DXIX: Ruben let's start by contextualizing your current show at DXIX. It is, in a way, the smallest, most condensed or “humble” solo show you’ve had in the past years in the sense that its is really a “one piece show “. You mentioned that somehow it wraps up a big body of work you have been working on in the past years.
Ruben Ortiz-Torres: This show summarizes a crossing of ideas I have been dealing with in art, life and politics. Coming this from a very baroque and scattered mind and practice I consider this an achievement more so than something “small” or “humble.” There are two different pieces in the show but they are intertwined. It is a show that attempts to connect on one hand particular conceptual, technical, and formal issues related to painting and abstraction with politics, nationalism and iconoclasm as well as with more personal issues like immigration, my education and formation and perhaps even my relation to punk. It has to do too with negation as construction of meaning.
Rubén Ortiz-Torres, 6 Flag BBQ, DXIX, 2017.
6 Flag BBQ, DXIX, 2017, installation view.
Rubén Ortiz-Torres, 4th of July, DXIX, 2017.
Rubén Ortiz-Torres, Ashes from 6 Flags, DXIX, 2017.
DXIX: Appropriating, referencing (and cross referencing) and reusing of your surrounding cultural vernacular and historical iconographies, the use of narratives and symbols are very common strategies in your practice. In this project we have the national flags of course, this is a very strong local referent. One can also hear echoes of the American and European Avant grade, Goya or Baroque painting. This piece gives the impression of being very much about tracing a lineage back to the history of Painting. More specifically to the history of black paintings. R.O-T: When I teach basic painting I have my students avoiding the use of black to force them to think about contrast in terms of color and texture and think of painting not as an extension of drawing. However I have always been attracted to Spanish painting with its dramatic use of black and darkness from the baroque of Valdez Leal to Goya, Guernica and abstract painters like Tápies and Saura. Motherwell says about his series Elegies to the Spanish Republic: “After a period of painting them, I discovered Black as one of my subjects—and with black, the contrasting white, a sense of life and death which to me is quite Spanish. They are essentially the Spanish black of death contrasted with the dazzle of a Matisse-like sunlight.” I have been thinking of the use of black as “anti painting.” Also I have been thinking of the baroque emotional and even irrational response to the simplicity and austerity of the arguments of reason as a precedent to anti art. Of course the iconoclasm of the aesthetics of austerity could be considered also a form of anti art as well. There are also particular and interesting contradictions in the use of black in the baroque. King Philip II started in the 16th century dressing the Spanish court in black preceding existentialist, gothic and punk fashions. This was a decreed of austerity by law for moral and economic reasons. However the dyes that were used to make such garments came from Mexico and were expensive making this a luxury that just few could afford.
Rubén Ortiz-Torres, 6 Flag BBQ, DXIX, 2017.
DXIX: Your work feels at the same time ludic and politically engaged, sarcastic and militant. Not like these things are actually opposite things but I appreciate an interest in paradox as productive space. I also find a very fertile tension in your work between mythification and demystification (some current paradigms are put in question while other less current ones are brought to front). R.O-T: Modern art attempted to avoid the idea of representation. My conceptual teachers criticized metaphor and symbolism as connotative forms of language that depended on cultural conventions and therefore not really “objective.” However I wonder if nowadays with our practice and need of reading meaning and subtext everywhere if connotation and with it the process of mythification (in a Barthez sense) is avoidable and with it the possibility to escape metaphor, symbolism and representation. In that sense its better to understand how these are constructed in order to use them or question them with a sense of purpose.
DXIX: Along these same lines, what is your position in relation to those, lets say, “pragmatist” modes of art practicing that advocate for implementation and intervention as the main operational strategies in order to make politically engaged or socially progressive art. R.O-T: Art is a form of expression, a language. Once we start calling art those “pragmatic” forms of social participation and practice we subject their practical effect to one of signification. Their original purpose and function is conditioned while it drags their linguistic function. If, for Plato, art had to imitate reality now it has to be a “real” action that we have to interpret as a representation of itself. Not to even mention that artists are usually ill suited to do such actions that need expertise. One thing is to make political art and another propaganda or politics. For some reason those differences seem to be clearer in relation to sex. We can distinguish more clearly the difference between erotic art, pornography and having sex than between political art, propaganda and politics.
