needs to be said but never was
Beautiful things donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seek attention
The world is more interesting than our ideas about it 22
TEXT FOR ACTION THROUGH DOUBT | Andrés Vial The purpose of this text is to examine if through doubt we can establish a special way of acting when thinking about a “possible destiny”, above all considering the chronopolitics established by the dictatorship of immediacy, forgetting processes along the way. As such, I am writing all of this in the form of a query, consumed by the question of whether or not it is even worth opening up for debate. Generally, we set up exhibitions as an end, a definitive statement with regards to a prior process, which later we see realized in the aforementioned exhibit. But what happens if we begin to reimagine the staging of an exhibition as a process, as a new space of doubt created mainly through context, as much a social space as it is a formal one, if we stop and think about all those who will be submitted to said stimulants? The relationship between doubt and study is direct and allows us to go on living and thinking about a relative destination along the way. It is in this sense that I propose a series of actions as doubts, or doubts as acts, questions that allow us to activate critical judgement regarding the production of art, in all of its layers. Act number 1: In liquid times (a term coined by Zygmunt Bauman to name and dissect almost everything1) might it be important to decide to take breaks from our artistic practices, to establish certain commas and periods, pauses that allow us to think on and establish other ways of doing things, away from the machinery of productivity that has pushed the planet and its societies to the limit of their possibilities (?). Act number 2: Up to this point, with the universe of social networks completely saturated, is it possible to know everything that everyone else does, as we have taken it upon ourselves to say, communicate, notify, transmit, inform, what we consume as much as what we feel, not in real time, but which is close enough (?) (we don’t share moments of reflection, because apparently there isn’t time for that). (Chronopolitics, Rogério Haesbaert2). Act number 3: Are the specific contexts in which a project or work is to be shown relevant? Should I consider making some sort of change in the work, in the case of it having been preconceived, once at the site in which it is to be placed?
1 BAUMAN, ZYGMUNT ( 2006) Vida líquida. Barcelona: Paidós. 2 HAESBAERT, ROGÉRIO (2011) El mito de la desterritorialización. Mexico DF: Siglo XXI Editores.
Act number 4: Have we thought about the physical processes that the materials used in our work have been through? What about the social processes that gave life to said material? Are we considering them within the political terrain of the work itself? Act number 5: Has our idea regarding the work to be presented changed after having considered its relationship to the setting, including ourselves as viewers? If the answer is yes, it is because that idea in and of itself is part of a process with a completely diachronic timeline. It is good to submit oneself to these processes of self-suspicion and doubt, as they allow for the development of new aspects, of greater complexity and honesty, that push us to assume our rank as human beings, all in lower-case, equally faced with a seemingly devastating destiny.
JURY MEMBERS FOR SACO8 INTERNATIONAL CALL | Anne Brand Gálvez (Guatemala, 1986) Swiss-Guatemalan artist and curator specializing in Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. She is interested in decentralized, decolonialized artistic practices and research. Founder of the office of curatorship Agency for Spiritual Guest Work in the Service of Visualizing; the Nomadic Center of Contemporary Art, which focuses on research and itinerant arts production; as well as the Virtual Residence, an online platform for production and research. | Sissi Hamann Turkowsky (Lima, 1982) Bachelor of Arts with mention in Art History and Sociology of Art. She has taught at the Latin American University of Sciences and Letters, was guest professor at Manipal University (India), professor and academic director of the Autonomous National Superior School of Fine Arts in Peru. She directs the Gandhara Center for Traditional Studies and is associate professor at the Center for Oriental Studies at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP). | Sandino Scheidegger (Bern, 1984) Master in Art History and Law. He lived in Costa Rica, where he was artistic director of the Center of Contemporary Art Despacio. He has directed more than 80 multidisciplinary projects around the world as co-founder of the Random Institute, based in Zurich. The exhibitions he has curated have included works by Richard Long, James Lee Byars, Zilvinas Kempinas, Guido van der Werve, Carey Young, Julian Charrière and Federico Herrero. He works in Paris and Zurich. | Andrés Vial de Arce (Santiago, 1980) B.A in Art with prior studies in Agronomy. He lived for 5 years in Barcelona, where he earned a Master’s Degree, in Artistic Production and Research at the University of Barcelona. He is currently working on his PhD research project and thesis at the same university. Along with dedicating time to his artistic practice, he is the codirector of Espai Colona. He lives and works in Chiloé, in the south of Chile. | Dagmara Wyskiel (Sosnowiec, 1974) PhD in Art from the University of Fine Arts of Kraków. She has participated in biennials in Russia and Poland, and made public interventions in Colombia, England, Chile and Bolivia. Her work has been shown in Uruguay, United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and Argentina. In 2016 she won the first prize at the 17th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh with the video Mixed Game. She is the co-founder of SE VENDE Collective, Mobile Contemporary Art Platform, and director of SACO Contemporary Art Festival.
BEYOND DESTINY | Alexandra Mundaca Director of Community Outreach Escondida BHP After six years of strategic collaboration between Escondida BHP and SE VENDE Collective, we are able to say that contemporary art is positioning itself with increasingly greater force in the region thanks to steadfast management, continued learning and new experiences. Without a doubt, Antofagasta has become a focal point of contemporary art both within the country, as well as the continent. Once again, SACO proved to be a top-level event, a real opportunity for dialogue, debate, and the development of critical thought in the community. SACO8 Destiny presented 12 shows with the participation of 40 artists from 15 countries between March and September 2019, double the figure from the previous year. Today we are talking about a festival that is attempting to become the first biennial in the North of Chile. The Destiny spoken of this year is also the destiny of SACO itself, a truly auspicious one, in which collaborative work will allow for its growth as an open space for artistic development in the region. We believe that culture is a factor in social transformation, as events like SACO end up nurturing the overall development of the people. The festival not only delivers art to galleries and closed spaces, but also to universities, heritage sites, schools and other public places, and in so doing it allows for new generations to awaken, starting at an early age, an interest in and taste for the arts. Next year the Contemporary Art Festival will take place once more, allowing us to witness again how this international event keeps expanding and surprising us in each new edition.
TERRITORIAL CONQUEST: REGION OF ANTOFAGASTA, JULY-AUGUST 2019 FOTOENSAYO 27
| Mateo Chacรณn-Pino
MUSEUM WITHOUT MUSEUM
UNCERTAIN JOURNEY: A STROLL ALONG THE MELBOURNE CLARK PIER | Carolina Lara Destiny Melbourne Clark Historic Pier What would happen if instead of touring the SACO8 exhibition alone, as I’ve always done before an interpretive lecture in a gallery or museum, I were to generate a text that arose out of a conversational, group experience, as well as from a query that has recently emerged in my work in the arts, community and cultural mediation, in order to form a kind of collective meaning? It was, perhaps, one of the coldest days in which to visit the pier, the dead of winter in Antofagasta, cloudy and windy. But something having to do with destiny, one of this year’s curatorial concepts, carried us off on that difficult journey; we went ahead in spite of everything and were able to forget about the climatic conditions for several hours that afternoon as we stopped to chat and comment on, pose questions and analyze each of the seven interventions, while trying to draw conclusions as a collective. The stroll was an exercise in interpretation together with seven participants from the workshop Let’s Talk About Contemporary Art, which continued later on in the warmth of a downtown cafe, and again the next day in our final session at the ISLA Residency Center. We proposed to make a game out of it, using our interlocking perspectives to consider the pier as an open experience, at a gathering of contemporary art where pedagogy is an important focal point and the mediation program involves a participative approach to viewing the exhibitions. The analysis consisted of forming an initial impression, and then continued by pulling away symbols and meanings and establishing relationships between the various works, but also between the works and the pier, the sea, the city and its history, and thereby dialing into some key concepts: What the artist was trying to say, what we saw in situ and how a work’s meaning is derived from the diversity of its viewers, understanding that these kinds of fuzzy, inconclusive zones in large part define the meaning of art. It all revolved around the fact that these works had been conceived as site specific, which is to say, they were interventions intended for a specific place. One of the things we asked ourselves spoke precisely to the relevance of this term considering that the exhibiting artists had never even been to this place, and yet, were able to develop a substantive route from a conceptual and aesthetic point of view, while using materials that had to resist the harshness of an open area exposed to the sea during the nearly six weeks of exposition. Someone Has Some Explaining to Do In that first impression walking along the route, we saw works that were playful, colorful and interactive, those that highlighted landmarks along the pier, works 37
that were their own scenery and those that had their own independent ideas about destiny; the interventions at times fused with elements of the place: cranes, benches, glass cases and pieces of roofing, all within the context of a historic and touristic promenade. We had but to look closely and let the game that we had proposed at the very beginning carry us away. Among the most striking works was Any Where by Marcos Temoche (VenezuelaPeru), which also happened to be the most media-friendly: ten tents of various colors lined up all in a row with pairs of legs sticking out from each one as if there were real people inside taking refuge. Before the opening on the pier, this same work was installed for an afternoon outside of the Office of Immigration. This action was taken by an artist who had himself been marked by immigration, a phenomenon that has also historically shaped Antofagasta, which is today experiencing a significant influx of migrants, as much as, if not more than the rest of the country. The action stimulated a lot of interest in the social networks, but also in the major media, who misportrayed the act, spinning it as a conspiracy between immigrants and left-wing groups. This hyperbolic response was epitomized by a video from the right-wing columnist Teresa Marinovic, in which she denounces these efforts with a totally alarmed look on her face, and closes with the emphatic phrase: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Someone has some explaining to do.â&#x20AC;? The connection of this work with a location other than the pier, one with its own political significance, unleashed memories of the images of tents full of Venezuelan immigrants at the border crossing between Tacna and Chile who were hoping to enter the country, while back at the pier it was possible to conjure visions of refugee camps in war zones or of homeless encampments in some of our own urban areas. Perhaps a lot of people came to the international exhibition just so they could view the tents they had seen in the news media. All of that sensationalism made this particular work more powerful, or gave it a more literal meaning, while the rest of the interventions veered from the anecdotal, aiming for a sort of poetry that at the same time was able to suggest a political concern. Next to the refugee camp, the seats of surveillance. Such analogies unfolded for some of us, as we moved from the tents to the sculpture-objects of Juan Carlos Guerrerosantos (Mexico). Compound Circle was composed of four tennis referee chairs facing each other, along with their respective metallic placards to keep track of points, which was lost on those of us who donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know the customs of the sport. Nevertheless, being unaware of such details allowed for a more open meaning. Sitting there, we were able to observe our surroundings, looking at the tents or simply contemplating the pier, the sea, the hills, the city. Either that, or just look at each other face to face. Further along, almost at the end of the route, the fifth chair positioned us in a way so that we were looking towards the horizon, as if we were at the bow of a ship sailing towards an uncertain destination. 39
In the middle of the pier, Self Monument / Contrail by Yuga Hatta (Japan), confronted us with a line of bodies that kept repeating themselves in a kind of human chain. Made of expanded foam with a strong yellow color, it possessed a materiality that rendered it artificial, playful and sensorial, yet nevertheless wove social and political meaning into a continued tension: homogeneity versus the search for identity in those shifting bodies, possible diversity within a parade of uniform automatons, soldiers or schoolchildren? The idea of the body in movement was also incorporated into the following work, The Other Side of the Continent by Patricia Teles (Brasil), a photo/graphic and written account of the overland journey the artist made from her place of residence, Rio de Janeiro, to the city that received her, Antofagasta. A sort of travel diary, the images and words followed one after the other in a cartography that was drawn out, city by city, in the glass cases that line the floor along one side of the pier. Appearing there were the varied landscapes, the pauses, reflections and encounters that chronicled a grand, ocean to ocean traverse, where the work came to take on meaning as “a Latin American adventure” open to the unknown. Expanding Senses A bit further along the walk, Topography of an Uncertain Future by Guillermo Anselmo Vezzosi (Argentina), had us looking up to find a blue swarm or net that – from afar– seemed to be shaped like a cloud that was passing over our heads, from one side of the pier to the other. In conversation with the mediator, we learned that the height in which it was located corresponded to the level that the sea might reach in Antofagasta in the next four thousand years as a result of climate change, according to the data furnished by VESL, a NASA computer program. And so there we were in an apocalyptic projection, below the watery depths of a submerged city, imagining only empty hills sticking out above the ocean’s surface. Towards the far end of the pier, we spotted a silvery mantle that extended out, echoing the sky or the sea, a surface that in some ways was sculptural, sinuous, and open to the point of wanting to touch infinity, shining like oily tailings over the water. Made of a synthetic reflective material, Endless by Anna Uścińska de Rojas (Poland), also invited us on a journey of the senses. We were able to take off our shoes, move about, touch, play, and stretch out or just stop for a moment to feel, lying there recumbent in its warmth, the wind, the sky or the smell of the sea. At the end of the pier, Fate (in blue), the piece by Stephanie Williams (Costa Rica), faced us with the immensity of the ocean. The series of four circular sculptures in varying shades of blue were made to represent cyanometers, old instruments used by sailors to measure the color of the sky so as to remain alert to changes in weather conditions. These four “devices” connected us with the surroundings, and were also used by some as frames for taking pictures of themselves, an appropriation of the work suited to the moment in which we live. 40
Between the beauty and playfulness, the poetry and conceptuality of these interventions, together they comprised an interrelationship of concepts and stories that linked us to the territory, to the sea, to the journey and to a city marked as a destination for hundreds of immigrants and adventurers who arrived there in search of opportunities or to exploit the desertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s riches, and whose future prospects were already being sketched out within a context of political, cultural and socio-environmental conflicts. At times the setting became dystopian, forming a panorama of domination, catastrophe and devastation as a possible future, for the planet as a whole, as well as the human race. The stroll along the pier as a final destination, and destiny finally an uncertain journey. From the perspective of a group of visitors endowed with a relentless critical spirit, the interpretations and reflections had to do with the setting in terms of art: Are texts and signage even necessary? What sort of contribution do mediators make? Is the relationship between the works and the place real? Alone, on a more introspective stroll, would we have had these questions and ideas? Along with these interpretations, we were inspired to imagine ways of expanding the experience of the pier beyond the simply touristic and anecdotal; reflecting on how art situates itself in and relates to different communities in order to become a meaningful experience rather than merely entertaining or contemplative. 41
Towards a Collective Analysis In a final exercise in which we analyzed the subject matter as a group, we were able to identify certain fundamental concepts within each work: contemplation, cityscape, border, horizon, trip-displacement, body, territory, climate changecatastrophe, sea-sky, future, device, navigation, the past, the chromatic, radiance, the sensory, diversity-uniformity, interaction, immigrant, crisis. As we played with their possible interconnections, the works ended up urging us along a path towards an open, poetic horizon, where everything has yet to be constructed; that, or only disaster awaits. Any Where What is the difference between a traveler and an immigrant? If both move on from one place to another, why do we identify one with tourism and the other with some sort of crisis? Marcos Temoche proposes that we experience destiny from the hard ground of those who sleep at the border, unprotected and without country. Not for a sense of adventure or audacityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sake, but in order to seek justice and a better future. Paola Flores JimĂŠnez, student of Mining Engineering
Compound Circle Referee chairs are mistaken for beach chairs available for the practice of contemplation in a privileged place, facing the four cardinal points. The flanks of the naked hills have, little by little, been dressing themselves in a variety of hues. From afar, I see a white pole without a flag, which gets me thinking that we have finally left behind the borders that separate those of us living together now in this northern city. The seabreeze freezes my cheeks, winter has taken hold of that grey sea that makes us want to seek shelter here on this pier made from rough wooden planks that somehow still endure. From here everything seems further away. Beyond the circle, the horizon captures my gaze. Carmen AmĂŠrica NĂşĂąez, education project manager
The Other Side of the Continent “Latin America is not for beginners,” can be read on part of the cartographic installation of photographs by Brazilian artist Patricia Teles. A brief, but stern warning before departure, fasten your seatbelt and join in on a story-tour in which the body crosses the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific. During this journey, Teles takes us to the core of Latin culture, and the influence of each place she stopped can be found in every word. “America was not discovered,” the phrase is next to a picture of a family playing together in the Altiplano. “Silence,” the words accompany the vastness of the Atacama Desert. A few steps further, “Domestic animals don’t camouflage themselves in nature” and “Wild animals do camouflage themselves in nature,” a paradox about the human impact on the natural world. Karla Rivera Tapia, journalist
Self Monument / Contrail In the middle of the pier, the work of Yuga Hatta is made up of equivalent or analogous bodies, repeated 21 times. A single entity that keeps repeating itself the same way, just like the meaning of the word identity, permitting a polysemic interpretation of these corporealities made from polyurethane foam, which instead of connecting us to the ethereal plane, suggests an image of bodies in military formation, unified by a homogenizing thought, or perhaps automatons marching towards an altogether undesired destiny. MarĂa Constanza Castro Molinare, journalist and Master in Education
