Interview on Radio Neverno on “Power and Ancestors” exhibition


link to a podcast of the Radio Neverno Show by Hans Kuiper who interviewed me on the curation of the show <<Power And Ancestors>> which ran from March 3rd until April 7th this year in Amsterdam in the Gallery WM. http://radioneverno.blogspot.nl/2018/04/power-and-ancestors-interview-arturo.html
Kuyper organizes activities and broadcasts at Arti et Amicitae in Amsterville next to being a singer and performer of the feared genre ”Neo-Schlager”.
Link here to the flyer/press release and the manifesto I wrote for the exhibition Power and Ancestors. http://gallerywm.com/WP/power-ancestors-group-exhibition-03-03-07-04-2018/
An article on the exhibition by Dutch poet and journalist Maria Barnas is forthcoming  in the next issue of the Museumtijdschrift, museum magazine of the Netherlands.
PRESS-RELEASE  (sans images on blog) POWER & ANCESTORSGroup exhibition with visual art works by 14 local and international artists,
with various techniques, including painting, drawing, sculpture, video
– curated by Arturo Desimone & Sebastian Rypson –

Reflecting upon the power of ancestor-worship and objects; their animistic power and their political relevance: Can these traditions serve to confront contemporary hyper-modern society with itself?

Our sanitized time–-of digitally-enhanced emotions, de-ritualized “liberated’’ actions, hashtag-ideologies, tele-communicative infants, virtual reproduction and dissemination of information without memory–-has delayed our connection to the ancestors. Can the artist steal back the imbued power of the image or object in a talisman? Can the poet snatch back the gravitas of the word? In this realm of instant unlimited gratification, do images retain any meaning still, in their ever-expanding immensity and over-production? Tensions of meaning loosen and sever interconnections between the movements of history and the contemporary; between the story of each object and its depiction; between the relic and its power. Do ancestors still mean any thing to us? Do they hold any power over us any more? Is the artist free, as in immune, from their influence rippling across generations or is that freedom vapid?

The curators of this exhibition advocate for the artist as conjurer. The artist can find a way to approach mystery and memory in a time of public amnesia and the aversion of any confrontation with mortality. The hands of ancestors do play a role in our daily and nocturnal existence, guiding, protecting and tormenting.

This exhibition explores the dead, and the possibility of rich interactions with them. Both natural objects and artistic creations can interact with forces that remain still beyond the grasp of scientific examiners and of designers. Much of the creative class has refused being informed by the dead and mortality itself, preferring stats or to make advertisements for notions of immortality.
The cultural critic Frederic Jameson has argued that “postmodernity”, the cultural logic of late capitalism, is itself an ideology in which there is Space but no Time. The reductive elimination of time itself means the impossibility of “sacred time”, the life-blood of ancestor worship, communication and communion with the dead, and therefore, with the Other.

A radical leap is necessary. We hold an “animist approach”, a return to examples and objects relating to “ancestor worship”, to be that radical jump. We will chisel at the very foundations of the very well-fed but oblivious, miserable and tight-arsed technocrat’s throne, against the guru spirituality of ‘’management.’’ We arrive back at essentials and how we first met in the long, dark, Neolithic night.

Some of the artists descend from immigrants and refugees and owe their existence today to such dangerous migrations. For example, artists like Ron Amir and Desimone harbor an ancestral agenda and cannot shy of referring to the shipwrecked holocaust refugees on islands like Cyprus, or to those who were denied port and safe harbor around the world as they tried to flee Europe: a plight of our ancestors less than a century ago, of which we are reminded today in 2018, by the scandal on Mediterranean islands. “History don’t repeat but the bitch rhymes’’ said an indebted student of Mark Twain while visiting the author’s grave in Elmira, NY. Many other examples entirely unrelated to refugees, yet at odds with the frivolous, are omni-possible and will be sharply present.

