Ambactia Memoria

CHRONICLE OF A TWO-ACT EXHIBITION
1o ACT: RAE, AT SOMOS ARTHOUSE (07.09 – 19.09.2021)
2o ACT: REC, AT KASTANIEN PROJEKTRAUM (12.10 – 24.10.2021)

Ambactia Memoria Project offers artists, critics, and activists an open framework to articulate non-norma-tive artistic positions and peripheral perspectives regarding tradition, memory, and identities in relation to the “His-panic”. By exploring the intersection between feminism, transculturalism and (post)migrant approaches on the re-presentations, practices and diverse forms of identity in con-temporary society, works selected deconstruct the idea of His-panicness and collectively imagine its future transformation.

+ Exhibition by Vanesa Peña / from October 12 to 24th , 2021 / Vernissage Oct 12th from 5 to 8pm.

AMBACTIA* MEMORIA
Embassy*. Noun. /ˈɛmbəsi/: From Old Provençal amaissada ‘office of ambassador’, from Latin ambactia, from Gaulish ambactus ‘vassal’.

The myth of the Hispanic image has been violently pierced by a cultural historiography riddled with wounds. In the name of glory, heroism and progress, a homogenizing sym-bol of colonialism acts as a mass grave mark to level what it is considered to be “the Spanish” and a great part of “the Latin”: the Hispanicness (la Hispanidad). It is, in fact, a prosthetic symbol, full of political devices for the normalization and ad-ministration of a selected but still collective memory (the banality of evil to say it with Arendt), which operates in the same way in which abject bodies are confronted across the border in many bureaucratic and institutional levels.

The conflict inserted at the very core of the “Hispanic-ness” term is an act of administrative and institutional erasure that has not only looked the other way, but also it has burned all the papers inside the filing cabinet. With this exhibition, we propose a critical decolonial cartography that starts (and now it is even much more evident because of COVID crisis) with the collapse of institutions in the midst of another pandemic that has been with us for a much longer period: the crisis of experien- ce and truth that calls into question the legitimacy of cultural institutions. The international (re)presentation which the so-called “Spanish-speaking cultures” perform outside their frontiers as well as their epistemological and political soil, is fa-lling apart. The impostor veil of culture that used to hide the real face of the political failure has dropped.

Artists such as Silvana Solivella, together with the voices of Wafa Kahlif and Allia Sellami condemning the exile to the sea, or Giuliana Kiersz (Someone asked who we are and we didn’t know what to answer) approach border, territory and time as painful experiences of dwelling between definitions

Now we can talk about both politics of the Hispanic image and politics of the Hispanic gaze, composing new visual
devices that did not yet exist for certain realities that have been resisting for a long time. Why, then, do these organizations con-tinue, even with greater force than ever, the strategies for promo-ting the “authentic” culture of Spain and many Latin American countries, while speaking of “hybridization, “multiculturalism” and “brotherhood”? But what does the “Hispanic culture” really mean? Can the “Hispanic” be thought of? Does it even exist?
To question ourselves as a way of undoing “the Spanish” in order to somehow activate new ways of being, as Carlos Gárate and Virginia

Lázaro propose
These fictional foundations of the image of the Hispanic correspond to a precise process of political acculturation, closely coupled with a concrete visual construction, all with the objective of camouflaging itself and eluding its problematic. In fact, Hispania in Latin, rather than referring to an idea of a nation, was a geographical term used to relate to the entire Iberian Peninsu-la territory. After its indiscriminate use by all of the imagina-ble political factions, it has now come to bring together what is considered “a community with common linguistic and
cultural characteristics”. Thus, the abstract image of the Hispanic is manipulated against its will, kidnapped by those who champion it and use it as a device to normalize a process of violence and colonization that, even if regenerated, reaches our days. There is something very seductive in this nationalist idea that aims to “unify” Hispanicness by inviting a society plun-ged into labour precariousness, social loneliness, discrimination or that failure to comply with the ideal beauty standards, to not be ashamed of their country’s past. The rise of national cultural identities in Spain and perhaps Europe’s writ large, is a response to a political crisis that, along with the aesthetics of fascism and necropolitical logics, provides the optimal breeding ground for a lack of a rigorous decolonial reflection in these latitudes of the globe. Society does not need more shame than the one it already
feels when it looks in the mirror every morning, but rather pride. If the past were glorious it means the future could also be. And who chooses shame over hope? Or, on the contrary, blame. There are those who engage in witch-hunts, pointing an accusing finger from the only possi-ble place to do so: the elite. There is a paralysing guilt, an identity categorisation that tightly binds an apparently leftist morality.

