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Year 1, NĂşm. 7 /december, january and february



Director Catalina Restrepo Leongómez Design Catalina Restrepo Leongómez Editor Daniel Vega

Photography: Cortesía de los artistas imágenes:

Contributors Octavio Avendaño Trujillo Gonzalo Ortega Daniel Vega

Acknowledgements: Gonzalo Ortega Carlos Castro Maria Fernanda Currea Tatiana Raís Juliana Steiner

Cover That which doesn’t suffer does not live, 2010 video still of an action documentation Carlos Castro 0


EDITORIAL Public Art; now and before.

payed for the funeral of a poor family’s son, dead by heroin overdose, in exchange for his tongue. Putting aside the fact that the piece today is probably worth much more than what the funeral costed, I find this very serious, since I can only imagine how the family feels about it. How would I feel as a mother, knowing that my son’s tongue is being sold as an artistic object, even though it represents my sorrow and loss? Another terrifying example to me is a well-known piece from Spanish artist Santiago Sierra, who payed some young men from Cuba to let him tattoo a line in their backs. I don’t understand how someone decides that a part of his work will scar somebody else for

Throughout the years, a lot has been said about the importance of art as a mean of generating political conscience in societies. The eighties and nineties witnessed the emergence of important artists like Francys Alÿs, Santiago Sierra, Tania Bruguera, Teresa Margolles and Doris Salcedo, among others, who have become great exponents of this genre (if we can call it such). However, their way of approaching society’s problems has been questioned many times, arguing a lack of human sensibility in their discourses. Although there are many examples, one of the most controversials to me is a project by Teresa Margolles called Tongue (2009), where she 1


life, not for pleasure or personal interest to we present his portfolio on this issue. be part of a piece, but for monetary need, Carlos is a Colombian artist who is for hunger. known internationally; using very acid commentary and some dark humor, he Being an artist doesn’t give you a license to delivers pieces that reflect the customs and run over people’s dignity. For someone to vices of Colombian society. He pictures take advantage of human disgrace in order and questions the attitudes of the citizens to make a career in art –which is reflected and forces them to acknowledge reality. in a monetary benefit- is a serious issue. Even though many projects may have an We also present Jimena Schlaepfer’s artistic validation, I believe the issue should portfolio, a Mexican artist who shows us be openly discussed. And it is discussed a pictorical/graphical proposal that evokes by Gonzalo Ortega and Carlos Aguirre, nature from a somewhat surrealistic vision. in a conversation featured in this seventh This issue has a singularity: it is the one with edition of LARmagazine. This issue more portfolio updates. We celebrate the focuses on reviewing the contrasting points success, and the very interesting production of view existing the political art sphere. in the last year, of artists Floria González, And to complement that vision, Octavio Juan Antonio Sánchez Rull, Christophe Avendaño shares with us a conversation on Bouffil, Julio Pastor, Carlos Pérez Bucio, the subject with artists Sandra Calvo and Javier Gutiérrez and Emilio Rangel. We Pedro Ortíz Antoranz. Also, Pilar Estrada, also bring you the first update of Gonzalo former director of Guayaquil’s Municipal Ortega’s curator portfolio. He shows us Museum and current director of the No images of ORBE, his latest exhibit in MUCA Mínimo gallery, tells us what has happened Roma, and registers of the conferences he in terms of politics in Ecuador’s art scene, gave in New Zealand last March. specifically in Guayaquil. Our special guest is arquitect Taro Zorrilla, Carlos Castro is an artist with very who shares with us some notes from firmly-established political connotations; Dream House, his master’s degree thesis, 2


a research about the mansions Mexicans build from construction blueprints sold by the big American department stores –such as Home Depot-, using the money from remittances. You will see that some of these houses remain unfinished, while others stand completed in the middle of fields and deserts, loyal to the dreams of those who worked hard on the other side of the border to build them in their native land. And on the same subject, but in a musical way, Daniel Vega, our dear LARMagazine editor, brings us an article about Public Enemy, an equally political and controversial hip-hop band. As usual, we hope you enjoy this issue and forward us your thoughts to livingartroom@ or

Catalina Restrepo Directora Living Art Room 3



Daniel Vega

Gonzalo Ortega ( México 1974) began his career as a curator of the Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil. During this period exhibitions with such recognized artists as Miguel Ventura, Gustavo Artigas and Hector Zamora, among others, took place. He studied his master’s degree in Kunst im Kontext (art in context) at the Universität der Künste Berlin, Germany. Nowadays he is the Coordinator of the Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Arte (University Museum of Sciences and Arts) MUCA Roma in Mexico City. Recently he successfully completed Residual, a public art project in Mexico City.

Daniel Vega (Mexico, 1984) studies English Literature in UNAM. He has contributed to publications from the Fondo de Cultura Económica as a proofreader, and made official translations in different proffesional areas, including contemporary art. He works as an educational link in Mexico’s Centro de la Imagen. Since May 2011, he is editor of the english and spanish versions of LARmagazine/ LARrevista.

Octavio Avendaño Trujillo

Octavio Avendaño ( Mexico, 1985) is an art critic, investigator and curator. He has contributed for the main cultural supplements in Mexican newspapers. In 2010 he was part of the Museo de Arte Moderno’s curatorial team, in Mexico. He publishes Cubo negro, his column, every Monday in Eje Central. He has worked as an administrator in Spain, Canada, United States and Turkey. He was a producer and host of the radio show Los Colores del Arte, coordinator in the Centro de Investigación de Lugar Cero, a project of Casa Vecina. He has also made collaborations for TEVE UNAM



CONTENT Interview P:06 CARLOS AGUIRRE by Gonzalo Ortega New Artist Portfolios P:20 Carlos Castro P:40 Jimena Schlaepfer ALL NATURE Article P:54 Variations upon the same subject by Octavio Avendaño Trujillo Artist Portfolio Update P:64 Carlos Pérez Bucio P:76 Javier Gutierrez P:92 Emilio Rangel P:104 Floria González P:120 Juan Antonio Sánchez-Rull P:132 Julio Pastor Interview P:146 PILAR ESTRADA by Catalina Restrepo Leongómez Curator Portfolio Update P:159Gonzalo Ortega RecommendedP:168 Tania Ximena ARTS ACTUELS BENNALE REUNION, France Special GuestP:172 Taro Zorrilla DREAM-HOUSE Brief Encyclopedia of Noise P:190 Public Enemy por Daniel Vega


ART and POLitics in MEXICO interview with carlos aguirre by Gonzalo Ortega

Colonia Roma, Mexico City 20.09.2011



Gonzalo Ortega:

originality, inventiveness, gags and fun, but not with social subjects. Anything I’d like to begin with a question that socially related was referred in a negative has to do with today’s contemporary art way. Sadly, that wrong idea helped form scene in Mexico, where a serious and many youngsters. articulated response against the heavy insecurity and delinquency problems If you visit Enrique Jezik’s exhibition – cannot be found. Some voices criticize which by the way, I think is excellent- you museums and culture supporting can hear arguments such as “if we live in associations for not exhibiting this a period of violence, why does MUAC kind of proposals, but others think promotes a show that has to do with it?”. this is because that kind of art work is Then, what’s it all about? What should not being made, that there’s a lack of one, as an artist, do? Should violent times production. Do you share this idea? produce flowers, angels and Carlos Aguirre:

ome s , e m ng ti st o n l i a a g r a fo ere w s r o ed t l a l r a c u c they t a h rt” w a c i t c “dida