Topography of an Uncertain Future The piece speaks to us about what is probably one of humanity’s most quietly lurking fears: climate change and the inevitability of rising sea levels. It is that watery mass, beautiful and deadly at the same time, that the artist has represented using turquoise aluminium wire, hanging from the cranes of the pier. The installation is supported by its ideas, but is weakened by a mise-en-scene that limits the fleshing out of its full potential. That fateful picture –the ominous destiny of a sea that will cover a vast part of the city some four thousand years from now– turns into a simple cloud woven in the sky. Maybe the work ends up being very similar to what is happening with the actual problem: a sinister destiny of global dimensions is out there somewhere, but we cannot quite see it. Carlos Rendón Bejarano, journalist
Endless The artist has put a great silver mantle on display, which is disconcerting at first sight. The brightness it produces dazzles and charms, making you wonder if it might actually be an invitation to avoid facing destiny. Various sensations arise upon entry; taking off your shoes, a feeling of relief. There is no way of knowing if this is caused by contact with the mantle or simply because you are barefoot in a public place. The work was designed to be interacted with, for an individual sensorial experience, and through a materiality that is destined to break down and disappear. Gabriel Navia, photographer
Fate (in blue) In an installation that depicts a series of cyanometers, antique instruments that were used by explorers to measure the blue of the sky and the sea, the Costa Rican artist Stephanie Williams brings the scenery of the port of Antofagasta into focus with these strange gadgets from the past that have us fixing our gaze upon the horizon like sailors full of hope. The work takes an unexpected turn when the public uses these contraptions for a different purpose, employing the chromatic measurement tools as frames for self-portrait souvenirs to document their walk along the pier, which as often as not ends with a selfie. Ivonne Morales Rojas, journalist
SUNDAYS AND HOLIDAYS | Catalina Mena Memento Mori Antofagasta Station Cultural Center “Photographs actively promote nostalgia. Photography is an elegiac art, a twilight art. Most subjects photographed are, just by virtue of being photographed, touched with pathos (...). All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs attest to time’s relentless melt.” Susan Sontag, On Photography
Unlike the prior works of Paz Errázuriz, in Memento Mori, it is not people who are the subjects of the photograph (even though they appear in them). The central figure posing for the camera, or rather, “made to pose” before the viewfinder, is actually more of an object, a small funeral staging: fragments of the world that Paz has carefully selected and gathered, one at a time, from different small town cemeteries throughout Chile. Veritable theaters that portray, in rich detail, the touching embrace of love and death. They are contrived objects that themselves are set up like artistic installations whose key element is a portrait of someone who has passed. These portraits, in a rather disturbing fashion, capture the before with a look of the after. Life is viewed from the perspective of death. The anonymous photographers bring back an image of the deceased from a moment in life. In any case, they highlight the distinctive features of a physiognomy that was deliberately chosen for the funeral’s occasion. Just like the stark and frank portraits of Paz Errázuriz, these photographs favor the central pose, a look towards the camera and a certain solemnity of expression. Even so, just as the curtness of Paz’s photos speak to the flip side of some repressed feeling, these portraits, far from producing the impartiality of striking civility, anticipate an unspeakably catastrophic ending. Captured in the splendor of life and then spruced up later with a touch of color, the models appear to be in a state of suspended animation, as if the shot taken with the camera had killed them ahead of time, and the careful assassin had managed every little detail of makeup in order to maintain the illusion of freshness. Transforming the role of the archive and the family album (as cultural references), these funeral altarpieces are also calling cards that advance a socially presentable family image. Made in advance of a death that aims to be beautiful and dignified, the portraits used seem to have been produced especially for this deferred spectacle. Placed in the middle of a fantasy-like setting, surrounded by little porcelain angels 53
and plastic flowers, they are the owners and lords of this artificial paradise for one: the dead follow a certain aesthetic guideline. In their little decorated houses they can receive, God willing, the relatives that come to visit on Sundays and holidays. The faces enshrined in these little mortuarial arrangements appear to be at the very limit of permitted expression, that is to say, at the point of disappearing. They aren’t faces but traces, inorganic palpitations of life. Now they are just the photographs themselves. That lack of expression here is a characteristic of death. But what is it that speaks to us, if the faces themselves barely say anything? If all photography, in its most extreme conception, is synonymous with death, if there is a sort of crime of passion in the act of taking a photograph –to kill in order to possess– what Paz Errázuriz does is kill the adornments of death. By multiplying these negative features, in that annihilation of death itself, what we get is a positive symbol of haunting vigor. Because nothing is less final than these photographs, nothing else lives but these still lifes. What keeps them energized is, precisely, their having been arranged. And so what speaks is not the portraits of the deceased, but rather the attitude of the relatives. Paz Errázuriz, in the end, photographs the photographic look of death in its most authentic form –for being so typical and pre-encoded– and for that same reason, so contrived.
In his book The Pleasure of the Text, Roland Barthes establishes the connection between loving honesty and artificial rhetoric. He gives us a banal example: if the mother of one of his friends had died and he were to send the friend a letter whose only message was â&#x20AC;&#x153;my deepest sympathies,â&#x20AC;? it would seem as if his feelings were inauthentic, as the formality of the rhetoric mutes any emotional excess. One must find that certain twist in the language in order to speak from a heart knotted in pain. In other words, one must resort to artifice in order to speak the truth. And in that contrivance, in that shattering of the canon, pleasure may reside. Perhaps an entire theory of art has been compressed into the ritual of sympathy. From there to the knot of photographic desire, not even a single step: funeral altarpieces that are the visual transcription of what weighs on a person, sympathy, nostalgia. In this work one finds, rather than a mere system of passions, a structural system of meaning and function that is encased within other systems, shaping a mise en abyme that equates to a form of vertigo. A display case and within it, a photograph taken by Paz. In the photograph, another display case that in turn encloses an even smaller photograph, taken by an unknown author. Display cases inside display cases, photos within photos, deaths within deaths, expressions inside the expressions. The display case is, in a manner of speaking, a structure of restraint. 55
A display case is a glass coffin. Photos arranged in mortuarial manner, photos of caskets installed within other caskets. Recursivity passing through the art gallery like an urn. Could it be that exhibition spaces are coffins? Simply due to the manner in which it is set up, the work articulates itself as recursivity; a linguistic method made from subsystems of successive entries feeding back into one another and thereby strengthening their significance. Design thinking understands that each subsystem has limits that define them as such, but also that they are permeable capsules, just like the sack in which the fetus is wrapped before birth, yet which includes connections that allow for an exchange of feelings, energy, and nutrition. This idea of encapsulating illustrates the notion of an enclosed and autonomous semantic field, equivalent on the visual level to a display case, and, following the thread of this series, to the coffin and the grave. But beyond the purely formal plane of visual installation, the work portrays a system of recursivity of expressions that are encoded in the practice of shooting a photograph: photos of photos. Paz portrays the portrait, meta-speaking her own endeavor. She looks at the looks of the relatives: what moves her, more than the face of that woman or child now dead, is the permanently installed gesture of their loved one. What affectionate rationale structures these vignettes of death? The relatives are the ones who carry the photography to its limits, exercising the photographic instinct as survival instinct. Could it be this same instinct that elevates the work of Paz Errázuriz? The desire to make death surrender and, at the same time, subdue the earthly powers as well. The desire to make visible that which no one wishes to see or what time itself has made invisible. By making portraits of other people’s desire, she takes a picture of her own desire. After that, what other adventure could photography possibly undertake? Or rather, what other version of death might be possible? Memento Mori was presented in the main gallery of the Antofagasta Station Cultural Center. Produced by 2003 National Arts Award winner, Paz Errázuriz, the series was donated in its entirety by the artist to the permanent collection of MAM Chiloé, which is comprised of works from more than 400 Chilean artists. In its mission to spread contemporary art, the museum makes possible the travel and installation of some of the most relevant pieces from its collection so that people from a variety of places throughout Chile can appreciate them.
NOT WORTH INTERPRETING | Carolina Lara Chances Antofagasta Viva Library With only three works (or four, if we include the poetic wall text), the exhibition Chances, by Fernando Sicco, takes us away from the dizzying pace of a mall to confront sonic, visual and physical experiences, that –if one wishes to enter into its enigmas– cause us to reflect upon such deep subjects as the circularity of time, life and death, chance, or the existence of God. Nothing could contrast more with the inside of the gallery at the Antofagasta Viva Library than the hustle and bustle of the mall outside. With the curatorial support of Dagmara Wyskiel, the exhibition was comprised of a selection of pieces from the solo show Aquello (That), which the Uruguayan artist and director of the Contemporary Art Space (EAC) exhibited in 2017 at the Cultural Center of Spain in Montevideo. The show dialogues with SACO8’s theme of Destiny and is a sort of post-curatorship, just as Sicco discusses in the catalogue of the exhibition in Montevideo, where he worked without a curator, but said he was “open to later curatorships.”3 3 “... I prefer that eventually different discourses emerge over time, as effects that constitute a critical postcuratorial contribution from the desire and questions coming as much from specialists as from the public at large,” states the artist in the catalogue for Aquello, a yet to be published document.
One of the pieces, Scale 1:55, is a large-format black and white photograph of the artist posing with a little child, both of them with a similar smile, gaze and posture. Without a mediating text, it is impossible to know if the attentive spectator would be able to guess the connection between them: the child is the artist himself at the age of 2 or 3 years old. Two different moments in time merge thanks to the editing and post production process: childhood and manhood, the man who embrace his inner child, or the child who is at the same time the man he will become; two moments at the same instant. The adjacent wall text seems to offer clues to decipher the piece in the form of poetic code, or perhaps it only immerses us deeper within the enigma. In the context of a mall, in some way, the sentence makes more sense: “It’s not worth interpreting. It’s impossible to interpret an emotional state or unlock that severe attitude of the citizenry, generally predictable, organized, repetitive.” In The Bomb, we deliver ourselves to the intimacy of headphones in order to hear the sound of heartbeats coming from a machine inside a hospital. The insistent rhythm, the first murmur of life or sometimes the final one, it is the looping audio of an electrocardiogram of the artist. Next to the minimalist intervention of the sound piece is the video installation Chances: two seats invite us to lie down and look up at the video of some hands playing with dozens of dice, rolling them upon a piece of glass just above us. Are they God’s hands or simply the hands of fate that seem to be plotting out some secret order? Our bodies below, submissive and observed in a state of thoughtfulness, become part of the exhibition as well. Connections arise between the four works, emerging from the sense of deconstructed time the artist creates, moving from a linear and unambiguous nature to a circular and multidimensional one. Sicco reveals how fictitious and absurd our construction of time is, where in place of time we might also say ‘life’ or ‘fate’. Regarding Aquello, the artist has stated: “This is about what it is there, but escapes us.” Something at the fringes of existence subdues us in our vulnerability, which we may or may not be able to control, “while we can always find some irony and humor along the way.”
OPTIONS FOR NEW LANGUAGES INSIDE OF A PUBLIC LIBRARY | Loreto González Detouring the Inertia Antofagasta Regional Library, Mezzanine Room Detouring the Inertia opens up a space for dialogue and reflection about the possible resistance and opposition to Antofagasta’s ultra-extractivist economic model. To this end, the artist has concocted an immersive installation inspired by the architectural and aesthetic sense the city experiences everyday, covering the mezzanine of the Antofagasta Regional Library with painted corrugated metal in the most ‘industrial warehouse’ style imaginable. The intention of Ana Alenso’s exhibition is to situate the viewer in a context where they see themselves as an agent accountable for certain aspects of the emergency that the region is experiencing. To this end, the objects combine to form a sculptural installation, but also a sort of visual archive that alludes to the area’s social geography through its spectacular industrial landscapes, inviting the public to interpret the space as a whole by means of visual, oral and written reflection. The footage recorded during her time in residence describes these uninhabited, abandoned, and hostile places as mere resources for the mega-production of unbridled capitalism. Thus, the show brings together audiovisual interviews with various environmentalists from the region with books taken from the library
itself, video art of structures and verbal expressions denouncing a civilization that is falling into a continual state of ruin due to progress and development. Through the industrial tapestry that covers the exhibition hall, as well as the devices that support the elements presented, the artist reveals the permanent contradictions that the local population continually withstands. These all come into play in the exhibition space as the artist exposes the intricacies of deception and camouflage that industry has thrust upon the landscape, creating a context whereby the consolidation of public policy and private industry becomes more visible, all while putting into stark relief the exhaustibility of the desertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s natural resources. Alenso creates options for new languages inside a public library. Rejecting the idea of archive as recipient, the artist brings it into other spaces of communication and learning that allow the public to ponder the complexities that exist between power and place, while linking them to oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s body: the act of listening, perceiving, and taking action are framed as a personal challenge, but always a collective one as well. 61
THE PRIVATE IN PUBLIC AND VICE VERSA | Carolina Lara Personal (nothing lives forever) Imagen Gallery Personal (nothing lives forever), Francis Naranjo and Carmen Caballeroâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s installation in the historic Imagen Gallery, in downtown Antofagasta, continually criss-crosses between the public and the private using analogies that refer to territory and body in an exhibition of contemporary art where several of the key elements have to do with medicine. Experiencing the show acquires its own significance as the spectators advance through ephemeral materials, a video installation where the audience takes a seat and listens to the audio with their backs turned to the screening. At the same time, new readings open up or old ones are reinforced as you orient yourself to the experimental intervention taking place in this traditional and historic space. The gallery is a landmark in the local art scene, a big old house where antiques are exhibited in rooms with walls full of landscape paintings. The project by this pair of artists from the Canary Islands starts in the street, from Parque Brasil to the area around Uribe Street, where 400 posters have been stuck. The images fuse with the noise of the city, but at the same time propose a mystery. There is the face of a woman and a little further down a picture of the desert, industrial facilities in the north of Chile or surgical materials on a table. 62
In a room inside the gallery we see the entire series of eight posters, and in the next room, a video installation with the face of the same woman projected onto the wall and a chair in which to sit and listen to the audio. Through the headphones, a first-person narrative is explaining the procedure that a body at the brink of death undergoes, as well as details of other critical moments, like when she, as a doctor, must confront the patientâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s family. Off in the corner, a collection of plasma bags is spread across the floor, which had previously been used in the treatment of anonymous persons. The hospital impregnates the gallery, but also the street, in an interplay where the public penetrates the private and vice versa. Through the act of going around sticking posters outside, and later inside, the body manifests itself in the city, while the territory infiltrates the gallery. Some of the images on the posters are part of a residency the couple made in the region in 2017 while researching the geo-climatic conditions of the desert. Industry, pollution and aridity arise like phantoms, and are stressed in the room along with hospital objects and the voice of the woman. Her narration doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t falter as she recounts the resuscitation efforts performed on a patient at deathâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s door; the language is medical, technical in her account of this state of vulnerability and submission. Sitting with the headphones in my ears and
the video being projected over me, I also become part of the piece. I listen, I am a witness, but at the same time I avail myself to observation. From this fragility and ambiguity, spaces and corporealities reveal themselves as “metaphors of the incarnation of power” or “a materiality that acts as the source and object of power.”4 The body is submitted to medicine; the moment of life and death, to a “medical procedure”; the territory, to extractivism and devastation wrought by human action. In 1984, Imagen was the first gallery to open its doors in the city. Directed by Flor Venegas, for years it promoted the painting contest Corners of My City, which became a local art tradition, lasting until 2 years ago. This is not a space of contemporary art, but neither does it look like a commercial gallery, in the sense of the stereotypical white cube. It is an old house where one can find a variety of objects, furniture and canvases, and is also where the work of local artists is shown (Juan Salva, Jaime Cabrera, Loreto Bolados, among them) along with others from Santiago, including National Award winners like Sergio Montesinos, Nemesio Antúnez, Ana Cortés and Israel Roa. At the center of the gallery, the intervention of Naranjo and Caballero marks a contrast that in some way speaks about the role of art within the context of crisis. Between the painting and the mymmetical representation, the experimental and the conceptual, we find ourselves faced with hegemonic styles from different moments of art history, now and before, in tension. The installation and its critical analogy to bodies and territories under domination, barge in on a house that symbolises local (and national) art history, interrelating and reinforcing the archival and critical sense available outside of conventional spaces for art.