Rubén Ortiz-Torres, Tierra y Libertad
Rubén Ortiz-Torres, Tierra y Libertad
DXIX: You art practice has been eclectic and interdisciplinary but we can identify in the recent years of your trajectory a noticeable focus on painting. Your current paintings are very painterly but they are not conceived from a traditional “studio painter” mind set. Far from falling into purely lyrical positions or literal political commentaries you seem to manage to explore the voluptuous and expressivity of the medium while bringing to the front of the discussion historical and critical issues in relation to art and society. These paintings make “painters” happy and keep “discourse oriented audience” engaged. An interesting balance…very difficult to achieve. R.O-T: I hope you are right. I studied art in a very traditional environment at the former Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City in the late eighties at a time when painting was playing an important role and then did my masters in CalArts in the early nineties. Paradoxically my peers in Mexico City often stopped painting in search of an art theory that was absent while CalArts arguably has produced some of the most interesting painting in the US almost in response to its conceptual emphasis. It seems to me that such emphasis has forced painters to use painting in a different way, to use it and think of it not as a hermetic system. Painting is just one of many tools in a toolbox with its limitations and possibilities. It is not death as long as people use it like any other language and as I can see definitely more popular than Esperanto or Latin and less threatened than indigenous languages.
DXIX: Anarchism is a political paradigm often quite misinterpreted and a term commonly misused. The complexity and richness of its ideas and contributions to politics, education and overall culture are often undermined. Frequently simplistically and incorrectly interpreted as chaos, lack of order and destructive nihilism. What is your interest as an artist and educator in Anarchism? Where is this interest coming from? Is it your experience with ideas of the “Escuela Moderna”, your interest in Punk music? More importantly, why are you bringing this reference to the conversation now? R.O-T: I was very lucky to study in a little experimental grammar school in Mexico City called Manuel Bartolomé Cossío. José de Tapia Bujalance who was an exiled Spanish teacher funded it. He was an anarchist who believed that to create a better, free and fair society it was necessary to start with the children. He came to Mexico as a refuge from the concentration camps in France after the defeat of democracy and Spanish republic by Franco and its fascist forces supported by Hitler. Francesc Ferrer and his “Escuela Moderna,” Célestin Freinet and his colleague Patricio Redondo, influenced him. I loved my school. I did not know I was particularly interested in art, education and anarchism (or that other people were not) until I had to confront the limitations, rigidity, frustrations, competitiveness in opposition to collaboration, bureaucracy, hierarchic structures, etc. of other schools and society in general. So my interest comes from the real experience of an attempt of a democratic, free and self managed project that had nothing to do with “chaos, lack of order or destructive nihilism.” Obviously it was not perfect but isn’t perfection an enemy of freedom? This experience made me aware of the possibility of the possibility in a world and a country of impossibilities. In a time where the ideas of freedom and the word “libertarian” had been perverted into the possibility to exploit and abuse other people it is utmost necessary to revisit anarchist thinking. José de Tapia told me once as I was older and visited him: “anarchism is not an A inside a circle, it is morals.”
DXIX: Where (socially, culturally) do you find these ideas “alive” right now? Where can we look in order to find current anarchist ideas at play? R.O-T: I actually see them in lots of places. I see them in the spontaneous and independent forms of organization that mushroomed to help after the Mexico City earthquake, in the Zapatista movement, in the resurgent Chicano interest in the Flores Magón brothers, in the DIY spirit of punk, the Riot Grrrls, in Occupy Wall Street, in the open programs of contemporary art education, the writings of Chomsky, artist run organizations, in thriving cooperatives, in non linear and open digital systems, in the rhizome, etc. I also see a similar spirit in ideas that might even precede anarchist thinking such as certain Pre Columbian indigenous forms of organization like the “Tequio.” Even the utopian dreams of Jefferson and Marx coincided in self governed free and fair societies.