Revealed in reality as a bourgeois perversion (have not identities also been deformed by the capital?), they lead to a corralling from which the devices of racial, gender, sexual discrimination… are in danger of being deactivated. Identity fields are shut down from class considerations and become part of the market of marginali- ties and intersectional oppressions in a myse en abyme where all struggle is diluted in favour of an identitarian essentialism.
Within what we can call the “revisiting of historical memory”, international bodies of representation operate as te-
chniques for modifying subjectivities. In this sense, culture is territorialized to turn it into yet another object of patriarchal control that instead of uniting, as it apparently claims, it isola-tes those inside cages that separate the otherness and discipli-ne and punish. The purpose, in reality, is to create an imagined community of “us versus them”, where only the subaltern is as-ked ontologically for its being.

Miguel Buenrostro and the artists that compose Radical Mnemonics question how memory can be resistant to border regimes “and institutional erasure systems via the medium of sound.
“Meanwhile, the art institution has always reinforced the sense of belonging in some people and exclusion in others, since that hegemonic subjectivity is still influenced by the inheritance from the ecclesiastical and aristocratic-monarchical modes of the construction of truth, which in turn, it has been crucial for the developing of the artistic modernity story. In this sense, both cultural and representative institutions, in Foucauldian terms, are performative machines (self-presented as constates) that produ-ce the subject they say they represent; and at the same time, they are also apparatuses of verification and legitimation at the servi-ce of a racialized, sexualized and minorities excluding hegemo-nic discourse. It is, therefore, the logic of “exclusionary inclusion”

that constitutes such institutions; and the History of Art an  attempt to deny the heterogeneous character of what the  exhibition space by definition is beyond the categories of Western historiography: a plural, polyphonic and political place. 

Let the last words of the victims resound, as proposed in the perfor mance by María Amparo Gomar: Últimes paraules. The proposal here is to reopen history and create a sym bolic space for reparation, a way of dealing with the damage in  the face of institutional blindness and the silence of others. Wi thin a broken world, in the face of the experiences of harm and  the fragility of memory, we propose concern, active listening and  the exhibition space as a possible place of curing through images.  Spain works with colonial guilt, or with its opposite, the excuse.  

What is intended here is to establish a responsibility, as Abel Azcona  with his political work Spain asks for forgiveness proposes through the  exhibition space as a cultural artifact in transformation.  

The aim is to set a provisional and plastic pro posal, which neither constitutes nor pretends to cons titute a truth. In order to ensure that there is always a  process of collective activation through a multiplicity of discour ses, an appeal is made to public consciousness in an attempt to  avoid a unique language. It is not an act of activism, but of me diation so that others can be activated and transformed, rhizo matically. 

What we are addressing as a cornerstone to deconstruct  the idea of hispanicness, is the concept of memory, or post-me mory, as performative structures of intra-, inter- and trans- ge nerational transmission, where the key concept is trauma. In  the words of Marianne Hirsch, trauma leads to the creation of  different performative attitudes, usually related to dissociation,  the hybrid, creativity, the fictitious, the imagination, the self-re flective, the irony … never ordered, always polyhedral, as it is in tended to capture in the space for this exhibition. The defense  of post-memory as an analytical category means challenging the  meta-stories that have always dominated what we have com monly called Western History. 

and the intrinsic principles of European painting.“ 

Thus, Andrés Argüelles (The Resurrection of Atahualpa)  

fictionalized the conquest of Tahuantinsuyo by the Spanish Empire  

There is no uniqueness or truth of the memory, and  therefore, there is no single truthful method to represent that  past. The only thing we do intend to reflect is the presence (and  absence) of a multiplicity of discourses, which are indeed  those that guarantee memory, however fragmented they mi 

ght be. Thus, it is not a matter of remembering or forgetting –  well, on the other hand, how do you remember that you have  forgotten? – but rather how to remember and how to  handle representations of the past, and consequently, those of the  present. On the other hand, the gradual death of the survivors  and their testimonies becomes the impetus for new generations  to assume a collective political-moral responsibility with them,  with whom they feel a bond, and even discover, in the words of  Paul Ricoeur, themselves as others. The demands of reparation  are inextricably intertwined to the subsequent generations, and  it must be through their voices from where the possibilities of  transitional justice and collective memory must be (re)conduc ted.  

In this sense, Ricardo Candía (Silence at the end of the world) compo ses a critical reflection on the circulation and use of images referring  to the Selknam people. 

In the pursuit of alternative transnational alliances be tween the Spanish State and its more contemporary connection  with Latin America, it is also necessary to map the transition pro cess in which they continue to be immersed after the dictators hips. Along with countries like Argentina or Chile, Spain went  directly from dictatorship to the free market, and they called it  democracy. In this process, the large neo-colonial corporations  have established new and subversive coalitions of control that  were already present in the colonial period: racial, gender, sexual  and class oligarchies. In addition, the neoliberal system rapidly  phagocytes the “new” identities (re)baptizing them with less un comfortable pseudo-democratic profiles for their own interest. 

