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Curatorial Practices
The Dinosaur was Sill There
by Ernesto Calvo Alvarez

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This essay and subsequent videos were originally published for the Freewaves: Latin America Video Festival in Los Angeles in November, 2002.

"When he awoke, the dinosaur was still there," written by Auguston Monterros, is considered one of the shortest narrative texts in the history of literature--and also one of the most disquieting. This well-known literary reference works as a pretext for a curatorial proposal we want to put forth concerning the sites and inquiries of the most recent practices of Video Art in Central America. The program addresses absence, oblivion and dilemmas yet to be solved (1). At the same time, the proposal dialogues with TV or Not TV, LA FREEWAVES' theme.

Monterroso's dinosaur refers to an archaic and mythical story doubtfully real, suggestively related to the uncertain media tradition in the Central American region. (2) Furthermore, this story makes reference to the potential themes and conflicts that we will present as curators of the exhibition. In the same way, it is possible to relate Monterroso's text with certain characteristics of most of the pieces in this selection of Central American Video Art; moreover, the text can be related to certain essential aspects of Video Art itself, such as its relative narrative brevity and its elliptical quality, a syntax that can become circular (by means of a loop) and at the same time give way to endless reading and interpretative possibilities.

On the other hand, both Monterroso's story and the selected videos propose a plot that is potentially completed by the spectator. Also, many of the artistic proposals contain, similar to the story, a widely known reference taken from mass media or well-established cultural traditions and altered or subverted by its appropriation.

In the same way, the disquieting effect and veiled threat in Augusto Monterroso's story is echoed in the videos. Diverse recurring forms of violence and relationships based on power appear. In this way, menace and violence -latent or evident, in public and domestic spaces-, the existence of potentially menacing objects or entities- dead or alive- and references to transcultural relationships, among others, are conflicts presented by the videos selected for this exhibition.

Moreover, all those dilemmas appear in the creation of roles and habits, of segregations and discriminations, of powers and alternative powers, directly or indirectly related to mass-meditation and to the contradictory tendencies of contemporary globalization within the Central American context.

Finally, the ambiguous genre of Monterroso's text (a poem in prose, a story of... a novel, as ironically suggested the author?) makes reference to the hybrid character, both in theme and appearance, of many of the proposals by the video artists selected. Genres related to animation, documentaries or to the most affected melodrama, artistic resources close to photography and painting, intervened or manipulated sceneries and traumatic and harsh aspects of reality--all these are included in the selection. Emphasis is placed on the precarious and marginal character, but also on the fictitious, constructed and metaphorical features of an imagined Central American region, with problems that are still there when we wake up, like Monterroso's dinosaur.

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