The exhibition presents works by:
Papa Adama (Burkina Faso), Ron Amir (Netherlands/Israël), Margo van Berkum (Netherlands), Rotem Bides (Israël), Enrique Collar (Paraguay), Arturo Desimone (Aruba-Argentina), Tamar Rozenblat Goiati (Netherlands), Marion Inglessi (Greece), Nour-Eddine Jarram (Morocco-Netherlands), Steven Jouwersma (Netherlands), Terrence Musekiwa (Zimbabwe), Xavier Robles de Medina (Suriname)  Casper Prager (NL) Hajnal Németh (Hungary)

 

ABOUT POWER & ANCESTORS

by Arturo Desimone 

 

Power and Ancestors was a theme we arrived upon the way a raft riding waves ends up on the shore of a peninsular coast, covered in talismans and starfish. The small wave that transported us there, started with a conversation on the subject of the Voudou, the Afro-Caribbean religion of animism; and about what happens if we attempt to contrast the role of art-works in traditional societies once devoted to animism and ancestor-worship, with the role of art (or the absence thereof) in contemporary, pragmatic and individualist societies.  An artist from Burkina Faso had convinced me that the first artist was an animist. I added to his radical statement (radical, after all, means ‘’to get at the roots of things’’, Latin radix) that the first philosopher was a smasher of idols, a disbeliever. An exploration of animism and art was not necessarily specific to Haiti or to Africa: for example, writer Franz Kafka expressed his fascination with it in a defense of idolatry in one of his deathbed aphorisms.

Contemporary society only mass-produces images in order to deprive them of animist power: a vulgar fulfillment of Walter Benjamin’s prophetic discourses on the ‘’aura’’ of the artwork in the age of mechanical reproduction (which today has become digital, tele-communicative and virtual, ethereal reproduction.) Can the artists steal back the imbued power of the image or object in a talisman? Can the poets steal back the gravity of the word? Some of them try to restore fire to image and text in this time of unlimited opinion-making and phone-text graphomania. The images expand in this realm of the instant and in the space at hand, broadening and diluting the tensions of meaning, almost as an act of contempt towards the more vertical continuity of images in time: at the  expense of memory and the history of images passed on to us.

Anthropologist and co-curator Sebastian Rypson who directs the WM Gallery in Amsterdam pointed out that animism, being a cosmology, seemed far too broad: a line, a vein in that cosmology needed be isolated and taken down into a walled and glassed exhibit.

What may be unknown to most who are vaguely familiar with the term ‘’animism’’ is its direct relation to the animist’s reverence, as well as a dread of the power of ancestors.

In that sense, animism does not as quickly conflict with the acknowledgement of evolutionary theory (though, ironically, animistic traditional cultures were the first victims of European colonialism’s usage of terms borrowed from Darwinist theories of the 19th century. And, animist traditions within Europe were partly effaced by policies of modernization that glorified scientific revolution.)

Both natural objects and artistic creations can interact with forces that remain still beyond the grasp of scientific examiners or of decorators. In many third world societies that still thrive (culturally and socially) today, interactions with the dead and the invisible are regarded as everyday fare.

 

“Le passé n’est pas si loin” by Nour Eddine Jarram – aquarelle

”What roles do The Ancestors play in our lives? Is the artist free, as in immune, from their influence rippling across the tidal pool of generations?” In most Western post-modern societies, it has become almost unthinkable for two generations to cohabitate under a single ceiling. This Tupperware tidying and separation of generations/bloodlines—advancing ever since the ‘’Baby Boomer generation’s’’ rebellion—has grown steeper. Memory itself, and the evidence of human mortality, have been sentenced by our societies: straight to the Tupperware hospice with Thou, for being so cantankerous. German movie-director Michael Haneke, among others, are dedicated almost entirely to the cinematic-forensic evisceration of that denial of mortality and its social ripple-effects. Other, more academic cultural critics (such as Frederic Jameson) have argued that ‘’postmodernity’’, the cultural logic of late capitalism, is itself an ideology in which there is only Space but no Time: every being and event is atomized into an elementary particle, bubble-wrapped, enclosed in an instant to be quickly forgotten, outside of all continuities and a stranger to history. The reductive elimination of time itself also means the impossibility of ‘’sacred time,’’ the life-blood of ancestor worship and of communication with the dead and with the other. If all time is for strictly economic renditions and profit, then there is no time for ancestors, memory, history, none for love-stories, art or consciousness.

As generations drift apart, turning irreconcilable, the old have no access to interlocutors among the young who can explain a rapidly- changing and newer, frightening world to them. (Interloqui, Latin ”to speak between”) The young and old do not exchange narratives: this mutual starvation results in the instability and hysteria of both youths and geriatrics, who end up lacking the sense of moral chiaroscuro and proportion which a writer like Czech Milan Kundera insisted was the basis for having a sense of humor : the ability to discern what is important from what is unimportant for Kundera constitutes the starting point of the ‘’sense of humor’’, a 6th sense among those distinguishing us from the majority of animals.

