True civilization will be the harmony of men with the earth and of men with each other. —Diego Rivera, Assembly and rally on May 1st, SEP.1924.
What follows should be read as a declaration of intent: the proposal for an artistic and curatorial journey.
Prior to the outbreak of the global health crisis that still threatens us, Promised Land explored various notions of performativity, with special emphasis on how forms of popular culture and ritual converge with the representation of contemporary art. Here performativity should be read as an attempt to formulate various notions of becoming, reinvention, and enhancement of political consciousness as a condition of possibility to overcome the present of any struggle – individual or collective, socio-political or otherwise. Performativity was, then, a mode of resistance, a form of empowerment and vindication.
Thus, the project sought to invite artists whose works could generate spaces in which to establish platforms of socio-political, cultural, economic and / or environmental resistance. In this sense, we presented explorations of random trans-generational, trans-geographic, historical and contemporary episodes that celebrate solidarity between artists – and other communities – from different regions of the world, but also individual perseverance to re-inscribe subjectivity in their own terms. , and the possibility of generating these beyond what is imposed. These episodes were intended to establish moments for the reinvention of these communities and individuals while at the same time highlighting the notion that aesthetic production and art formulation was – and continues to be – largely a social fact. Examples of this type of relationship is the work of Elizabeth Catlett in Mexico, but also the ambitious social aspirations that framed events unimaginable today, such as FESTAC, the second Festival of Black Arts and Cultures, held in Lagos, Nigeria, in 1977. .
The title of the project is inspired by the beginnings of house music, and in particular by the homonymous title of one of its hymns: “Promised Land” by Joe Smooth. His aspiration for a world of unity and freedom reverberated not only in other house themes and lifestyles, but also meant for the house and hip-hop community the celebration of a certain cultural rupture and, more significantly, the appropriation of the media. of production to challenge capitalism and reinvent it in terms of community and ritual. This meant a revolution at all levels and in many parts of the world, whose echo still reverberates in different cultural forms of the present.
For us, the most fundamental gesture towards the socialization of art, implicit in that notion of the promised land, was in a most imminent and unique way the work that Maestro Francisco Toledo developed in the city. Crucial for cultural and artistic development, and part of the institutional history of Oaxaca. The legacy of Maestro Toledo generated an institutional fabric in which the free and democratic enjoyment of cultural and knowledge production, ecological conservation, and the creation of diverse and radical educational formats were some of the most outstanding aspects. To this and other transformations —sociopolitical, cultural, economic, institutional, etc—, to the notion of performativity of history, to the revolution understood beyond the single fact —as Audre Lorde would say— this edition was and continues to be dedicated.
Lines of Action
The crisis blurred part of our ambitions in form, but not in gesture. If at first our project was framed by a review that highlighted historical moments and the responses of artists for a transformation of their immediate environment – beyond the time and place of the artistic experience, as paradigms on which new notions of future. The uncertainty of the pandemic established an unrivaled platform to reinforce those principles, speculating on the future, on the future, here and now. Thus, getting rid of more abstract drifts, we base our working method on a series of conversations with artists, to whom we offer the present as a starting point, as a portal to a future reality —cultural, socio-political, educational, institutional, environmental, etc. .— to thus generate the bases for the formulation of a post-pandemic world.
In this sense, the proposal assumes the format of a project of projects that is generated throughout the five months of the festival, with interventions in the public space, as well as exhibitions in public and private spaces of the city and the Oaxaca region. . These events are interspersed with manifestations of the existing Oaxacan popular culture. Fundamental to our proposal – in which the curatorial team of HacerNoche has been working for more than three years with key agents of the territory – is the idea that the context is evoked and extolled through works that reveal knowledge and culture of the communities of the region. This social, urban and rural fabric will be the platform on which various stories, present and future fables, will take place. And, it is the participation of Oaxacans — artists or not — along with the invited authors, which will define the project as a whole.
An Artist-Led Festival
From the outset, the need to break with the format and expectations of the art biennial was fundamental for the determination of the project idea. Although the presence of two large group exhibitions —in the Museum of Cultures of Oaxaca and the Centro de las Artes San Agustín— will be fundamental for it, the execution of works in the public space, the development of recurring ephemeral performances and the celebration specific projects will be a key part of this proposal.
HacerNoche: Promised Land is articulated through the responses of the invited artists to the curatorial premises, but also and significantly to the region and the city of Oaxaca, its people, its culture, its history. A series of propositions that revolve around the notion of what Donna Haraway calls “speculative fabrications”, which are based on the need to generate interpretations, narratives or fables that offer perspectives of the possible. The fable is produced not in a completely new way, but establishes other perspectives on aspects that were already in potential, that were likely to exist. These “speculative fabrications” will help us to establish another critical and honest relationship with history, offering new trajectories and generating or presenting moments in which new myths of origin, new experiences, had – or will take place -.
Critical for our proposal was then the idea of that unfulfilled or yet-to-be fulfilled promise that testifies to the extraordinary epigraph of Rivera’s murals: the harmony of a civilized world is yet to come.
To a large extent, the works presented in this project have as their starting point the need to capture that plural desire in public space, to affect the public sphere from aesthetics, to activate institutional settings from the individual desire of the “I” with a clear collective will.
During the length of the project, Oaxaca will become a place for fabulation — and, why not, for collusion — and the generation of narratives of some worlds, some communities, and some possible individuals. Thus, the institutions and the public space of the city will host proposals that narrate a series of random, historical or imaginary episodes that are presented to us as everyday, related as a “speculative fabrication”.
Contrary to a vision of a closed narrative, predefined by a customary exhibition format, HacerNoche: Promised Land explores the performativity of the fable and its gesture. This will then lie not only in the capacity of the works to question the possibility of an alternative to our present and its stories, but if we, as spectators and participants of these experiences, are willing to embrace that challenge.
Starting from the creation of different scenarios, and in relation — sometimes tangential, other times direct — our proposal presents explorations of a set of notions that interrogate the present and enable its reinterpretation. Thus, each space – institutional, public or private – adds a patina of possibility to this exercise of reinvention and experimentation. These are some of the conceptual axes of the festival:
Random Collective Community Desire Ecology Public Sphere Experimentation Fable Speculative Fablulation History Stories Institution Imagination Interdependence Multispecies Narration Nostalgia Performativity Reenactments Political Representation Subject Redefined Subjectivity Rural Ritual Collective Will
… among many other.
Elvira Dyangani Ose