WOODEN ELSEWHERE, BRAZIL

Region/Concept: Latin America, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Disorientation, Immensity, The Labyrinth, The Elsewhere
Description: Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira creates installation of wooden caverns.

Theory: Artificial primordialism; hypothetical exodus; prophetic wilderness. An artist-sculptor takes the debris from splintered wood and restructures its pieces into a vast sequence of coils and turning lairs, the pseudo-site of an uprooted forest. Once wasted particles have now become a continuous network of excess and immensity, the catacomb of some child or savage’s dream (terrifying innocence). The consequence: an assembled geography of enclosures and subterranean halls (the tunnel, the labyrinth, the corridor, the cylinder, the cave); appearance of an untouched world; manipulated sublimity. These arteries are but the collective lie of an origin (only their hollowness is universal). Such is the experience of the radical elsewhere: traveling beneath, within the underpass and the curvature. Such is the experience of spatial bewilderment: where one goes to join the lost, the aimless, and the disoriented.

Link: http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/05/henrique-oliveira-wood-tunnels/

Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh

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SORCERER’S CLOTH, BOLIVIA

Region/Concept: South America, Body (Costume)
Sub-concepts: Poverty, Healing, Excitation
Description: The popular and the religious collide in the diverse fashion of local healers.

Some days, when the circumstance calls for it, the human being stops being just a human being. The marvelous takes over. Invoking the marvelous simply means being able to astonish (but astonishing the other is not a simple matter). In the hills of Altiplano, colorful figures appear: the color of their garments differentiates them from the surrounding world of nature. For example: the bright red against the light grey of the fog. We see the opulence of masks and dresses in juxtaposition against the bleakness of rooms, the everyday poverty. But it is only here that the word luxury attains proper value, of excess in austerity, a distinctive splendor, and thus brightness, or light. Do not forget: the witch-doctors that wear them and transform into zoomorphic beings are still “doctors”. They heal by opening up the borders, physical and moral, taking one by the hand into the underground tunnels (the mines carved inside the hills). The world becomes paradoxically less differentiated (even though the garments and masks are over-pronounced) and thus horror and excitement ensue. The forbidden is formidable; the deceivers seductive. These basic formulas are so powerful that even after the objects and the garments are fully removed their humming presence remains.

Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/23/waska-tatay_n_5611515.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Posted by: Dejan Lukic

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DEATH AS WORKSHOP, MEXICO

Region/Concept: Latin America, Violence (Death)
Sub-concepts: Borders, Permeability, Necropolitics
Description: Artist Teresa Margolles employs traces of violent death to create artifacts and immersive environments.

Theory: Our lives are permeable to flows of capital and violence. Borders are militarized but porous. Life is disciplined but flexible. Mexico is an exemplary site of these contradictions. An art made of remnants becoming minor monuments. Quiet, subtle expressions of rage. Dispersion of fluids around and into the visitor as a mirror of the immersive nature of neoliberal capitalism. The remains of violence become cloudlike, ubiquitous.

Link: http://archiv2.fridericianum-kassel.de/margolles.html?&L=1

Posted by: Craig Epplin

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IMPOSSIBLE SUSPECT, BRAZIL

Region/Concept: Latin America, Myth
Sub-Concepts: Amnesia, Reanimation, Discontent, Forgetting
Description: Brazilian police force investigates nineteenth-century anarchist Mikhail Bakunin as potential suspect in protests.

Theory: Historical amnesia can sometimes generate the equivalent of necromancy. Combining illiteracy with suspicion, a political regime hears the name of a long-buried dissident, mistakes the ghost’s identity, and thereby reanimates a past force as present threat. In this spectral ontology, the legend recirculates with new life; hence the marks of recent vandalism are said to come from the hands of a dead revolutionary. In name (which matters most), the stained walls are alleged to be the product of his defacement. Notoriety; temporal oversight; a wanted man. From here, a phantom machinery of power is set in motion, tracking the imagined movements of a being not of this century (or even the last): interrogations, extortions, espionage, covert operations in search of an impossible suspect. Wiretaps become cosmic switchboards; blacklists become a kind of seance…listening for what is not there, looking for what cannot circle back. A lapse of knowledge thereby forms an inadvertent principle of resurrection: for all intents and purposes, he is the instigator once more…the one responsible for rising discontent (subversive exhumation). The streets belong to him again, given a second chance to alter everything, to restore a bad reputation, precisely because they had forgotten him.

