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26 December 2016
This month's topic: Artistic Research


Half way through last year, coinciding with my move to Mexico City, I received an invitation from Antonio Ortega to form part of the Summer University organised by the Yaxs Foundation, a new organisation in Guatemala City that prioritises education, research in the field of art and culture, and the recuperation or conservation of historic artistic practices within above all the context of Central America. This initiative, led by Paulina Zamora, is located in an old, restored house in the centre of the city, a privileged site, given that the district has the capacity to transmit the specificity of Guatemala City to a visitor. I was immediately enthusiastic about the invitation, as much for the opportunity of getting to know a new context, as for the possibility of spending three months with a small group of artists and cultural agitators of this city.

My first visit, in the month of August, was spent participating in a seminar dedicated to artistic research alongside the artists Raimond Chaves, Gilda Mantilla, Raqs Media Collective and Stefan Benchoam, as well as the organisers, in a series of closed workshops, that aimed to think about how to carry out research in the field of the arts without losing the specificity of the context. The time shared with Esperanza, Manuel, Nora & Jorge, Mario and Spanky was fundamental for the elaboration of the pathway to be developed after the encounter: each one of the participants would continue the research they’d already initiated, and the space produced by the Fundación Yaxs would foment their growth. As such, over the following months, the exercises we pursued consisted specifically in carrying out one single idea that would contribute substantially to the development of a greater project. My role resided in carrying out the task of accompaniment. Emails and phone calls were our tools, with each one imposing their own rhythm on the conversation. What we see in the following is the result of this exercise each one of the presentations represents a snippet or incision in the research and practice of each one of these artists.

Manuela has focussed on the creation of spaces for research, production and exhibition and considers collaboration an integral part of her practice. In 2010 she set up Rivet, a curatorial office that responds to what emerges in artistic production and studies ways to destabilise the object-subject relation as a fundamental structure of experience. In 2014 she inaugurated Zarigüeya/Alabado Contemporáneo, a Project that activates relations between contemporary art and the collection of pre-Columbian art of the Casa del Alabado in Quito Ecuador, amongst others. Manuela was the founder and directed the independent space the 29 enchufes in Madrid between 2001 and 2009, and currently is the curator at the Tamayo Museum in Mexico.

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