4 Naranjo himself has referred to the body-power analogy, quoting Foucault, in connection with Vulnerable Stage, a work exhibited in 2019 at the Nahim Isaías Museum in Guayaquil, Ecuador. http://francisnaranjo01.blogspot.com/
WHEN ART CONFRONTS HISTORY AND TERRITORIALITY | IvĂĄn Ă vila To this day, the north of Chile finds itself fragmented by the remnants of a war that broke off and then rearranged relations with Bolivia and Peru, neighboring countries that merely figure as anonymous foreign villains within our official history, ever rich in documents, records, oil paintings, photographs, and antiquated items that conform to a discourse that tries to paint a triumphant and nationalist past. Simply by touring the galleries of this historic museum in Antofagasta, along with the dozens of daily visitors this venue receives, one comes to realize the disregard for the various chapters of our history that bind us to Bolivians, Peruvians, and migrants from other parts of the world who arrived here to carve out a destiny and with it, to build the present and future of Antofagasta, as well as the entire northern region of Chile. A somewhat labyrinthine tour carries us from a collection of archaeological pieces of the Chango people to the War of the Pacific, the glorious and later grim era of the exploitation of saltpeter, the political and social milestones of the 19th Century, and a marquee that tries to enhance the social and racial richness of the city via images that do little or nothing to convincingly portray this fact. But during the SACO8 festival, a pleasant surprise awaited at the end of the route. The exhibition Spectre of Mars by the Bolivian artist Aldair Indra focused its gaze on the stars and the potential colonization of the red planet, in an effort that
successfully spans science, technology and ancestral knowledge. That a patriotic stronghold like the museum of history should house this work, was a curatorial decision that sought to bring a divergent perspective into this building that between 1869 and 1888 served as the Chilean customs office in Mejillones until it was later relocated to Antofagasta, where it replaced the Bolivian custom house that had been destroyed in a fire. The historic weight of this building is more than enough reason to attach to it a critical perspective of our triumphant historical past, which has been written of in books with a heavy and unambiguous hand, erasing with the sleeves any indication that might contradict official texts. From all of that came the idea that this artist from the Altiplano should install her work at the end of a chronological tour that unfolds through its hallways and galleries, while interposing it with a narrative about destiny, conspicuously absent of inflamed nationalism. Against Xenophobia After a workshop with students from the Juan JosĂŠ Latorre Benavente Educational Center in Mejillones, the Venezuelan artist Miguel Braceli led the intervention Burying Flags in the Sea, a moving march undertaken by the students to Punta Cuartel and Punta Angamos beneath the burning desert sun, armed only with the diaphanous white standards that were submerged in the waters of the Pacific. This action subsequently became an installation exhibited at Minera Escondida
Foundationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Art Gallery that included videos, photographs and the poles that held the flags that had been buried in the sea. During the opening, there was no one who had been left untouched, especially after the speech given by the student Janel Araneda. She talked about the lack of spaces in which to practice art in the north of Chile, and the feeling of being only one person up against the world. Finding someone to relate to in the middle of the desert and then strengthening the connection through an action that seemed to be impossible, her words turned into a deep reflection regarding not only the lack of opportunity, but the lack of interest the State has in creating a venue to promote artistic development for the thousands of inhabitants in the north of Chile. The end result of the workshop was an action whereby nationalities were submerged into the sea, and along with them mental rigidity, xenophobia and prejudices, replacing them with banners of union and solidarity, ideas that were present in the words that Braceli directed towards the public. The debates generated by the work not only call on us to question official history, but also to cast ourselves into the future, in search of a destiny that, though it may be uncertain, is made ever more possible by the extent to which we allow other perspectives about the past to contribute to our own knowledge. 67
ERASING FLAGS, BURYING BORDERS | Carolina Lara Burying Flags in the Sea Minera Escondida Foundation Art Gallery In the work Burying Flags in the Sea by Miguel Braceli (1983), the senses create the process, which play out in stages that lead one into the other, arising from the work done in the region with one community in particular –a group of students from Mejillones– culminating in a performative act in the landscape, and continuing on with the creation of a visual record and the staging of an exhibition. There, video images of the students walking through the desert, each one carrying a white banner to be submerged in the sea, intermingle with their voices coming through a set of speakers in another corner of the room, along with some objects that serve as remnants or symbols of the process. All made meaningful anew. The work done by the Venezuelan artist in Antofagasta between May and July of 2019 is part of a series entitled Geopolitics of the Body, which he has been engaged with since 2014 in Bolivia, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Spain. Crossing between territory, space and body, operating through intervention and participative models in natural and urban landscapes, the work endows each of these with new meanings vis a vis their historic, poetic, political and cultural import. In Mejillones another constant in the work of Braceli appears: the dismantling of the classroom, a deconstruction of the educational space through working with students and undertaking practices that implicate a transmission of knowledge, that is to say, learning that occurs through meaningful experiences originating in contemporary art while at the same time entering into dialogue with an instructive space. In this case, the artist brought the group –twenty or so teens from the local high school Juan José Latorre Benavente– to perform the action in two places located on the outskirts of Mejillones: Punta Angamos and Punta Cuartel. The relational work involved a script, at the beginning of which, a sense of participation was built where each individual contributed a sort of a choreography on the ground. It looks like this: a battalion of students advancing through the desert beside the old fort of Punta Cuartel (in the video, the camera quickly passes from an image of the adolescents to the cannons pointing towards the horizon, while loud shots ring out), either that or we see how they descend towards the sea waving about white flags without crests or symbols, underneath the weight of the masts, until finally reaching the shore and plunging the empty banners into the sea. Shots from a drone allow us access to the scene from above. The geography looks like cracked and furrowed skin, where the white strips of cloth trace the earth and water as if they were “fish swimming.” In the audio, the students comment on 68
what the experience meant to them. “Seeing a shot of the intervention there by the sea, the flags are thrashing about like a fish out of water and the fish have to return to the water in order to breathe. You can interpret it that, like the fish, we make our way to the sea as an act of freedom,” says Martina Cassi. In the middle of the desert, the army of students installs a landmark, a sort of boundary that dissolves into the landscape. Many of them are immigrants. “When I was marching with the flag, I felt like it was my view and my fight, but when I saw all the others I felt that we were all fighting for something that was, more than anything else, equality . . . when we got to the end we didn’t plant them, we didn’t try to form some kind of nation, we just made them [the flags] part of the sea,” recounts Janel Araneda. The collective action calls into question the idea of nationality. Braceli and the students are located in an area that was the border between Chile and Bolivia, and which symbolizes the historic tensions between the neighboring countries. Punta Angamos was scene to the War of the Pacific (in the Battle of Angamos, in 1879, Chile defeated Peru and captured the corsair Huáscar), the fort at Punta Cuartel being a landmark that was put up in 1846 in order to consolidate the occupation of the Atacama Desert during a period of disputes arising from the exploitation of guano. Right around that time, a number of social, political and economic conflicts of interest emerged that have continued to this day, and which characterize the 69
history of Northern Chile. That desert is the place where nationalities have been in a state of constant tension, whether it was due to war, mining or immigration. Even if the experience in the exhibition hall cancels out the militant effect that the collective action might have had in the area, the senses end up tuning into the warlike aspect of the work, the (absurd) war and latent violence behind patriotic symbols, symbols –in the end– of power and domination that we see, from a postcolonial, globalized context, to be in crisis. In order to get to the exhibit in the gallery of Minera Escondida Foundation, you have to go through a thick, dark curtain to find –in an immediate onslaught– all of the enormous poles suspended, pointing at us like lances, perhaps, almost touching our bodies. Walking around the rest of the exhibit, the spoils of tubes and fabric are displayed on the walls or upon shelves, simulating archaeological objects, museum-like, arranged like open books or the contents from an archive. Is education also a space of domination? And contemporary art? As a collective ritual, Burying Flags in the Sea breaks with language (burying refers to the ground and can also remind us of death, while this act occurs in the sea), opening up layers of meaning about the artwork through a relational labour, in process, which functions as a result of the interaction of the bodies and the landscape, and the deconstruction of the objects-symbols. Through the gallery experience, the
political and poetic meaning of the action is revealed; as so with all poetry, which always has a revelatory conclusion. Students mobilized for a common purpose in the middle of the desert, a place that is open to the history and diversity of their experiences, a place that reinvigorates the utopian ideal of collective action, causing us to question our role as mere spectators, immobilized bodies. I wish to quote part of an interview that the Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuña did on the program Personal Seal, produced by El Mostrador5 online newspaper, where she talks about how these kinds of artistic practices can take on a sense of emergency stemming from a paradigm in crisis. In sharing and creating collective moments, she says, there is a liberating and transformative potential: “It’s an old methodology found all over the earth and that is collective ritual, because collective ritual is an opportunity for collective learning in which a small, medium or large group of people experience what it is like to be one, and in everyone being one, a sort of liberation is produced, ego no longer exists, selfishness disappears and another force emerges, which is the force of what is, the force of life itself, that comes from breathing, the difference between life and death, between health and sickness.” 5 https://www.elmostrador.cl/cultura/2019/07/18/artista-cecilia-vicuna-en-sello-propio-siempre-fuicatalogada-de-ingenua-ridicula-naif-por-trabajar-con-la-cosmovision-indigena/
ARTISTIC REFLECTIONS FROM MARS | Jesús Perdomo Spectre of Mars Antofagasta Regional Museum Jacket, shirt, saliva. I enter the museum and greet the receptionists, who give me the control for the projector. I go upstairs and cross the corridor and notice again the information about the War of the Pacific, the old furniture, the beginnings of Antofagasta and a collection of photographs from the present. My steps resonate through the wooden floor until I get to the end. The room with orange strings and violet lighting greet me again. It looks unfriendly, but always welcomes me with affection. A light projected onto the sand floor says “hello”. I push a button on the control and allow the NASA spacecraft InSight to land in Martian territory. A yellow credential with my name hangs from my neck. Once again, I read the letters on the wall: SPECTRE OF MARS Aldair Indra It’s 11:05 in the morning and the start of another Saturday in the museum. I hear the creaking of the wood and the sound of footsteps approaching and then I see a figure at the threshold. I invite him to come in. He looks a bit uncomfortable, maybe even a little scared, but he cannot hide his curiosity. He looks at me for a few seconds. –Come in if you want, there’s no problem –I say, and finally he does, making his way between the strings. –What is this about, sir? –he asks. –It’s an art exhibition. Its title, as you can see on the wall, is Spectre of Mars, by Aldair Indra, an artist born in La Paz. –And what does it mean? –And that is where everything begins. The speech I give is adapted to each person. I ask the kids if they know about art, astronomy, and of course, Mars, using a child’s typical interest in astronauts and stars to approach the subject. For adults, I start by talking about native cultures from the north of Chile. I always try to ask questions, from what they think about contemporary art, to what they believe our destiny to be. –Each one of the knots in the threads represent stars that several tribes from the Altiplano, like the Aymaras, counted in the sky. It was their accounting system. 74
–And if the stars connect themselves and form constellations? –asks an 8 year old kid. Something I hadn’t even thought about. –Well, it might be, right? We would need to know the position of each star and make some calculations –I say with a smile. –And this is Mars? can I touch it? –he says, pointing at the soli where the video is screened. It never occurred to me that the earth in that space surrounded by stones could be Martian. –Sir, and everything that we see in the video is Mars? –says another voice, an adult one. –Maybe, what do you think? –I answer. –I think it looks like the Atacama Desert, but I didn’t want to say it. In fact, he is right. The images of the desert shot by Aldair using reddish filters, which give it that Martian look, could easily be mistaken as real footage from NASA in these times of post-truth, where fake news and hoaxes easily circulate from person to person. Another aspect that I hadn’t considered. 75
–If you step this way, in this display case there is a scale model of a satellite made of copper, which was developed by Aldair with help from University of Antofagasta’s Astronomy Center. Once all its parts are assembled it could travel to Mars. –What for? –asks a man who looks like a miner, and who is accompanied by two other men. –You know those black boxes they have on airplanes? Their function is to store all of the information about the flights, and this satellite could be something similar, but for all of humanity. The idea would be to send it with information about us, our history and culture; maybe there is a Martian community that we have yet to discover, or at the very least it could serve as evidence of our existence on another planet. Storing information on some sort of instrument is very old, the quipus themselves are proof of that. His reaction is the opposite of what I expected, he doesn’t look to be very excited by my words, and only answers with an ironic smile. –There are better things we could do with this satellite. It is certainly not easy to work in art mediation. Visitor after visitor, I started to realize how I could improve my communication, the questions and themes I addressed by talking about the installation. In one way or another, the public taught me what I was supposed to know. In the end, the practice of mediation is not only artist to public, but also vice versa. The mediator is the bridge information takes crossing back and forth from one side to the other. Person after person the artwork is gradually built. It’s touching to experience first hand the public’s reaction, their faces of joy, of uncertainty or interest, and of course to listen to their comments as well. –What’s your name? –I ask, shaking their hands as they prepare to leave. –Rodrigo. –Marcela. –Daniel. And so many more.
â&#x20AC;&#x201C;Pleased to meet you, my name is JesĂşs, thank you for coming. I get ready to leave, too. I turn everything off, say goodbye to my companions, the knotted strings, the display case and the soli, and another day on Mars comes to an end. I can now return to planet Earth.
THE ARTISTIC DIMENSION OF FAKE | Loreto González Spectre of Mars Antofagasta Regional Museum The piece is like a journey, a multi-media sensorial experience that draws upon humanity’s studies of outer space and tries to speculate about its prospects for sheltering us. It’s like going on some kind of voyage of discovery, exploring the points of convergence where biology meets science and engineering as it pertains to astronomy, while also integrating the ancient wisdom and cosmovision of local cultures. Spectre of Mars shows human beings’ relationship to the cosmos from a critical and political perspective. Questioning the authority of science, while at the same time validating and revealing the various worldviews of indigenous peoples, Aldair Indra creates an artistic production of narratives that criss-cross between the scientific view and ancient knowledge, and in so doing, invites the public to rediscover their own relationship with the universe. Resulting from a research residency in the territory of Antofagasta, the exhibition is organized into three different settings composed out of elements from plastic and visual arts that allude to the artistic dimension of fake. As a parody of the absolute truths that Western culture claims to establish, the audiovisual segment presents a fiction of its own reality, creating a mixed language with images from NASA’s InSight mission landing on Mars and shots of landscapes in the Atacama Desert where astrobiological research projects have taken place. This video is projected onto the floor of the gallery, upon a space filled with local soli and surrounded by stones, in the style of an ancient ritual site or archaeological center known as wak’a. A scale model of an “archaic nanosatellite” was made, which serves both to store information relevant to ongoing research and likewise to contextualize the same paradox. The prototype was produced with a 3D printer from a layout provided by the University of Antofagasta’s Astronomy Center. Both installations are viewed within an ambience produced by ultraviolet light emitted from quipus made from more than 250 strands with around 750 knots, simulating coded messages being sent to Mars. The project’s aim was to create a contemporary space within the context of a conventional museum of history, developing unusual objects capable of projecting meaning within an imaginary atmosphere, thereby wrenching with the relationship between modern technologies and ancient cultures. 78
“For a long time now the animist cosmovision and way of thinking have been viewed as colorful yet naive, and undervalued in comparison with Western thought.” –Aldair Indra.
