Thursday, January 27

The desire to tell: the collateral and artistic effect of the pandemic | Future Planet


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An obligatory parenthesis in the march of the world gives title to a series of reflections and artistic proposals that, fortunately, circumvent national borders, which seem, for now, the only ones to emerge reinforced from the covid-19 pandemic. Parenthesis. Stories from uncertainty was the name of the appeal made a few months ago by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (aecidia) to artists and creators active in the countries where its network of cultural centers is established.

Of the 1,500 ideas that came to the call, from 18 countries, 52 works have been selected that will make up a traveling exhibition, whose first season will be, in September, at the Cultural Center of Spain in El Salvador. The second stop is planned in Santiago de Chile, for January 2022.

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Among the fifty selected pieces there are scenic art, plastic performances, soundscapes, audiovisual works, as well as approaches to the graphic novel and documentary photography, which seek to capture part of this world span of intermittent confinement, distances, concerns, duels and some pleasant discovery. Never before has the body – each of our bodies – and confined subjectivities had such a simultaneous role at the global level. Hence, so much accumulated energy begins to fuel the recovery of forgotten agendas of regions, social movements and bodies.

The time has come to overcome the inertia of passivity and installed fear, such is the message of thinkers who warn about the “collateral damage” of stillness and uncertainty. Without going any further, shortly after the end of the first stage of confinement, the philosopher Marina Garcés invited to ask the question: “What was happening when the world stopped?”

The philosopher launched this question into the air of the public debate to remember the world uprisings of the fall of 2019 (from Santiago de Chile to Beirut, passing through Algiers and Tehran): “What was happening was very important, because many streets of the world were in flames, taken by feminist choreographies, student demonstrations, who claimed precisely in the face of this future devastated by extractivism, also by movements against the authoritarianism of the States, even those apparently or formally democratic. Very young bodies were manifesting themselves, as we could see with the action of the climate change kids (in reference to Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement) ”. Garcés encouraged, therefore, to recover the “flames of the insurrection”, which were everywhere, also in the bodies that danced against sexist violence, first in Santiago de Chile and then in the main cities of the northern hemisphere, and even within the Turkish parliament.

The 52 selected works will make up a traveling exhibition, whose first season will be in September, at the Cultural Center of Spain in El Salvador. The second stopover is planned in Santiago de Chile, for January 2022

Perhaps because those fires are still burning, to the AECID call, many creators responded who were able to make the impasse in projects that embody female solidarity in care and affection policies and in studies on education, intergenerational and interspecies communication, or on the slowdown in daily life and alternative ways of existing in the domestic environment.

Regarding the increase in cases of gender violence, a product of the isolation of families within the house, the artists have wanted to show women who have not wanted to withdraw into the role of victims, although they did continue with the actions of denunciation, to which have prepared a register of femicides, which will also include the exhibition.

New horizons for mental health

Other proposals that make up the Parenthesis AECID – born within the framework of the project Archives of a pandemic– effectively account for the continuity of those historical political struggles and demands that, given the impossibility of demonstrating in the street, have redefined the forms of expression of political activism and social movements, developing new visual communication and awareness strategies about poverty, growing inequality and vulnerability of displaced populations.

Among the urgent issues that have attracted special attention are also the physical and mental health impact of social isolation, health collapse and the differentiated perception of the priorities of the time, according to different groups, states and international organizations. In addition, it also addresses the damage caused in the cultural sector by the closures of theaters, cinemas, the suspension of concerts or face-to-face exhibitions and the cancellation of performances in other public spaces.

The sculpture 'Two meters away'.
The sculpture ‘Two meters away’.Ana Maria Lopez

The curatorial team of the exhibition, made up of the Cuban manager Suset Sánchez and the Spanish Nur Banzi and Macarena Pérez, sought to build – through the pieces of this puzzle of citizen and artistic initiatives – a kind of memory of this particular moment of crisis social and, especially, a collective story about the different ways of managing it. In it, there is a prominent place for a symbolic and dignified farewell to those who died away from their families during the pandemic. On the too uncertain horizon, another possible future is still projected, with more social awareness, care and climate justice.

What can be represented when the duel is on hold

“It is a powerful selection that sought, in addition to having established artists, to include representation from countries that do not have such an important artistic fabric; With this premise, we have gone to the discovery of projects, above all, groups and citizens ”, explains by telephone the Almeria commissioner Macarena Pérez.

What was demonstrated with this call on life in brackets is that there is a plasticity to express oneself with the same means, without going abroad, according to Pérez: “What most got us were audiovisual pieces in which visual arts, dance and theater were reflected, disciplines that had had to change their habitual formats due to the impossibility of face-to-face practice ”.

Among the questions posed by the curatorial team were questions about the conflicts that the pandemic generated and about what artistic manifestations replaced the presence of people in the street. One of the outstanding responses to these questions was that of the Mexican artist Tania Candiani, who, “in her audiovisual work The chinelo it reflects on the popular traditions that were paralyzed by the closure of spaces for socialization, and how this paralysis can lead to the disappearance of rites of local communities ”, in the words of Pérez. The curator associates this work on the Dance of the chinelos of the state of Morelos, forced in 2020 to a solitary evocation, to others, who speak, precisely, of the paralysis of rites and funerals “which implied unresolved duels, and in solitude.”

A still from 'El Chinelo' (2020).
A still from ‘El Chinelo’ (2020).Tania candiani

For his part, Sado Collective, from Argentina, opens up questions as powerful as how to survive the pandemic as immigrants. A sketch of an answer comes from the Senegalese community in Argentina, from which the protagonists of his photographic series emerge The land burns inside. Women and men who saw their ability to earn a living endangered through regular street vending, in a place devoid of family support. However, like many other workers in the informal economy, Senegalese merchants came out to sell the same, filling empty streets and dodging persecution, according to the portraits drawn by the artists.

In this exchange of reflections from the countries that make up the network of Spanish cultural centers —and that draws a triangle between Latin America, Europe and Africa—, the Dominican artist Ana María López proposes an interactive game in which visitors to the exhibition and It consists of a large elastic ring that is activated when people allow themselves to be embraced by the fabric, while maintaining a physical preventive distance from others. Two meters away, such as its title, it is defined as a “soft sculpture”. Among other proposals, it is also worth highlighting the series Edges by the Colombian visual artist Mario Niño and the Paschal masksby Mercedes Jaén Ruiz (Spain).

The selected projects come from: Argentina (6 works); Bolivia (4); Chile (3); Colombia (3); Costa Rica (3); Guatemala (1); Honduras (2); Cuba (1); El Salvador (3); Spain (5); Equatorial Guinea (2); Mexico (3); Nicaragua (2); Panama (3); Paraguay (3); Peru (3); Dominican Republic (3) and Uruguay (3). The complete list of artists and groups chosen can be consulted here.

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