There are two relevant issues to understand this: for a long time, some curators (Olivier Debroise among them) were against what they called “didactic art”, any project that implied a social commitment. I don’t understand in what sense that kind of production could be described as “didactic”, since this kind of art would be too narrative, obvious, and to certain instance, boring. In the past, not only in Mexico but in the rest of the world, social issues-related art had to do with

positive stuff? Do we need to motivate people into thinking positively? To me, that would mean creating a false version, something that has nothing to do with what’s going on in Mexico. A friend from Colombia was telling me that, in our country, only journalists touch that subject. Why? 7


I am very interested in that because yes, young people are current art is not discarding what’s going on; commited and shallow. they live it, suffer it, feel it, talk about it, but for some reason of its time. Do you believe that Latin do not show it on their work. American art’s boom has to do with Also if they take the task of proposing an exhibition about these topics, they find out how the international market is setting the pace and seducing young artists, that it’s a subject they are not supposed fresh from college, to seek scholarships, to address. Last year, Conaculta’s management banned the subject of today’s travel and exhibit in foreign countries? violence in an exhibition presented in New Many follow the dynamics of going into residences, exhibit in galleries York’s American Society. You could talk everywhere and sell their work; they about violence in different times, as in Mexico’s Religious War or the Revolution, simply have a different chip. What happens in Mexico does not become but you could not talk about today’s problems. It probably is Felipe Calderón’s a subject for their proposals. Do you see these as aspects which shouldn’t will to avoid these subjects so tourists necessarily have to be distanced? don’t get scared, as if they were some kind of fools. In news articles of different C.A: I think it has a lot to do with what’s sources I check daily (CNN, BBC, New going on. Art being produced now is not York Times, Al Jazeera) everything reported about Mexico is violence-related. commited and shallow. Gabriel Orozco’s influence in Mexico has being a very Why? Because it’s notable! strong one in that sense. Young artists show a strong snobbism on one side, and the anguish of a compulsive need to be G.O: Sure, art should not compensate successful. They’re not looking for their or become an opposite pole to the political movements that are being lived, 15 minutes of fame but think that, if they don’t achieve them soon, they probably but precisely evidence a critical view 8


never will. Now, the market exercises its influence on a negative way; those with a possibility to buy art at high prices are, in a way, negating reality. They negate the reality of what’s going on in the world and of the reason why they have amassed so much money. There is a very important double factor, which has led the medium to develop as it does today.

basically say that, while I was working with symbols, she started working with signs. I think that sometimes she might need to reach a more reflexive level. Her work is very intuitive, which is good, but I think that artists in general start working with intuition and then reflect upon what we are proposing. I believe that Mexican artists should be more reflective. Now, that is not easy. In my case, for example, I’ve G.O: Some artists who touch political been working with political issues since issues are sometimes judged –fair or the late seventies, and have gone through unfairly- as opportunists, for example, many stages. Some critics would like by talking about kidnappings and political art to fall closer to a determined women-killings in Ciudad Juárez. There position. I think of Alberto Hijar, who are some voices who severely criticize totally disqualified any politically incorrect Teresa Margolles for working with the elements in artistic proposals. At that time, subject of death; not for interpretatively there used to be a very strong pressure referring to death, but for directly from the Communist Party, almost an working with it. On a different angle, obligation, so that art didn’t touch those there is also a group of people who subjects. I always stayed aside, never thinks now is precisely the moment of wanting to belong to any party. I even was treating those issues. In your point of invited by other parties to take part as an view, what’s the difference between organic member and as an artist for their legitimate, worried and critical political proposals. I think that would work for a art, and opportunist art? graphic designer who tries to visualize these kinds of proposals, or maybe handle C.A: I really like Teresa Margolles’ case; I them like propaganda, but as an artist admire her work. I worked before with the I’ve always thought that you must keep subject of death, but she took it one step a separated and individual opinion from forward with very good results. You could third parties. 9


I must admit this has evolved a lot. Today is not easy to touch political subjects. Working with them forces you to be very subtle and work a lot with your own language, a contemporary one, since using the same one from the seventies would be absurd. Using images from that time (the raised fist, for example) may seem wonderful to me, but would have a lot more to do with pop-art. Besides, today we have a series of technologies that allow us to produce, for example, an engraving that resembles linoleum with the help of lasers.

handling a subject directly as some kind of accusation. The key is to first draw the attention visually, then invite the audience to reflect upon the subject one wishes to address. G.O: It is very important not to use an overtly complex language when talking about the political moment, because you are trying to find a way of communication that many people can understand. Of

tist r a n a ght but as u o h t ways l a e eep a v ’ k I t s u ou m y ual d t i a v i h d t n nd i a e t a ird h t separ m o n fr opinio s. partie

Then, if one knows and have learned to control technologyassociated languages, it may help the younger audience to relate, and make it a little easier to build a piece. It gives you many resources and information. If one, on the other side, uses the aesthetics of engraving or ancient painting, whose language is already obsolete, the results may not be very good, unless you’re aiming for that. Everything has to do with the treatment given to the subject. I think that today, for example, recurring to the sense of humor may result much more effective than

course, this does not mean one should refrain from making intelligent and critical commentaries. Do you consider that language must be simplified in order to reach a larger number of people? Do you think that a museum is the right place to show political art? 10


know Chapo Guzman’s real name, so if the country’s leading drug lord’s identity is not known, imagine what happens with the rest. When I showed the piece, I centered a series of photographs from sensationalist press displaying the faces of many drug lords, as well as their victims, usually death and slated. That is when the people’s gesture changed: no more smiles. It has always been my interest to generate a game of attention-reaction. First drawing the attention, then showing things.

C.A: I go to museums and galleries because that has always been my field as an artist. I have made work with marginal groups and in places far from museums, but it is really hard to have good press. Last year I worked with the Francisco Villa Popular Front, and with people from the Tepito neighborhood before. Since 2006, I’ve been compiling material from the media, thanks to Felipe Calderon’s strategy against organized crime, and to the huge amount of nicknames from drug lords that have been surfacing.

G.O: One of the important qualities of your work is precisely to always keep a current language, one that makes sense with its specific historical moment. With this in mind: what do you think is the main transformation that has been made in Mexican public art?