HOW A ROBOT CAN CHANGE THE WORLD | Carolina Lara Rabdomante, The UtopIa of Water Antofagasta Station Cultural Center At the intersection of art, science and technology, Joaquín Fargas presents a vision that places us in a possible, and not all that reassuring, future. With his robotic machines, the Argentinean BioArtist and engineer orients his work towards nature and territories in crisis, such as Antarctica or the Atacama Desert, warning us about climate change and the devastation of the planet. “If we don’t do anything, we already know the results,” he says in a video that formed part of the exhibition, Rabdomante, The Utopia of Water, at the Antofagasta Station Cultural Center. That’s where one could find the robot that was created specifically to roam about and capture the sunlight of the northern desert, producing water by dowsing (that faculty whereby electromagnetic impulses, from either underground water or minerals, are sensed with the use of a special item like a wooden wand) in combination with a photovoltaic process, which involves energy from the sun and the use of thermoelectric devices, nature and technology. 80
In a video projected on the wall, Rabdomante travels through different landscapes and places in ruins, at times with a solitude that carries us to the dystopic image of a post-apocalyptic world, imagining that the only survivors are some machines that roam over the surface of the planet, charged with, in this case, recuperating and preserving life, or whatever remains of it. In the midst of the devastation, Fargas speaks to us, however, of a possible utopia. In between the dark halls of the exhibition, two interventions that are either like sculptural objects or laboratory installations show us part of the processes that occur in the robot: condensation on the trays, and the capturing of water that falls from a dripper into a flask in the midst of a strobe light. In another video, at the beginning of the exhibition, the artist takes us to Utopia, a project that has been in the works for the past few years in Antarctica amid collaborative research processes, and through a series of installations or apparatuses that are inserted into the polar landscape and interact with those extreme conditions, with the goal of making the dramatic effects of global warming more visible. That is where Glaciator appears, an installation of solar robots that in their moving about crush the snow in order to compact it and convert it to ice, so as to make it more resistant to melting. Rabdomante and Glaciator travel through beautiful and astonishing landscapes, which at the same time are inhospitable, and where the effects of climate change
and human activity end up being especially dramatic. The apparatuses were born out of the game that artistic practice can be, where fantasy turns into reality thanks to scientific and technological understanding. Like characters out of science fiction that perform heroic (or absurd) acts, they respectively make visible the increase of temperatures at the poles, and the lack of water or its contamination in a desert region also affected by industrial and mining activities. They face the devastation, representing utopian experiments that can be made into reality. “Changing the world is not crazy nor is it utopian” Fargas says, quoting Miguel de Cervantes, whose work inspires another intervention in Antarctica: Don Quixote against climate change, three windmills installed among an infinity of ice, generating cold air in order to keep the poles and their glaciers frozen6. “It’s a useless robot, it’s only good for getting us to think” the artist said about Rabdomante with some humor, during the few days he was in Antofagasta. The experience in the gallery places us in the future, while warning us that the time is now. Within the field of art languages are being stretched: the tools of science serve for art and settle into the problematic space between that which is useful and that which is not, between the pressing issues of the day and poetry, between what is utopian and wath dystopic, at an inflection point in history. As long as art “renourishes” the field of science with refreshing ideas, “like a trigger that produces propositions,”7 it can also take science out of its self-absorption, leading it to action. Now is when, Rabdomante seems to tell us as it moves away, concentrating on its task of producing water throughout the northern desert. 6 https://www.joaquinfargas.com/obra/proyecto-utopia/ 7 https://www.joaquinfargas.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/proyectoutopiaespanol.pdf
BETWEEN AESTHETICS AND ARCHAEOLOGY | Loreto Gonzรกlez Journal of the Suprasensible Minera Escondida Foundation Art Gallery, San Pedro de Atacama The work comes across as a meeting of historic and cultural coexistence across time, skillfully and subtly construing the interrelationships between objects and records. Through an outdoor installation comprised of a stylized compass, Natalia Pilo-Pais links the ancient presence of Licancabur volcano with its everyday surroundings, forming a sculptural circuit between the volcano, the moon and the sun. Through excavations of earth that form a trinity of gardens, appear the rites that arrange the contemporary cosmovision of the locals.
This trio of landscapes are located on the central surface of the exhibition space, in such a way that you could think of it as a sacred structure capable of captivating the public through its silent and spiritual magnetism, in between time, the natural elements and the calming background of the Atacama Desert. The artist immerses the spectator in this mythical and intense process by means of a photo essay, along with a vast gathering of stones, and a logbook with information collected during the residency, in which she tries to symbolize, through a dialogue between aesthetics and archaeology, the massive seeding of the desert that links to outer space through a cultivated and well-kept inner space.
WE, THE ANCESTORS Cristóbal León Chela Lira Art Gallery, Catholic University of the North It’s with great pleasure that today, only a few months after the 80 anniversary of the Pronouncement of the Flood of Chile, we present We, the Ancestors. Thanks to this exhibition, visitors will be able to gain an excellent perspective about how our compatriots lived 100 years ago, in the generations prior to the Great Demise. Although the events that led to this show have been subject to ample news coverage, we will still make a brief account of them here. Two years ago, in July 2117, while conducting underwater surveys along Antofagasta’s coast after a recent earthquake, a Naval submarine found a container that had become detached from one of the city’s buildings. In the ensuing days, in a joint effort between the regional government, assisted by drones from the Chinese Army and with the help of the Navy –who we can never praise enough–, the container was brought up from the depths of the sea and carried by ship to the Calama shore. That is when the Archaeology Department from the University of the Altiplano played a key role. It was there that the cleaning and cataloguing of the objects that had been found inside the container began. And so, after only a few weeks of research it was possible to determine that the container included the works of 13 artists from the (at that time) four northernmost regions of Chile: Arica and Parinacota, Tarapacá, Antofagasta and Atacama. After months of hard and steady work, with the invaluable aid of dozens of scholars from the hilltops of the country, the pieces presented here were able to be sorted and classified. By simply looking at the works it is possible to ascertain a great deal of the history of the northern part of Chile, which at that time served as a sacrificial zone, suffering as it was from a predatory form of capitalism in terms of both culture and environment. In the words of professor Edner Lebron, an academic from the University of the Altiplano and a member of the research team, in these works “it is possible to discover different visions, all of which seemingly focused on the uncertain destiny that the old city of Antofagasta was facing back in those days. The works are also illuminating in the way they tell us of the artists’ response to the lack of institutionality as it pertained to culture as well as the State’s general indifference to the subject.” Regarding the content of the pieces, Lebron comments: “In the work of Agustín Lobos, the city of Antofagasta becomes the presage of catastrophe, in a confrontation between the machines and their creators. The canvas of lipstick kisses by Ángelo Álvarez made visible the instability of the very notions of femininity and masculinity, presupposing an eventual rupture with that binary order. Carlos Olivares hid the decorative objects of his grandmother underground, exhibiting the decadence of a culture 86
drowned in useless material. Claudia León composed a letter to her future self, an astrologically encoded message about her path and the influence of Saturn in her life. Felipe Muñoz envisioned a small archaeological museum of the future: an investigation into nomadic skater culture and the identities that linger in places like phantoms. Gabriel Navia showed his collection of business cards from some of Calama’s prostitutes as evidence of a city in which destiny was written by economic power. It is worth noting that the collection’s thoroughness, with its categories and standards, elevates it to an artistic work. Meanwhile, Jordán Plaza opened a gate where bodies were penetrated by foreign glances, the real becoming fused with the virtual.” It’s an honor for us, the Destiny Foundation, to launch this exhibition for the enjoyment and reflection of the people from the valleys. As is well known, in the years following the flood of Chile, what became evident was the lack of consistency between the huge bank of available images (from websites, newscasts, morning talk show reports, documentaries, photographs, and also from maps and urban plans) and the memory people had of the cities and daily life. That peculiar phenomenon of dislocated memory experienced by an entire generation gave birth to the term: “the melancholy of lowland areas.” It is in light of the above that this show ends up being so relevant, also thanks to the care and dedication shown by the Archaeological Departments staff in preparing these objects for display. Some of the questions the exhibit may trigger for visitors are: How did our ancestors live? How did they spend their time? What was the worldview that shaped their daily life? And finally, What were those cities like which today are under water? We invite the public to feel free to look for answers while also proposing new questions. Our final hope is that the next time the inhabitants of the valleys come to visit the seashore, they can imagine what life was like in those cities now lying at the bottom of the sea, and how our ancestors once lived. Perhaps the construction of a new Chile will be illuminated by this vision.
WHO NEEDS THE ACADEMY? | Carolina Lara We, the Ancestors Chela Lira Art Gallery, Catholic University of the North In order to talk about We, the Ancestors, it is necessary to refer first to the process the work underwent prior to its exhibition in the Chela Lira Art Gallery. The exhibits by the artists Agustín Lobos, Ángelo Álvarez, Carlos Olivares, Claudia León, Felipe Muñoz, Gabriel Navia, Jahir Jorquera and Jordán Plaza emerged from the workshop Pedagogical Curatorship, which sought to attract artists from the first four regions of the country. Having Cristóbal León run the workshop meant that the participants could count on the expertise of a renowned national artist, who, either individually, or as part of León & Cociña, have shown award-winning work blending visual arts and film, in venues of international importance. It was precisely Joaquín Cociña who in 2018 led a workshop for SACO called Nepotistic Curators, which also dealt with the idea of curator as tutor in that the workshop was to be part of a formative processes for emerging artists. Playing with the idea of curator an nepotism, Cociña invited the participants to research a family member through the study of their belongings and any visual or written records they could find in order to form a collection so as to shift “the found material towards the category of work of art”8. The result was incorporated into the exhibit Interferometrías, curated by Ximena Moreno.
8 Exhibition text for Interferometrías written by Ximena Moreno for the book SACO7, Origin and Myth. Antofagasta, 2018.
The workshop led by Cristóbal León involved an ongoing accompaniment and joint reflection upon the individual creative processes in concert with the SACO8 theme, Destiny, which took place over three months of group sessions, both in person and via the internet. “The work was really similar to what goes on in an art clinic (although the fact is I have never been to one before), but the methodology varied in each case depending on what each individual work and participant needed. It couldn’t have been any other way given the diversity of the group in terms of experience, time, work situation, personality, etc.” commented León. Here pedagogy is considered to be a sort of training and at the same time, the work being done is assumed to be part of a (collective) learning process. Even if the term “pedagogical curatorship” abides by the typical practices of mediation, education, and participative reflection that have been settled upon in terms of the relationship contemporary art has with the viewing public, for the experience in
Antofagasta pedagogy reconsiders the relationship between artist and curator, as it does with the very concept of curatorship, where processes, constant dialogue and participation are fundamental. Both workshops arise within the context of a vast territory, as the north of Chile is, which lacks art schools or any other educational opportunities when it comes to contemporary art. At the same time, they seemed to be asking the question of who needs the academy, when it is possible (and even necessary) to advance alternative methodologies within the changing paradigms that call on us to question the nature of power relations within the field of art. Many of the works changed radically in comparison with how they started out, but not really in their essence: “What is it that you want to care for, what is the essence of the piece? Work from there,” León would tell the artists, while simultaneously pushing them to search for better answers from their own set of experiences and to try and do what “they were not in the habit of doing.” Art as Archaeology Installed on the campus of the Catholic University of the North, the exhibition is composed from exceedingly contemporary languages, while also spanning a diverse range of elements ––live performances, videos, images projected onto walls, technological effects, photographs, objects and interventions–– with reflections and symbols that involved the artists own (critical) vision as it pertained to a common historical context and territory. They are visualities that pass through time: Agustín Lobos presents a scale model of a castle, while strange characters made of plasticine (humans and cyborgs), do battle in some dystopian future. With the help of technology, Jordán Plaza brings the future to the present, producing –in an atmosphere of projections and reflections in movement– a contemplation on the body and virtuality, while Felipe Muñoz presents a series of images and texts that approach the contents of skater culture as archaeological items in a way that resignifies them. Carlos Olivares refers to the time of life itself using the ground as a projection screen, where the earth is a key element and where the rest of the objects are being buried. The overall suggestion is that the north is a shared land: for Claudia León, it is the geography where sand, stone, verses or images of her own body move about, like symbols from a map of the stars. For Gabriel Navia, it is the city of Calama and its mining culture, protruding with business cards promoting the sex industry, furnished like fetiches found in that kind of book. For Jahir Jorquera, it is the figure of a soldier in the desert landscape or maybe it’s a figure of her father that appears in a video forming part of an altar or shrine. Perhaps the territory is the body itself, as it is for Ángelo Álvarez, who presents an audiovisual work that consists of objects as well as a canvas of white, sewn bags, covered in lipstick-red kisses. These were the elements at play related to the day of the opening, that’s where he 90
established his own ritual of kisses in a performance where stories came up regarding the image of women or of the dissident body’s own ambiguity. In the exhibition, destiny was curatorially crafted as a crossroads in time that allows us to speculate about the present, past and future of a territory, mapped out with a critical perspective; from a poetics that jumps and travels through time, or paradoxes and encounters with other dimensions. Cristóbal León’s text in the gallery orients us in that formidable future, once the great catastrophe has already occurred, presenting the exhibition as if it dealt with works created some 100 years earlier, which had been found in a container at the bottom of the sea. Antofagasta no longer exists, it is a submerged city, and the coast borders Calama. Thanks to the work of the University of the Altiplano’s Archaeology Department and the collaboration of researchers from “all the hilltops” of Chile, comes to us the exhibit We, the ancestors, with the works of thirteen artists that they managed to identify. What will those who examine our remains a century from now think? Cristóbal León reveals the place of archaeology within contemporary art, and works of art as remains or signs of processes and self-reflections from a particular historic time and place, deliverers of a critical sense that might illuminate “the construction of a new Chile” as much now as in that future we would like not to arrive. 91
BLOCH: THE SWISS TRAVELLER AND HIS ACTIVATIONS IN THE LATIN AMERICAN DESERT | Ivonne Morales Pratt Street pedestrian promenade “A strange visitor has arrived to the Pearl. They say he was born in a forest, we don’t know in which forest exactly, but a Swiss one ...” Theater in Times of War
It came out of an old carnival tradition from the Appenzell district. The final trunk to resist the onset of winter was called Bloch, the remains of a tree that fell naturally, destined to be auctioned off after twenty or so men had lugged it from the country to the town. Eight years ago it was acquired at auction by the artistic team Com&Com, formed by Marcus Gossolt and Johannes M. Hedinger, who made it the star of a global artistic adventure. A GPS linked to their official website graphically recounts their various journeys around the world by land and sea. Bloch moves into different regions to foster creative space, becoming a leitmotiv of cultural exchange at each of its stops.
