This week I will leave for the series of trips that will bring me to Central America and the Caribbean, the right moment to go through some speculation and expectations.
Obviously there is little I can do or say that goes beyond a naïve understanding of where I will travel. I have not been in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Jamaica before and somehow it all feels like ‘a very first school trip’. It seems a childish analogy for me to use, but perhaps the very naivety goes to the core of why I proposed these set of trips and why it is supported. It feels great when one can enter a territory of the unknown, to go in ‘blank’ with the only luggage I have; a guidance, a loose idea, a far away smell or clue, some contacts, but not much more. But what exactly informs this trip beyond its contents, a complex history of political activity that might transform into cultural life? What to learn from my own methods in preparation of research beyond the efforts I seem to value in the transformation process I expect to find traces of?
It made me think about the foundations of ‘research’ and how it relates to a curatorial practice. At the moment, no reading on the specific conditions that shaped political life in Nicaragua for example can provide me with insight on what has happened. My imagination does not seem to reach far enough to speculate on that, it needs a visit for sure. What I can and wish to speculate on for the moment is the very pre-conditions that constitute this trip. It talks about availability of funds, motivations, opportunities, accessibility of information and much more that is all part of organizing myself. Most of the time I feel these things are discarded as ‘practice’, away from any theoretical information it could provide. I hope it will perform otherwise.
What I want to get away from is to have rhetorical questions able only to perform a set of ideas and outcomes that are more or less already complete, but only need some addition for it to become valuable. These instances form perhaps the biggest danger to something like a curatorial practice as this is not helping to re-arrange, become chaotic, mediate or provide curiosity, but instead it offers a form of acknowledging a representation, bringing very little into the curatorial realm, let alone an honest speculation on what that realm could look like.
To counter this a bit I need to be looking for ways to become even more blank than I already am, leaving everything to coincidence, having almost no clue, downscaling everything to a bare minimum, to be as little aware of conditions as possible. Perhaps this is the biggest challenge, becoming unaware of the conditions of the trip in order to re-valuate the motivations once again.
I was also thinking that somehow this could be close to the struggle against American occupation in Nicaragua, the Sandinista’s, contra-movements and the subsequent move from a political arena to that of a cultural field. In essence, if I want to revisit my motivations, this is what I am interested in; at what point did the people that I will meet realized that the political reality could transform into the cultural? How did they downgraded their interest, in most of the cases quite radical political views, into transforming themselves into organizers of cultural sources such as independent magazines, art institutions, libraries and educational forms? Is it that at this moment of transformation, if it really is transformation, we need to look if we want to understand how similar political and artistic practices can be? How can these violent geographical realities lay bare that contrast between those practices?
How to approximate the interest I have in that transformational process? And how can any outcome of this research not become a model of development, exactly performing an acknowledgement? How can this really become a learning environment?
In essence thus, I want to consider the foundations of why and how to start these trips by considering its infrastructure at the beginning and its supposed outcome that, amongst other things, can become a model. I feel I am not entering into a territory that in the end provides me with new knowledge of things I do not yet know in a linear way, what I hope I am able to do is to let the complex personal and institutional experiences I encounter and are able to record, inform the very foundations of why setting out to do research like this. How can we learn from what happened in these realities and understand completely different set of ‘problems’? What will these personal stories say about the relationship from a ‘backyard’ to ‘a global world’? How can everything not become an example?
These are really to be read for the moment as incomplete notes and thoughts. Both these sketches here as well as the stories I will encounter I see as residues that can never fulfill a complete picture, never to become a clear example, never to become a model. I hope I can stay blank long enough.