By Rodolfo Andaur | Images courtesy of SACO5
A migratory trip can be considered a complex experience in which the migrant, for economic, political or social reasons, builds an intense trauma with the new space he or she has chosen to inhabit, a situation that incessantly puts him or her to the test. Apart from that, the feelings that surround migration have to do not only with the space chosen but also with the existential transit caused by the diaspora that impregnates the new confrontations that the migrant himself has constructed and that surround his stay.
The diaspora, as a transnational phenomenon, highlights territory as a symbolic entity and constitutes it based on three focuses: identity that is generated by moving, the load of a nation that is left behind, and the awareness of a common or collective origin. That’s why the uprooting from the territory of origin is inherent to all diaspora and involves the need for a collective memory that the shock enables elaborating. This way, the reference to all the roots is present in all diaspora; in general it is about subjective views that give account of the territory of origin as a homogenous space. So, in the communities where the diaspora move, that place becomes predominant.
Without memory there is no identity and without identity there is no diaspora. So by analyzing the processes of construction of spaces of memory, we study the diaspora and this enables us to accede to cultural settling.
From different places on the globe, migratory movements, whether individual or collective, are the result of fundamental phenomena of contemporary reality, which has been constructed based on human displacements caused by aggressive capitalism.
All this introductory background is a great source of inspiration for creativity based on a variety of critical and political discourses. It is here where there appears a scrutinizing analysis of the visual arts which generally present a concrete material, and at the same time create fictions that transport the notions of the migrant through a changing, shifting and sometimes dangerous space, in which a series of questions about this world ever more submissive to migration are exhibited. Nevertheless, for the work of the artist, the migratory trip does not cease to be a reference; migration superficially refers to certain displacements that are emerging, along with the multicultural dialogue within a territory that conserves a variety of acceptances.
With this preamble, we could put a large number of works and projects on the table where the topic of migration articulates a strict relation with the communicational flow that lies in hundreds of globalised references of contemporary art. In this case, it also does so faced with the incommensurable space that oversets aesthetics in that the artist’s thinking must act without limits as well as without a direction, so that in the end it is possible to transport a message.
The links that artists generate with the migratory topic have gradually increased. A phenomenon increasingly more massive, where some proposals exhibit specific spaces, new ideologies and the diffusion of new displacements. But I insist that these marks do not constitute a set of meanings of mimetic representation, even though they are the ones that establish direct relations with determined facts. That results when the artist makes use of the varied spectrum and imagery that appears on the trip, a trip traditionally loaded with strong connotative meanings, and even imprints personal and subjective distortions, which is a situation difficult to determine for the different semantic strata with which a work is presented. It is there where the works exploit all the individual and collective imagination that this topic of the migrant has solidified, so as to make references to what a migratory experience means, the journey, the human capacity to mutate and accept or reject the changes.
Faced with the new visual synchronies that invite us to reflect on the migrant’s steps and their tracks in diverse places, the visual artist Paula Quintela has created a space for contemplating various aspects of memory that are contained, encapsulated, and for which a series of objects are used that do not seem to go extinct over the course of time. In this sense her proposal causes us to analyze diverse convergences in observing her work under the context of One way ticket.
This Chilean artist, who currently lives in Australia, has persevered with an account in which an endless number of elements arise. In her proposal, called In transit, the narrative lines of the work are strongly tied to memory. In transit presents us with an artistic inspection, specifically manufactured with pillows on which a series of conventional objects are stamped, which also carry with them the load of what is intimate and confidential and that leads us to remember and to forget various stories related to the past, since this does not mark a space in a single direction nor a single dimension for reflection regarding an experience linked to contemporary art. Based on this logic, various pasts appear that are qualitatively different and with which we also maintain diverse affinities.
In this case, the poetic force of In transit is in linking the objects piled inside a house of plastic to the universal memory capable of breaking any chronological order, an idea that appears so that we are all capable of revealing other logics that do not point only at one particular identity but rather at an account that evokes the elements that constitute the immigrant’s memory.
Also, in this work the use of the concept of memory performs a diverse social function since we have certainties that memories are assimilated by a society that uses memory only as a definition more linked to what is forgotten, but that is never analyzed based on a social practice that involves its own acceptance. This way we are left observing this small file of elements that intend to lead us to a place or a memory. A space that revitalizes and values certain ideas that we remember in individual as well as in the collective memory.