Link: http://revolution-news.com/19th-century-anarchist-bakunin-investigated-by-brazils-police-as-suspect/

Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh

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DESTITUTION TOWER, VENEZUELA

Region/Concept: Latin America, Space
Sub-Concepts: Poverty, Inhabitance, Kingdom, Temper
Description: Abandoned skyscraper in Caracas, Venezuela becomes world’s “tallest vertical slum” as the city’s poor take over the empty building.

Theory: The key here is in the paradox, and the paradox is in the name. The skyscraper was to be called The Tower of David, thereby equating the riches of today with the mythic figure of a man who became king and founder of a royal dynastic line. More than this, an ancestral line to the one who some would call the Redeemer. And yet there is duality beneath the crown, the imperfection of a two-sided prophet: for David’s origins lay nearer to the destitute who now occupy the evacuated hallways and rooms of this structure. He was a poet, musician, and warrior (talents of the lower strata), someone who relied on luck and who harbored an ill temper. He even conspired to murder out of lust, thus tying him to the hedonism and criminality of the streets. He also was said to watch from rooftops, much as the masses do now in these photographs. No, the newcomers who clamor to fill the void of this modern tower are the correct inhabitants after all; their squalor is its own house of the sacred; their illegal unstoppable presence, their decadent adornment of the windows with rags, are a close match to the artistry and rage of their namesake. They too await the accidental fortune of the slingshot; they too may someday kill their rivals, and write songs as they do it.

Link: http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2014/apr/03/tower-david-caracas-venezuela-in-pictures

Posted by: Jason Mohaghegh

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PACKAGED LIFE, ARGENTINA

Region/Concept: Latin America, Body
Sub-concepts: Compression, Growth, Limit, Suffocation, Commodity
Description: Argentine artist Nicola Costantino creates sculptures of animal bodies grotesquely contorted within the confines of visible and invisible limits.

Theory: At first they appear to be misshapen spheres of some raw ore extracted from the earth, pressed together by an unknown force of gravity. But then more definite features begin to emerge on the surface from among the strangely familiar geography of fissures and cracks. Immediately one is struck by a horrifying recognition: these are not raw elements but somehow bodies. The horror is not that they are dead but that they are possibly still alive. Through some perversion of the vital tendency to grow, these bodies were forbidden the spatial conditions to expand, grotesquely contorting them within immovable limits. Contained inside a form that coincides with their identity (as a resource for consumption or exchange, a commodity) these bodies were cultivated to fill the package that would inevitably realize their calculated finality. In this way the body’s capacity for life becomes the very condition for its exploitation by capitalism. Even in an apparently open field the bodies remain bound up as if inside a hostile womb, where their dependency is materialized as an inability to breathe. This world of suffocation, of life without an atmosphere, in which any possibility of movement is merely apparent, is the common condition of all bodies in capitalism, the shared pathology of our compressed vitality and our stifled screams. Indeed, a packaging surrounds each of us at an indeterminate distance outside our bodies to make us circulate only within its enclosed economy and to suffocate us when we expand too much within its invisible bounds. Perhaps then the greatest affirmation of life is written in the grotesque lines and cracks of our suffering, in those folds of contorted flesh which inscribe the impossibility of total homogenization, and maximum growth at the limit.

Link: http://hifructose.com/2014/07/14/nicola-costantinos-sculptures-confront-animal-cruelty/

Posted by: Will Scarlett

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COLLAGE AND SCRAWL, ARGENTINA

Region/Concept: Latin America, Movement (Gesture)
Sub-concepts: Collection, Scrawls, Archive
Description: Writer Osvaldo Lamborghini’s Teatro proletario de cámara (Proletarian chamber theater), a collection of mostly pornographic images cut from books and magazines, over which he has written, painted, scribbled, and drawn.

Theory: The appropriation of found objects lends itself to strategies of dérive. But how to register the traces of that drift? By registering the process of collage and manipulation. By insisting on cataloguing where the object begins and how it is transformed. By archiving the temporal process of intervention. The image signifies less and indexes more. It becomes a stage for a minor stage for obscene gestures, private actions, a chamber theater.

Link: http://ciclic.org/2009/01/19/teatro-proletario-de-camara-de-osvaldo-lamborghini-presentacion-en-ciclic-llibreria-jueves-22-de-enero-2009-a-las-2000-hrs/

Posted by: Craig Epplin

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