 Left to their own devices, to their nurses and Big Pharma by their offspring, the old instead are fighting it out in the ballot-boxes that determine frightening developments in politics in, for example the EU, political elections and newspaper opinion columns (all, admittedly, more politicized versions of bingo and tele-bingo). Meanwhile the younger generations have scarce access to the memory and oral history of generational continuity—and, therefore, less of an encounter with such epic yarns and with the visual, tactile and other rich sensory memory of the phantoms of the past: contact with the deceased (rather than the merely aged) ancestors. New languages and codifications have emerged between generations, clubs and other fault-lines, dividing evermore sharply than before. Who will be the interlocutors if we cannot find them among those living and dying?

Do the dead bear a grudge for being forgotten? Is there a language to communicate with the dead in a world where even the living do not speak but rather text with thumb-scroll? This exhibition surpasses implacable clichés like the Ouija board hype of the 19th century.

A radical leap is necessary. We hold that the animistic approach, a return to examples and objects relating to ‘’ancestor worship’’, to be that radical jump. Back is forwards. Through this aesthetic junction breakdown, we begin chiseling at the very foundations of the tight-knit oppression and codified, well-fed but oblivious and tight-assed misery of scientific, consumerist and management technocracy. We arrive back at the essentials and how we met each other in the long dark Neolithic night.

The artist can find a way to approach mystery and memory in a time of public amnesia and the aversion of any confrontation with mortality. The hands of ancestors do play a role in our daily and nocturnal existence—guiding, protecting or tormenting.

Some of the artists descend from immigrants and refugees and owe their existence today to such dangerous migrations. For example, artists like Ron Amir and Desimone harbor an ancestral agenda and cannot shy of referring the shipwrecked holocaust refugees on islands like Cyprus, or to those who were denied port and safe harbor around the world as they tried to flee Europe: a plight of our ancestors less than a century ago, of which we are reminded today in 2018, by the refugees on Mediterranean islands. “History don’t repeat but the bitch rhymes’’ said an indebted student of Mark Twain while visiting the author’s grave in Elmira, NY. Many other examples entirely unrelated to refugees, yet at odds with the frivolous, are omni-possible and will be sharply present.

Arturo Desimone, January 2018

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In Farsi


https://hamsayegan.com/art-literature/نگاهی-به-نقاشی-های-آتوسا-بنده-رویاهای-پ/
Link to a translation by Reza Ghalebi of my article about a Dutch-Iranian artist, in the bilingual Iranian magazine Hamsayegan. The article

in English first appeared in Al-Arte.be

 

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article on Frank Martinus Arion in Sydney Review of Books


Link to my article on the Netherlands Antillean, Curaçaoan poet novelist and linguist Frank Martinus Arion, originally slated for publication for mid 2016, the essay finally saw publication in late february 2018.* https://sydneyreviewofbooks.com/was-arion-the-last-great-author-of-curacao/

(With the more recent film review I wrote of Ernest Dickerson’s screen adaptation of the novel ”Double Play” (Dubbelspel) as an added, later postscript )

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text in Serbo-Croatian language about my drawings


a short article by ex-Yugoslav art critic Zoran Djukanovic, author of ruminations on the graphic-novel, here talking about my drawings in Serbo-Croatian-Bosnian

Zašto bi ikada završio to što radiš?