Northern Chile is composed of waves of immigrants from different races and cultures, so it is evident that sooner or later, from a place like Antofagasta, we must address some reflections regarding these “new tenants”.
Based on one or another question about immigrants, the artist of Cuban origin, Angel Delgado puts into coexistence both the social issue and the space of the new neighbors from the “Pearl of the North”. Delgado has been inspired by the sheets, the mud and the singular expressions of various immigrants who themselves became the platform for this artist’s work.
In facing his own reality as a migrant, Delgado creates a space for dialogue that enables him to get to know and link his artistic practice with the ideas and feelings of those who for different reasons have chosen the northern area of Chile as their new home. But this work also speaks to us of a certain demoralization on the part of these immigrants. Phrases that graph the problems of social adaptation, especially between the locals and the foreigners, and that give account of various feelings that determine part of being an immigrant. For this artist there are various tracks that are set deep in our society and that intend to alter any argument that justifies these others in looking for a place where they can live.
Sociology has provided us with an inexhaustible source of concepts and measuring instruments regarding immigrants. Nevertheless, as advised in this artist’s tour through different places in the city, the immigrant’s reality cannot be measured or quantified, since their diverse experiences cannot be statistically instrumented; a fact that could be one of the principal reasons for such corrosive and aggressive disapproval toward immigrants.
Certain works generate hope, while others teach us to accept others. This is how Delgado’s phrases give shape to a hope that those spaces that have denied foreigners could be blocked.
One of the most agitated cities in the north presents us with a social conformation that certainly will always be showing certain transformations within the whole melting pot of realities that northern Chile generally presents us. Faced with this unique and incomparable diverse mantle, it is possible to see how the market economy has captivated one of the regions most manipulated by capitalism.
The monument to the victims of capitalism is an installation where the performative appearance of an actress is coupled with a dialogue that provides us with a discourse that has left no one indifferent in this version of SACO5.
Alicja Rogalska, the artist who created this project, has studied in depth the visible economic expansion that the region of Antofagasta has recorded, and has also gathered an endless number of chronicles that speak of a country that is recognized as one of those in which capitalism has been venerated as a cultural phenomenon. Undoubtedly, it is these regions where we find ourselves with the position regarding the equilibrium between State and market, of course in favor of the latter; a dialect that has been reinforced with a tenacious offensive on the ideological field.
On the other hand, The monument to the victims of capitalism extols the supposed virtues that the market expresses in listening to the actress’s dialogue offering the attendees the chance to donate coins for the construction of a monument for the victims of capitalism. This act shows us that capitalism has been a historical process that rescues diverse factors that create a multiple complex and contradictory relationship. In this sense the artist has launched a reflection that intends to dialogue regarding how to think about the construction of a monument for those who have suffered the fractures of a political project driven by social agents, ideologues, intellectuals and political leaders belonging to the capital-owning social classes in their most diverse forms. Facing The monument to the victims of capitalism, we understand that the convergence of neoliberalism constructs a series of methodologies under which actions are carried out around the power of money. With this background, and faced with this proposal, we could receive a series of reflections and offer some historical and concrete visions that constitute the unequal imposition of this political model on our lives.
Since the appearance of the phonograph, the radio and other technological means of sound reproduction, we can find countless artists who have been interested in creating purely auditory works of art. Many of these works appeal to the idea that sound replaces a particular sensitivity that in some cases what is tangible or two-dimensional does not provide.
Any work that uses sound as the main vehicle of express can itself articulate an endless number of emotions that could be nestled in poetry. In the case of Fata Morgana, El Cairo landscape by Teresa Solar, the urban murmuring and the music appear inside a sound amplification on the pier. These sounds reproduced in speakers seem like sculptures that summarize the peculiar experiences of this artist within the nooks and crannies of a restless city like El Cairo, Egypt.
It’s evident in observing and going around and around this sound installation, that it also seduces us in qualifying it as a musical instrument, since it becomes an aesthetic object with acoustic qualities. Nevertheless, others could say that it actually is a musical instrument that re-contextualizes the space on the pier.