Last year I made a piece that included 1200 drug lord nicknames. When I presented it I was very interested in the people’s reaction: they would stand in the entrance and start looking at the work, then start laughing because some of the nicknames are very funny. I relied on the nicknames not to give the work some kind of anecdotic notion, but due to my interest in the way the press handles the subject. The nicknames are very important for drug lords, since they use it to conceal their real names. They can keep their identities and real names without a problem, because the press identifies them with their nicknames. I mean, few people

C.A: I think that the most difficult thing to understand about my generation has been our aesthetic layout. The way we understand that aesthetic –which was a youth aesthetic- has radically changed. In my personal experience, learning to use new technologies was not as hard as understanding the transformation of that aesthetic. I have always thought it inevitable to become old, but as an artist, 11


you recently exhibited in Laboratorio de Arte Alameda and MUAC, even though they came from historical research and a very detailed extraction of information from books and newspapers, the way G.O: It seems to me that many youngsters can understand your recent you presented them was very accessible work without a problem. Like the pieces and clear for the majority. one is forced to keep a young mind. That is a most difficult thing, to be an old man trying to think as a young one.



C.A: There’s a story I find quite fun. A young curator was checking out work from artists in the gallery that I work with. In the end, she chose one of my pieces, but when she found out about my age she changed her mind, because she only wanted to invite artists younger than 30. So I told her there was no problem, that she could take two pieces.

G.O: And certainly there are no spaces for showing these kinds of things. A moment ago you were talking about censorship.

G.O: Could this mindset of working with young artists be described as a trait of current cultural politics in Mexico? Maybe of the whole world? I understand you found the tale funny, but I find this serious on a deeper context.

C.A: My work has been censored several times here, in Cuba, USA and other places. There’s a long, boring list of censorship. G.O: There is evidently no open space where the youth can have access to these kind of contents and encourage their political thinking, not only from the artist’s point of view. Do you think there is an element of fear in the new generations?

C.A: Sure, I believe it’s important to motivate and stimulate the youth, but we, artists from earlier generations, have a difficult struggle because of the lack of support for us. Some artists of my generation were able to build and establish a career, and now have a strong market – specially in a hyper-conservative country like Mexico-, but when you are an artist who constantly takes risks and looks for new roads and languages, it becomes more complicated.

C.A: No, I think there’s an element of prejudice. Going back to Gabriel Orozco, I think many young artists are influenced by him. Gabriel achieved two things: 13


first, he has about ten really excellent pieces, and second, he made the world take notice of a Mexican contemporary artist. For my generation, things were very different, since it was so difficult to get exhibits outside the country. Everything that had to do with Mexican production was associated to Oaxaca. Gabriel opened the road for this possibility, and a space for artists that are now very successful internationally. G.O: This situation has its pros and cons. We were just talking about the possibilities young Latin American artists have today, to travel to different countries and have new experiences. This is a good thing, but it also diverts attention into more superficial issues and, in a way, undermines the reality of what’s going on today in Mexico. C.A: There is a very important occurrence. When I was young, I had information about who were the important artists in the world and remembered their names. I knew who was doing what, and if I saw them on a magazine, I paid attention. That hasn’t happened to me for a long time, since many young artists have their 15-minute fame and disappear afterwards. 14


On the other hand, with globalization, you will always be a Mexican artist trying to be international.

G.O: So, in your opinion, what should the main qualities of a contemporary artist be? Should there be a commitment about being political?

G.O: Back to the subject of violence, it seems to me that in Mexico a lot of media refer to it in a very tasteless, C.A: If he cares about it, if he has a irresponsible and opportunist way. conscientious and a critical attitude, then You just need to see how many papers yes. If he’s not living in that moment, if graphically show horrible accidents. he’s out in the stratosphere, then no. I don’t But beyond the irresponsibility and believe on the saying: “there’s no more morbidity that characterizes them, it would seem that these since many artists have papers are afraid their 15-minute fame and to talk about the violence generated by disappear afterwards, sadly organized crime.

most of them young artist.

C.A: Not only that, but there’s also a taunting attitude. I believe none of the readers of these kinds of magazines would like to be on the cover, where the victims are denigrated seriously. The headlines make fun of what happened to the person. There’s a very denigrating attitude towards them. By the way, I have a very good collection of these headlines, published by diaries associated to Reforma and El Universal.

route than ours”. I’m more convinced by the artist showing what he is living; if he perceives a violent context and tries to dress it, he knows why he does it. Also, there are many subjects besides present day violence.




Carlos Castro (Colombia) (MĂŠxico) Jimena Schlaepfer



Carlos Castro

imperial hymns. There was also a water meter -whose metal lids are commonly stolen in the city- containing a trout. The intention of all these works as a group was to emphasize issues that have to do with the idiosyncrasies of Colombian society (in Bogota specifically), and with typical attitudes of this culture that not necessarily represent their usual civilized behavior. Carlos portrays what Colombians are by nature and inheritance. He meditates on society’s behavior not seeking to make a judgment, but wanting to say: “this is what we are… why hide it?”

Carlos Castro’s work (Bogotá, 1976) usually consists of projects that combine different media such as painting, video, installation and objects, allowing him to work a common subject from different perspectives. In his latest exhibition, Looking for what is not missing (2011), presented at Bogotá’s LA Gallery, he displayed the stuffed body of a street dog sacrificed by the municipal kennel, resembling the she-wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus; simultaneously, a series of musical cylinder machines –built from knives seized by the police- played 21


Although Carlos’s work tends to refer specifically to the Colombian social context, one can find similarities with other Third World countries which share similar problems such as poverty and lack of education. Like Mexico, for example, where people in the subway ask for money by rubbing their backs on a blanket full of broken glass in a fakir-like manner. Likewise, there are people in Bogota who daily sweep the footbridges and ask people for a “voluntary contribution”. This happens in countries where people resort to begging in order to survive. In a series of watercolors titled Talking Wound (2011), Carlos creates an analogy between the Nineteenth Century chromes that depicted the Creole’s trades with the useless jobs you can find every day in Bogotá. These images make us think not only of how creative people that don’t have the necessary studies to take a betterpaid job are forced to be, but also in that ever-present feature from our culture, the same as the other countries that share with us stories of Colonialism.

connect with the work from a funny side first. His pieces could never be separated from an acid but refined humor that also defines him as a person, but this is not his only intention. He plans very well the message that he wants to transmit and at the same time does not pretend to control the reaction it produces: laughter, anger, repulsiveness, etc. Like in 2005, when his action titled Department of Culture was not well received by other Colombian artists; he copied their work in small formats and with cheap materials to sell them on the street, the same street where the real pieces were being sold in an art fair. But many others liked the action, since it was clear that he was looking for that kind of reaction from the artists, and gave their projects a boost. Besides, these were more than reproductions: each one had specific comments about the work itself and the artists. At the same time, this project questioned the price of the pieces, copyrights, the informality of the art market, the concept of a ”unique” piece, and how hard can it be to live from art in a country like Colombia.

Carlos is very conscientious that his pieces, because of the way they are set out, can be associated with humorous elements. He acknowledges that the spectator can 22


Untitled. 2011 Water meters, live trout


Harvest,2010 Human teeth, corn


Legion, 2011 Giant music box that plays a Roman empire war melody. 69 confiscated knives by Bogota´s police in the downtown area.



