Tate × Winchester School of Art
After the ‘Imago Mundi’ Benetton Collection rejected my proposal to work on a catalan collection I started to reflect on post-colonial collecting practices and statehood. Numerous artists have engaged in collecting as part of their practice, thus shedding light in its expressive value. The pulse behind the Imago Mundi project seemed to date back to projects like Marcel Duchamp’s La Boîte-en-valise
(1935-1941) or much earlier ideas as its latin title suggests. “It’s not a collection but rather an idea that keeps evolving” they told Artnet. The idea there was not concentrating modern art in a suitcase but creating a complex cartography of the world through contemporary art. A global image through many local images. Just as in Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog
(1968-1972) or Diderot’s Encyclopedie
there’s a napoleonic sense of naivety in that desire to catalog the entire planet, however, very prevalent in the arts academy-market entanglement and its many historic world exhibitions, biennales and ongoing pavilion-ization of cultures.
Did they collect artworks as much as they collected countries? Do nation-states make the best representation of the cultures of the planet? Or even good models of self-governing? This are problems that transcend the art world by far yet seem to be at its center lately. O n this regard, I interviewed Paul B. Preciado in the context of Documenta 14, an exhibition that surveyed representative democracy, colonization and its institutions. Clearly, the very nature of ethnographic categorization is to be questioned, as I tried to investigate in my failed project Las Vegas Biennale
, a reframing of the city in Nevada in which I wanted to use its thematic resorts (Luxor, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, Excalibur…) as fictional pavilions of different ancient empires. But, if borders are meant to be erased or become less important, how can we find a definition that explains who we are in this ‘planetary civil war’? Of course, we must work beyond identity politics and on ‘new solidarities’. Catalonia is a problem, a political, legal, philosophical one. But also there’s no genuine catalan problem, this democratic crisis is a global one that many non-conforming peoples suffer way more than catalans do. Perhaps, for many, being a problem (after Du Bois and Bayoumi), or even “problematic”, everywhere we go is our ultimate post-nationality?
Maybe biennales have exactly the same shortcomings that the democracies they claim to represent. A certain romantic sense of failure in their ambition of universal representation, as Borges embraces in the short story On Exactitude in Science
about how cartographers attained such perfection in their job that only a real scale map of the world covering the whole world would suffice. A solution than sounds quite anarcho-queer, definitely. Moreover, Lewis Carroll had previously mentioned a map the size of the world, noticing some practical difficulties with it; “we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well” he made one character say. Maybe, since we can't get rid of performance, our struggle is about creating representations big enough so we all can live within them instead of nation-states. I now live in a republic without borders, without army or police and without government. Everything we ever dreamt of. The problem with it is that I’m controlled by someone else’s government and police and occupied by their borders and army. I live by someone else’s definition of me. Let us further explore performed identities in relation to statehood and national representations (biennales, olympic games, folklore, parliaments...).
Part of Imagined Biennales
. Sunday 13 May, 2018 @ Blavatnik Building, Level 5.
Plug In Institue of Contemporary Art
A performed lecture on the occasion of Plug In Institue of Contemporary Art's Summer Institute "DIS: Thumbs that type and swipe. The DIS Edutainment Network" Open Studio.
Deconstructing David Reimer's infamous tragedy to unpack not only the invention of gender by John Money circa 1947 but also the political engineering and enforcement of the gendered, bodily healthy, mentally sane, lawful, mechanical, productive and reproductive national body along the birth of the hospital and the state as capital technologies of government. I theatrically blend anarcho-queer imaginaries with the B2B industrial aesthetics of motivational marketing, under the faux brand of a hypothetical biomedia corporation named Somatech™
, citing the main ideas from Michel Foucault, Paul B. Preciado, Silvia Federici, Donna Haraway, Judith Butler, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari among others.
Museums are the treasure-houses of humanity. Their collections represent a unique resource reflecting achievements and historical progress in particular fields. They are an integral part of the collective memory and, in the face of immense and often painful cultural change in many latitudes, they provide a sense of connection with the past and present, yet serve as a springboard for the future.
Therefore, museums have a key task to play in providing an understanding of identity and a sense of belonging to a place or community. Additionally, due to international tourism and the widespread economic gains it brings, museums can play a major part in the economic life and well-being of a city. Therefore, while their strict duty is to collect, preserve, interpret and display objects, their function rather deals with immaterial values. Indeed, we may say museums store the consciousness of the world’s peoples, their cultures, their dreams and their hopes.
Nonetheless, attitudes to museums and the expectations which people have of them are changing. There is a growing critical awareness of their political nature and the role they often play in maintaining the interests of privileged groups. As government structures cycle, facilities run or supported by states are coming under greater public scrutiny. With a growing realization of their powerful position not only in transmitting cultural values and narratives but producing them, questions about whose culture is represented and who and how is rendering it for whom are heard around the world.