Fata morgana, El Cairo landscape surrounds the visitors. It invites them to hear about a public space in which sonority had its complex evolution, generating intangible parallels. Also, in attempting to describe this project I run the risk of demarcating and delimiting the complexity of the sound, alluding that this proposal needs to be continuously questioned so as not to become a work whose construction is defined only based on some technical parameters that in themselves are strictly rigid and plain. So instead we can talk about the abstract relationship between sound and support as a visual element, an aspect that could determine the effects of a work where the audios are the main characters.
The proposal of the artist Johannes Pfeiffer succumbs to the objectual and installation space that the pier has created as an expositive laboratory. Based on his vision as an artist, through the work called One way ship, Pfeiffer invites us to enter into the open sea of the unknown. Also, his selection of this part of the pier presumes that he intends for his work to seem like a navigation chart, one that he certainly sets without a fixed course.
In looking toward the horizon I can make out part of the sculptural image that passes by the abstraction and that through it gives shape to the margin of the mass, activating the surfaces, as if the work was growing on itself, opening up other spaces. That’s why this shape had to be lighter.
The other great incorporation in this proposal is movement. We know that many traditional sculptures have not reflected movement. At the beginning of the XX century, the most avant-garde sculptors undid the wrinkled surfaces in order to present positions of a more dynamic figure. But these artists also incorporated volume in order to produce shapes of continuity in space, an aspect that Pfeiffer has included.
While this artist activates the visibility of the pier based on the sculpture, One way ship can also be classified as a sculpture that marks the adventure that closes the return, even though time is lost, even though it doesn’t arrive anywhere, nor are conclusions drawn from the trip, even though there are no results or morals from it.
The equilibrium and suspension that this ship generates in front of a broad and moving landscape takes us on a trip that could make us reflect on what is meant by cultural mobility toward other places where you can’t get a return ticket.
The aesthetic regimen of the arts is what delinks every specific rule that seeks to understand the visual aspects that contemporary art has been constructing, with some more linked to stop organizing topics, modes of reproduction and images in a hierarchy.
Under this point of inflection, the artist Bogdan Achimescu interferes with the different rules that could be constructed to justify some images on the same space on the pier. The place in itself is already an urban intervention typical of these mining cities in northern Chile, so the proposal constructed by this artist stirs the imagination among the curatorship of SACO5 and this project called Ermita.
Everything we see in Ermita seems like a scathing and critical caricature typical of our time. With a grotesque style, this work tries to immediately capture criticism of personalities and figures with certain ambiguity. That is why associating this proposal directly with the caricatures places us close to a transcendental reality since the effect the caricature has on the capacity of representation is totally real, since it recreates a capacity of reality based on the conception of the aesthetic.
The caricaturist mode of representation was not culturally possible before the deep reflection on the visual operations involved in the influence of the manga and comics in contemporary culture. Undoubtedly, these images could be associated with a typically baroque pretension of achieving expressions of character, physiognomy and emotion. The caricature is the result of a process that tends to schematize the forms and a displacement of authenticity toward aspects less obvious than pure perceptive recognition. In the terms of Gombrich, we could argue that Ermita presumes “the theoretical discovery of the difference between what is similar and what is equivalent”.
In determining the effects of SACO5 in this version it would be interesting to study the guidelines that marked its evolution, as a project that emphasizes its exhibition of contemporary art. Certainly, thinking that this exhibition has also been curated to propose new lines of research regarding artistic practice in the emerging city of Antofagasta. However, stopping on the pier and contemplating the proposals of the artists mentioned above, we understand that this exhibition guideline goes far beyond the simple act of placing a pair of works on the same pier. With this way of operating and for all that SACO has configured over the course of the years, since the Group SE VENDE, it has also been necessary to articulate the educational work that has been done with the public. We cannot omit that those impressions, which are now hundreds of thousands, are in the background in this version. The public in SACO5 has been part of the artists’ story. Moreover, it is these small urban actors who have enormously expanded the view of the others, of the ones who still question the real value of this type of cultural activities and of the contexts that art currently exhibits.
Finally, SACO5 has reconsidered its own arguments in order to disseminate contemporary art since without going further, this has been a version that has not left anyone indifferent since it has been very important to confirm that there is a social demand for this type of actions. Also, in understanding the responsibility of the local actors in wagering on and working jointly toward these objectives, we now see in Antofagasta another way of production to disseminate and create content with regard to contemporary art. And if we start from this pier, we will surely have a trip with many landfalls.