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Lacking veracity, obsolescence, hegemony. Nouns to be found in texts and discussions about Latin American countries. Subaltern and under-developed; being words that have accompanied us for a long time. Most of the time I’m left with the same sensation as when one tries to talk about the other, as it’s hard to make an interpretation that differs from the way one thinks and represents oneself. So, the other stops being represented by what he thinks and ends up being a medium, disappearing as a subject. The result are concepts packaged and placed in circulation within the market, that are assumed as one’s own, as Étienne de la Boétie describes in his text ‘Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, or the Anti-Dictator’ ‘ (1548).
Maybe in Guatemala we have idiosyncrasies that are with neither head nor tail or that seem to be from no man´s land. But this is a reflection projected by those who take the floor from the place itself, because it is in the Latin countries where one can still find heterogeneous systems that splinter the ideologies promoted by this logic of ‘for everyone’ that erases individual differences. Or at least that’s what I believe, and I’m encouraged to think that this homogenizing logic always leaves a little remainder, a remainder that resists. Here are three examples, amongst many.
The Chiringuito El Buki arises out of an amateur DJ and an ex-law student nicknamed El Buki, who tired of working in an office, decide to set up a chiringuito together in the Historic Centre of the city of Guatemala, that would be pioneering in its distribution of independent film, and in its forms of supply, avoiding traditional management methods. Films downloaded from the Internet and subtitled by them, conserving the original language in which they had been produced, just as their public had asked, has been their modus operandi for the last ten years. This chiringuito doesn’t just give the ordinary citizen to access to cinematographic production worldwide, but has also managed to become the place to buy original films by Guatemalan filmmakers. Having this means of distribution has enabled film production in Guatemala to pass from producing 3 films a year (still the average for the rest of Central America), to making between 17-20 films a year.
The project A Q40 El Metro Cuadrado is organised through the Revista Capiusa, by graphic designers who don’t really identify with existing magazines. Within the framework of the VII Festival of Graphic Design in Guatemala, tired of the visual pollution of the city, they decided to make a billboard that would set a precedent (“if it doesn’t exist, why not make it?”): one illustrated collectively by hand and placed in one of the largest and most visible advertising spaces in the city. To do so they managed to negotiate–amongst others- with Fox Channel, the owner of the billboard, the price per square metre (from Q133 to Q40), a deal that they managed to achieve not just for one day but for two consecutive months.
The NuMu –Nuevo Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Guatemala- was the idea of two young artists, who decided to create a Contemporary Art Museum for the city of Guatemala. This museum, that has been in operation for more than a year now, is financed with the donations of individuals who believe in the project and is housed in a construction in the form of an egg that sits right beside a very busy highway. Only one person can fit inside the construction at a time, but once inside she has no need to move to see the entire exhibition. Its annual programme includes gastronomic and ludic activities, for adults and children, in which everyone collaborates, that take place in four spaces in the park that is right beside this highway (that in other circumstances you would hurry past or end up with nothing).
"A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world" (John Le Carré)