This debate is an exciting one that presents opportunities for museums to engage more directly with their users, who expect a more active, participatory experience in contrast to the still prevalent idea that expertise resides in institutions alone and they are passive recipients of what programmers determines should be on offer. In the following years, museums may have to understand the social context within which they operate to far greater degree than in the past.
As an individual from a nation without a state, Basque Country, who migrated to the capital of a nation-state-in-the-making, Barcelona, and later rejected the gender I was assigned at birth, I know well stories like mine do not appear in books, countries like mine do not exist on maps nor boxes I could check are ever part of application forms. Perhaps, just as photography, film, architecture or design had been excluded from museums until Alfred H. Barr set the blueprints for The Museum of Modern Art, we have realized that our common archives are incomplete not only because they have not ended but because they have failed to include the workers’, feminists, queer, anti-colonial, indigenous, ecologist, handicapped and anti-psychiatric perspectives until recently.
It is widely known that MoMA played a pivotal role in altering the cartography of the arts, displacing the cultural center of the west from Paris to New York with a collection that came to define the genealogy of modern and contemporary art. However, in its refusal to traditionally assimilate specimens and its mission to be alive and democratic, it may also have started a utterly needed social reform. Where but an art museum would technologies of representation be revolutionized? Few institutions understand as sharply as MoMA that narrating history is a historical act in itself, that how we describe ourselves can constitute us. MoMA’s deep commitment to educating publics, believing in their intelligence and striving to challenge them, has consistently shaped its field.
This is something I can humbly relate to. I have also focused my efforts in getting critical thought (Lorde, Spivak, Hooks, Davis, De Lauretis, Federici, Butler, Haraway, Preciado, Halberstram, among others) into action. In this regard, I strongly believe that museums, as much as they need to improve, are the space to bridge the gap between academic research and society. As I prepare for admission in a PhD program in the US, I would be honored to be given the opportunity to assist The Museum of Modern Art in this shared goal of making a positive impact on communities and citizens by transforming museums and their contents. I am aware MoMA already takes this responsibility seriously and, as it sets the standards other galleries are measured against, its potential for global change reaches far beyond its limits.
As the representative failure of modern democratic institutions begins to unfold, I envision museums as the only one infrastructure able to overcome this crisis. Unlike hospitals, schools or prisons which mostly function as units of subjectivation, museums, and particularly art museums, are more aware they are also spaces of representation activated by many devices of representation, just like the modern parliament was supposed to be. Moreover, because art is seen as the territory for individual expression and freedom but also a crucial weapon for social improvement, museums can leverage this potential and become open forums where community issues can be raised.
Conceiving artworks as catalysts for social discussion, unrepresented and undocumented voices can invite all publics to embody a mutable platform of informal political debate. Transforming its rooms into experimental public spheres of spontaneous visibility and enunciation where memories can meet current demands in order to collectively imagine, project and develop speculative ways to go forward. After all, this would not be far apart from museums’ humanistic essence, the ability to celebrate society's dreams and hopes, which may very well be the ultimate treasure we shall protect.
Internet Age Media (Proposal)
Since 2017, I exist in a sort of transitional state, something we may call a quantum tangible at the crossroads of art, science and political agency. My bio-media happenings do not make me any more “cyborg” than the first cave(wo)man using fire. Afterall, our supposed humanity (in opposition to animality) began when we achieved such technical governance. Yet, in rejecting the naturalized male/female binary, bodies like mine, it seems, embody the frontier of what is considered human.
Like many, my existance not only confronts the legal and cultural architectures that sustain cis-heteronormative society, but the founding logics of eurocentric linear thought. However, the advent of new computing paradigms may transform western experiences of realities into rather unstable, mutable and ever-nomadic epistemologies.
Let’s say, the so-called industrial revolution did not begin with the printing press, the steam engine or the weaving loom (which later inspired computers) but the exploitation of enslaved bodies in plantation camps and domesticity. The first mechanic devices were living machines under ancient forms of dispossession.
Reconsidering the history of technoscience from such post-anthropocentric xeno-feminist gaze allows us to question not only gender, but also the normative protocols that trans people have to navigate. Turns out, subjectivity is not a performance but rather a battleground where several industries (religion, medicine, education, advertising...) impose their agendas.
As a response, many of us advocate for an urgent re-appropriation of our lives before the military-biotech memeplex takes over the collective processes of engineering this private/public entity we call “the human body”. Luckily, this somatic revolution doesn't need the masses to follow and it is already taking place within the many queer-dissident bodies that started self-experimenting with the possibilities of languages, images, wearables and other substances (like hormones, steroids, recreational drugs among other products of carceral pharmaco-capitalism) in order to fabricate their freedoms.
We are not interested in hacking our body but hacking the imaginary of what a bodies can be and make, other than producing and reproducing. We are ready to sabotage and/or establish alliances with yet-to-come quantum computers in order to exist beyond outdated false-opposites like girl/boy but also good/bad, natural/artificial, fantasy/truth and engage all of them simultaneous altogether omnipresently forever.