6 Flag BBQ, 2017, DXIX, installation view.
DXIX: Visual arts, opera, music, teaching, curating, writing.... Once you told me (more or less) that you rather wear many hats even at the risk of eventually not advancing as far as you could in each particular area. You also told me you when you began your education you didn't specifically want to be an artist but you ended up becoming one because it allowed you to do all sorts of things and engage in many different conversations at the same time. This reminds me of that metaphor that describes the difference between the one who wants to find the most efficient way to get to the top of a mountain in order to see the vista (but misses most of the mountain) and the one who prefers to wander around the mountain in order to explore its different corners at the risk of never getting to the top. Both are very different ways to experience and live the mountain. Along these lines I can't help but thinking about Luis Bunuel; an artist and figure that we both admire. When reading his biography “Mi ultimo suspiro” I had the feeling Bunuel made films, wrote, and engaged in other creative adventures just as a way of engaging with life in certain way. Looking for discovering in life and living it fully. I don't think he ever had a deliberate plan to make art even if he couldn't really live without making it. R.O-T:I actually loved the metaphor. Why should the vista of the top be worth more than the different corners? Perhaps the problem of coming from such an open educational system that fosters a wide range of interests is not the lack of focus but the realization of the many things worthy of a focus. It has been a complicated issue to describe my practice and the lack of a homogeneous single body of work. Especially at the beginning of my career when more modernist curators and gallerists used to interpret that as a lack of maturity. Nowadays I get similar complicated responses when I ask my scientist colleagues at the university what do they do. They often have interdisciplinary careers that intersect different sciences and practices such as chemistry, physics, medicine, engineering, biology, etc. I see Buñuel with the moral envy and respect I have for my teacher José de Tapia, my father and my grandfather. He was able to produce the most radical avant-garde in the center as well as far away from it, while having a family and without making compromises. He teaches us not that “life is art” but that you have to have a life to make art.
Ruben Ortiz-Torres in his studio at UCSD
DXIX: Finally, talking about life and art. A few decades ago you arrived to Southern California and for one reason or another you ended up staying. Looking back to the work you have produced and the projects you have been involved with looks like the SO CAL cultural ecosystem and Rubén Ortiz-Torres are what some would call a “match made in heaven”. Was this a process or a love at first sight? Why settling here instead of other places like CDMX, NYC or Europe. On a general note, any comments on the recent evolution of the Los Angeles art scene? It looks like the international attention and the global influx of art agents and capital is bigger than ever. Rents and taco prices are going up too... R.O-T: LOL… I wonder about this “match made in heaven” theory. It was certainly not a love at first sight. In fact the first time I came here in 1972 I did not even notice there was a city between LAX and Disneyland.
With the PST initiatives I have had to seriously articulate and think my relationship to Southern California. I wrote extensively about it in the catalogs of “MEX/LA, ‘Mexican’ Modernism(s) in Los Angeles 1930-1985” and “How To Read el Pato Pascual.” For me LA has not been an option instead of Mexico City and New York or Europe but in fact the possibility to be somewhere in between or in both. Somewhere where I could be in Mexico when I need to or want to and where I could be also in the first world or close to it with access to New York and/or Europe when necessary.
By the time I got here, Southern California was already the capital of popular culture and contemporary art education but was still needy of the validation of a New York more interested in its nostalgia for the factory and the CBGB and in confirming its Annie Hall stereotypes of “Lalaland.” MOCA for example would import Mexican art from New York incapable of recognizing the city’s cultural production signaling a failure as a cultural center. The art scene in California was (and still is) less commercial and dependent on the market and more related to education and academic research. However with all its problems it was clear the region was maturing. Certain efforts are worth mentioning like Gary Kornblau’s “Art Issues” magazine. It addressed culture and art in a serious and inclusive way. The PST initiatives funded and helped the creation of a more competitive and open way to do research and present art. Add to this the resources of the film industry, the proximity to Silicon Valley and with it access to new technologies, the car and aerospace industry and very importantly the proximity to the border and the port making the gate to immigration, imports and to the world and you get a recipe for a thriving center of art production. Distribution is starting to come after this. Let’s hope that rents and the cost of living still allow this to happen.
