“I was in China recently, after traveling 5000 KL in just a week by train and bus and taxi , I had a vision. I've seen us locked in a triangle made by three chopsticks, all of them black. The first made by steel (US), the second by wood (Europe) the third a plastic one (China), these chopsticks are closing around us and we are rice.. US used to be the new-North once, Europe a great mix of North and South, China used to be a "Far East" but now everything is turning to a Total North. There are a few safe places still left.. Outside of the terrifying triangle of Total North, a crazed Pac-man, the Muslim World- is expanding to all directions, copying the worst of the West, suffocating the best of the East. Still, there is a land where not only we can escape from Total North's chopsticks and Allah's veracity but even take a bit of time to study how to deal with all that. The country is Colombia and has a bit of everything: Atlantic/Pacific/Amazonas/Páramos, even a Micro-Tibet called Sierra Nevada- the indigenous people who live up there, are luckily NOT celebrated. Colombia is just a minute away from Miami, still light-years different because a civil war has put on hold the Gringo-philosophy and the European propaganda. These days the country is coming out of the -somewhat protective- tunnel of isolation… They call this process Paz (“peace”) and Colombian people are- to say the least- skeptical about it although everyone wants the war to end. Paz’s theater happens in Habana, Cuba, there a number of bosses, starting with Santos- a President with an eternal smile attached on his face (a face that was actually burned in an accident he had as a kid and re-constructed in a genius way, just to accommodate that smile). Then there are various second-class Che Guevaras, the top one one goes by the name of Timochenko, the others are Iván Márquez, Pablo Catatumbo and Pastor Alape. They are the FARC, a "revolutionary army” that support itself by selling drugs. Far from all that, from what happens in Cuba and even Colombia, a new generation that includes youngsters such as Felipe Steiner and Antonio Echavarria are taking their time in the “cool” cities of the Total North. Sooner or later they will return to their country to take control of its Democracy… This is not the place to talk about the “other”, more relevant Colombians, the indigenous people, still here’s at least a few of the names of the 66 tribes that are still happening: Arhuaco, Awa, Bara, Barasana, Cocama, Chiricoa, Guambiano, Guane, Inga, Kankuamo,Kogui, Kuiba, Makuna, Ocaina, Piratapuyo, Puinave, Sikuani, Tanimuka, Tikuna, Tucano, Uitoto, Wayuu, Wiwa & Yukuna. Now, let’s zoom into the centre of Colombia and to its capital, an area that used to be a paradise called Bacatá (in the language of the famously extraordinary Chibcha people who used to live there until the European barbarians arrived and exterminated them). The name of the area, victim of the same idiotic violence has turned to Bogotá.. "Aquí no hay gallos, no hay nada”(Here there are no roosters, there’s nothing) complains Gabriel García Márquez using as his avatar Simon Bolivar, Bogotá’s most famous user (Bolivar was using this city as a base to go all around the South America with his horse and try to change its operating system). There’s "less than nothing" in Bogotá today, there’s Contemporary Art, the corpse Europe and US are throwing around in every parts of our planet. When the corpse was a living organism- in the 60's-70’s, there used to be a few important locals breeding it. From those days I”ll name-drop just one guy, Miguel Ángel Rojas and a group called Taller 4Rojo. From our days, I want you to know three names: Matilde Guerrero, Juan Sebastian Pelaez & Sebastian Fierro Castro. Fierro Castro is Painting, Pelaez is Post-internet Guerrero is the future of this country in every sense.. The best way to see Fierro Castro is to visit the booth of Colombia’s most happening gallery - Instituto de Visión in an art fair near you (this gallery really goes in all of them), the best way to see the work of Pelaez is to check him on Instagram under the impressive tag #juansebastianpelaez . The best way to see Matilde Guerrero’s work is to come to Bogotá and meet her. If this little text gave you the wisdom to know more about Bogotá, read the books of Santiago Gamboa, start with his first book, Perder es cuestión de método. If you can’t read it in Spanish, what a pity, you are still stuck in other languages.. try listening 100 times Marcel Proust translated in Spanish in audiobook, maybe something will click in you.. I don’t know if any of these advises are useful or inspiring to you, the reason I am offering them is because I consider Bogotá a capital of the South, not the old-South but our new Middle South, the MedioSud (www.mediosud.us). It’s very possible that in the next few years, it will simply become just another city of Total North (Bogotá’s actual mayor, the infamous Enrique Peñalosa is actually working hard towards that direction), but maybe IT WILL NOT. What will happen to Bogotá- and to the world-in that case (other than not having the next Documenta happening there and at the same time in Kassel?) What will happen to people like Guerrero/Pelaez/Fierro Castro/Gamboa/myself&my daughter Alpha? This is the question and we have ABSOLUTELY NO ready-made answer. Keep watching… Miltos Manetas, Bogota, 2016
I want you to know three names: Matilde Guerrero, Juan Sebastian Pelaez & Sebastian Fierro Castro. Fierro Castro is Painting, Pelaez is Post-internet Guerrero is the future of this country in every sense.. The best way to see Fierro Castro is to visit the booth of Colombia’s most happening gallery - Instituto de Visión in an art fair near you (this gallery really goes in all of them), the best way to see the work of Pelaez is to check him on Instagram under the impressive tag #juansebastianpelaez . The best way to see Matilde Guerrero’s work is to come to Bogotá and meet her...
“There’s "less than nothing" in Bogotá today, there’s Contemporary Art, the corpse Europe and US are throwing around in every parts of our planet. When the corpse was a living organism- in the 60's-70’s, there used to be a few important locals breeding it. From those days I”ll name-drop just one guy, Miguel Ángel Rojas and a group called Taller 4Rojo.
“When the corpse of Contemporary Art was a living organism-in the 60's-70’s, in Bogota used to be a few important locals breeding it. There was a group called Taller 4Rojo. The artists involved were Diego Arango, Nirma Zárate, Jorge Mora, Jorge Villegas, Germán Rojas, Umberto Giangrandi, Carlos Granada and Fabio Rodríguez. The Taller lasted just two years, from 1972 to 1974. Lately there was a return of the Taller 4Rojo, this time as a ghost, operating on social media, commending on Colombian reality. "Reanimar el arte político colombiano para la Colombia de hoy", (Re-enacting Colombian Political Art for today's Colombia).
“Writing in Bogota...
"Three black chopsticks, one made by steel-USA- the second by wood-Europe- the third a plastic one-China"
I was in China recently, after travelling 5000 KLM -by train and bus and taxi- for just a week, after visiting a newly born private art-museum and its "First Biennial Exhibition" build in the middle of "nothing" after visiting an "Inner Mongolia" tourist-trap where the Chinese middle class dress- up "Mongolians" and take pictures with animals and peasants the company sublets, after counting from the train at least 40 brand new large cities all looking the same, all growing in every direction, I think I have a clear image of the actual situation.
I've seen us locked in a triangle made by chopsticks: three black chopsticks, one made by steel-USA- the second made by wood-Europe- the third a plastic one-China- are closing around us. They are all hard and fast and we are rice. They represent the Total North.
US is Total North's philosopher, it teaches how life is worthy only if spend in confusion and fear, how everything feels better if it means nothing and how daydreaming some future-any future- is a better Now
Europe is the philosopher's PR-agent and engineer, it advertises the secret meanings of that flat rhetoric, there's beauty in pop and consumerism Europe suggests- just try turning your toilet seat the other side, try focus on it and re-discover it the way "European Culture" teaches for centuries now and you'll see.. it's powerful, artistic, scientific and spiritual.
Then there is China, the Mother-Worker/Provider/Ultimate Customer the experiment and the cave of the experimentation, the body and its coffin in a single set.
Outside of that terrifying triangle, a crazed Pac-man, the Muslim World, is expanding-like the Chinese cities-to all directions, copying like it always did, the worst of the West and suffocating as always, the best of the East. The only variety of life benefiting from this state of affairs are cellphones, indeed each and every Chinese city seams designed and re-arranged by families of cellphones so that they will proliferate happily. read.
Our lifestyle is now updated in real time. At the same time, all kinds of distances are cancelled. Everywhere in the world, South and North become just one: NORTH. In the Western territories of the Northern World and mostly Europe, a new Middle South is born.
In the NORTH, the deal between society and government was always clear. During fascism, society is asked to obey, during democracy, society is asked to debate. In both cases - in the NORTH - art is the authorised voice of society. Therefore, during democracy, art HAS to debate.
In the old South the deal between society and government has never been clear and its not clear at the new Middle South either . This new MIDDLE SOUTH is already visible in the self-transforming territories such as Greece and Italy below Rome. People there aren't perfectly comfortable, even if they accept the ultra-modern NORTHERN lifestyle, they are searching for an art that's somehow different from the very successful industry of isolation our contemporary art has become.
In the NORTH, most public money are spend to protect. When fascism reigns, culture is protected by regulation. But even when there is democracy and culture seams free, still it's controlled in elaborate, quite religious ways, art institutions are the new temples and their directors the new high priests. The artworks have to make it to the collections of the Museums as sacrifice: artefacts of propitiation and worship.
The people of the new MIDDLE SOUTH aren't perfectly happy with this Church of Art. They are already looking for alternatives. Art forms in websites, videogames and software pass from one computer to another, from one network to another, they belong to collections and at the same time to everyone: they are digital graffiti.read
The idea of MedioSud was born when Marina Fokidis invited me to write a text for her new-born magazine South. That was just after my daughter Alpha was born, I was living in the South of Europe again- in Rome- after many years spend in the World's North (USA, UK, Paris etc) and I had start thinking about it.. What was this place now- the mediterranean basin- after all these years, after the internet? Who were those people such as Fokidis and other old friends and family? Most of them would cry for help -as if the sky had fallen on their heads- (the crisis! the crisis!), still, having spend a bit of time in Colombia, I wouldn't believe them. So I visited Greece and I realised that the country and its people never looked more interesting and alive, I looked around Europe and I show a Middle South rising, a new reality that isn't "South" no-more, still its not - and doesn't agree to become - a Total North either. So I wrote for Fokidis' magazine "My Family in Middle South" and when a few months later, Salvatore Lacagnina and Rome's Swiss Institute, asked me to write something about art in Rome (for their contribution to Berlin Biennial), I took that opportunity to write a little manifesto about how I imagined art in Middle South-the art in MedioSud. And then-suddenly- a miracle: Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) decide to resign! As the history of the South was always depending on Christianity, I felt that the possibility or a new Middle South Movement starts existing exactly on the day the Pope resigns and the world is left unshadowed -for a bit a least- free from that religious ghost. Therefore, on Feb 28, 2013, I introduced MedioSud at the MACRO in Rome. In 2015- Greece surprised us all the way Ratzinger did two year earlier: the SYRIZA government had decide to put together a Mondial Performance by asking the Greek People if they agreed to continue be exploited by Europe. They answered NO, Europe ignored them and went on exploiting them. During the Greek Summer of NO, Adam Szymczyk, announced Athens as one of the two cities that will be hosting DOCUMENTA 14, the very Northern exhibition Total North is using to teach to the World "the way to be intellectual" (the latin word "documentum" comes from "docere" -teach- and "mens" -intellect.)
sì qualche storta sillaba e secca come un ramo.
Codesto solo oggi possiamo dirti,
ciò che non siamo, ciò che non vogliamo.
"Non chiederci la parola", Eugenio Montale, 1925
just a few gnarled syllables, dry like a branch.
all I have are gnarled syllables, branch-dry.
All I can tell you now is this:
what we are not, what we do not want.
"Don’t Ask Me for Words", Eugenio Montale, 1925
που κόσμους θα σου ανοίξει,
Ίσως μια κάποια συλλαβή στρεβλή
σαν το ξερό κλαδί
Δεν έχουμε άλλο τίποτα σήμερα να σου πούμε
Μονο το τι δεν είμαστε, τι δεν επιθυμούμε.
"Μη μας ζητάς τη λέξη", Εουτζένιο Μοντάλε, 1925
»today, all that we can tell you«
»is what we are not«
»what we don't want«
»This is definitely a new south«
»populated by MAC (man-after-computers/man-after-contemporary art)«
I am born and grown up in Greece: that definitely makes me a Southerner. Those days, phones were analogue and while my mother was working at the central phone station connecting phone calls as a phone operator, my father was repairing the electric circuits at the same building.
Outside that building and all over Greece, old ladies in black were everywhere, orbiting like human satellites around our life from its beginning until its end. Apart from a few politicians, no Greek would bother if he is a European and had no need to prove it either. There was a single book on the History of Modern Art, but you could go find Tsarouchis at his garden in Marousi and look at him while he was painting. Google cars would not take pictures for their maps: it was a totally PC universe (PreComputers and PreContemporary art) and I remember myself in it, excited, bored and happy
SOUTH was published by Marina Fokidis, a lady trapped between North and South. Charismatic but not-determined, courageous but not always, dedicated still losing most of her time doing "jobs", Marina would always throw her diamonds to the dogs: after 5 amazingly "South" issues, she gave the magazine to the Northerners of DOCUMENTA with the illusion that once they are done with it, she"ll bring back somehow its originality.