Empire, 2011 Stuffed dog, bronze sculptures





Talking wound, 2011 Watercolors depicting unuseful self-sustaining jobs in Bogota


Eugenio, 2011

JazmĂ­n Sabanero , 2011

Aliso, 2011 Urban intervention. Photograph, recycled metal frame




Colectivo compuesto por Sara Eliassen (Nueva York), Carlos Castro (Bogotรก) y Jevijoe Vitug (Las Vegas). Building a Nation is a working group involved in developing the concept using various methods and strategies to investigate the notions of nation building and cultural hybridity.



Hook, 2007 This piece reconstructs a popular Colombian game, in the style of Louis XV, where participants throw metal rings into the mouth of a metal frog. The public is invited to play a part in the game; the winner takes a painting from the exhibition as a prize. Assemblage



Indian ink (2007) Reconstruction of a popular pre-Hispanic Colombian where metal ball are thrown to set off fireworks in the style of Louis XV. The stained glass resembles that which is in the Notre Dame Cathedral Wood, stained glass, clay 36

31 until now regular, 2007 Motor-operated Baccarat lamp in a continuous pendulum movement spanning twelve feet Lamp, mechanical motor.


Fox Hunting, 2010 Video installation The video documents stray dogs in Colombia eating a figure of a fox made of meat.




From the series “Mutantes aeromarinos�, 2011

Jimena Schlaepfer

Jimena Schlaepfer All Nature

through the creation of installations produced on different spaces, using only paper, cardboard and ceramics. The characters that appear on the installations/ interventions are also included in her drawings and embroidery designs on cardboard. She shows a need to continue telling stories about this fantastic world through drawings, where all her ideas come from before becoming objects with volume or three-dimensional scenes.

Jimena Schlaepfer’s (México, 1982) work includes different formats like drawing, sculpture, ceramic, embroidery, video and photography, all of them applied towards an always common subject: nature as a source of visual and metaphorical possibilities. This nature becomes a fantasy- plagued scenery where animals and plants share a secret life. Jimena uses fantasy and fiction as resources to analyze and understand reality in a confrontational, critical way, but also as a form of evasion and idealization.

In all cases, Jimena’s work is the result of very long and paused handcrafted processes; she has a very strong idea of the craftsman who specializes in a technique that requires certain mastery, time and hand dexterity to be created.

Over recent years she has been building -both in her mind and in the real worldan imaginary microcosmos inhabited by enchanted beings, mostly animals. This micro world has been shaped 41

Jimena Schlaepfer


Jimena Schlaepfer


De la serie “Sociepez”, 2010

Jimena Schlaepfer


Jimena Schlaepfer

From the series “Sociepez”, 2010


Bajo el agua, 2009

Princesas de oto単o, 2007

Pรกjaro trueno, 2010

Series Constalecion, 2007

Series Mutantes aeromarinos�, 2011

Jimena Schlaepfer



upon the



With today’s art strategies, its relationship with politics has been redefined, being By Octavio Avendaño Trujillo progressively more evident that it’s in the process where its political nature resides. Also, its lampoonist traditions have been substituted by collaborative and investigative strategies. That is where my interest in approaching this subject from different points of view was born, and to have an informal chat with artists Sandra Calvo (from Mexico City) and Pedro Ortíz Antoranz (from Barcelona) in the Salón Madrid Cantina, in downtown Mexico City. 54

Octavio: I have a quote from Foucault in mind that goes “power is really an open haze, whose only problem resides in having an analysis screen that allows us to analyze it”. I bring it to case so we can discuss politics through the art screen. Without a doubt, this screen has been different; I think in the tradition of lampoonist art comparatively with our present situation, where art and politics intertwine with interdisciplinary strategies, becoming an open field.

Sandra: It’s an important leap. The artist relies on people that can give him not a frivolous, box-office foundation about politics, but a solid one. Artists like Enrique Jezik, Iván Edheza, where I clearly see a concern for workshopping, for dialoguing with people who is related to political issues. And you can see that in their work, since it goes beyond the fashion theme in politics, and its clear that their pieces are artistic without any journalist, pamphletlike aspects, which I think is a current tendency. I don’t doubt that, in different moments, art was involved in other disciplines, and that there even was a dialogue between them, but today there is a mayor concern of involving people who knows about these subjects. An example is the course we are developing at MUAC: Localizations and deployments, critical constellations about art and politics; we got urbanists, anthropologists, philosophers, etc., giving much more solid results. I don’t say that the artist is unable to pass political messages, but that he sometimes looks naïve when trying to do so, and the support of different disciplines makes his artistic work more serious. 55

Pedro: One of the differential elements of this generation is, relatively, to have fewer problems when integrating discourses irrelevant to art. I believe it is clear that this discourses emerge in the art pieces of today. Formally, it is easier for an anthropologist’s discourse to be featured in a museum today, something that hardly happened in the first or second vanguards; there were many conferences, but these were formalized through more classic expressions in art, as paintings and sculptures. The emergence of new formats in the last 30 years allows the discourse to flow.

Octavio: And not only artists, but agents of the scene such as curators. I think about Yutzil Cruz’s project, Obstinado Tepito, whose processes and gestures were articulated into politics –not into the formality of the work- and in the collaboration between different agents, like anthropologists. Another important thing about this are the strategies of some artists for using schemes or diagrams.

Sandra: For example: Walid Ra’ad, an artist whose body of work clearly has political overtones, works a lot with anthropologists. One of them is Vyjayanthi Rao, who prepares the theorical frame, pre, during and post; Walid, with all his formal, intellectual and conceptual capacity, relies on this to achieve a convincing and forceful work. With time, we are having more collaborative programs between artists and theoreticians, so the whole process is seen as a piece, from the first collaborative steps to the formal moment. Another example is Harun Farocki. In one of his latest exhibits in Germany she placed words, notes and schemes about the entire political process that gave birth to his work. In the end, that was not only considered the progress of the piece, but the piece itself. 56

Pedro: Art in the last 50 years has progressively consumed and obliterated the frames that held it captive, which is why it is suddenly not strange to see a theoretical scheme deployed in an art room.

Octavio: In our context I highlight Jota Izquierdo with Yellow Capitalism and its diagrams, strategies that bring forth reflection and contain, without a doubt, the aesthetics of the ideas. Pedro: Sure, I believe what artists can contribute is a reflection on the scheme as a way of thinking and its aesthetics, the aesthetics of ramification of ideas, or of the visualization of ideas in the bidimensional –or even tridimensional- plane, a plane well-known by them. So it’s not strange to see a sculptor working with the scheme as a sculpture itself. Art has reinforced itself with a series of new and very promising strategies. Now comes the physical moment of the political that, when it happens, will activate these strategies in a very different way than those we saw in the eighties and nineties.

Octavio: Yes, because today it has become a strategy of relationships and collaborations. Sandra: Clearly. Participative art is more popular each day, relational art; I have a lot of criticism about it: what is participative art? What is relational art? Is all the applause going to condescending and good-willed pieces?


Octavio: Those ideas of the artist classifying himself as formal or social, theoretical or artist, are false dichotomies that have vanished because of the gestures potentialized by them.

