Diversity Art Forum is pleased to announce its co-commission with LOCAL Arte Contemporáneo. (Local Contemporary Art) taking place in Santiago, Chile in July-August 2018. LOCAL Arte Contemporáneo. and Diversity Art Forum are working in collaboration on the artist residence. After a selection process Carlos Costa was chosen by Diversity Art Forum. The residency will take place at LOCAL Arte Contemporáneo, the work Smoke Signals Prototype 1 will be exhibited there and at the Visual Arts Museum (MAVI), Santiago, Chile. Carlos Costa is a Chilean artist currently living in Switzerland, his work centres on the public displacements in the public realm approaching strategies of habitability in the contemporary city. Smoke Signals Prototype 1 will be considering the air as a form of public space. Carlos Costa previously won first prize at the public art competition of the Ministry of Public Work entitled Homage to the History of Saltpetre. Diversity Art Forum was would like to thank the British Council for its in kind support at the early stage of this project. In addition, our thanks goes to our Project Manger Beatriz Salinas Marambio, Director of National Centre for Contemporary Art in Chile.
LOCAL Arte Contemporáneo. is an artist run space operating in Santiago, Chile since 2011. The organisation focuses on the production and exhibition of art comprehending this as creative exercise of survival and irruption. LOCAL_ Arte_ Contemporanes has participated in international art fairs in Santiago (2012-2014 and 2015), Houston 2013, Madrid 2014 and Chicago 2015, It has hosted solo exhibitions of artists Gonzalo Diaz, Ian Waelder and Tris Vonna-Michell.
In this article Carlos Costa and Javier Gonzalez Pesce discuss the project in Chile. The interview took place while the project was in process during the testing of smoke bombs as part of the environmental indicator. The Chilean Fire Office were involved with this project=CARLOS COSTA AND JAVIER GONZÁLEZ PESCE DISCUSS ARTISTIC ETHICS (AND HOW TO CREATE A SMOKE MACHINE).
by Javier González Pesce | Aug 30, 2018 | ARTISHOCK PLUS, DIALOGUES: ARTISTS TO ARTISTS IN ENGLISH. The spanish version is here Carlos Costa.
Several weeks ago, the artist Carlos Costa (Chile, 1979) began to work in a residence in LOCAL Contemporary Art, in Santiago, thanks to the support of Diversity Art Forum (England), an organization that has not only contributed with economic resources, but also It is also monitoring the work process as a creative dialogue.
The project that Carlos is developing consists of turning LOCAL into a smoke signal machine that will be installed in the neighbourhood of Santiago in Chile. It has converted the space into a chemical laboratory by making a series of material tests for the manufacture of powerful smoke bombs. This project, Prototype for smoke signals (Attempt failed No. 3) - that opens on September 4 -, its creative process, but also based on Local aims discusses artistic ethics. Here is an extract of the dialogue.
Carlos Costa: Galleries and museums do not interest me much. That is why I am happy to work with LOCAL, I feel it is a space that gives freedom to work. I appreciate your little market participation, that romantic but rebellious anachronism. Sometimes it seems like they were messy, but I prefer to believe that they do so because they do not participate in the mainstream culture.
Javier González Pesce: I am not sure why but a space that has been running for seven years it does not have the recognition that other spaces have. Some young guys believe that we are starting for the first time because this year many of our activities have had some impact. Some time ago we got tired of working so hard and this fatigue seemed a bad sign. As an effect of this questioning, we stopped designing our project as a space for exhibitions and we began to understand it as a space for artistic events. We verbalized this in the third year of LOCAL, but I think it was always like that, only that at the beginning we put more emphasis on producing exhibitions. There are years when LOCAL was very withdrawn, a space with apparently little activity, but internally these times of introspection were very intense and they are what keep the space alive. The first three years we made exhibitions every month, also articulated by annual programs. Today the program consists of generating artistic reflection in the most varied ways, not thinking of this practice as one that has as its object only the production of results. We started not to overvalue the exhibition as a sacred instance (although I personally love it) to concentrate on other states of the artistic and creative process in general. Sometimes even I doubt that this space is one of art, I think it is a space for creative exchanges, period.