PROFOUNDLY PROFANE, JACKAL ELATION, and OTHER RUINED RUMINATIONS Javier Fresneda and Melinda Guillén in conversation.
Melinda Guillén: We discussed the current iteration of Reología and its placement in a domestic space and how the modes of display, in particular the wine cooler and altered guitar stands, lends itself to a sort of pop cultural approach, distinct from the canonical seriousness of museums. Why is that important to you? Javier Fresneda: Between 2009 and 2011, my work focused on the representation and visualization of spaces which produced a lot of visual documentation in need of storage, display, and circulation. That made me aware of how, in some cases, documentation takes over the project’s content by means of its format: furniture, grids, diagrams for displaying, etc. I’ve become increasingly allergic to the artistic trend that, by means of formalizing documentation in a ‘serious’ way, dignifies its content even prior to its assessment. So if your project looks pseudo-scientific because of your gray tables, or your wall installation composed by thirty-four images of 35x23” fried eggs, silver pins, etc. you’re on a good track not because of your content, but because how you’ve installed the cutlery on the table nicely. It becomes a question of manners before content. And then the pop enters. For me, the idea of pop implies the use of emblems that index their own degradation; an accumulation of visual stuff that always indicates its limits, its decay. A pop image always has a specific duration and it’s not a ‘pure’ format that can be transposed indistinctly. It’s not a diagram, but a gesture that wants to talk about itself. So to conceive my visual documentation under the umbrella of pop allows me to look at my images as contours, stains or slices; as a material that you can daub onto things.
The idea of installing some of my pieces in a domestic space happened after talking with Aitor and Jamie of DXIX Projects. The space has two stories, a basement allocated as a white cubish experience, whereas the second story is an actual apartment. By the time we started talking about the idea of putting a show in the second story it made perfect sense to me; the act of situating my pieces (some of them are furniture) in a given domestic space relocates all the patrimonial matter into a more intimate realm of consumption. The idea was challenging though in the sense of keeping the awareness of the space; trying to not transform the apartment into a white cubish experience, and at the same time to indicate that something is happening there. The use of guitar stands, tables, and coolers creates different degrees of attention and possibility that you wouldn’t get with canonical museum props. For instance, the act of holding pieces or putting them into a cooler-vitrine allows you to touch, even steal the artifacts. The table made by Eugenio Encarnación is made of pucté, katalox and zapote. These endemic woods from the Yucatan Peninsula are, in my opinion, actual heritage that in the context of the show become a platform for dirt obtained from canonical heritage sites. We admire the table’s quality insofar as we admit that its role is to display the valuable stuff; little heaps of dirt cut with baking soda. So the incorporation and use of furniture in this way lures us, expanding the scope of experiences in the show.
Javier Fresneda. Reología (2017) Production shoot.
MG: We’ll get back to the drug part soon. But first, how did you start chiseling pieces of national monuments? JF: I guess it was in 2012, at the time I was working as Associate Researcher at Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan (UADY, Mexico) in the Heritage Conservation Department. I met and still stay in touch with scholars and artists from the area, made some friends and also visited archaeological sites and heritage buildings in different estados de Mexico such as Yucatán, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Mexico state and Oaxaca to name a few.
MG: Where did the idea to chisel come from? JF: It arose throughout my frequent visits to those sites and buildings; in retrospect I see Reología as a natural consequence of these experiences. Also, the discovery of Charles Robert Cockerell’s The Professor’s Dream (1848) had a remarkable impact on me. The drawing depicts a landscape filled up with disparate ruins and architectures that vanished into thin air, as if the extension of these buildings continued into a state of suspended dirt.
