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AWC Summer Camp: The Exhausted Land

Organized by Arts of the Working Class
July 20 to August 24, 2019

With Adrián Balesca, Teresa Burga, Jaime Nunez del Arco, Andrea Joyce Heimer, Quisqueya Henriquez & Pepe Mar, Vincente Manssur, Luiza Prado de O Martins, Santiago Reyes, Gwenn Thomas, Giorgia Volpe and Elisabeth Otto

And Librería Priscilla: Pop-Up Shop with books selected by AWC, Bom Dia Boa Tarde Boa Noite and Vice Versa Art Books.

The spoiled roots of colonialism that still grow in global society are blatant in the polarizing forms of social discrimination in the Americas. The debate on restitution around Europe’s colonial collections has only begun to shape our approach to provenance and belonging. And at the same time, the exhausted land we speak of questions the internationality of our practice. How capable are we to be aware of other latitudes, here in Berlin, Germany?

The participating artists of this Summer Camp command universal change on a human scale against the backdrop of violent traditionalism (comprising conventions of identity such as race, ethnicity and gender in Caribbean and Latin cultures).

Arts of the Working Class stretches out the definition of curatorial, artistic and editorial practices, and expand the exhibition space of Klosterfelde Edition to the streets. The positioning of the selected artworks against the ideological landscape of the Americas is supposed to be like a psychedelic experience; a transcultural exploration of Otherness.

The street-newspaper can also be understood as a multiple and an allegory. The supposition of the Precariat in the role of gallery sheds a light on new formations within the working class of the arts. We claim that’s what we all are. Whilst we often try to propagate a universality in the working class of art, we also need to acknowledge geographical and temporal conditions.

American societies manifest themselves in hybrid language, largely Spanglish. The work of Jaime Nuñez del Arco reflects this essentialist use of vocabulary of empowerment in his mural: “The value meal you are looking for is not a deal anymore, just like this pristine petroleum green wall. Un recuerdo“. The act of overwriting the former exhibition setting can be understood as a gesture against formalism as a category.

A change of perspective is in the air, on the wind, blowing through this stagnate space. The air of the AWC Summer Camp comes from the south. It smells like sweat. ‘Dancing Southward’ is a project by artist Santiago Reyes, which was started in Hanoi, Vietnam, and continues in other parts of the world. He has crossed the streets of cities to soak several T-shirts in sweat, with which he built a Cadavre Exquis: Nadie me quita lo bailado, prometo mi ritmo hacia el sur, re-iniciando en el punto final, sudo la grasa de la ciudad o el bálsamo del campo, con paso firme titubeando danzo, para asegurar la marcha de mi rumbo, y sostener el contra-tiempo de la cadencia. A body is dancing to the sound, crossing the city to the south, led by a compass and its intuition. Is there a south which the artist can even orient himself to?

This question hangs in the air. From the same material is the work of Quisqueya Henriquez and Pepe Mar. In this collaboration, Henriquez and Mar in their different operations oppose the surface and the material of the image plane and so reissue it. From an endless, meter-long canvas, remnants of formal abstraction, popular culture, alternative subcultures and fashion are sold. The visual vocabulary addresses a precariousness that is shared by those who desire to be a part of it.

The canvas becomes a catalyst for new ways to experience the two-dimensional surface of the painting. We find the work with the crucial clichés of the cognitive experience in a space called The Americas, to oblige Klosterfelde Edition us to erase the overlapping effects within the convention of the exhibition. In doing so, we recognise the accumulation of gestures, the spectra of absences, eruptions of convulsive social fabric and imaginary solutions to deep-seated frustrations that language can not bring into the world. It can be done by art.

Done in work like that of Luiza Prado de O’Martins, who faces topographies of excesses. In ‘All Directions at Once’ she looks at practices of herbal contraception and the transmission of Aboriginal and local knowledge as radical decolonizing measures. It begins with the call of Ayoowiri, a plant that grows abundantly in the tropical areas of America. During the European occupation of the continent, it was used as a contraceptive (and in higher doses as an abortifacient) by enslaved indigenous and African peoples as a strategy of resistance. Through the stories of Ayoowiri and other contraceptive and abortive plants, the essay promotes the idea of radical decolonization and solves the poetic dimensions of surplus as a fragmented, rapid plural that interweaves perceived past, present, and future.

Further works, by artists Teresa Burga and Giorgia Volpe, create a collective vision via working in a feminist way, while Vicente Manssur’s photographs illuminate the spaces, that Adrian Balseca opens with a transparent record. ‘Phantom Recorder’, a collaboration with Kara Solar (initiative of the Latin American Association for Alternative Development in collaboration with the Ecuadorean Achuar community), takes the sound recording from the Amazonian route that Fitzcarraldo took with his gramophone to listen to opera. This symbolic twist that Balseca achieves with this work resembles a postcolonial surveillance critique. Many contradictory feelings about the contextualization of a place like the Americas are merged into a single moment.

This exhibition is an extension of the seventh issue of the Arts of the Working Class, which revolves around a certain amnesia and obliviousness towards our vital connection to nature, currently only accessible through affects and the artificial.

Text by María Inés Plaza Lazo