Pedro: Richard Serra himself works from the industrial gestures, objects that live in the working man’s universe, materials of the industries of his times. He works with asphalt, a material that transformed the world. He has been able to incorporate his times inside his formal language. I believe we as contemporary artists are able to work again in a formal way without feeling guilty about it.

Octavio: Like you, who made an investigation about objects, public spaces and gestures, incorporating an awareness in conscience. Pedro: All artistic processes are conscience-raising tasks all the time. There are two cores in our work, speaking in formal terms: the investigation of objects and the investigation of space, seen through our field of work, which is public space. Minor Monuments is an inquest on objects produced by informal economy, public spaces. The second project, the current one, is Savage Signs, which has to do with actions and gestures produced by these objects. A lot of tool-developing work and material appropriation.


Sandra: This work is created with Mexico City as a basis; we decided to explore a city that we know thoroughly, and we know its social dynamics. It is focused in recuperating those small gestures that make the space visible and activate it at the same time. We work a lot with street merchants, loaders, people who move from their works to their homes. We make registers, small spots in close-up that go from five to ten minutes, signaling the gesture, avoiding different lectures that could go into the pious side. What does it mean for a woman to spend six hours moving, three hours from her house to her workplace and vice versa? How do we show this without making the reality obvious? How to show a man reinforcing a plastic bag for three days instead of buying one that would result cheaper? How does an industrial object becomes a personalization of the object? Octavio: That personalization of the object is a very strong political act that has to do with relationships between power and the citizen, of certain economical systems. It is a clear example that the relationship between art and politics doesn’t necessarily have to do with ideologies, specific facts, but with gestures. It is a very open relationship that sometimes is not very well understood. Pedro: It’s the dictatorship enforced by visual arts that, with time, forces a wider opening without divisions; music, for example, with sonic art. Many students are musicologists who nonetheless feel excluded from their own field, they feel that political questions never arise. One of them was telling me about how many sonic pieces are political, a question that left me a little out of place and forced me to ask it around. 59

Sandra: Some artists look for art to stop being local, since those worries are global. People that live them every day have the capacity to get in that global, not peripheral, discourse.

Octavio: We must connect with the peripheries.

Pedro: Sometimes we find ourselves with people from Brasil and El Cairo in the same table, and we don’t feel the need to talk about local issues; we can leave aside the folk aspect. We start seeing ourselves with our similarities, like Mexico City’s public space with that of different cities. Octavio: Mexico City and Istambul, for example. Sandra: Sure! Pedro: That idea of a certain XIX Century metropolis must be abandoned so we can look forward to new configurations of the city. Who will problematize? The object becomes a subject. Octavio: A political transmutation? Sandra: The watcher being watched. 60



Carlos Pérez Bucio (Mexico) (Argentina) Javier Gutierrez Emilio Rangel (Mexico) (Mexico) Floria González Juan Antonio Sánchez- Rull (Mexico) (Mexico) Julio Pastor



carlos perez bucio





















Gato en el JardĂ­n, 2010

Game over, 2011


Pasa hasta en las mejores familias, 2011 80



El inquisidor, 2010


Sui Generis Planet (detail), 2011



Sui Generis Planet, 2011 83

Armi単o, 2011

Tsunami, 2011



Nada como unas buenas vacaciones en el caribe, 2011



Invierno 2011



En estas navidades, 2011






GenealogĂ­a, 2011

GenealogĂ­a, 2011

GenealogĂ­a, 2011























Before After, 2011


Before After, 2011

My Monsters 2010

My Monsters 2010

My Monsters 2010


My Monsters 2010







Places 2011

Places 2011

Places 2011




Places 2011



Places 2011


From Above, 2010


Places 2011







Agua para todos, 2010




Agua para todos, 2010


The memory project, 2011





Sin TĂ­tulo, 2010


Sin Título, 2010






Interview with Pilar Estrada, one of the directors of No MĂ­nimo, a contemporary art space in Guayaquil.


(mainly IN Guayaquil) BY CATALINA RESTREPO 144

Catalina: What could you tell us about the political art scene in Ecuador in comparison with, say, what happened in the 1960’s or 1970’s? How has it changed?

cón 2000”, the great park that borders the Guaya River, which is a very large body of water that is considered the city’s lungs. Pirates and merchants came through it,

Pilar: but it lost its essence in relation to Well, there are two totally diwhat Guayaquil used to be. Now it’s fferent scenes between Guaknown as “Guayami” yaquil and Quito, the places that produce more. There was a much more political moment in Quito and thanks to it we are considered a coasthat is starting to wind down. Artists are tal city. The place used to be uninhabitaturning to other interests, although there ble; you got robbed at night, there were drug selling, prostitutes, etc. Since it was are still some projects going on. renovated, it has an easy, familiar ambient, Between 2000 and 2007, artists were but it lost its essence in relation to what working from a very particular event that Guayaquil used to be. Now it’s known as happened in Guayaquil called “The urban “Guayami”, since it follows an aesthetic regeneration of the city”. This meant trans- model similar to the North American, speforming public spaces into new areas that cifically Miami. can be accessed now, but used to be dangerous. Urban regeneration arrives from The new jetty’s has gates open from 6 AM neighborhood to neighborhood, using the to midnight, and they reserve the right of same visual elements and turning the city admission. Prostitutes, transvestites and into a very homogenous place. public sellers cannot enter. It is a very troubled space. The city was never used This change brought positive things for a to take care of their public spaces and it great number of people and negative for is starting to do it. The renovation of the some others, like the loss of certain iden- jitty began in the year 2000 and has kept tity in urban spots. For example, “Male- going progressively. It is a 2km space with 145

a safe and comfortable ambient; you can see families there, but at the same time, an exercise of citizenship is being violated. For example, you cannot lie down to take a sun bath, sit on the benches with your legs crossed or kiss passionately. It is a public space with rules and codes, something

Catalina: How have artists reacted to this space?

Pilar: There’s a piece from Lorena Peña, which she made in the Open Air Art Festival during October- the month of Guayaquil’s independence. The project was shown in the alternative arts category and showed figures It is a public space with rules and and silhouettes crafted in black codes, something that’s very wood, showing scenes of all difficult for artists to accept that is now prohibited in the dock: people in bicycles, skathat’s very difficult for artists to accept, tes, or walking their dogs. She hung those since they feel their rights are being affec- silhouettes in the trees, like shadows. The project is called Shadows Only. ted.

Another interesting piece was a collective project called The Cleansing, exhibited in 2004 in the Cuenca Biennial, consisting of a series of pink tiles made of resin containing millions of crickets. The the housefronts tiles are architectonical ed with colors elements characteristic in the A go-gó from the city and with a brand, although very special form, even them remain destroyed though they actually the other side have nothing to do with the city. Every winter, a

Malecón 2000


plague of crickets arrive in Guayaquil with the first rains. The collective encapsulated the crickets into the resin tiles and built a corridor, an obligatory passage to enter the Biennial’s building. The project evidently refers to the process of urban regeneration, a process that is only a sort of make-up for the city, since it really doesn’t help to remove the plague and shit.