It’s hard to define what a globetrotter is, but there is no doubt that this Swiss tree has become an activator. It has been brought to Europe, Asia, North America and Africa, where it triggered a variety of artistic actions all because of its mere presence, arriving this year to Latin America for the first time, precisely to the Atacama Desert, for the 8th edition of SACO. “Oh, this is super evolved... It is not a third-world tree, it’s a first-world one, that’s why is art. It’s a forest corpse. Like the selk’nam they brought to Europe, but in corpse form, tree form, art form.” A voice similar to the one heard in the Theater of the Oppressed was heard in the dialogue of Theater in Times of War and in its interaction with the inhabitants of Antofagasta. Like an emotional memory of a continent marked by the abuses of cultural hegemony and economic imperialism, but which returned to its core through a collective action that consisted in defining “the roots” with post-it notes and by planting a tree in the “mining capital of Chile.” Disguised as Camanchaco, a local character from the Antofagasta seashore, Patricia Díaz’s intervention with the trunk used instinctive body language in tandem with 93
the rhythms of the duet Will & Yorm singing: “I love my country, I love this earth, I love my copper…” The guilt inherited from the human devastation of Pachamama, Mother Earth, was embodied in the performance of Rafaela Castro and Felipe Gallegos, who played a tragedy both contemporary and global, rather than Greek. In his part, Pedro Kuzco’s funk raised the spirits while alluding to other personal and collective conflicts. Can it be that any artistic show that contains a piece of tree, evokes a universal meaning, triggering creative acts inspired by the social-environmental problems of the place of intervention? Of course, shortly before the local artists’ intervention, the catharsis of a territory hammered by industrial extractivism appeared in the poem written and recited by the 11th grade student Alfredo Vega from Liceo Artístico Armando Carrera González F-60: “The trunk came out of a Swiss forest… It came to witness the branches falling down in a city that petrifies its lung A warehouse with the function of exchanging lives for dust and woes…” Alfredo was not alone; Bastián Cortés –from 12th grade– also produced poetry inspired by the piece of tree. The school’s music teachers, members of the Symphony Orchestra, delighted the public with a string quartet. Other students were participants; the smaller ones danced to Inti Illimani’s adaptation of La Partida by Víctor Jara, while the elder played the flute. The phenomenal success of Bloch was evident; it was successful in mobilizing more than a dozen local artists, along with students from AIEP Antofagasta, as well as a whole high school, to march in the city center, even though there was a long teachers strike in progress before the activation on Pratt Street. Days before, the trunk had crossed the Pan-American Highway towards Calama to meet La Favorecedora Theater Company, at Gen Corporation, triggering a performance with musical accompaniment, which included the presence of a quirquincho made up with recycled materials, three shamans, and characters from the lican antai culture. Although it would seem that the Swiss log carries with it only the memories of ephemeral actions triggered by its presence, he, like an old minstrel, keeps the history of each place he has visited with him on the inside. In each stop the citizens deliver their written messages in the wish hole, carved into its wooden armour. Cameraman Thomas Rickenmann, together with Johannes, have been in charge of shooting the adventures of Bloch. The trunk itself collects testimonies of its travels, adding symbols and icons from the variety of cultures he interacts with. In its bark there is already an African drum, a porcupine and a design from North Dakota, among many others. 94
From Chile, it carries a tattoo of an Andean cross, or chakana, symbol of the native cultures of the Andean range, a reminiscence of its travels throughout Chiu Chiu and San Pedro de Atacama during its stay in the Antofagasta region. A mark that personifies it as that performer who surrenders his body to his art, a new engraving among others that seem to be transforming the log into a piece of art itself. This is the testimony of this Swiss travelerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s visit to the Latin American desert, the same visitor that is attempting a pilgrimage around the world while inspiring art activations and acquiring culture, with the aim of transforming itself into a living museum that tells the story of its adventures in the same country where its roots once grew.
A MUSEUM WITHOUT WORKS: SUBVERTING EDUCATION (AND THE LANGUAGE OF ART) | Carolina Lara Can We Decide Upon Our Own Destiny? Young People’s Reflections on Contemporary Art Artequin INACAP Museum Within SACO7 and SACO8’s program Museum Without Museum, a collaboration with the Artequin Museum that helps bring contemporary art to local high schools has directly centered upon one of the mainstays of this festival in Antofagasta, which is arts education. With the institution’s director, Carolina Contreras, participating both years as curator, what has been generated is an autonomous approach to creating, as she explains it, “an alternative model for visual arts education for young people within the traditional academic system.”9 The goal last year was to bring the museum into the classroom in a dynamic, participatory way, where mediators and students from the Liceo Armando Carrera and La Chimba High School for the Arts co-created a project that contemplated 9 Carolina Contreras, exhibition text for Can We Decide Upon Our Own Destiny? Young People’s Reflections on Contemporary Art. Antofagasta, 2019.
the personal, cultural and social context in contemporary art. These ideas were to come into fruition in later urban interventions. That time, the exercise helped the students become familiar with various practices in contemporary art, such as group reflections on the concepts of origin and myth, which defined SACO 7 curatorship, approaching the subject from different points of view and including themes like “indigenous culture, industrialization versus nature, feminism and popular culture.”10 This year, with students from the high schools La Chimba and Marta Narea, a similar methodology was employed, with the point of strengthening the students’ creative potential for critical thought. This model is perfectly replicable in any subject area; contemporary art equips students with tools starting with problem identification, also involving play, exploration, research, dialogue and learning through meaningful experience. The dynamic led by the Artequin team pushes collective work, participation, and relationship with the territory and the community, such as in the discussion about the issues being faced in the Region of Antofagasta itself. Among the circuit of ten exhibitions of contemporary art that opened in early July beginning of July between Antofagasta and San Pedro de Atacama, the show Can We Decide Upon Our Own Destiny? Young People’s Reflections on Contemporary Art marks a turning point, its visual record of actions and processes, subverting the typical language of art in exhibition spaces: these are not works, but rather different materials (texts, videos, photographs, fragments of works) made part of an installation that has “a pedagogical, participatory and interactive focus.”11 Even if the Artequin Museum already works with these aims in mind, I think about what Carolina Contreras says in her text from SACO7 about “the other potential that museums have as exhibition spaces open to the community, building roads to new artistic experiences and creative processes,”12 envisioning a museum without works, a museum that triggers actions, situations and collective reflection. Furthermore, the exhibition gives an account of the thoughts and feelings of some of the young people from Antofagasta’s most vulnerable schools, with some 80% of the students at risk, just like what is occurring across the board at a national level, a result of the severe crisis in public education, where –among other problem areas– key subjects are being slashed, subjects that are fundamental in the development of critical thinking, as well as for the arts and humanities, such as Music, Philosophy, Visual Arts, and even History. Stemming from the curatorial concept 10 Carolina Contreras, Subverting Spaces From the Origin: Creative Experiences in Young Artists. Book SACO7 Origin and myth Antofagasta, 2018... 11 Carolina Contreras, exhibition text 2019. 12 Ibid.
proposed this year for SACO8, Destiny, the students got down and dirty creatively reflecting upon what and who we are, what we have built, and where we are going. What was most striking was the fatalistic perspective most of the students had. A total of nineteen students participated, led by a team of mediators and visual arts teachers from each establishment, through a total of twelve sessions that included a dialogue with one of the festival’s guest artists, the Venezuelan Miguel Braceli, who also managed to crossover into the area of education with his work Burying Flags in the Sea. The young people’s interventions spent a day in Parque Brasil, as out of the ordinary, explosive elements that sought to barge in on a crowded place. In Reflection of Death, the students Stefanía Boltiago, Valentina Reyes, Tania Pizarro and Camila Zevallos used the mannequin of a woman, painted black and adorned with metallic flowers along with a phrase written in white across the chest, “Are you happy with what you see now?” The mannequin formed part of an altar or animita, referring to death and contamination. Samanta Bustos, Matías Daza, Camila Chamorro and Valentina Jopia hoped that their work, Blue Immersion, would be a place of rest for the people that were moving about the area, a “serendipity” 98
they said, something that occurs without reason, but that allows us to escape from the daily routine. What You See Isn’t What You Believe, by Aydan González and María José Yáñez, showed photos of shanty towns in the hills that surround Antofagasta, a reality that contrasts sharply with the vibrant image of the “Pearl of the North.” This conflicting scene of dereliction was further demonstrated by a miniature city they constructed out of flimsy cardboard houses. Copper Women, By Catalina Saavedra, Carolina Orellana and Nataly Rojas is also very direct: an intervention of masks and silhouettes made of copper sheets hanging around the park as a reminder of femicide and abuse of women that straddles the meaning of two major symbols: copper, Northern Chile’s chief product, and the attendent sex trade. Return to Infancy, by Nicol Cifuentes, May Ling Herrera and Gabriela Cuevas, was situated in the part of the park where before had been an old duck teetertotter and which consisted of a set of wreaths that recalled anecdotal stories of youthful time spent playing on those structures, no longer there. In the middle of the park, each work elicited some commentary from the people passing by, giving these young artists the chance to dialogue, mediating their work and forming a collective reading from their crucial questions about our destiny as a society. The contamination and devastation of our ecosystem, the routine of work and production that dominate us, the precarious life of those who come to the city looking for work, the violence that exists in the objectification of women, reducing them to mere property or goods for consumption, as well as reflections upon one of the particular phenomena of capitalism which is the “lack of time”, or the recovery of lost memories from childhood. Perhaps this is what the prevailing system fears: that our youth might achieve a certain level of reflection and action, empowered by an education that stimulates, rather than castrates. The Artequin Museum offers a counterproposal made as much from contemporary art as it from experimental pedagogy that involve critical examination of our contexts in order to look for (collective) solutions through more horizontal and participative relationships. A subversion, no doubt, of the relationships that the current form of capitalism perpetuates in all of its settings, including the fields of art and public education.
SCHOOL WITHOUT SCHOOL
IT IS IT ISN’T | Carmen Oviedo Workshop First Aid for a Self-Taught Art Mediator ISLA, Antofagasta Cultural mediation is the production of critical thought. Cultural mediation is the deconstruction of hegemonic power narratives. Cultural mediation is an artistic process. Cultural mediation is an occupation needed to ensure greater social justice. Cultural mediation is a common good. Cultural mediation is nurturing. Cultural mediation is the creation of shared knowledge. Cultural mediation is an empowered and independent practice. ∞∞∞
Cultural mediation is not the transfer of knowledge. Cultural mediation is not a subordinated practice. Cultural mediation is not optional. ∞∞∞
Like particles of copper and lead amidst the dust overhead, these concepts were already floating in the air when we started the workshop on cultural mediation at ISLA. This was an exercise meant to flesh out various images and ideas that surround and underlie the field of cultural mediation, which many of the participants already had a sense about, but which still needed to be made explicit. There was no catharsis; the ideas already resided within the group. There was reaffirmation in the midst of crisis, there was transformative potential, there was cultural mediation.
ON UNCERTAINTY AND LANDSCAPE AS TOOLS FOR LISTENING | Tatiana Benavides Workshop First Aid for a Self-Taught Art Mediator ISLA, Antofagasta I landed in Antofagasta on Monday, 25th of March, at 5am, eager about what the place and its people might bring. It is impossible to foresee what the unknown will present. In my case, I couldn’t imagine that even more than academic instruction, this process would provide me with a series of key strategies for the practice of mediation. One of the important discoveries made was that the landscape could be used as a tool for listening. The metaphors it offered me were useful for relating to the workshop participants. Just as its rocky beaches “welcome” the foreigner with an ocean that is cold, dark and strong, so was my first encounter with this group. Swimming in this type of sea requires confidence and patience to flow freely, and it took me time to adjust to the temperature, as well as some effort to initiate relationships, and ultimately, friendliness and some willingness to leave each of our comfort zones. Once I overcame the fear of swimming in the darkness, their doors began to open –and so did mine– so that we could reflect upon disobedience and obstacles as creative forces, challenges that require certain strategies in order to deepen the pool of our personal and contextual resources.
They repeatedly asked me how I saw the cultural scene in Antofagasta and what I could say about how it has developed in the field of mediation. Before I answered, I thought about the eagerness I felt in wanting to take full advantage of my time in the city. I was so focused on exploring and getting to know the place as well as I could, that I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even notice all that had transpired in that brief period of time. The same thing occurred with the participants in the workshop: everyone was so full of interesting experiences, actions and undertakings that it was difficult for them to appreciate the worth and the quality of the work they had done. Just as inhabiting a place takes time, envisioning progress for each individual and place of culture in Antofagasta means having venues for gathering people together, where mutual affection can emerge, strengthening personal and professional relationships alike, and bringing into being a cultural network that, although still in formation, becomes stronger each day.
RECIPROCAL EMOTIONS AND LEARNING: WHEN IMPROVISATION WORKS | Carlos Rendón Workshops by the winning artists of SACO8 international call Juan Carlos Guerrerosantos and Patricia Teles Harvest Christian School, Antofagasta “You know, I almost cried!” These were the first words that the Mexican artist Juan Carlos Guerrerosantos said to me at the end of the workshop he conducted at the Christian Harvest High School of Antofagasta. Brazilian artist Patricia Teles, another of the workshop’s leaders, appeared later, equally moved. In addition to producing works for the exhibition Destiny at Antofagasta’s Historic Pier, as two of the winners of SACO8’s international call for submissions, both artists were called upon to lead an activity with students. At first, the activity was to consist of using ordinary classroom chairs to talk about objects as sculpture, then linking this idea to contemporary art. A few days before the workshop the artists decided to do something that might have later proven to be a bit too risky: they would change the focus of the workshop to reappraising the value of personal objects. Each participant arrived with something different: a toy in the shape of an elephant, some headphones, a Rubik’s cube, a rosary, a sketchbook, etc. They worked while sitting upon the floor in the shape of a circle, leaving space in the middle for ephemeral interventions and artistic expressions. This act of sitting in the round helped to bring the students together and establish horizontal communication. And so, facing each other, they approached themes as complicated as family, detachment, and death. Patricia began by arranging the objects, putting some on top or inside of others in order to analyze how the manner in which they were arranged could change a person’s perception. Without any reason in particular, she took the toy elephant and put it between the pages of a book. After asking what it meant, the girl who had brought the animal spoke about how it reminded her of her mother, who had bought her the toy in the street when she was little. In the object, imprisoned by the book, she saw the complex relationship that she currently had with her mom. In the words of the Brazilian artist: “She said that in that moment she wasn’t able to turn the page, as if her mother was now blocking her in some way.” For his part, Juan Carlos used small pitchers from Tonalá (traditional Mexican crafts made out of clay). The idea was to give them a new meaning, allowing the students to arrange them as each one preferred. Afterwards, he gave one of the pitchers to a young man and asked him to bang it against the floor until it broke. One, two, three times and then it shattered. Asking the group 108
what the broken pieces of the pitcher meant, a boy recalled his brother’s death in a traffic accident. “The broken pieces are me and my brother. The other pitchers are the people who just stood there and watched.” This workshop was born out of improvisation and feeling, and is that not what life is about? Perhaps it was owing to this unusual methodology that the youngsters were able to open up so easily and talk about their personal lives. Just like life itself, sometimes things don’t turn out as you expected. They turn out better.
THE CHALLENGE OF WRITING ABOUT CONTEMPORARY ART | Carolina Lara Workshop Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Talk About Contemporary Art ISLA, Antofagasta Between May and August 2019 the workshop Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Talk About Contemporary Art was open to newscasters, journalists and visual arts teachers from the northern part of Chile. The main goal was to foster greater comprehension and communication of contemporary art through the use of its specialized lexicon and also by employing certain strategies for analyzing a work of art, whether as part of an exhibition or a singular artistic experience. The participants were taught to use basic interpretive tools that can be applied in the areas of criticism, art instruction, mediation, curatorship and promotion. The first part was oriented toward a review of themes and concepts, using images of individual works, exhibitions, and experiences that have been the hallmarks of art history from the 20th century until today, encompassing the international art world along with the national, regional and local scenes. Over three days, our conversations began to expand into dialogue and group analysis so as to craft content and meaning in a collective manner. Thus, the talks and exhibitions were complemented by a group dynamic that allowed the workshop participants themselves to offer up their reflections on works by national artists.