MG: This reminds me of something from the famed 1928 text “The Modern Cult of Monuments: Its Character and Its Origin”, where Alois Riegl explained that monuments are “erected for the specific purpose of keeping single human deeds or events alive in the minds of future generations.” He felt that each have an imperative, stating that, “[a] work of art is generally defined as palpable, visual, or audible creation by man which possesses artistic value; a historical monument with the same physical basis will have historical value.” Does your work have an imperative? JF: Not in the sense of having a ‘mission’ at least. I like to think of Reología as a first step towards an integral questioning on the need for preserving stuff according to the current institutionalization we have: ownership by means of bureaucracy and office drama, governance via memos and land expropriation… In other words, I like to use the project to discuss a simple point: the urge for impeding change when it comes to these material traits. Most of the commonsensical discourse defending heritage’s assets (identity, economy, culture) emphasize materiality and locality in order to conceal that, ultimately, the value of heritage is never embedded into its objects; we can’t have a pound of ‘Mayan culture.’ The value is rather produced without these objects, mainly through vertical mobilizations of documents. And so, a monument not only displaces preexisting heritage, it mystifies the genesis of its value (a room somewhere in Europe) by reclaiming rights of origin.
MG: I bring this up not because I care a lot about maintaining any quasi-authority of Riegl’s formulation of “monumentality” but more so because I know you’re familiar with the text and I’d really like to get at something beyond the hackneyed circulation of references. JF: Riegl is probably the first bureaucrat in his field. He was less distracted than other colleagues by the perceptual basis of heritage’s value (style, ornament, the idea of the ‘Classic’) and more concerned about the possibility of ‘mining’ value out of material decay. This is why he wanted to correlate his notions of ‘age value’ with ‘deliberate commemorative value’ avoiding in passing the collision between the former with his third trope of ‘historic value.’ My take on Riegl is that he suspends the given ambiguity of what is found (whether or not the monument was a monument,) and by means of restoration he relocates everything within the same plane of existence. You boil down the meaning of whichever object to restoration; then you start mobilizing value. Riegl’s stock is a diagram of sheer loss; a fabulous reserve of disparate assets that become equalized and valuable insofar as all are in the need of restoration, a process owned only by certain institutions and their minions.
MG: Exactly. The primary operation in formalism is the production and maintenance of codified ideological monuments. After that, I see such canonical figures--and the territories they claim--as present-day hauntings but in a phantasmagoric yet mundane way.
JF: Yes, I’m totally with you on this point. I would argue that if you push a restoration further enough, you’re actually summoning the phantasm of modern style in its concrete apparition. There’s evidence of that in the restoration of the Martrera Castle in Spain, where the white cube literally takes over the ruin. I like to see this case as a rare instance in which you can have both extremes of the very same manifestation (the ruin and the white cube) at the material level.
MG: So do you ever consider the tendency of chiseling in your practice in ritualistic or even quasi-spiritual terms? JF: So far it’s been an exploration on the notion of value. Part of my curiosity tries to understand what happens with these materials after being deprived of their given form, and to what extent they are still valuable. It points also to the ancient, somewhat unsolved question about the leap from quantity to quality: how much you can subtract from, say, a pyramid before it ceases to be a pyramid.
MG: Is it an addiction or only for recreational purposes? JF: It starts from a realization of art as a hobby; as a passion that occurs outside thought whenever I’m not at my job.
Javier Fresneda, Untitled (cooler.) DXIX, 2017, detail.
MG: Are all monuments, in your view, intended to be patriotic? Nationalistic? And do you consider your process of chiseling violent? I am obviously fixated on the chiseling. JF: I’d say that monuments are indexes of destruction, and the byproduct of death as a constructive force. In the most notorious cases, what we do preserve is the imprint of dusty bureaucracy, generational slavery and the elite’s imagery. We like restoration because in so doing, we’re looping destruction. Monuments are as much patriotic as a biography can be; here paternalism and patternism go hand in hand. Although no one has ever saw a pattern (nor a father) from the beginning to the end, we insist on keeping a continuous criteria when it comes to material heritage--typologies succeed one after another until they become subsumed by documents. Monuments are also nationalistic as much as they’re nostalgic, you’ve the right to yearn as long as you are an accomplice in the destruction. You can find this symptom in the Yucatán, a place where the elites are proud of the glorious remote Mayan past, whereas the current Mayan legacy is lawn mowing the Country Club’s golf courses. What is left to nationalism are memos for real estate, the tertiary industry so as to the ‘visitor economy’ dress up in guayabera. As for the looting, it’s funny to note that in most of cases I haven’t been in the need of hitting the building. Either because of the site’s material cohesion, or because some fragments are simple here and there, heaped, you can skip the Indiana Jones part. There’s no violence in the act of vanishing a preexistent human imprint into dirt. Not if it’s valuable in the name of colonial extractivism. Better let it go.