Talking about m a k e - u p , another situation that happened recently in Guayaquil, in the sector known as Las Peñas – which is also supposed to be part of the urban regeneration-, is that all the housefronts were painted with colors inspired in the A go-gó bubble gum brand, although some of them remain destroyed on the other side of the housefronts were paint- wall. A lot of people wancolors inspired dered about this disguise –imposed by the state, ó bubble gum an authority that decided although some of those were the new colors destroyed on for a zone that used to be a side of the wall. traditional part of the city. The reasons for choosing

these colors or particular zones are not clear, and of course the questions began to arise. A decree was emitted, saying that the regenerated zones could not be painted with the following colors: duck yellow, parakeet green, passion red, sky blue, etc. So one wonders, what the hell is passion red or duck yellow? I mean, you more or less know what they’re talking about, but those are not colors. An artist created this beautiful piece named I am the Forbidden, showing great walls painted with the forbidden colors inside the urban regeneration. This caused many discussions about the absurd of certain decisions imposed to the city by the state. Another piece I found very interesting was from Cuban artist Saidel Brito, who has lived in Guayaquil for the last 12 years. He installed a 6 mt. tall mega camera in a 360° rotating structure on the dock. As I told you before, that used to be a dangerous zone and is now caged; the spectator is safe within it, but not free. Meanwhile, on the other side of the park there’s no security but there is freedom, freedom to make out, to lie on the


floor, to do whatever you want. So this monumental camera with a 360° vision kept watching the whole time and evidencing the contrast of what was going on in the opposite side of the street. An omnipresent eye watching inside, while if you got killed outside nobody would even know. Catalina: Can you give us another example? Pilar: There was a piece from Juan Carlos León not directly about the urban regeneration, but about the way they apply make-up to certain areas of the city. During the Open Air Electronic Arts Festival, he invited people walking on the dock to

emblematic monuments of the most important regenerated zones. He documented the whole action, for example, next to the Bolívar and San Martín monuments, in front of the city Town Hall. These constituted a brilliant piece that displayed the contrast between what the disguise of the city represents opposed to the reality that they the spectator is safe within it, pretend to hide more and but not free more. A while ago, photographer Ricardo Bohórquez realized an action, placing, during the same festival, 7 square meters of grass on the dock, where people were allowed to do whatever they

make small-scale copies of their cane houses. These neighborhoods are called “invasions” in Ecuador. The artist collected all these little houses and put them next to 148

wanted. Supposedly there are 7 square meters of land for every citizen in Guayaquil. The artist proposed that people use that space to take a sunbath, smoke, etc. They were 7 meters of freedom. The artist made a brilliant photographic documentation of the project.

paint donkeys in a piece of paper, which he pasted around the city. This evidently was a response to the horses. The morning after the donkeys were ripped, but the artist placed new ones every day. The register of the project is awesome, especially since many of them made reference to political matters and situations that were going on in the city, mocking the supposed culture that was being brought to the people.

Catalina: What about the colored-donkeys Project? How did it go from an innocent idea to something that created such outrage? Pilar: Not long ago, a colored-horses exhibition was shown in Guayaquil’s public space, similar to the painted cows from other countries. This event generated a very interesting discussion because the horses were painted in oils, a material that was damaged when people touched it. They were actually damaged and many people complained. They believe that this is a public art initiative, when in reality it’s far from it. It is a random decoration inserted on the public space, presented to people as art just because the little horses were painted. Then Jorge Jaen, total outsider, invited artist friends, writers and poets, to

Catalina: How does the municipality figure functions in art? When you were director of this museum, did you suffer any kind of censorship?


–a sensationalist one- started illustrating the most horriEl Extra newspaper showcased the most horrible things a human being is ble things in the world with cartoons, since they were capable of doing in a funny manner. not allowed to publish photographs of guts and stuff. Graciela Guerrero proposed Pilar: The municipality is a very problematic fi- in her work, Extra Extra, to take the rawest gure because it has a very short sighted vi- cartoons and turn them into sculpture. One sion of art. The municipality manages one of them was called He raped him the whole of the most important museums in the city, day in a car. the Guayaquil Municipal Museum. I was the director for a year and a half, and I successfully avoided three cases of censorship: one for a political problem, the other for a sexual theme, and the third for being “ephemeral”. The latter, a prized work of Oscar Santillán, was shown in Salón de Julio, known as the hall of art. They didn’t want to pay the prize because it was, they said, an ephemeral piece. Those were the three hardest conflicts I faced. The sex-themed piece was a pretty serious issue. The piece was from Graciela Guerrero and referenced a decree that prohibits newspapers and other media to show explicit violence in its contents. El Extra, the most read newspaper in the country

This is what was happening: El Extra newspaper showcased the most horrible things a human being is capable of doing in a funny manner. I must say that it’s disgusting to see photographs of explicit violence, but at least you are confronted with

Graciela Guerrero, Extra, Extra


reality as it is. This piece was included in playlist, an exhibit presented in Cuenca in November 2009. Twelve days after the opening, someone close to the city authorities complained because the museum was supposedly showing pornography. I received a call from Town Hall asking me

Above him was the Mayor. So this director wanted to establish three rules: a formal one, for only accepting bidimensional paintings. For years, the participating work has broken this format, playing conceptually and going further. Fortunately I was able to stop that initiative. Another rule I successfully stopped was to prohibit work that directly offended the township. The third one prohibited including works with explicit sexual content: that was the one that remained, because of the scandal produced with Graciela Guerrero’s pieces.

Graciela Guerrero, Extra, Extra

to remove the piece. For the 2010 Salón de Julio, a summoning was made, trying to establish new rules. I was able to negotiate two of them, but as director of the museum I had a boss, the director of Culture and Civic Promotion. 151

In 2009 there was no big ruckus about this episode, maybe because I was still director of the museum and many artists knew me and my work; I believe they respected me and knew I was fighting to stop it.

I quit on October 2010, and in July 2011, the director of Culture and Civic Promotion appropriated the subject. He made great news about the fact that he was going to apply a new politics that prohibited work with explicit sexual content, an

idea that was there since 2009 and that he used to give himself credit. Obviously there was a big uproar about it.

river. It is a project from a guy who works with graffiti and urban art, who defines himself as a “nonceptual” artist, although I think he is the most conceptual of all.