We covered the meanings of various terms such as avant-garde and neo-avantgarde, modern and contemporary art, modernism vs postmodernism, and likewise with the various strategies for approaching them: found objects, settings, installations, performance and conceptual art. We also reviewed topics like art and life, art and the marketplace, art and politics, art and activism, and community art. A little closer to home, we approached the topic of art and resistance in Latin America and the role of contemporary art in current social movements and the defense of territories. The group activity involved the analysis of works from national artists like Arturo Duclos, Matilde PĂŠrez and Marcela Trujillo. The participants had to select works and describe them in formal terms, identifying the concepts that would enable them to establish relationships between the works and formulate their interpretations. For the second phase, each participant made presentations to the group on the themes, exhibitions and experiences of SACO8. This stage also included trips to see exhibitions as well as work sessions for the revision of texts responding to the questions: How to mediate contemporary art? How to teach contemporary art? How to write about contemporary art? The participants drew from their personal experience working locally at the intersection of art and community, from their written and curatorial work, as well as mediation, while the methodological approach of the workshop had as its pillar the constant participation and interaction of the participants. Working with images, pointed questions, and group activities, the workshop promoted meaning through action, interaction and collective learning, which was evidenced in the creation of networks among the workshopâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attendees, as well as in their relationship with the SACO Festival of Art, and the contemporary art scene of Antofagasta as a whole.
THIS TEXT IS REALLY DULL, EXPLANATORY, SIMPLISTIC | Cristóbal León Workshop Pedagogical Curatorship ISLA, Antofagasta For its eighth edition, SACO invited me to be curator and facilitator for the workshop Pedagogic Curatorship, an educative experience for emerging artists from the north of Chile. The workshop concluded with the exhibition We, the Ancestors, at the Chela Lira Gallery of the Catholic University of the North, and consisted of various sessions conducted in the months of May, June and July 2019. I get the feeling that the arts scene in Antofagasta and the north of Chile is profoundly more diverse than in Santiago, since all the artists come from a variety of different environments and walks of life. Over the course of these and other workshops I have given in the northern part of the country I have discovered that this diversity demands a great deal of flexibility when dealing with the work. In Pedagogic Curatorship the methodology varied throughout, according to whatever the needs of the piece and participant were. It couldn’t have been any other way, given the group’s diversity in terms of experience, time, employment situation and even personalities. 113
I tried to make the experience of the workshop and the exhibition two inseparable things, and my double role as curator and workshop facilitator, only one. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t conceive artworks or exhibitions without considering the community. Actions do not occur in a void. Making a good exhibition, in this case, to me meant that the process should make sense; in other words, that it should be meaningful for the participants, their families, the SACO team and perhaps even for the artists, curators and journalists who were in Antofagasta during the weeks of the show.
A WHITE FLAG ISN’T SURRENDER | Carlos Rendón Production of the piece Burying Flags in the Sea None of the twenty students from the Juan José Latorre Benavente Educational Complex in Mejillones knew who Miguel Braceli was when he sat down to talk with them for the first time about the artistic intervention he had planned to carry out in the north of Chile. Neither did he have any experience with this kind of work, this being his first opportunity to develop a work for exhibition with high school students. Prior to executing the work Burying Flags in the Sea, the artist toured the area surrounding Mejillones, choosing the locations where the intervention would take place. With these in mind, he went to visit the school for his first meeting with the students. The methodology revolved around dialogue and debate on his proposal. The question that was steadily repeated was “What does a white flag mean to you?” Raising their hands, the students spoke of concepts ranging from “peace” to “cleaning” to “surrender”. Miguel didn’t reject a single adjective, but it was that final concept, that of surrender, which the work itself would end up discarding.
Carrying flags only to end up burying them in the sea was meant to be a call for unity, as well as for the curtailment of exaggerated, ultra-nationalist rhetoric. This appeal elicited an uncommon level of empathy from the participants, and they delivered themselves to the act wholeheartedly, as if it were a ritual attesting to their true desire for peace and respect among the bordering regions. Thus the white flag left behind its defeatist symbology, becoming instead an emblem of the struggle the young people carried on their shoulders into the open space of Punta Cuartel and Punta Angamos, both of which being significant locations in the military history of the country. Accompanied by their art teacher and two members of the festival team, they traversed through the hills following Braceli’s directions. The artist went running up and down, yelling and jumping about the place, arranging the group so that it would actually appear to be an army of peace, and the flags a luminous extension of their ideals. It’s hard to know if the power of the work’s message was received precisely as the artist had wished after it was installed and exhibited at the festival. Maybe it’s not necessary to know. The white of the flags was the canvas where the imagination of the students was able to express itself through contemporary art for the first time. And that is what remained after the flags had finished fluttering in the wind.
URBAN INTERVENTIONS IN PARQUE BRASIL: YOUNG PEOPLE AS PROTAGONISTS | Carolina Contreras Workshops for the production: Can We Decide Our Destiny? Young Peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Reflections on Contemporary Art La Chimba and Marta Narea high schools; Parque Brasil, Antofagasta Given the need to establish an alternative model for the visual arts within the formal educational system, as a museum we decided to develop an educational program that would strengthen the creative capabilities of the students, and that would also allow them to reflect upon their social and environmental context. Over the course of twelve sessions, a group of young people participated in a variety of activities to help them understand the various forms, references and work methods involved in the creation of contemporary art. During the planning of the workshops, special attention was paid to two learning methods: play-based learning, and project based learning (PBL). The first strategy helped the participants get acquainted with various features of visual language. In a later phase, the PBL methodology was employed: groups of young people decided on an issue they would address, and determined the various stages that their projects would need to take, along with the deadlines, justification and final 117
materialization. The interventions were made by the students themselves, accompanied by their visual arts professor, in Parque Brasil. The intent was to burst in on a public area with an explosive element, something extraordinary, yet which would invite the public to think about the issues addressed by the works. The passersby stuck around to see what was going on, which led to an improvised dialogue with the creators of the works. Off and on throughout the process a photographic and audiovisual record began to be compiled, showing how the various ideas for the public intervention came into being. Subsequently, this took the form of an exhibition that had a participative, interactive, and pedagogical focus, inviting the public to immerse themselves in a sea of ideas, interacting with the works, establishing dialogues and spawning questions, while accompanied by mediators from the Artequin Museum. This unconventional type of exhibition was visited by hundreds of school age youth, and ended up being a meaningful resource for learning. The activity was conducted a second time with high school students from Antofagasta with the intention that they would become protagonists in their own learning and develop the critical thinking skills necessary for this hyper-connected postmodern era.
TIME STOPPED: PHOTOGRAPHY AS A PERMANENT WITNESS OF THE EPHEMERAL | Iván Ávila Pérez Workshop Photographic Writing Antofagasta and Chiu Chiu August. Thursday afternoon. Stifling heat in Chiu Chiu. The ten participants from the workshop Photographic Writing don’t seem to feel it. Alone, or in small groups, they move around the pottery fair that had drawn the attendance of hundreds of people from different parts of the region. The participants approach the workshop’s facilitator, the photographer Rodrigo Gómez Rovira, either looking for a guide, or to resolve creative or technical matters. With the lenses of their analog or digital cameras they capture people, animals, ephemeral moments and landscapes, adjusting the tripods and conceptual lines that will give shape to their presentation of the workshop’s results the following day in Antofagasta, a city that seems a world away from here, pertaining to another time and place. They are immersed in one of the oldest villages in the north of Chile, a place full of history, mysticism and surprises. More than 30 visual artists (some renowned, others emerging) applied to the workshop, coming from Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. Rodrigo Gómez Rovira, 119
director of the Valparaiso International Photography Festival, chose ten participants who would spend five days in Antofagasta and Chiu Chiu in an intensive endeavor that began with the transmission of theoretical knowledge, then progressed into group work, portfolio reviews, and personal interviews in order to figure out which thematic areas the workshop participants would focus on. The fieldwork was to be done in Chiu Chiu in mid-August, taking advantage of the pottery fair in progress, one which happened to safeguard the ancestral art of the South American Altiplano with great care. It was in this context that the practical aspect of the work was done, walking around a village that has clung to the fertile valley of the Loa River since PreHispanic times, enjoying not only the abundance of rural architecture found there, but also the landscape and its various textures. These elements became the basis for different motifs in the work that would later be shown to the public, from the feminine presence in the desert to ephemeral images that conjured up the past like an illusion, and even some photos that had been produced by digitally manipulating the textures of the stones, the water, and the mountains. The dispersal of the workshop’s participants throughout the area was reflected as much in the diversity of nostalgic images and landscapes they captured, as it was in the questions that were raised about our own future. There were works where fire seemed to be consuming wood and even the photographs themselves, works that forefronted geology, and also a personal journal of intervened photos: an experiment where the desert fuses with the sea, taking a rebellious stance against the official history of Bolivia. Other works made forays into the poetics of ethnography, the flood of the feminine in the desert landscape, or simply examined the details of that stroll through Chiu Chiu, which seemed like memories from some past era, in an exercise that favoured the experimental as well as the practical, each lens seeking to reveal a unique vision of the landscape, and its potentially infinite contents. Workshop Participants: Alcira Ángelo (Bolivia) Eduardo Cifuentes (Chile) Graciela González (Bolivia) Lissette González (Chile-Argentina) Jahir Jorquera (Chile) Chris Malebrán (Chile) Kika Mazry (Chile) Dunker Mujica (Chile-Peru) Mayra Ovando (Bolivia) Sebastián Rojas (Chile)
HUNTING SOUNDS | Carlos RendĂłn Workshops in Sound Art The Giant School, Antofagasta, and Jorge Alessandri RodrĂguez High School, Calama It is not easy to explain what sound art is. People relate it to music, a discipline with which it shares certain characteristics, yet also differentiates itself from with works like Four minutes, thirty-three seconds (of silence) by John Cage. The director of TSONAMI Sound Art Festival, Fernando Godoy, made it his mission to not only help others understand the concepts of sound art, but also to bring these concepts into an experiential format. During his visit in the north of Chile he offered two talks on sound art and the experience of TSONAMI: the first one at Casa RADE, an art space that for the past two years has promoted collaborative work and cultural outreach in downtown Calama, and then a second talk was given at ISLA, Antofagasta. Fernando also led a pair of workshops on sound art in two of the high schools from the region, allowing students to have a first-hand experience in the discipline. 123
He began each workshop by reviewing concepts and giving supporting examples, then continued with a historic overview on the relationship between art and sound. After listening to all that theory, the workshop participants then put on blindfolds so that they might, as Godoy put it, “Listen attentively,” as they toured the establishment. Passing fellow students on the field in P.E. class and going about their business with broom in hand, an entire class walked blindly throughout the halls and embrasures of the school, steadily helped along by the workshop facilitator and his assistants. Without sight noise is amplified, which allowed the group to hear things as unexpected as water running through pipes, to the eco of voices coming from the classrooms, to the sound of cars passing by out in the street. This was but a taste of what the students would experience the following day, particularly in Calama, where the workshop was able to come to full fruition outside of the confines of the school. “We are going to hunt sounds.” This was the phrase that Godoy had used at the beginning of the workshop and which had immediately grabbed the students’ attention. In pairs, they started assembling an electromagnetic microphone. For many, this was the first time they had ever used this piece of equipment, which basically allowed them to amplify the hum of whatever they happened to bump into or encounter along the way.
Once it was ready, they tried out the microphone on a set of speakers, on their own heart, and of course there was no shortage of those who wanted to play the part of reporter while holding the gadget. A recording device was given to each participant so that they could begin the “hunt”, both inside and outside the school. The students later explored their own educational establishment, searching for the sounds that just the day before, while blindfolded, has seemed interesting. There were those who sought to collect the greatest number of audio recordings (“I have 15,” “well I’ve got 20,” “but that one doesn’t count”), while others looked for sounds that were particularly difficult to capture, such as the sound of the inside of a football, or the electric current of an ATM. One student took playing the role of journalist quite seriously and began to recount what their classmates were doing, like a reporter live on the scene, providing commentary and opinion, as well as breaking news. It was a background voice throughout the day, revealing just how much learning can happen using this type of process, when there is enough time and the right kinds of tools. Getting out of the classroom or away from the school in the company of strangers is always interesting, but with the students themselves as co-creators of the experience, the activity took on a unique resonance. In ten years, would these young people remember what art sound is? It’s kind of hard to say. Will they remember that day when they made their own microphone and went out to hunt sounds? One would think so. 125
CONTEMPLATING OUR SURROUNDINGS: THE WAY HOME | Natalia Pilo-Pais Figallo Workshop One Road and Several Perceptions Liceo Lican Antai, San Pedro de Atacama Working for the first time with high school students was an enriching experience. I had to communicate with them in a different way than I would have if we were at a university. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s another language. The objective was to teach the process of abstraction, to get away from the accepted and established order, and to show them that being different when producing a work of art is what makes us creative and innovative. In the first session, the students drew two-dimensional maps in order to become more conscious about something not at all innovative: the way home from school and vice versa. Looking at these routes, so many times travelled, questions appeared: are we conscious about what goes on along that route? Are we aware of our surroundings, or do we walk like automatons? After looking at the maps, I focused on praising the different qualities each student expressed in them, so they would become more mindful of the route and draw out some important information about their territory: can we learn something from this route? Does the road say something to us? Are the objects found along the road significant to us? And if they are not, can we make them relevant somehow?
As homework for the second session, they were asked to bring in ten objects they found on their way to school, either because they had seen them time and again, or because the objects attracted their attention. It was then that the resignification work commenced. At this stage, after drawing their maps, the students began playing around with the elements in order to build a three dimensional chronology of their route. The gathering of tangible objects, like textures, rocks, plastics, among others, led to collective observation and afterwards to an exhibition. The participants talked about the simplicity of these elements and as they exchanged ideas we began to see the meaning behind each object as a representation of the individual. These objects to which we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t pay attention are a part of our daily life. They may vary, change, or remain there, unaltered, for an entire lifetime. This got us talking about the transformation of time, or rather, of our time. We grouped the objects together, lining them up according to their color, form and three-dimensionality. Over the course of that week, for the first time the participants became aware of the roads they traveled and of these elements, which they observed and wrote about in their notebooks. The workshop allowed the students step outside of their status quo and experience the reality of art first hand, recognizing that it requires not only production, but also research.
