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Spotlight

06 May 2021
What’s human in the banal

Irena Restoy - Marta Pasarin - Mireia Sánchez

“Sin embargo soy humana y me quedado aquí encerrada componiendo cancioncillas sin paraaaaaar”
Rigoberta Bandini

“Cuánto trabajo excavar y excavar solo para volver a mí misma”
Alejandra Smits

IRENA: What makes Rigoberta Bandini and Alejandra Smits’ creative content feel so close to the self? I believe it’s they explore that which most concerns human nature and the human condition. It’s not like they do things that haven’t been done before, in that sense, but it is truly undeniable that, for some reason, their way of looking for answers to little problems in the biggest places hits you especially.

MIREIA: “I like music that makes you cry and dance at the same time”, writes Rigoberta Bandini on her Instagram bio. I feel like this sentence sums up perfectly what we want to say. The fact that Bandini and Smits create a series of content in a simple, if we may, and nonchalant way, does not mean that they don’t care. Both of them are examples of the different ways in which we can approach certain topics nowadays, through viral culture, in a fun way (“the dancing”), but not denying the background and depth that they may hold (“the crying”). That’s why, without all the palaver, Rigoberta’s music and lyrics talk to us about the heaviness of being human and simultaneously invites us to live through it with a sense of celebration.

MARTA: The best part of it all is that they don’t complicate it, because their way of expressing is not such. And they don’t need to meet such expectations. Even if you are someone with lots of followers on the internet, you don’t need to overthink all the time about everything you do. Losing one’s mind over your influence on the world can badly alter everyone’s perception of reality. Once in a while, it feels good to let down the guard and jump headfirst, and I think both Bandini and Smits act a lot like that. Alejandra Smits said in an interview that, for her, social media is nothing but a two-sided communication channel, and that’s why she tries to give to her followers that which she gives to herself; that being continuous ruminations on everyday human aspects and the material body that we inhabit [1] GARCIA, Natalia. (February, 2nd, 2018). “Alejandra Smits o el juego entre la palabra y el cuerpo”. Vein Magazine. Available online: http://vein.es/alejandra-smits-juego-la-palabra-cuerpo/

MIREIA: Alejandra Smits might be a very random girl who posts n’importe quoi on Youtube, Instagram and, more recently, Twitter, but, faraway from falling into the ‘all is allowed’ culture, she adopts what the 21st-century philosopher, Paul B. Preciado, named the “autocobaya thinker [2] “El cuerpo [actualmente] es lo que la fábrica al siglo XIX […] un archivo político vivo desde el que pensar”. With these ideas Preciado started his lecture: PRECIADO, Paul B. “Género, … Continue reading. For Preciado, being an autocobaya thinker means being someone who thinks with one’s self and from one’s self, and that’s why the self transforms the body in a political platform. Isn’t that what Smits does 99,9% of the time with her content?

Alejandra Smits post during the pandemic, using the one product that made us go berserk: https://www.instagram.com/p/B967QvmIDqs/.

MARTA: Both of them talk about everyday things in a way that all of us can relate to; and indeed, they come from very simple daily situations related to the human condition. Rigoberta Bandini says in an interview that she’s “inspired by everyone” because humans “are very funny[3] HABITACIÓ 910. (October 22nd, 2020). Rigoberta Bandini: pop per plorar i ballar. Betevé Ràdio. [Audio] Available at: https://beteve.cat/habitacio-910/rigoberta-bandini-pop-per-plorar-i-ballar/. .It is clear that human beings are her main object of inspiration, and it shows in her song Fiesta [4] Rigoberta Bandini (February 25th, 2021). Fiesta. [Video] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJJhNz_VQ5M. , the lyrics of which talk about the confinement experience that we all lived through because of the Covid-19 pandemic: “We weren’t ready to stop going forward”. Plus, we like it because she narrates it exactly how she feels it, avoiding any sensationalism that could make us cry, and that’s something that the song title already warns us about. The song is all about the nostalgia we all feel to “dance to the Conga song somewhere’ and eat ‘an almond Magnum ice-cream’ after months in lockdown.

IRENA: And if that’s how Rigoberta lifted our spirits during quarantine, altering the inherent sadness, Alejandra took away the blues by reminding the importance of connecting with the self, and she did so by showing how she did that herself, serving as an example. In her instastory, she posted videos of her moving and dancing, sometimes with anxious expressions and others listening to techno; she didn’t say a word yet she said it all: there’s not much we can do given the circumstances, so let us flow and groove through the weirdness of the times. The introspective exercises and self-talks were a reminder of the importance of dialoguing with one’s self.