Kad mi je Arturo prvi put pokazao svoje crteže, imao sam osećaj da sam ušao u drugi prostor i drugo vreme, lavirint nikad završenih radova: tomovi tvrdo ukoričenih knjiga za skiciranje ispunjenih stotinama crteža, ipak još ne 15.145 stranica bez proreda Dargerove rukopisne fantazije In the Realms of the Unreal. Kad me je Arturo pitao šta mislim o njegovim crtežima, odgovorio sam mu da oni prizivaju duše likova razapetih žudnjom u knjigama Isaaca Bashevisa Singera, transportovane u današnji svet globalizma. Arturo Desimone (1984) je argentinski državljanin rođen i odrastao na ostrvu Aruba u holandskim Karibima. Otac mu je Argentinac, a majka rusko-poljskog porekla. Oduvek je crtao i pisao, a počeo je da crta aktove kad mu je bilo osam godina. Rekao mi je da je bio izbačen iz škole još u srednjoj, što mi se dopalo. Moja propuštena prilika. Što je još važnije, begunac je iz svih škola političke korektnosti. Pitao me šta mislim o Slavoju Žižeku. Eh, mislim da je Žižek autentično manipulativan filozof, ali mi se jako sviđaju njegove izjave o klozetima i o istinskoj ljubavi. Arturo je samouk, a isprva je tražio obrazovanje kroz dopisne kurseve mitologije i filozofije. Strastveni je čitalac, prepoznam tu ljudsku vrstu čim naletim na nju. He, a onda me je Arturo pitao: „Misliš li da su moji crteži rasistički, homofobični, da ih je nacrtao neko ko je Jevrejin pun samomržnje i ljubomoran na izraelski identitet, seksista, islamofob, samoobanjujući i lažni antikolonijalist…?“ Ne, mislim da su sjajni i da greju ljudsko srce. Tvoji crteži su završeno-nezavršeni, kao što je sam život. Nalaze se između nevinosti Marca Chagalla i gorčine društvene svijesti crteža iz dvadesetih Georga Grosza. Oni su strip, ili da to pomodno formulišem: kontinuirani grafički roman bez tekstualnih balona. Doduše, s puno tekstualne teksture koja razbacana promiče crtežima. Ogromni vizuelni narativ bez Dargerovih devičanskih Vivian Girls, ali zato s puno muslimanskih žena. Arturo je paganin u hramu političke korektnosti, slon u staklarskoj radnji, i želi da se pari upravo ovde i upravo sada s živim eksponatima u zoološkom vrtu kulturnih razlika. Želja za ženskim telom ispod burke. Orijentalizam? Hajde, nećemo trućati. Arturov pandemonijum političke nekorektnosti i nikad dovoljno ispunjenih seksualnih želja je pre svega svet znatiželje i istinske ljubavi prema drugosti u ljudima, što je drugost skrivena u nama. Ovi crteži su istovremena ljubav prema jevrejskoj i islamskoj umetnosti. U Arturovom kotlu s dušama razapetim žudnjom je spojeno ono što svet političke korektnosti samo lažno sanja da će spojiti, a umesto toga je mnogo srećniji sa svojom hipokrizijom. Arturovo vizuelno pripovedanje je delo ljubavi.

 

Zoran Đukanović

 

 

 

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Three poems in English and in Spanish, publication in Excéntrica Argentinean journal


The poems ”The Train to Cordoba” ”Birds Between Mainframes” ”the Birds fall like Sidi Saints” translated by Lucky Brockenshire into Spanish for the Argentinean poetry mag Excéntrica

Link here

http://www.excentrica.com.ar/es/tres-poemas-de-arturo-desimone-traducidos-por-lucas-brockenshire/

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Na Papiamento


http://www.bondia.com/awendia-nos-ta-bibando-degeneracion-di-lenguahe/

 

Articulo cu a wordo traha di un entrevista den e korant Rubiano Bon Dia. Danki na e periodista Benjamin Romero.

*Mi lo rectifica djis un parti, na unda ta scirbi ”e Aztecanan y Mayanan tabata tin un tradishon oral,” sino nan tabata conserva un tradishon tanto oral y scirbí cu a existi te cu e encuentro colonial.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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January 2018 Bulletin


Argentina Solidarity Campaign blog / bulletin

Argentina Solidarity Campaign

Dear friend of the Argentina Solidarity Campaign,

¡Feliz año nuevo! In our January Bulletin you will find the following:

  • ASC’s Adolfo Pérez Esquivel UK Tour 5th-6th February 2018!!!
  • Our next Organising Assembly – Monday 22nd January 2018, London
  • ASC News *Government Minister response to our Parliamentary question *Our Guardian letter *Solidarity montage sent to Santiago’s family *Protest at Residence of Ambassador*
  • State authoritarianism and the repression of 18th-19th December (ASC response)

***STOP PRESS STOP PRESS STOP PRESS STOP PRESS***

1) Nobel Prize Winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel to visit UK, 5-6 February 2018!

That’s right compañerxs, following our hugely successful Nora Cortiñas tour, we are delighted to announce that together with our friends at PeaceJam UK, we’ll be hosting Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Beverly Keene’s UK speaking tour: “The Struggle for Human Rights in Latin America Today.” Below is their public meetings schedule. Further dates may be added (watch this space)…

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January 23, 2018 · 8:29 pm