Jill Magid
Gerald Raunig
Stephen Hobbs
Dr Achille Mbembe
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01 march 2006


Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2006 20:01:30 -0600 (CST)
From: "Jeannine Diego Medina"

Subject: Re: so far 2
To: social-engagement@googlegroups.com

Hi to all...

Sorry for my disappearance, I've been as well wrapped up in logistics and the such for an upcoming project... in Mexico, it's something they call "horas nalga", or "ass hours" .. haha. Anyway, I'd like to respond to Jill Magid's concerns regarding the use of the social as scenario, etc. I am particularly drawn to what she mentions, it seems to me an excellent reflection on the issue.

If I remember correcly, Jill lives in NY? I lived there for many years myself, actually. The reason I mention this is not to make a point, but rather to note that I do understand what Jill is saying from within that context, from within the NY context, and, more specifically, the NY City context. When I wrote the previous comment, I guess I was speaking from my own context, or what has been my context for the last 6 years (and during stages of my childhood). Now, I realize. In fact, I spoke to Fernanda about the discussion at some point (over the phone, we're practically neighbors) about how her comment in terms of the museum here, could be understood differently given the fact that the Mexican context is very different than would be that of, say, NY, or Paris or cities of this sort. In any case, I think the same is true for myself. What I'm trying to say is that sometimes the stances one takes are rather subjective (it happened to me) and one tends to forget that each context is rather different, while some of those differences are sublte, some are abysmal. This is not an observation in terms of Jill's coment, but rather, in terms of my own.

In Mexico, the social situation is what I would term "abysmally" different than that of New York, for example (it's not to insist on NY, it's just that I'm responding to Jill's comments and I happen to know the NY context like the palm of my hand, so I feel I can at least make reference to something I know). Even though I hate to compare, I think it serves a puprpose and I'll compare just for the sake opf conversation. I always say (despite the fact that many of those who live here would refute me and have) that Mexico has a very deep-rooted caste system which has been masked by the myth of "mestizaje", an effort which was part of the building of a nation after the Mexican Revolution, a conscious effort to make us believe that we're "all the same", to provide a false sense of equality in benefit of national unity. That we're all sons or daughters of a mixture between the indigenous people of precolonial times and Spanish. Anyway, that's another story and I'm moving away from my point. I apologize.

Thing is, when someone in Mexico, more specifically speaking, when an artist in Mexico, makes use of the social in the way that I mentioned, things work a bit differently. Staring from the fact that, almost by default, in order to even be an artist in Mexico, chances are, one is not a part of the same social class as the bulk of the population. Here, more than would be the case in a more socially democratic society, the act of thinking, of contemplating, making art itself, is an activity that beloings to a priviledged few, it is a luxury. It is an activity that belongs to a priviledged group (and the priviledge is handed down through generations, social mobility is practically null, with exceptions, but these are exceptions). So, the distance that Jill talks about, takes on a rather different dimension in Mexico. Because it is not a distance that one takes, it terms of the decision to move away from something of which one is a part, but rather, a distance that has always been there. A social, cultural, economic and, yes, racial distance.

And when this happens, it is difficult to not fall into the carnivalesque that Jill mentioned.

Anyway, it's not at all to refute what Jill has said. I fully share the points of view she expressed. But I think it's a matter of different contexts, whereupon something that is apparently the same, that looks the same, that feels the same, is actually radically different.

Well, all for now.
Big hug to Gregg and to all,