In fact, Alejandra already says on her web that all she does is born from reflections and investigations of her own body. In her and in Rigoberta the starting point is the human condition, her being and its daily constrictions. On the one hand, Alejandra Smits talks about how in her teenage years she had problems facing her body, but that over time she realized that the best thing she could do was to accept it and explore what was it that inhabited her and that she couldn’t get rid of  [5] SMITS, A. (2019) Hey. So glad you’re here. Available online: https://www.alejandrasmits.com/perch/resources/long-about-alejandra-smits.pdf. On the other hand, Rigoberta’s lyrics talk about things that are as current and as relevant as being a woman nowadays, we can listen to that strength in her latest single: ¡¡¡Quiero ser una perraaaaaa!!![6]Rigoberta Bandini (March 30, 2021). Perra. [Video] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuUagFR-g1Q which can be translated to “I want to be a (female) dog”, playing with the parallelisms of the word perra in Spanish, which is also used as an insult to a woman who enjoys her sexuality, adaptable to the word bitch in the English language.

Frame of the video Perra by Rigoberta Bandini: https://www.instagram.com/p/CNKMHcPjWlO/

MIREIA: And that’s the key: each of them in their way, Rigoberta Bandini and Alejandra Smits put the spotlight of their creations in things that regard us all, which makes them, by definition, in viral culture. If, like Jorge Carrión says, being “viral” means attracting the maximum number of people  [7]CARRIÓN, J. (2020) Lo viral. Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg, pp. 12-13., what Bandini and Smits do is extremely virulent. But no, Jorge, I don’t think they are viral because they have become influencers that personify the algorithm [8]CARRIÓN, J. (2020) Lo viral. Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg, p. 17.but because what they do and the way they do it is straightforward, organic and honest — and that’s why we love them.

IRENA: To sum it up, we like being understood, we like to relate and we like it when they open the doors to their human complexities. Instead, we don’t like listening to people brag about their last trip to the Maldives, to put it in a way. We like everything that acts as a mirror to the self, or a door that allows us to discover another human’s personality. Because, in the end, what one acquires from enabling Instagram interactions with people like them, is an acceptance of one’s self and, in the best-case scenario, a better understanding of it.

The human condition is inherent to our existence; everything we are, do and are attracted to in our lives has to do with our humanity.

WE ARE HUMAN,

AND IT’S AS SIMPLE AND AS COMPLICATED

AS THAT!

1 GARCIA, Natalia. (February, 2nd, 2018). “Alejandra Smits o el juego entre la palabra y el cuerpo”. Vein Magazine. Available online: http://vein.es/alejandra-smits-juego-la-palabra-cuerpo/
2 “El cuerpo [actualmente] es lo que la fábrica al siglo XIX […] un archivo político vivo desde el que pensar”. With these ideas Preciado started his lecture: PRECIADO, Paul B. “Género, sexo y sexualidad en el capitalismo tecnopatriarcal: hacia una mutación de paradigma”. Lecture and dialogue with Eloi Fernández Porta, part of  Transiciones, series of debates at the Biennal del Pensament. Ciudad Abierta, Barcelona (October 2018).
3 HABITACIÓ 910. (October 22nd, 2020). Rigoberta Bandini: pop per plorar i ballar. Betevé Ràdio. [Audio] Available at: https://beteve.cat/habitacio-910/rigoberta-bandini-pop-per-plorar-i-ballar/.
4 Rigoberta Bandini (February 25th, 2021). Fiesta. [Video] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJJhNz_VQ5M.
5 SMITS, A. (2019) Hey. So glad you’re here. Available online: https://www.alejandrasmits.com/perch/resources/long-about-alejandra-smits.pdf.
6 Rigoberta Bandini (March 30, 2021). Perra. [Video] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuUagFR-g1Q
7 CARRIÓN, J. (2020) Lo viral. Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg, pp. 12-13.
8 CARRIÓN, J. (2020) Lo viral. Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg, p. 17.

Irena Restoy, Marta Pasarin i Mireia Sánchez are art historians that try to run away from any prejudice while trying to figure out and understand what life's all about. We like to have a drink out in the sun while we talk about current events or "young people things". We write to survive, aware that we still can't make a living out of what we write.

Articles

06 May 2021

What’s human in the banal

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