The Bond As Resource-Tool: Its Inclusivity Called Into Question

June 10, 2015

At the 2012 conference "Individual Creation, Collective Process[1]," whose participants included Stefan Benchoam, Felipe Mújica and Andre Komatsu (as well as the Tercerunquinto collective as a late addition), the discussion revolved around how friendship in artistic praxis can be converted into an efficient resource-tool for production, circulation, and visibilization; though we must keep in mind that we were not talking about a new resource, but the particularities of the "use" of this resource-tool in a set of specific and very current circumstances.

We examined two of the meanings derived from this "use": one is the term "conceptual economy[2]," a means of engaging in praxis used by a group of Chilean artists associated since 1997 with Galería Chilena, whose networks have connected Chile and New York; and the other is "Cheverismo," one of the means of engaging in praxis in Central American, Mexican, Colombian and Puerto Rican scenes since the beginning of the 21st century, committed to conducting critical and political discourse using the humor provided by an economy of friendship[3].

In both cases the bond is converted into an efficient resource-tool for the activation and circulation of thought, articulating a rather prolific and interesting platform for production in each of the above-mentioned scenes.

In the absence of institutional channels, which cannot respond to the urgencies and demands of a living artistic infrastructure, the bond itself becomes a tool that can make up for these deficiencies by favoring structures that are permeable to new flows of movement; facilitating direct involvement in surrounding contexts; aiding in the dismantling of notions of dependency; and dispersing-decentralizing sites of production.

Positive effects, indeed.  But cancellations and biases exist too.

Taking a look at the strategies set in motion by Cheverismo in particular, given that it is the focus of this debate, upon reflection it is worth posing questions about the mechanisms it upholds and whether the strategies that it endorses are inclusive or not. 

The Cheverismo movement demands that there should always be a feeling of emotional participation in the affective reality of the other, and that this is a necessary requirement for true exchange to take place.

Do we have to be friends to share thoughts?

So, what are the conditions––social-participatory, geopolitical, conceptual––that must be in place to bring about an exchange?

When engaging in this kind of praxis, in which the circulation of thought is beholden to emotional exchange, we must consider whether we are legitimizing standards of artistic reproduction, instead of generating reflexive thought from a minority position that can result in the articulation of differentiated identities. 

And we must also rethink whether, upon engaging in non-active practice, the mechanisms of legitimization that have developed are leading to a type of conditioning, one which in turn reproduces strategies put into circulation within the circuit established by the Cheverismo movement itself; and whether, when talking about a kind of economy­—a form in which individuals and communities survive, prosper, and function—we are consolidating a system of practice that tends toward ideological centralization and privileges the establishment of non-inclusive circuits. 

[2] Conceptual friendship is a term that emerged from conversations between Katrin Mundt, Felipe Mújica and Johanna Unzueta; it asserts that the confrontation of ideas is a mode of collaboration that can build broader and more generous contexts.


[3] "Affective bonds have been converted into an important resource for the articulation of artistic-affective communities that produce new spaces, neither strictly private nor completely public, with participatory dynamics in which some traces of "individuation" are retained."  Luisa Fuentes Guaza, "Contemporary Languages from Latin America," Chapter 3, Economy of Friendship (Turner, Madrid, 2013), 15, 246-275.