MG: That’s the thing. They’ll crumble on their own anyway, always in a state of deterioration, erected in a state of delusion. I just like the idea of striking the structure but that’s a personal fetish. In terms of material existence, Lucy Lippard discussed Robert Smithson’s somewhat now-overused concept of the “non-site” where he would bring materials, primarily dirt and rocks, into the gallery space as evidence of the “first hand or physical (as opposed to secondhand or pictorial) experience of nature both as art and as independent from traditional art systems” at the time. Lippard saw that as a way of “objectify[ing] a sense of place” and that perspective still holds true today where material is a referent for the “real” thing. However, it seems as though your process of subtraction isn’t merely to present material as a reduced form of the source by way of reference but rather, you intend to reduce aspects of the source—how we perceive it, its authority, its so-called originality, and the often absurd and costly methods of preserving such monuments. JF: Yep. I would add that the heritage site is the non-site par excellence. It’s the result of a previous displacement of preexisting conditions and bodies that dwelled way before the time of its denomination as patrimony. So the ‘source’ has been lost in the moment of its emulation, which is something that ties to the trope of drugs use. The initial promise of full acceptance (of the self and the others) or the creation of a common understanding becomes dismantled in the very moment of its enactment. The promise is never fulfilled, this is why you have to repeat it over and over. Indirectly, my process reenacts the same displacement with the exception that so far I’m not creating a monument; the promise becomes ingested or snorted and...disappears?
Javier Fresneda. Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, Oaxaca, DXIX, (2017).
MG: The archeological approach of excavation and extraction of materials is a substantial method in your sculptural work. Can you elaborate a bit on your interests in forensic documentation as reflected in the six sepia photographs? JF: I think that notions such as ‘dismantlement’ and ‘looting’ are becoming increasingly important in my work. Now I’m trying to comprehend the process not only as what historically creates culture, but the interim between the removal and the filling. The hollowness. Regarding the pictures, I think these are a reflection of my disgust from the mildness of documental exploitation. Since the beginning it was clear for me that the project should diverts and derails from there. Though I’d images depicting the removal process of every sample, I decided to present instead images of these samples as composite portraiture, rendering every one alongside a suggested dosage that appears overlapped. I’m intrigued about the idea of personifying the stones, turning them into more like a character. And then you start looking stone faces and having your apophenia.
MG: I like the idea of personifying the stones too and the apophenia of possibly associating the forms with something recognizable, sort of like cloud shapes but less whimsical. More sinister too when thinking about forensic photos and the procedural process of death. JF: There’s something elusive in these portraits, like matter just being ‘delivered’ via FedEx but without a confirmed status. To put it pedantic, it’s aoristic, a preterite time that’s neither ongoing as the imperfect nor relevant as the perfect. It points out to the core of heritage’s perceptual basis: we recognize shapes only after their chiseling. The cognitive labour that articulates matter has been subsumed within the historian’s sapience. We are ‘making sense’ after the stone has been carved, the building erected, etcetera. But once we’ve lost part of the brick’s shape, are we left with just a stone? This sounds obvious but I’d rather invite you to do it and perceive the point of imbalance where ornament gives its way to inorganic matter. That precise instance. In here, it’s pretty clear to me that we appeal to a belief disguised as something else.
MG: Drug dealing? JF: Surely. We consume stuff coming from who-knows-where that has an arbitrary value and whose circulation relies heavily on rumors. Does it sound familiar?