A VIRTUAL TOUR OR ART WITHIN EVERYONE’S REACH | Carlos Rendón Anish Kapoor, Virtual Tours in 360° In its eighth edition, SACO committed to implementing a series of activities at a variety of educational establishments under the concept of Virtual Tours in 360°. In This made possible that a show by the globally recognized artist Anish Kapoor This made possible a show by the globally recognized artist Anish Kapoor –which was exhibited at CorpArtes in Santiago, and earlier at the Royal Academy of Arts in London– to be viewed by a class of 20 students from a local school in Antofagasta. Thanks to this effort, children who may have never had the chance to see a show like this before got to learn about and appreciate contemporary art up close and personal for the first time. Through the use of a video projector, the virtual tour brings us inside an exhibition gallery, where we can examine any artwork simply by clicking on one of the white circles on the floor, which offers a continual 360° view of the exhibition space. It’s so simple and easy that one can’t help but think, “why haven’t done this before?” Basically, the virtual tour is a big screen version of something you can already do on a phone, the game-changer being the presence of a mediator who guides the public, providing a dynamic context and what’s more, fruitful conversation. Even though the virtual tour cannot compare with actually visiting a museum or gallery, it allows for the experience of being in front of an artwork. Modern kids who have grown up in a digital world aren’t too blown away by the thought of taking a virtual tour of 360º space. Technology is an unstoppable maelstrom producing smartphones and laptops that are increasingly more accessible and easy to use. That being said, something else became evident during these encounters –what really makes the difference isn’t the type of software used, but the flesh and blood interaction with the mediator, as well as the activities the public takes part in, which are similar to the educative interactions that occur in actual visits to brick and mortar galleries and museums. 128
JOURNEY INTO ONESELF | Fabiola Gómez Anish Kapoor, Virtual Tours in 360° Educational establishments, Antofagasta The essence of Anish Kapoor’s approach lies in his allowing the public to be protagonists of their own experience, in terms of what is evoked by a given work. By “removing the artist,” he prioritizes the inner experience of each person rather than whatever motivated or urged the artist to create the piece. We tried to carry this sentiment into the virtual tours, placing the students at the epicenter of their quest for greater understanding of art. “This thing here that looks like train tracks is time, representing how woman has had to put up with so much throughout history and also how for every advancement she has made, she has had to give up so much,” this was the conclusion of one of the student participants from Costa Cordillera High School in Antofagasta, after having viewed the work, Svayambhu. That a student should arrive at this reflection after finishing the virtual tour demonstrates how by listening attentively to the students, while allowing them to guide their own process, the experience of viewing art can become personally meaningful. This only makes us more steadfast in our belief that there is an urgent need for the democratization of art. It’s essential that it be available to anyone
and everyone, considering how through different readings of a same piece, the work is kept alive in a constant state of change. Both the virtual tour as well as the training in art mediation offered by CorpArtes in alliance with the SE VENDE Collective allowed us to experientially discover a true and honest artist, one capable of generating a strong sense of the subjective within his public. Varied and enthusiastic were the participantsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; interpretations of the work, most of whom had never heard of contemporary art before, much less Kapoor. This kind of activity must continue to occur, as art needs its public to have a sensorial experience.
THE SIMULATED ENVIRONMENT AND OTHER REACHES OF CONTEMPORARY ART | Jordán Plaza Anish Kapoor, Virtual Tours in 360° Educational establishments, Antofagasta In the middle of 2007, Google presented Street View, a platform that uses panoramic photographs to (virtually) plant us on our feet at any point on the planet that we wish, as long as we choose a destination within the urban sphere. In this way, we can walk around the streets of Antofagasta and Berlin, passing through Buenos Aires and Madrid, simply by clicking on the screen. The eventual democratisation of cutting-edge technologies means that anyone who wants to will be able to adapt these platforms for use on a smaller scale according to their own interests, including a potential application within the context of pedagogy. For this reason we must observe our own local scene, as well as the educational policies and curricular structure within the national educational institutions, in order to bring together the teaching options that contemporary art offers in ways that blend with the requirements of formal education. Let’s consider, for example, an exhibition of a well-known artist in a gallery in some foreign country we will probably never visit, due to the length of the show and remoteness of the place. Something we can do is to shoot it in a virtual format and take it to far away places and times, where it will acquire new meanings, perhaps even more relevant than the ones it had in an art gallery.
BEYOND YOUR EYES | Gabriel Navia The fundamental role of the arts is to provide places where communities can come together to share, create, and enjoy culture while improving and deepening their knowledge. It is well known that the countries with the highest quzality of life are those that have managed to intertwine their economic policy with public policy in a way that acknowledges the role of culture as a driving force in daily life. Chile’s metrics in this area are not encouraging, and in some cases are not being addressed with actions that might, for example, revert the data from the National Survey of Cultural Participation from 2017, which showed a decrease of 16% in the attendance of visual arts exhibitions from years past. The key factors that make people attend, analyze and reflect on the works contained in an exhibition space are diverse and complex, but not unknowable. SACO is an initiative that seeks to bring the pleasure of art closer to the people. Throughout its eight editions it has been settling into its role as a mediating figure in a local scene that lacks almost any form of formal instruction, discussion or reflection about art. For this reason, we on the festival’s mediation team have committed ourselves to creating greater connection between a work and its public, as many people who view contemporary art tend to beat up on themselves for not understanding what a piece is about –or at least for thinking that they don’t understand.
A cultural mediator must be curious to their core, willing to search for information beyond whatever is readily at hand, seek out other sources regarding the topic in which he or she is going to mediate; make inquiries into the concepts emerging from the artwork and design exercises that go beyond the tired, old classroom formats, understanding that mediation gives people an opportunity to learn in a very different manner than what official instruction has to offer.
RESIDENCIES / TERRITORY
INDUSTRY INFILTRATING YOUR BODY | Loreto González Reaching the Humboldt Current / art&industry residency ISLA, Antofagasta The residency was framed as a deep dive into the milieu of Antofagasta. The more profound the exploration got, the more Ana Alenso had to face an endless stream of emotions that made her approach her research process from a critical, intense and resolute perspective. Ana’s eagerness to know and reveal the phenomena destroying the territory drove her to get involved with local conflicts. Owing to her concerns about environmental protection, and thanks to the testimony of environmental and political activists, both from the academy as well as from independent social movements, she was able to obtain a number of insights into the industrial development of the area and some clear ideas about the relationship between production-extractivism and the zones of sacrifice-resistance that can be found in the region. “Those findings were essential for my getting to know the reality of Antofagasta. I believe that this dust in the air we breathe is, in a visible or invisible way, a symbol of the dominance the mining industry exerts over local thought, an industry that gets into your home and infiltrates your body,” the artist said. The decision to connect with the people fighting for social transformation, not only professionals, but also those engaged in the collective struggle to reveal unknown facts, enabled her to identify and unveil these zones of resistance in light of the urgent social crisis affecting the entire planet.
A BRIDGE ON THE WAY | Dagmara Wyskiel David CorvalĂĄn talks of bridges, of moving. And even though in his text he uses this metaphor to share something very intimate â&#x20AC;&#x201C;the personal way in which one understands what it means to be an artistâ&#x20AC;&#x201C; this architectural element that connects two sides and allows for the freedom of movement, represents the concept with which we established the residency program ISLA-ISLA. In this long and narrow country, proposing a route between the north and the south, between the driest desert and one of the rainiest regions on the planet, between the lushest place and the most barren, would seem a logical way to resolve the inherent contradiction. Though the contrast in landscapes, climate, and sensorial experience is real, beneath those differences lies an even greater similarity, that of being extreme in nature. In this sense, the connection between the two regions bypasses the heart
of the country, and yet manages to touch upon issues as diverse as the aesthetics of weather to the politics of the periphery, and everything in between. As this text is being completed (October 2019) we already have the names of the two artists from the North of Chile who have been selected for the second edition of the ISLA-ISLA residency. Within our vast collection of utopias that have become reality, you can also find –in collaboration with the Chiloé Museum of Modern Art– a conceptual bridge formed through cultural exchange, stretching more than two thousand five-hundred kilometers in length, turning into something common and simple, like a routine. Priscila Peralta, in the conclusion of her text, says that we are fortunate inside of our insignificance. Stopping, repositioning and then quieting oneself in order to listen are undoubtedly the most meaningful exercises within the processes of personal transformation that this type of connection aims for.
ART SHOULD BE A BRIDGE | David Corvalán ISLA-ISLA Residency The Chiloé Museum of Modern Art (MAM) I arrived at this residency with total faith in the realization of the project Shelter II, a performative and territorial (and in this case marital) action. Along the way I found people, landscapes and frontiers in the archipelago of Chiloé. And so it was that I arrived to Lake Tarahuín, where I built my shelter on the water, circled by forest and fog, protected by trunks and branches from the wenüfün (ceremonial tree of the Mapuche). I don’t understand an artist who only stays on one side of the bridge; one ought to move, travel, live. With this conviction I decided to make the move from sculpture to performance, using my body as a sculptural extension in the territory. I position myself beyond politics. Art is inevitably political, but it must go beyond, it must be human. In my sculptures, I retain and shelter that humanity by means of industrial materials. In my actions my body is my shelter
DRIFT, MEMORY AND PATH | Priscila Peralta ISLA-ISLA Residency The Chiloé Museum of Modern Art (MAM) One of the most meaningful experiences I have ever had, from within either my personal or professional life, was the ISLA-ISLA Residency. The month-long stay at MAM Chiloé offered me and David (Corvalán) the chance to figure out at our own pace and in our own way, the relationship we were able to enter into with the territory. From the moment I landed until the moment of departure for the north of Chile, time took on different harmonies, nuances and colors… every place we went in Chiloé brought forth a memory like a sweet déjà vu, as if it had something to do with returning. This aspect shaped the way in which I felt myself stretch out on the island, reimagining what the words drift, memory and path could mean, commencing my research from that perspective. In the morning, I planned trips to downtown Castro to make the most of my time, buying food, scheduling excursions, going 143
to the laundromat, and so on. Oftentimes those little plans didn’t come to fruition because either my feet, the weather, my mood or some delightful encounter took me off to some other place. During the early evenings and cold nights of Chiloé, my personal journal began to take shape through different media: weaving, photography, soundtracks, drawings, handwritten notes, in addition to the exchange of reflections and ideas around a big cup of hot tea or in the warmth of silence. From Chiloé I brought the satisfaction of having succeeded in my research, producing a sound object that clearly reflects most of what I learned and heard there. I arrived in the north filled with the south. I carried with me sounds, branches, a snail shell, little stones, leaves, honey, wool, trying to retain to retain these memories, intermingled with a present full of sun, sand, and the winds of transformation. There is no way back. Something changed. Time in that moment seemed even slower than usual, and so I was able to examine in both the big picture and in minute detail, the reasons and situations that sometimes seem ordinary, but become triggering events when faced closely. What’s more, the heat and emotion from old struggles come rushing back into the body, suddenly becoming significant again in that moment. More than once I sang. More than once I forced myself to keep listening, to shut up, swallow hard, and try to understand from this new perspective the similarities and differences in terms of the priorities and omissions of each of these extreme regions. More than once I have witnessed the insignificance of being human in the midst of the absolute and magnificent warrior, Pachamama, and also how great we can feel when we come to understand that really and truly, despite everything, we are deeply fortunate.
RANCHERAS, REGGAETON & ROCK | Dagmara Wyskiel ‘Luis Miguel’ got there first. He showed up a month before the residency. Juan Carlos Guerrerosantos looked a lot like the Mexican singer in the heyday of his youth. Having recently completed a degree in architecture in Guadalajara, he went around wanting to eat up the world with a big spoon and seemed to be floating above the ground. Anna, with her old-school, combined last name Uścińska de Rojas arrived the morning of the first day and brought Spanish sausages; how she got it past customs and the inspectors from the Agricultural Service, we’ll never know. That same night, with his extremely stylish hairdo, Marcos Temoche landed straight from Lima, the creator of the spontaneous public action that a few days later would become the most media-exposed event of this year’s edition of the festival. Yuga Hatta brought a bottle of exquisite port wine and installed himself with an ashtray on the patio, where he stayed, working hard but with the smiling patience of the Japanese, for almost his entire stay at ISLA. Patricia Teles got off the bus coming in from Río de Janeiro, after a trip of some sixty hours and various connections and layovers, having slept another twenty hours like a rock. Afterwards, we talked a lot about the phenomenon that is Brazil. Faithful to her carribean ways, Stephanie Williams put on reggaeton at night, while those over forty just looked at each other with tired faces. The musical tastes of Guillermo 146
Vezzosi pointed completely in the other direction, as every now and then we would hear the existential poetry of the nineties sang to the rhythm of rock, che. A model Mexican, a blond Polish gal from Madrid, a Venezuelan rooted in Peru, a Japanese man from Porto, a Brazilian woman that, for security reasons, pretended she was a young man as she crossed the continent, a Costa Rican with an English last name and an Argentine that wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t from Buenos Aires; these were the winners of the SACO8 international call. It isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t necessary to venture into an anthropological analysis in order to realize the heterogeneous nature of the group that had come to execute their works in public places throughout Antofagasta and to make queries into destiny from a variety of angles, in consistency with the diversity found in most contemporary societies. The residency of the seven was written into the history of SACO with the seal of intense work, responsibility and fulfillment of commitments. Everything was ready ahead of time, even the dishes for the culinary event where the artists cooked and talked about the results of their work, or their luggage for the trip to Chiu Chiu, as well as the works on the pier. Undoubtedly, the most noteworthy aspect of the group was their intersecting ideological stances regarding the important issues of our day, like the right of each individual to go about and freely define the place in which they were to live, or the growing shadow of environmental apocalypse becoming increasingly visible, or the importance of looking each other in the eyes, just the same.
A FRACTURE IN THE MEMORY OF THE DESERT | Loreto Gonzรกlez International Artists in Residence Exchange Program EAC Uruguay ISLA, Antofagasta Visual artist Ana Agorio began her residency process with a strategic plan based upon certain assumptions and expectations regarding the geodynamic phenomena present in Chile. Specifically, stories, cases and experiences associated with earthquakes and their connection with the local territory. Living with the serious consequences of the great cataclysm the city of Talca experienced in 2010 instilled within her a certain curiosity about these events, and their impact on the general population. She became interested in how the convulsions of the cracked geography triggers certain psychosocial behaviors and could also be the cause of the crisis in education and ecology. As she began exploring Antofagasta studying vestiges of the catastrophe, she stumbled upon the rather conspicuous environmental crisis afflicting the region, identifying other deep issues pertaining to the economic system that is having
a negative effect on the northern part of the country, and Chile in general. Ana appropriated this notion of fracture as a concept full of meaning, opening the question of the capital as a tool of mass destruction, in league with the political structure of the country. As she was getting acquainted with the diversity of the city, she heard about the route taken by the Caravan of Death through the Atacama Desert in the early days of the Dictatorship. With this in mind she considered the fracture or crack from the political need of remembrance, and also examined the resultant scars now present in societal behavior, which are not yet acknowledged as an event as reverberating as an earthquake. The latter is capable of shaking any type of stronghold to the point of breaking, including the dominant economic system. The fateful caravan crossed the conceptual lines of the residency to such an extent that all of the concepts drawn out from it formed a great graphic palimpsest, leaving behind a path of sculptural destruction on the floor in a cartographic manner, illustrating the route followed by that military convoy and the imprints it left on the memory of the desert.
THE UTOPIA OF WATER |Joaquín Fargas and Elia Gasparolo Rabdomante, the Utopia of Water / art&technology residency María Elena, Antofagasta Region Antarctica, the majestic white continent that harbors the largest reserve of freshwater on the planet, and the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth, are geographically quite distant, yet together form a sort of equilibrium in the world’s ecosystem. These seemingly disconnected territories are invariably linked through the atmosphere, an atmosphere though abundant in oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and other gases, is comprised mainly of water. The Utopia project, with its hopes of spearheading what would appear to be an impossible set of tasks, reaches out to connect these two points through the problem of water. Technology bestows verisimilitude upon the works that make up the project so that they might be a source of inspiration and become an agent for raising awareness, promoting concrete actions to mitigate the effects of global warming and climate change.
Antarctica has witnessed the Utopia project on two separate occasions. With its windmills, Don Quixote against climate change launched an unrealistic crusade, attempting to cool glaciers so as to guarantee their preservation. Glaciator, with its tireless tread, completed its mission of accelerating the formation of ice on the glaciers. Now, the Atacama Desert hosts the Rabdomante experience. A Fictional Character Combining nature and technology allows us to generate a new life cycle in the desert, obtaining water from the air in the driest place on earth. After earlier research about the desert and its characteristics, we started off towards MarĂa Elena, with the goal of obtaining information about the atmospheric variables of the surrounding area, which in turn would allow the robot Rabdomante to go about its work under the desert sun. Solar energy, the indispensable source of life for our planet, is utilized to generate electricity through the use of Peltier photovoltaic cells, which are capable of condensing water in this particular context. In its morphology, the robot resembles a species that is native to desert regions and makes apparent the hardships that characterizes the place. This allowed us to share interests like that of a woman from San Pedro de Atacama whose goal is to 151
capture moisture from fog so that she can cultivate her garden terraces. We also spoke with some of the inhabitants of Maria Elena who showed some curiosity about the mission of Rabdomante and were excited by its power to make us dream big and think about the coming generations. A fictional character that suspends a bridge between imagination and reality with a utopian goal that could perhaps even be accomplished. Text based on the MarĂa Elena expedition, Antofagasta. July, 2019.