Lawyers and artists got together and presented a lawsuit against the Township of GuaLawyers and artists got together yaquil for interfering with and presented a lawsuit against freedom of speech. A debate the Township of Guayaquil for instarted, and for the first time it terfering with freedom of speech. reached beyond the art world. It became a subject that was in everybody’s mouth; there were encounters to discuss it. In the end it was very interesting because His name is Daniel Adum, and he rents it went further into a social plane. It was that house for 50 dollars a month. The also important to evidence the diminishing Municipality is actually called “The Very of the scene, reaching spaces not properly Illustrious Municipality of Guayaquil”. related to art. Inspired in that name, he created his own space, where he presents all the projects Catalina: rejected by the Township, including works Now tell me a little bit about La Muy with explicit sexual content rejected by the Ilustre Imundicipalidad, a project that has museum, and the colored donkeys. generated a lot of controversy, one I’ve heard you address before. This project was born when the government started erasing all the graffitis, covering them up with a gray square of Pilar: painting. As a response, Daniel Adum La Muy Ilustre Inmundicipalidad is an old created an urban intervention collective, house in the Urdesa residencial zone next Litro por Mate, whose title refers to a liter to the settled estuary, which is the arm of a of painting per person. Each of them took 152

the color they wanted and painted squares, a gesture that pretended to revert the mechanism, to erase the graffitis and turn them into paintings. They painted walls of 300 and 500 meters around the city. It looked beautiful.

placed on many of the censored walls with the legend: “censored by moustache the fascist”, referring to the mayor. Someone from the township put a lawsuit on Daniel Adum for this. He was declared innocent, since the investigation was not done right: he was accused of doing the colored donkeys, a project everybody knew had been made by Jorge Jaen. He was also accused of creating “Moustache the Fascist”, but that also hadn’t been him, but a member of Litro por Mate.

The township emitted a notice saying that whoever had information on the graffiti painters who damage the city would be rewarded with a thousand dollars, anyone who had photographs, videos, whatever. This happened before they started painting the walls with gray. This went What Daniel did was paint the porch public in radio and different newspa- of his house with white stripes and gray pers. When the artists began to paint the stars over the gray color of censorship, walls with color, the matter became the imitating Guayaquil’s flag, which is blue, most absurd thing in the world, and tur- white and blue with three white stars. ned into a pursuit. The painting of the walls took place in It was also important to evidence different spots, including the the diminishing of the scene, rented house in Urdesa. This reaching spaces not properly project didn’t really offend related to art. anyone, but the township ordered the walls to be painted gray anyway. There are penises and vulgar words painted all across the city and that’s still there, But inside his house, where authorities but Daniel Adum’s graffitis were era- couldn’t mess, he painted walls and roof sed. After this, someone from Litro por with many colors. All of these just happeMate created a stencil character that was ned about five months ago. 153

Catalina: Did the artist already have problems with the authorities by then? Pilar: Yes, Daniel Adum had problems with the township years before, for another graffiti project named the Chanchocracy. There was an e-mail flying around –that nobody knew where it came from- saying that those graffitis had been made by a gang called the Latin Kings, who were taking revenge from the good people in town and that the red chanchitos (little pigs) meant danger, the black ones death and the white ones rape. This started to go around and schools closed, it was all over the news. It was a very simple act: paint little pigs, but it had psychotic ramifications, what tells of an absolutely paranoid society. Daniel finally recognized it had been his idea, and the mayor ordered him to erase all the pigs. The same mayor that had been reelected many years and who represents the Christian Party, a conservative right wing party. Catalina: Changing the subject, tell us how does the 154

Mostacho El Facho

Cuenca Biennial works and how political it is. Pilar: It was originally created by Eudoxia Estrella, a lady who loved art and painting and who probably is about 85 years old. The first Biennial was made in 1987, and was focused on paintings. I think around the sixth edition, different formats were included. It’s not a naturally politic biennial, but there definitely have been very political pieces in some of the countries’ curatorships. There has been work by José Alejandro Restrepo, Ricardo González-Elias -a piece that presented Fidel

Castro’s book History will absolve me on Braille. Teresa Margolles also participated, when she had just begun making her shrouds.

Catalina: You told us a little about certain projects, specifically in Guayaquil, but are there other important artists or art collectives with political content in Ecuador’s history?

Up until last edition, the tenth one, it was treated as a very conventional biennial, with curatorships from different countries. This Pilar: year, a new format was proposed with three There is a very interesting Project named general curatorships: one made by the team Al Zur-ich, from the group Tranvía Cero, from Ecuador, another one by Fernando that is worth discussing. They do work Castro Flores from Spain, and another one between artists and community in Quito’s by Brasilian Agnaldo Farias. I would say it southern area, where the poorest neighis a fairly diverse biennial, although its con- borhoods are. notations are not naturally political. But it The La Limpia is an institution that reflects It was a very simple act: paint lit- collective also what is hap- tle pigs, but it had psychotic rami- worked the political matter at pening in the fications, what tells of an absosome point, as political world. lutely paranoid society did Juan Carlos There didn’t León, Graciela use to be a MiGuerrero, Marnistry of Culture in Ecuador, it was created on the current celo Aguirre (through his paintings in the administration. I could talk for hours about nineties) and Juan Villafuerte. Also the the problematics of the ministry, given that VAN group, The Four Musqueteers: Nelit has had the most number of ministers son Román, José Unda, Washington Iza ever. Today, the Cuenca Biennial is finan- and Ramiro Jácome. ced partly by the Ministry of Culture, partly You are not going to find a lot of inforby the township and a private company. mation about this because, sadly, for many 155

decades critics in Ecuador were limited to a poetical-fantastical description of the artist’s work. There is very little critical review, although recently there has been an interest in the subject. María Fernanda Cartagena could tell you more about this; she’s an important critic, and just wrote a book about political art in Ecuador in the sixties and seventies.

was a subject worked by many artists of the time. There’s even a movie, Prometheus Deported, about these migrations, evidencing Ecuadorian idiosyncrasy. At first, almost every artist was in love with president Correa; many still are, but many others are starting to disenchant. They see that he has done good things in health, transport and traffic areas. They respect certain things, but believe less and less in him.

Catalina: I have been very close to the art scene in Colombia and Mexico and I see a common subject: the relationship with the USA; in Mexico’s case, because it borders it and because of a very close cultural contrast; in Colombia’s case, because of the uribismo (Colombian right-wing party) subject, which draws us very close to North American Imperialism, so hardly criticized by Hugo Chávez. Also, Mexico and Colombia share the drug traffic issue, which put us in conflict with the USA. This reality generates a lot of reactions reflected in art. Is there something similar in Ecuador? I ask this because president Correa is allied with Hugo Chávez.

Carlos León did a very good series that we luckily exhibited in No Mínimo. It’s called Monument to the Day, his graduation project. He built ideological-social monuments supposedly to replace public monuments. For example, an ideological cleansing machine, or an ideological pattern reader monument. They were machines that would be placed in public spots, playing with the leftwing new wave subject in Latin America. It obviously referred –subtly- to Ecuador’s case.

Pilar: No, it’s not an issue. Migration was. In 1999, we had a terrible bankruptcy that generated great migrations to Italy and the USA. That 156




Gonzalo Ortega (1974) is an independent curator. He studied a master’s degree in Contextual Art at Berlin’s the Universität der Künste, and a course in High Museum Direction at Mexico City’s ITAM. From 2000 to 2004 he was the main contemporary art curator in Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, in Mexico City. From 2007 to 2011 he served as Director of MUCA Roma. He has exhibited curatorial projects and academic collaborations in Spain, Germany, Austria, South Korea, Colombia and New Zealand. He has also contributed to various editorial and electronic projects in different countries.


