As of Fall 2010 the c_m_l project is no longer active. The website remains up as an archive, but is no longer updated. Please feel free to browse the archives and visit Camel Collective at http://camelcollective.org.
Brief History is composed of two thorough historical timelines: a brief history of U.S. interventions in Latin America since 1946 and a brief history of leftist guerrillas in Latin America. These works cover the years of the Cold War (1940s-1990s) and expose on the extreme ideological differences that defined that time. On the one hand, the emphatic rejection communism by the U.S. and the actions that were carried through to prevent its spread, and on the other hand the formation of several dozens of leftists groups that attempted to overthrow the government and to replace it with a Marxist state.
Last year, I was invited to curate a show as part of the series “Curators from Central and Eastern Europe” in Berlin. (http://www.artlaboratory-berlin.org) The organizers, aware of recent developments in critical art and very much in touch with the art coming out of the different countries of Central and Eastern Europe, did not insist on a traditional approach, such as to invite artists from the European “East,” to discuss updates in the “post-communist condition,” the so-called transition, or EU accession. Nor did they wish to organize the exhibition around an “Eastern” theme. I was given absolute carte blanche. However, I was still asking myself what exactly “curator from EE” could mean today. Could I simply say “nothing in particular” and do a curatorial project unrelated to any kind of “East,” ironically implying that my Russian origin guarantees “Eastern-ness” in whatever I do? Since the 1990s, the East/West problematic in the European art discourses has passed several stages, from mutual “discovery” through “general presentations” of the East to the West, to the method of regarding some “western” issues through an “eastern” lens, none of which makes sense today.
With this heritage in mind, a thematic approach can be very misleading. I decided to come up with a knot of notions, in my mind interesting for their own sake, but still charged with a specific, local, historical context. For example: event-as-rupture versus ritual, or ritual as a socially magnetic event reinforcing a sense of collectivity versus stereotyped formality. Without heavily theorizing the artworks selected, I simply described them from a specific angle, highlighting those elements that create a number of cross-references so that the viewer familiar with East/West discussions could easily decipher those links. As such, nothing is assigned as having the “Eastern touch,” instead, the works twist in thematic threads, each dealing with and acknowledging multiple historical lenses.
In everyday language, an event is a notion that embraces two different meanings—a happening that violates limits or, conversely, invigorates them. One is destructive, the other restrictive; one is closer to the chaos of a revolution, the other to a meticulously performed ceremony with a set of rules. These works I chose deal explicitly with the second meaning: they comment on contemporary rituals with pronounced interests in social codes that often re-emerge in times of crisis and insecurity. Some of the works gathered here reflect on today’s ritualistic behavior when so-called “flexible personalities” engage in a performance of specific and mainly self-imposed rules. (On the notion of flexible personality see http://www.geocities.com/CognitiveCapitalism/holmes1.html)