On January 12, 2012, the haudenschild Garage held a FUEL4TALK with Argentine artists Julian d’Angiolillo and Eduardo Molinari in conversation with Jennifer Flores Sternad. This FUEL4TALK took place in conjunction with the exhibition Arrhythmias of Counter-Production: Engaged Art in Argentina, 1995-2011 (University Art Gallery, UCSD October 6, 2011 – January 20, 2012) and a one-day conference, Arrhythmias: Narrative, Political Imagination & (im)possible Archives, (January 13, 2012).
Arrhythmias showcased art practices developed in Argentina since the mid-1990s that demonstrate exceptionally creative, and widely diverse, modes of engagement with present-day social and political struggles. The artists featured in the exhibition combine artistic practices and the pursuit of creative experimentation with methodologies and epistemologies, such as those associated with militant research, radical pedagogy, direct action, community organizing, critical cartography, tactical media and Brechtian theater. Many of the projects in the exhibition were developed through direct contact with, or in explicit alignment with, left social movements. In some cases, the artistic practice was coextensive with popular forms of struggle or grass-roots organizing. Other projects include anti-imperialist historiographical interventions that interweave the Southern Cone’s colonial history with its present-day neoliberal order, studies of vast informal economies and the migrant and local labor that sustains them, and provocative street performances and media interventions that reveal the logic behind the discursive and legal system of anti-terrorism.
This work evolved in response to the various political and subjective tensions that accompanied the Argentine economic crisis, which peaked in 2001 and 2002. These include a profound negation of state institutions, the protagonism of autonomous social movements, and popular militancy and grass-roots organizing attached to aesthetic invention. Another important point of reference for these artists is their understanding of the period popularly dubbed “post-crises,” characterized by re-legitimation of the traditional political system, the repression and domestication of social movements and a turn towards a discourse of security. Described by its architects as a return to “normal capitalism,” this transformation has been hailed internationally — as well as by some sectors in Argentina — as a remarkable “recovery” and successful return to stability.
About the Participants
Julian d’Angiolillo is a visual artist, filmaker and playwright whose work explores questions of urbanism, spatial practice, public space and memory. This exhibition features his recent feature-length film Hacerme Feriante [Become a Stallholder], along with documentation of its creation. The film is the product of d’Angiolillo’s intensive research on a massive informal market known as La Salada. Condemned by the European Union for violations of brand copyright laws, La Saladais the largest informal market of its kind in Latin America, attracting migrants from Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay and the Argentine countryside. D’Angiolillo’s film examines the coordinated efforts of stallholders, local bosses or caudillos, and visitors who open the fair in the middle of the night or pre-dawn hours twice weekly. Italso explores the ways in which the market is far more than a site of commerce, and is also a place for celebrations, religious ceremony and popular assemblies and a strategic field where the identity of immigrants and workers is reaffirmed.
Eduardo Molinari is a multidisciplinary artist whose work centers on research through artistic methods and walking as an aesthetic practice. His Archivo Caminante [The Walking Archive] is a meta-work that is both an archival collection he has, maintained since 2001, as well as the manifestation of his ongoing artistic-cum-research practice. This practice draws on varied epistemological frameworks and methodologies, including those associated with militant research, conceptual art, ethnography, post-colonial historiography, travel writing and psychogeography. El Camino Real is a diptych comprised of an installation that features documents drawn from the Archive and the book, El Libro Plateado y Real, appearing in its first English translation. In El Camino Real history unfolds in a non-linear and palimpsestic time that moves between the Southern Cone’s colonial history, Argentina’s hyper-neoliberalization in the 1990s and ensuing economic crash, and the potentiality of popular revolt and armed struggle seen in the country in the early 1970s. This work not only refigures a sense of national identity, but also proposes an especial understanding of the past — one that encompasses the unpredictable landscape of collective memory, fugitive events and experiences that have escaped the archival record, and the untapped potentialities still latent within them.
Jennifer Flores Sternad
Jennifer Flores Sternad is a scholar and curator whose research focuses on militant and activist art, performance, and artistic practices developed within or in alignment with social movements. Since 2001 her work in these fields has included extensive research in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, as well as on Xicano/a and Latino/a art and theater in the U.S. Her texts have been published in books and academic journals in the US, Europe and Latin America, including Art and Activism in the Age of Globalization (NAi, 2011); Live Art in LA, 1970-1983 (with Suzanne Lacy, Routledge, 2011 forthcoming); Zona de Poesia Árida: Coletivos de Arte (Universidad de São Paulo, 2011 forthcoming), MEX/LA: Mexican Modernisms in Los Angeles (with Ricardo Bracho, Hatje Cantz Verlag, 2011 forthcoming); Haciendo Tiempo: Arte Radical, 1999-2004 (Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de Mexico, 2010); and the journals GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies; Contemporary Theatre Review; The Journal of American Drama and Theater and Interreview. She has directed and produced public art events in Argentina, Chile and California and she is co-founder with Fran Ilich of the media art/research project Collective Intelligence Agency. She holds a BA in Literature from Harvard, an MA in Art History from UCLA, and she is currently a doctoral candidate and MacCracken Fellow in American Studies in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU.