Through several editorial projects and collaborations with local media outlets, the biennial will circulate content that will enrich the discourse around the exhibitions of We Have Never Been Contemporary, and relate to the artistic projects. The editorial program, conceived of as another exhibitive too, will concentrate on the biennial’s four central axes, juxtaposed in the editorial program in order to contribute to expanding, from a deformalist perspective, the questions and discussions on the function of biennials in the current context of Mexico and Latin America, the exploration of museological strategies, contemporary approaches to the popular arts, and the tensions implicit between the colonial, the baroque, the modern, and the postmodern.
The four axes of the editorial program are:
Biennials in Latin America
The São Paulo Biennial (1951) was the second art event to establish itself as a space for international dialogue. However, in Latin America these expansive, periodic mechanisms for creating visibility for artists, curators, critics, and historians, and the public, in general, only became popular in the nineties, after the first edition of the Havana Biennial (1984), which created a pattern for generating an integrative cultural dialogue outside of the hegemonic centers of artistic production, thus establishing a global biennial model.
The XIII FEMSA Biennial seeks to open a discussion on the historical and contemporary functions of Biennials in Latin America, while at the same time proposing divergent lines of operation within its own curatorial approach.
It will also establish a form of self-reflection that proposes alternate perspectives on its own curatorial strategies. This line of research will accompany a symposium on the subject that will take place in November 2018, a central component of the public program in We Have Never Been Contemporary.
What kinds of intersections and analyses can be generated by an exhibition that places objects within a local context in dialogue with global art history? By juxtaposing historiographical models and contemporary approaches to the different museological strategies in Latin America, this axis of the editorial program will add to critical discussions taking place within the field of exhibitions, both in terms of hegemonic art history and as a component of a strategy for adapting mainstream traditions to the conditions, concerns, and environments of the cultural Global South.
Artisanship Against the Grain
This axis seeks to carry out a transversal reading of the so-called popular arts in Mexico that transcends the narratives that place these traditions within a commercial perspective based in tourism. This line of research instead explores the critical potential that the popular arts have within our current cultural context, re-examining their link with forms of contemporary artistic production beyond the nationalist discourse with which these traditions have been almost exclusively associated in post-revolutionary discourse.
This line within the editorial program approaches historical writing not as a recovery of the past but as a mode of contemporary creation, born from the traces of history that lie in the multiple expressions of modernity that surround us.(1)We will gather texts related to certain concepts put forth by Walter Benjamin including his philosophies on history, montage, actualization, the fragmentary, and allegory, as well as on the intersections between these concepts and the biennial’s location in Zacatecas. Based on the way objects are defined throughout history, this publication will focus on the tensions produced by the many modernities that inform present cultural, social, and economic production.
In addition to the lines of research that will be developed as part of the editorial program, the biennial will/has been collaborating with local media in Zacatecas to cover the events of the biennial. A complete report on this collaboration will be presented during the symposium in November 2018.
The XIII FEMSA Biennial will also publish a general memory of its different components, including a list of works and information on the different locations, curatorial routes, participants, seminars, and public programming of We Have Never Been Contemporary. This publication will be a guide document for understanding the biennial’s curatorial approach and the different questions it poses.
Stéphane Mosès, “The Angel of History,” in The Angel of History: Rosenzweig, Benjamin, Scholem (Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 2008), PAGE NUMBER.