Another thing that I wanted to take advantage of to comment, or to recognize rather, is that we are not good at diffusing. We sent invitations at the last minute, we did not continuity use Instagram or Facebook. I know it is because of my laziness in the first place.
CC: But laziness is a fundamental part of political resistance (laughs).
JGP: I am going there, because if these were issues of radical importance, I would not be lazy. Obviously, it is more complex to invent editorial content, write texts and produce exhibitions and these things we are happy to do, but keeping Facebook simple I cannot. I find it ridiculous to spend a lot of time maintaining social networks, but it seems to be a fundamental issue to be in force in the system today: over reflection, over content, over the spirit, over the work. There I reveal myself.
CC: But if I did not say it in jest ...
JGP: In me, laziness is a process of internal rebellion. I do not think that I am lazy about something like magic. I think that my body is the one that generates laziness in response to stimuli that are not worthy. Having Facebook up to date gives me a lot of can, and it makes me reject it because I feel that social networks are fictitious devices for validating work, very neoliberal. Also, I think it is not right to generate a false media expectation. It is not appropriate to announce a painting exhibition as if it were a Luis Miguel recital. Art has another rhythm, another level of impact, more introspective, another speed.
CC: But it is that the exhibitions have been promoted as instances of social life; the work goes to the background, the central thing is missing.
JGP: The inaugurations are, and I do not see it as a bad thing. What I think is bad is that today the exhibitions are treated as an event and I think that is not quite right. The exhibitions should not be promoted, conceived, or socialised as events. This is very neoliberal. The exhibitions are reflexive instances of expectation and this has nothing to do with an event. It seems to me that the art fair has created certain behavioural characteristics in the Chilean art school system (which in other words means that the spectacular event is what makes the school). Sometimes I think that my laziness has caused the space not to have all the visibility that it should have. However, on the other hand, I think that my laziness is a resistance to this system of hyper-productive art, hyper happy, hyper cool, so fashionable, and that makes me very happy. LOCAL (as an agent) does not want to over-promote itself, does not want to become a product.
CC: But this is also a fantasy. This is a lie to resistance. We are not really resisting anything. Do not get me wrong, because I believe in what you tell me, but neither you nor I resist. Our actions cannot be revolutionary because I believe that investing the system is impossible. Honestly, I think what we are doing is being consistent with ourselves and justifying our laziness (laughs). Nevertheless,to make a dent in the system or reverse something, impossible.
JGP: No Carlos, I think you can. I thought the same way as you, but there is a point where I understood a question. I believe that the world today, the neoliberal world, is a world where what is fundamental is profitability and productive sense. Everything has to have a reason to be, everything has to be useful for something. Silver is invested; this means that the meaning of the investment is to generate more capital. In the neoliberal investment, not only silver is committed, but vital energy, creativity, time, the planet as a resource, and everything to multiply the economic profitability. Every effort is focused on generating some profitability. The deliberate failure and the nonsense or surplus of it, make the artistic equation (if we subtract from market operations) one that works in a completely opposite to the neoliberal market logic. Many times the artistic apparatus develops long and complex processes with the central purpose of reflecting or producing sensitive experiences, this is a total absurdity in the neoliberal logic. I propose to think of it in the following way, which is an analogy with global warming: if the productive market energy generates a friction that "heats up", going in the opposite direction "cools". Thinking, reflecting, not working according to the market, not wanting to spread to anyone, are movements that move against the "fever" generated by the market system.
CC: I agree with you, but this I approach in a very personal way; I do not want to convince anyone to make cool work or whatever. I have my protocol of consequence before the art system and, I believe, it is in that direction, but I do not want the world to share this ethic. I do not believe that artists are heroes who can save the world from capitalism or neo-capitalism or whatever. I live intimately in consequence, but with little hope. In addition, art is very instrumentalised. There I drop the rebellious logic of what you explain to me, even though what you say makes sense to me. It seems to me that this system has lost its revolutionary capacity, even if it is of low intensity. Think that even knowing about art constitutes a type of capital. In the end this is just another product that is labeled as art, a label that even increases its value.