Constanza Camila (Hyperism) intensively examines her roots and  the development of textile projects from postcolonialism, with a flag  reappropriated by the Mapuche people since their colonization.  “ 

This reappropriation of derogatory or traditionally questionable sym bols (as the term queer by the LGBTIQ+ community was at the time)  is installed in the interstices of irony as a political device for social ac tivation, as evidenced by the actions of the Homo Velamine collective. 

Thus, it is proposed to treat coloniality in this sen 

se not as a mere racial classification, but as a mechanism of  domination that permeates all aspects of social existence,  knowledge production and identities. The relationship between  them are more than intersectional, they are mutual. In this  way, the gender system of modernity would not exist without  coloniality, indeed, it is constitutive of it, and vice versa.  

“ In order to contextualize the impact of colonialism and globaliza tion, KIM/ILLI (Choreographies of Labo(u)r) portrays the alienating  reality of undocumented Filipino workers in Barcelona, while Melanie  Rivera (Puerto Rico: Pasado Presente, P.R.O.M.E.S.A.) does the same in  “relation to the construction of a colonial tourist image of Puerto Rico.  In this sense, Karl Ingar Røys (Caminata Nocturna) creates a moc kumentary (actually a tourist attraction of the city of Alberto) of the  US-Mexico border.  

Among the violence of the European colonial expansion, all forms of sexual or gender dissidence were persecuted for  being against the Judeo-Christian vision of the body, the sexua lity or the pleasure. The first pathologizations, regulations and  prohibitions of homosexuality or the diversity of gender and sex  that already existed in pre-Columbian cultures were established  with the aim of categorizing colonized subjects. The conquerors  considered the indigenous men as savage and effeminate becau se of their ornamentation, and women as l bertines because of  the nakedness of a body that was since then fiercely sexualized.  That is why we must think of coloniality of gender as a two-way  relational base, just as it is unthinkable to “de-colonize without  de-patriarchalizing” (no es posible descolonizar sin despatriar calizar), in the words of María Galindo.  

Once the motives that encourage the decolonization of  the hispanic (which seem so closely linked to feminisms) have  been understood, and in order to invite a counter-genealogy of  total resistance, it is necessary to question the position of race  within Queer Theories. The concerns about the epistemic limitations of this theory, and its “Westernist” worldview, make  us wonder if it is not necessary, in addition to de-colonize and  de-patriarchalize, also, in a sense, de-queerize. Is it possible for  subaltern communities to express their experiences, their bodies, and their erotic imagination in the same terms that Queer  Theory does through Western visual realism? The problem of se xual dissidence approaches from Eurocentric and white theore tical-political frameworks does not fully include the polyhedral  reality of the colonial subject and the effects of such coloniali ty on their bodies and desires. The institutionalization of this  theory, and its discreet introduction into the university curricu la, is easily digested by the system as an advertising formula and  deactivated in its proclamations (even more so in the absence  of a translation of the term into other languages). As we can see  from protests banners around the world “lo queer no te quita lo  racista” (the queerness doesn’t take away your racism). The deco lonial inflection requires finding new scriptural forms that con tinue challenging the hegemonic methods of enunciation and  that recode and reflect these collective interests. By creating new  codes through acts of re-existence, decolonial subjects critically  appropriate pre-existing concepts.  

Adriana Bickel (There are no straight lines in the sea), explores the po tentiality of the ambiguous and the idea of limit using the ocean as an  image of that potential state that is both crisis and possibility; a liquid mass that rebels against any attempt to draw dividing lines, a utopia  that we are constantly redrawing. 

Therefore, we consider in this text a geopolitical, epis temic and post-identitarian displacement from queer to “cuir”  in order to weave transnational networks of identification and  communication that make visible the vulnerability of “the His panic” and the processes of historical subalternization since co lonization. Cuir, as the theorist Sayak Valencia argues, is also a  critical position that reflects the interest for the migration of ideas and concepts, so that they are always active and the process  of (self)questioning continues. It is a de-colonial turn based on a  re-reading of the trans* feminist imaginary and sexual dissiden ce as peaceful practices of organized civil disobedience, where  functional diversity, age, class, race… are intertwined in alliance  with ecofeminisms, cyberfeminisms and indigenous feminisms. 

With all these questions in mind, the exhibition space  is proposed as a vehicle to articulate new non-normative artistic  practices around the concept of tradition, memory and identi ties on/from/with/against/through the hispanic” In the words of  Paul B. Preciado, it is an invitation to constitute a “parliament  of the (hispanicized) bodies”. In this way, it is a call to jointly  create alternative epistemologies that confront these forms of  oppression through the rearticulation of experience and the  work of art. To subvert this Eurocentrism and challenge im 

perial narratives, artists, critics and activists are invited to ex plore languages and practices of “disidentification” (to say it  with Jose Esteban Muñoz) in order to open a discussion and  collectively imagine a transformation of the Hispanic. 

@somos.berlin / @kastanienberlin_ 

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