ORBE, MUCA Roma. Miho Hagino


ORBE, MUCA Roma. Juan Antonio Sรกnhez- Rull



ORBE, MUCA Roma. Susanne Schuricht



ORBE, MUCA Roma. Juan Antonio Sรกnhez- Rull



ORBE, MUCA Roma. Lauro L贸pez



At the University of Auckland, New Zealand



At the Massey University of Wellington, New Zealand




Reunion Island, France, the Indian Ocean

12.11.11 - 11.12.11

SPECIAL GUEST Arq. Taro Zorrilla

“I have been working on my master’s degree thesis since 2010, with support from Pola Art Foundation. My thesis is about the experience and values found around the construction of houses with money from remittances sent by Mexican immigrants working in the USA.” T.Z



The Project is called Dream House. It began in 2007 while I was driving to Hidalgo. Curiosity drew me to a group of colorful houses shining over a dry landscape, some with enough room between them, all of them sharing multiple characteristics of American houses.

I was amazed when I noticed the constant power the physical realization of the imagination brings, adopted by every immigrant on the other side of the border. These houses represent a constructed imagination born of immigration –as a contextand architecture -as action and touchable object-, something that can be seen in many Mexican rural towns.

In 2007 and 2009 I worked with models related to my visits and experiences to the houses in the project. In both cases the spaces were measured, architectural blueprints were made as well as constructive cards and photographies of day to day life scenes reflecting the use of the spaces; for example, the cooking pan in the living

room’s floor, the chimney as a storage space, lambs living in the porch, the garage used as a barn, a cactus used as a clothesline, etc. All the information was used for the model, as some kind of collage, taking parts of each house and each life, creating a common model.


On consecutive visits I shot a documentary. I wanted to understand why most houses were empty or unused, either they were completed or not.

The documentary is really a series of “video-letters”, so I was not only documenting, but creating a way of communication between ghe families of the interviewed and their relatives in the USA. In the end, this construction –the house- has always been the dream of a whole family, and is achieved with a common effort.



My concern is in the community side of the immigrants, even when each person dedicates to building their own house. This dream now seems to be the common factor between the imaginary of this transnational community, where reality and the imported dream merge with the place’s customs.



Brief Encyclopedia of Noise by DANIEL VEGA



Rap was born from the traditional

to much more specific subjects like

house-parties in the Bronx, where

USA’s foreign policy.

DJs mixed all kinds of genres through massive audio equipments. The

Public Enemy was formed in 1982

basis for this new music relied on

by Chuck D (Long Island, New York,

funk and rhythm and blues creative

1960), DJ, rapper and graphic design

explosions, achieved through very

student, alongside rappers Flavor

large sampling archives, hammered

Flav and Professor Griff. D worked as

by the dry punches of eighties’ beat

a DJ in a college radio station in Long

boxes. To rap, all you needed was a

Island, where he realized the impact

microphone, a pair of speakers and

of hip-hop, and met some people

some records; anyone with good

who shared his passion for music

rhymes and a good DJ could do it.

and politics. Rick Rubin, co-founder

But in a couple of years, the genre

of Def Jam Records and one of

evolved. From being easy, good-time

today’s most important mainstream

music for the parties, it morphed

producers, hurried to sign the band

into the most violent and incendiary

after listening to “Public Enemy No.

genre of the decade. Since then,

1”, one of their earliest recordings, in

rappers have tackled a great variety


of social and political issues such as racism, gang violence, crime,

After thinking it for a while, Chuck

drug addiction and prostitution, up

D developed the concept for a 189

“literary-revolutionary” hip-hop band

accusations and, generally speaking,

that would be defined by “extreme

super violent and ruthless lyrics,

musical productions and socially

considered by many critics as the

revolutionary lyrics”. And really,

definitive hip-hop album.

the pieces created surpassed that concept. Thousands of samplers

Public Enemy’s political standings were always controversial. Chuck D once told the press “rap is the black CNN”, because it reported what was going on in the suburbs and ghettos in a way that no mainstream media was able to. Upon this claim, his lyrics were

from an infinite amount of sources –sometimes too explicit, sometimes totally unknown- filled the tracks of their first albums. In 1989 they recorded Fear Of A Black Planet, a collage of sounds, political

always meticulously revised. Under the violent rimes was an incredible production work by The Bomb Squad –made up of Chuck D, Erick Sadler and Keith and Hank 190

Shocklee. Following the hip-hop

relief, a kind of bad-tempered jester.

philosophy, tracks were created from pieces, riffs, rhymes, phrases,

The list of artist whose pieces were

screams, percussions and all kinds of

“borrowed� was as large as varied:

samples over the ever present beat

Prince, Michael Jackson, The Beatles,

boxes. Lyrics were written by Chuck

Miles Davis, James Brown, Hall &

D mainly, who recited the most

Oates, Funkadelic, Diana Ross, Uriah

forceful parts in a deep, rude voice,

Heep, Bob Marley, Mountain, among

while Flavor Flav acted as the comic

many others; they even sampled themselves in some tracks. With this, they explored an interesting conceptual problem that has been discussed in many art circles, raising questions about whether their pieces could be seen 191

as originals, or were just collages

and corruption of African-american

of somebody else’s pieces. Years

society, contributing music for the

later this discussion would become

films Do The Right Thing (1989)

legal, and would mark the end of

and He Got Game (1998). This

the Golden Age Of Hip-Hop, forcing

proselytism wasn’t always well

rappers to pay for each and every

received by all sectors of their


audience. From the beginning, they supported hard and divisive figures

Public Enemy was always very clearly for North American society such pro African-american. They worked

as the Black Panthers, Malcolm

with director Spike Lee, known for

X, Martin Luther King, Nelson

his stories about the disintegration

Mandela and the Muslim leader 192

Lous Farrakhan; at the same time,

Despite their always hard opinions,

their radical stance repudiated Elvis

the band never tried –at least

Presley -an icon of the American

explicitly- to preach some kind of

Dream- who they called a racist

righteous fundamentalist doctrine,

in “Fight The Power” from Fear Of

but was moved by a desire to

A Black Planet (Straight up racist

express a point of view about the

that sucker was / Simple and

political-social moment of their

plain / Motherfuck him and John

times, always touching sensitive

Wayne!”). Even Professor Griff, who

subjects that were expressed with

had previously made anti-semitic

a frankness at times excessively

comments in some of their shows,

raw. In the end, their positions were

declared in an interview with The

always interesting, whether you

Washington Post that Jews were

agreed with them or not. With their

responsible for “the majority of the

totally innovative style they were

wickedness that goes on across

pioneers of a new form of protest

the globe”. These comments were

music that, seemingly light years

considered notorious and shocking by away from Woody Guthrie’s and Bob many critics, causing his expulsion

Dylan’s laments, shared their uneasy

and the later dissolution of the band

and worried spirit. Public Enemy

itself (for a few months).

was, without a doubt, the most controversial and radical band of their time. 193


LARmagazine 007  

Living Art Room Magazine 007 POLITIC ART. NOW AND BEFORE

LARmagazine 007  

Living Art Room Magazine 007 POLITIC ART. NOW AND BEFORE