JGP: But that value is symbolic, and it seems to me that symbolic value in essence is not a neoliberal issue, it is rather a poetic question. Now, I am aware that the neoliberal works by infiltrating its ethical and value criteria, conquering spheres that never belonged to it. This is what makes it possible for Falabella to sell stamped T-shirts with the face of Che Guevara. I think it is true that there is a system of neoliberal valuation that can claim certain aspects of the symbolic value that art generates, but others simply are so opposed to it that they are inapprehensible. That is why I am interested in maintaining the anachronistic character of LOCAL. In LOCAL sometimes I have the feeling that meetings with artists are more like those that would have a group of thieves who plan to steal a bank than a think tank or a brainstorming. I think this happens because, although there is room for superficiality, everything comes from ideas to which we have deep affection. Also, we have never sold; I think that here you are thinking about art with economic value, and what we do with luck is inscribed in a local micro story and we have not stopped doing it.
CC: For example, I have decided never to make the official record of my work with digital images, because I do not want my work to circulate much. In today's digital context this position seems to be selfish and undemocratic, but I prefer to take care of the meaning of what I do. I think the more you protect the circulation of the work, the more I protect your ethics. I am not interested in showing the processes either. The other day I saw a painting show where the artist also exhibited a video of him painting the works. Then we are making the intimacy of a process of creation as a market element that does not make the work more complex, on the contrary, it complements it with market elements, marketing sensitivity.
That is why I do not want to make an inauguration of this residency process, because I do not believe that what results from it is something that I want to think of as a "result". But, in addition, this work that I am doing has a public character that interests me to keep as a spontaneous phenomenon, not necessarily an artistic phenomenon. I am not interested in making this gesture of making a column of smoke in Barrio Italia as an art work of mine, because I believe more in the power it has as a spontaneous appearance. And that would be all; we eat a barbecue to celebrate the closing of the residence and leave the cloud to the quiet. If someone read it in Artishock, all right, but I do not want to make an event. Moreover, that its effect is a kind of neighborhood mythology, a rumor, rather than an exhibition.
I have a better time if I join my friends. I also have no conclusion to communicate and I do not do my job to animate social events. It is true that we are a community. I even think about how Diversity Art Forum contacted me, I am not so sure about it, but I think it's because LOCAL articulates a community.
JGP: But there was a long process in which many agents were involved. Beatriz Salinas, when she was in London, was collaborating with the Diversity Art Forum to start this artist residency. She recommended several Chilean artists for a residence that in principle had to take place in London, but that finally ends up happening in Chile, generating another model in which an artist is chosen, to work a project in collaboration with a space here in Chile ; thus they also seek to promote local spaces.
Beatriz suggested several spaces and artists, and finally you were selected with us to host your project. For us this was very nice, because the alliance allows us to generate a very free work process with you, which we wanted to do a lot. How has this process been for you?
CC: I liked it a lot, but it also makes me nervous. For me it is delicate to socialize my ideas. I mean take them out of my head to give them a public form. I find it curious that my ideas may be of interest to others. In any case, I am happy with the project and the work modality. The residence format has a lot to do with my way of operating.
JGP: But basically what you're doing is using the house from which LOCAL operates as a device to generate smoke signals.
CC: Yes, a large format smoke machine. From the location of LOCAL I want to install a smoke column in the neighbourhood or maybe not. The idea of failure is very important in my way of working and I want it to be integrated into this project as well. Regarding what we talked about earlier, sometimes it has started to seem more interesting to me not to alter the natural condition of the ideas and to leave them as such. Use them, yes, to carry out work processes whose destination is deliberate failure. In this way, the idea remains an idea, but it triggers a system of artistic operations in which the result is always unsuccessful.
JGP: It seems to me that art is a thought process that develops through ideas, objects, situations and who knows what else. But I want to ask you one thing: whenever we have talked about this project you say that you are going to make smoke signals, but that would imply that the smoke that comes from LOCAL is a code, that means something, that contains a message, what it does that the specific cloud that you generate is more sophisticated in terms of language than other clouds.
CC: That interested me, as if art had something to do with communication or with language. I am not sure. I was interested in this sense confusion. Let us say, decode a language and install it in the city on a large scale, but so that nobody can access its content. I think there is a meaning in this, but there is no system of understanding it.
JGP: I think you think farther than a potential spectator.
CC: But everyone is going to read it in some way.
JGP: Like an accident, a fire. What is implied is that LOCAL is burning. Well, this for those who know the space; for a general audience, what is going to be read is that a house in the neighbourhood of Chile is burning.