A CONCEPTUAL COMPASS WITH NEW CARDINAL POINTS | Loreto González art&archaeology residency San Pedro de Atacama Hybrid disciplines, such as archaeology, anthropology, geography and geology, were some of the references used to bolster the interdisciplinary feel the artist sought for her residency. This knowledge base was provided by the R.P. Gustavo Le Paige Museum of Archaeology, which operates at the intersection of art and science, both in terms of terminology and knowledge. Along with the persistent wanderings of Natalia Pilo-Pais at the foot of the Licancabur volcano, these findings were able to form the basis for personal rituals capable of calling into question the present turned past. “What other objects might we need to bring on our journey towards destiny? Could we perhaps create a sort of conceptual compass with new cardinal points that will tell us where to go?” asked the artist at the beginning of the experience. Invoking from a distance contemporary versions of local myths is to understand time and space in the rhythm of the local culture. Following the direction the geography takes based on the artist’s intuition, walking about in intimate dialogue with this earth and its sacred elements. Confronting these concerns, the research process came together, visually and conceptually, through the creation of a sensitive, intelligent compass that acted as an instrument for the artist to perform her own ritual in quiet, intuitive wanderings along the length of the territory.
GESTURES IN THE AIR | Dagmara Wyskiel Immersion trip to the Chiu Chiu oasis The purpose of these recurrent trips deep into the desert each year is to see in the face of a non-local –a person who doesn’t typically come from the desert– the look that follows an amazingly intense episode, an experience that penetrates on a sensory, visual level, having an impact that is emotional and even spiritual –maybe you could call it heavenly. Every level of perception is seriously involved in this journey. That is why the desert cannot really be spoken of or explained to anyone; it must be lived from within. The immersion trip we embarked upon this year brought us to the Chiu Chiu oasis, in the province of Alto El Loa. At night we got to know a little about the local indigenous cosmovision during an experience led by the amateur enthusiast Silvia Lisoni Reyes, who, in her tiny observatory, gave us the opportunity to see new forms among the stars. The symbology of the chakana and the comparative readings of constellations –between western and ancient astronomy– allowed us to look at the sky with different eyes. During the day, Silvia guided us to Lasana Pukará, an ancient Lican Antai village and fortress on the shore of the Loa river, situated on a hill with a strategic view of both sides of the valley, and surrounded by fertile ground for agriculture. All of the doors faced the rising sun, symbolizing the eternal hope of the new day. Afterwards, we stopped in Caspana, where we crossed the old part of the village, reaching the cemetery and a lookout point.
Two ephemeral actions took place on the trip. Anna Uścińska de Rojas trimmed away the infinity of the dry landscape using a series of rounded mirrors, an action that she repeated in several different locations. These interventions multiplied the forms and colors of our surroundings, closing them off into little fragments of an encapsulated desert, each one like the result from a lab test. Marcos Temoche defied nature with an intensely green cloth. When observing the performative action it was hard to say if the wind played the role of the artist’s friend or foe. The soft bright cloth molded to Temoche’s figure, wrapping itself around his face, shoulders and torso, forming masks in motion, tracing his silhouette, suggesting the existence of some secret hidden behind his body, while bringing to light the force of opposing energies: that of air and that of man.
CONSIDERING GEOGRAPHY FROM AN IMAGINARY OF SPACE | Loreto González Between here and there / art&astronomy residency ISLA, Antofagasta Aldair Indra was introduced into the field of astronomy through conversations with experts from the Astronomy Center at the University of Antofagasta as well as guided observations in the lab. Through these interactions she got to know the tools used for exploration and concepts associated with diverse problem areas from within that field of study. “What I found most intriguing was learning about how the Atacama Desert has a soil quality similar to the terrain on Mars, which is why they conduct astro-biological and astronomical engineering research here. That was the point of departure for my research,” says the artist. Once the research had found its footing, and after the revelation about the landscape, the residency was fueled by a drive to imagine future chronicles, times and spaces, beginning with an invasion or some other emergency which forces us to escape the Earth. Another of the artist’s hopes was to help develop critical thinking around important topics within the field of study. In the end the artist’s residency turned into an interplanetary voyage full of archaeoastronomical symbols. Aldair Indra connected the cosmovisions from different cultures by means of art techniques and simulations of astroengineering, which in some way could give an account of human endeavors based upon anthropocentric reflections that attempt to illuminate new destinies. “I find the lack of information regarding what foreign researchers are doing here a kind of invasion and a very colonistic attitude,” added Aldair Indra. “The same happens in other areas of knowledge.”
BLINK OF AN INSECT | Dagmara Wyskiel Production for open space intervention with students from a high school in Mejillones/ art&territory residency In early March, 2019, I had my first non-virtual meeting with Miguel Braceli. We were at a cafe in front of Reina Sofía Museum in Madrid, making plans all morning about what his residency of creation and production in Antofagasta would be. My idea for curatorship from a geovisual perspective was to strike a balance between the sharp and rocky coast of Mejillones with its vertiginous cliffs, and the endless plains stretching out towards the uncertain horizon in the vicinity of Calama, while working in collaboration with young students from municipal high schools from the area. I took out my cell phone and showed him some stills from my latest short film, which was shot in some of the most cinematic places on the planet. –Where is that? –Along Antofagasta’s coast to the north, a new road, few people know it. –I want to go there, only there. It’s amazing. And so we went to Mejillones to work with that landscape, archaic and postapocalyptic at the same time. A caravan of six vehicles departed from the high school, carrying a little over 20 students, two teachers, two assistants, three cameramen, two photographers and five members of the production team, heading to the spot that Miguel had previously chosen during the tour of locations. 162
We descended the cliff via a winding path of unspeakable beauty that terminates on a beach often frequented by fishermen. There, a typical element of the local landscape, four legged, at first became an uncontrollable obstacle to the intervention, which was co-created with the students. A large, semi-wild, white dog wished to be part of the action and no one was capable of stopping it. Living nature taught us that there are some things you simply cannot fight and that it is better to accept and incorporate them, making the plan more flexible. The script was repeated a week later, but this time in a place with a privileged panoramic view. Punta Cuartel shares its history with several military fortifications built for the strategic defense of the coastline. Originally an anchorage for the navy, directly facing the immensity of nature, it later became a viewpoint and touristic attraction, with a cannon that seems large and impressive when facing a human being, but trifling when compared with the overall setting in which it was installed. Everything there is a question of scale. The uniformed ants in sports outfits descended as a group raising white flags from one wrinkle in the rhinoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s skin to
another. Everyoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s effort to keep the poles standing while following the pace of the march without stumbling or falling was clearly evident. Ostensibly, nothing has changed as a result of this action, the magnitude of time and space in this place made our efforts look like the blink of an insect. But the perseverance shown in trying to defy the landscape â&#x20AC;&#x201C;understood as the concrete expression of another dimensionâ&#x20AC;&#x201C; made us Quixotes confronting a beast.
OTHER RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN LAND AND TERRITORY | Francisca Caporali y Daniel Toledo Connection Trip Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brasil and Alto El Loa, Antofagasta, Chile In 2010 JA.CA - Art and Technology Center began as an international artist residency project in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, coming together loosely at first and later solidifying into a civilian nonprofit organization, with the purpose of promoting and spreading culture and art. Today, in addition to being dedicated to artistic research, projects and experiences in its space in Jardim Canada, JA.CA implements educational programs from the four branches of the Bank of Brazil Cultural Center (BH, RJ, SP, and DF) and from Bolsa Pampulha, in collaboration with the Municipal Cultural Foundation and the Pampulha Museum. What other visions for the earth can we spew out besides rape and violence? What other relationships can we establish with the land and territory? These are some of the questions that the artists put forth with regards to the territories of Jardim Canada and Antofagasta, which will establish a cultural exchange beginning in 2020. The project aims to reflect on the situation in which both places find themselves, one marked by the failure of the model of overexploitation, with the communities forced to live in a continuous state of high alert. We invited the artists to propose other possible visions for these two geographic points, in order to recognize them as fertile, living ground, permeated with multiple layers of history, just like a number of fountains and mines are of water, not necessarily of ore. Maybe just to resignify materials, equipment and slag, or to help restore landscapes, communities and visions. What they wish to establish is a space open for imagining and artistically playing with the various possible futures of the world in which we live.
THE UNBEARABLE VOLUME OF SILENCE | Dagmara Wyskiel Soundwalk with Fernando Godoy Village of Caspana, Alto El Loa, Antofagasta region We are used to hearing the voice of strangers as well as our own voice, filling the environment with sound codes only understandable for those who speak the same language. In this sense, the soundwalk is universal. Refraining from emitting sounds is a rare experience. It seems like talk relaxes us, numbs us, dumbs us, makes us sleep. Its effect is similar to what the vacuum cleaner does for newborns. It is said that the continuous and constant noise reminds them of the sounds of amniotic liquid and the warm and safe world inside the mother. Something similar happens to adults. We are afraid of silence, it makes us feel uncomfortable. During the soundwalk thoughts are given too much room to roam, they resonate inside and it becomes much harder to put them in order. Unspoken ideas do what they want, until you are able to dominate them and focus on listening. On thinking about what you hear. On pure attention. After hearing comes smell, touch and vision. A soundwalk is a sensory journey back to the times when man walked alone through his ancestral habitat: the forest, the mountains, the beach, the desert. Indigenous people talk less than we do. Probably because they havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t lost the habit of listening. 168
SE VENDE COLLECTIVE
WHAT’S FOR SALE: SIGNIFICATIVE ACTIONS THROUGHOUT THE DESERT Since its first actions in 2004 in Antofagasta, the SE VENDE Collective has sought to occupy public spaces and emblematic sites within the city, generating dialogue and collective collaboration revolving around art, something unusual up until that time in a region that still doesn’t have university programs for teaching arts nor neither any art museums, a situation that extends throughout the entire northern part of the country. Through exhibitions, conferences, workshops, residencies, editorial projects, interdisciplinary activities, along with a flow of different artists, curators, and players from the world of culture, the collective founded by the producer Christian Núñez and the Polish artist Dagmara Wyskiel has managed to promote, professionalize and enliven the local scene, helping to put the north of Chile and the Atacama Desert on the proverbial map. There is a funny story about the name. On the outside of the building where they staged their first exhibition, For Sale 1, was a sign stating that the historic building located on Avenida Argentina was for sale, but not so for the art being exhibited inside. Beginnings In 2006, the collective staged For Sale 2, and in 2009 the third edition occupied public spaces and emblematic sites within the city such as the Municipal Beach, the Regional Museum of Antofagasta and the Longshoreman’s Union Hall. Born in the city, Juan Castillo engaged in the itinerant project Minimal Baroque, a truck that went through the streets showing videos of people from Antofagasta recounting their dreams. A poster with the caption “SE VENDE” was a collective intervention that popped up in various parts of the city, particularly in Plaza Colón, where the words were repeated 400 times across the ground. The act was considered by the local press to be an anonymous protest against an underground parking development that had divided public opinion. In 2005 and 2007 the exhibitions Another Country I and II were staged, bringing works by local artists to the Catholic University Extension Center in Santiago, and the Valdivia Museum of Contemporary Art, as a way of building networks beyond the region. In 2009 the SE VENDE Collective was part of the Chilean Triennial, the event with which the country began its commemoration of its Bicentennial and which sought to invigorate and strengthen the regional scenes, reaching Valparaiso, Concepcion and Valdivia. Its contributors have since been invited to speak at conferences, talks, and to exhibit at places like Asia Contemporary Art NON and ZKU Berlin (Germany); International Photography Festival in Valparaiso (Chile); Matadero in Madrid and La Regenta on Grand Canary (Spain); Zamek Ujazdowski in Varsovia and the magazine Obieg (Poland); NC-arte in Bogota and Lugar a dudas in Cali (Colombia). 173
SACO SE VENDEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foremost project is the SACO Contemporary Art Festival, founded in 2012, which annually brings to Antofagasta art exhibitions and installations based upon a central theme, and which strives for direct contact between creatives and curators both local and non, as well as with producers of culture, artists, students and the public of the region. Furthermore, it involves outreach work in communities far from the city, where art is even less accessible. In the small Aymara town of Quillagua the program The Driest Place on Earth was developed as a sort of laboratory of ideas with the goal of documenting and publicizing the resistance this small community has shown in the face of contamination from mining, the contamination, the selling of its waters, immigration issues, and its general neglect in terms of state policies. Some of the present day issues addressed in different editions of the festival include: art, politics and environment; the relationship between Chile, Bolivia, and Peru; the general crisis in arts education in the country; immigration; love; and origin and myth. In 2017, Contemporary Art Week became an international festival, and starting with its 6th edition it has brought in artists to make interventions on the Melbourne Clark Historic Pier, a space that had already come to be used during the festival for some years prior. SACO also includes exhibitions by artists of different nationalities in galleries and other spaces throughout the city, who in addition to showing their work, offer workshops and talks, promoting the development of the local arts community. Among some of the former participants have been the Uruguayans Luis Camnitzer and Fernando Foglino, the Peruvian muralist Elliot TĂşpac, the Argentine LucĂa Warck-Mesiter and the Spaniard Francis Naranjo. Over these past several years a long list of curators, researchers, mediators and artists have been invited to contribute work and reflection, leaving their tracks in the Norte Grande. The creation of the ISLA Artistic Residency Center has allowed for the development of educational programs and artistic residencies. The latter has enabled people from different countries to come to the area to explore, investigate, and develop works in remote and isolated towns and villages. At the same time, ISLA promotes low cost exchange programs for organizers and hosts of residencies. For nearly four years, creatives from different parts of Chile and the world have come to ISLA, from art teachers to curators to emerging artists.
The Biennial From the driest corner of the world, far away from the capital, the most prestigious and widely-recognized contemporary art format will be inaugurated. In 2021, after nine editions, The Festival of Contemporary Art will become the first Biennial of Contemporary Art in Chile, continuing to push the limits of the city and of art with significant actions throughout the desert. www.proyectosaco.cl www.colectivosevende.cl
The Atacama Desert, a vast area in the north of Chile situated between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, offers direct contact with the natural world stripped of vegetation, and most of all with the universe itself, considering that it lies beneath the clearest skies found on the planet. SACO is a project born from that place â&#x20AC;&#x201C;a response to its surroundings that looks, listens and feels with the local community. It is not a mass product that installs itself in different places without consideration of the context. On the contrary, SACO is unique. This recipe uses scents from this sea, ingredients from this land, is kneaded into dough by a variety of local hands and baked under the desert sun. This place, acknowledged by NASA as the driest in the world, allows one to have what is, for many, probably the least expected encounter: the encounter with oneself. We believe in breaking down the doors of nineteenth-century knowledge, intruding on the exclusive ground in which the fields of knowledge remain, being congruous with the cutting edge of the contemporary world, while criss-crossing conceptual creativity with astronomy, the depth of an image with archaeology, and why not, existential reflection with mining. Todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s world is diverse, and so is the festival. Our big aim is to contribute to the autonomy of the individual beyond the inculcated structures and inherited disparities. Free beings are those who know how to think for themselves. Seems obvious, but it isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. One must train reflective and deep thinking as if it were a muscle. Here then, in front of you, as every year, is the entrance to the gym. Welcome.