MG: Absolutely. I’ve always liked the absurdity in your offering of consuming monuments in capsule form and in the same manner of exchange as party drugs. To me, it always seemed like the next logical step in the perverse structural trajectory of late-capitalism into the neoliberal machine. It’s like when “fine” culinary establishments started serving people desserts with pieces of shaved gold to eat. JF: It’s interesting you say ‘offering’ because the act of giving the capsules away inadvertently forces you to endow them with a function. For me these capsules are a sculptural bloodshed, an exaggerated, de-monumentalized gift that seemingly has no function except being ingested, but, for some reason the gift never ends totally in the sewer. We never get just plain shit. Some people collect them, some are making tales out of them, some others have the stuff just seated elsewhere, ‘hodling’ them...so the capsules force you to give them something back; a new type of endurance. We may close the circle saying that what these capsules encapsulate is not only their matter but their circulation as a public secret “into which all secrets secrete” as Taussig reminds us following Benjamin.
MG: The link between tourism and drugs (or tourism as a drug?) makes a lot of sense to me. They are both enchanting and intoxicating and also often, either disappointing or at the very least, the return to any previous version of normality can be quite harsh. I recall one of Walter Benjamin’s charming and well known experimentations with hashish where he reflected, “A deeply submerged feeling of happiness that came over me afterward… is more difficult to recall than everything that went before.” Is consumption an escape? JF: I’m intrigued about this knotting, almost as a magic trick. Following your train of thought I’d say that drugs monumentalize bodies in its closure to death as we’ve discussed before. Death builds a body through intoxication that requires restoration: simultaneous maintenance and dismantlement. You drink some water whilst getting fucked up. Tourism may well be the extension of such intoxication by means of colonial disavowal; the amnesia of being a tourist in spite of what facilitates one’s intoxication, and the nostalgia of not being intoxicated enough. We destroy in order to recall the fracture, not the thing being destroyed.
Javier Fresneda. Reología, Installation view.
MG: I think we can end with a bit of Benjamin’s charming tribute to altered states, “And when I recall this state, I would like to believe that hashish persuades nature to permit us--for less egoistic purposes--that squandering of our own existence that we know in love. For if, when we love, our existence runs through Nature’s fingers like golden coins that she cannot hold and lets fall so that they can thus purchase new birth, she now throws us, without hoping or expecting anything, in ample handfuls toward existence.” - Walter Benjamin, “Hashish in Marseilles” (1932). JF: Sometimes I've heard how the obscurity of Benjamin’s texts is excused in the name of his fondness for hashish. “You know, when it comes to writing sometimes you’ve to get stuck.” “You’ve to see Ibiza back in time” etc. Wasting one’s life for the sake of preserving life as such is excusable only if you create, which differs from merely being productive. So we’re welcome to hallucinate further Benjie’s stoned daydreaming because we mimic intoxication together, just like that. Mimesis about mimesis, not about objects being mimetic each other. You may imagine why for some, fixation of meaning is so important when it comes to this question. Meaning can block the freefall. The apophenia (correlation) of interpretation conceals the apophenia that combines shared intoxication. Let’s derail a bit more: you sculpt a seemingly monstrous goddess of water because you ate your cactus soup and you’re carving a trip whose etiology is less important than the trip’s imprint. Of course, this is the account of an intoxication that may or may well not happened. But between stoned carvers carving stone and the articulation of an imperial imaginary under the aegis of a galactic intelligentsia eventually disguised as mushrooms I’d stick with the former case. I’ve seen that though. So yes, apophenia once more, but (and this is my point) with different relations of transitivity and quasi-transitivity: sometimes is vague meaning all the way down and sometimes your vague choice interrupts that consensus. That’s the place that I like. For me, it would be the place of carved venuses, cemíes and flutes for dildoing, plugging in and jacking off; the account of these figurines as a result of the occupational therapy of autistic kids and yes, also the account of paleros in helicopter tossing ashes, colonial swords looted from tombs and funerary remnants embedded in a stone with wifi hotspots. Look up.
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