CC: But I like this ... I do not know what meaning I have what I am doing. In art, you want people to understand what you do, but often you do not understand what you do. Finally, people interpret, as they want.
JGP: But that is not true, people do not interpret, as they want, they interpret as they can, to the extent possible. That is why I tell you that most likely; people believe it is a fire because that is what they are going to be able to think about. Because you are also making a kind of very faithful representation of a fire, therefore, that is what you are going to communicate. You are forcing people to see a fire in their neighborhood, you leave them few alternatives. Finally, another thing that interests me a lot about this project is that it is for occasional spectators, much more than for the art world. In fact, it is the first time that an artist works from inside the house so that all his work happens outside of this, in the neighborhood.
CC: But that is what happened to me with what I did for the exhibition Pirate Economy in LOCAL. I stole my neighbor's stone from his front yard in the Matta neighbourhood and displayed it outside of LOCAL tied to a tree with a chain and padlock. I thought that the work happened in _LOCAL, but the most interesting thing happened when I returned it to its place of origin (also chained). The neighbours began to invent an endless number of stories, they passed a thousand beautiful things articulated by that stone. There I found that something fascinating happened. You can leave a curious object on the street and people will invent stories and the stories of others will generate an incredible mythology to that object, more interesting than the thing (work) itself. In the end, a strange and public object articulates very interesting situations. In this case the foreign object is the column of smoke.
CC: But the articulation of stories has to do with how you manage the information in the context in which you install the work. If I tell my neighbors that the stone pierced me and I put the chain to make a work of art, then I cancel the possibility of any possible story. I am not interested in playing with the neighborhood as if this were an indiscreet camera. I think that these operations contain a degree of uncertainty that covers them with a poetic mystery. However, I think that art is more mysterious without Art. I mean, the museum neutralizes the surprise too much, because the museum itself contains a story that tells us that everything is possible and that the weird is to be expected. That is why I am interested in public space that is not didactic or reductionist, it is not regulated and it does not direct the gaze.
JGP: I have been thinking that in the public space I have unexpectedly had artistic experiences as rich as or more than, those I have had in museums, I say, with objects and situations that were not produced as elements of art. The public space is more binding, and I believe that art has that role, that desire to communicate, to activate relationships between people through things. The objects of art would be a meeting point for the reflections of people, people who do not necessarily know each other, but who had ideas and feelings about something common.
CC: Whenever they invite me to exhibit an attempt to engineer them to leave the exhibition space. I do not like to encapsulate my work in spaces, I resist. Like that exhibition of which we participate in Matucana 100 (Colosos, 2014); I reopened one of the windows of the place and put a ladder to look out.
JGP: But is this resistance aware?
CC: He has become conscious. It is part of my protocol, my way of proceeding with the institutions, which is something that we artists have to be very clear about. It was natural in a moment, but now it is part of my ethics. Like that previous project that I had presented you for LOCAL, do you remember? When I wanted to tunnel from inside the house to go out on the street. I always want to leave. Hey, I seem to like this other project better, what if we change it? (laughs).
Javier González Pesce.
Is a visual artist. He graduated from the ARCIS University (Chile, 2008) and a Master's Degree in Art in the Public Sphere by ECAV (Switzerland, 2017). He has participated in group exhibitions in Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, the United States, Canada, Spain, Switzerland, Greece and China. Among his individual exhibitions, "This Earth is such, that to live in it and perpetuate itself there is no better", in the Gabriela Mistral Gallery (Chile, 2017), "Ciels", in the Musée de Art de Sion (Switzerland, 2017) , and "Being so beautiful does not give you the right to destroy", in the Museum of Visual Arts (Chile, 2014). He has won the MAVI Young Art Prize (Chile, 2012), the Culture Council Prize for curators (Chile, 2013), and the Residency of the Americas of the Arts Council of Montreal (Canada, 2014). Since 2011 he co-directs the local art space Arte Contemporáneo (Santiago, Chile), in which artists such as Gonzalo Díaz and Tris Vonna-Michell have exhibited, and has generated curatorial projects, organized exhibitions and written numerous texts. Local has participated in international art fairs in Chile, the United States and Spain.