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SITAC III: Suitable Actions
by Itala Schmelz

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From whence should one encompass the social nature of present-day art? During the third day of the Symposium, Francisco Reyes Palma put forward a very interesting proposal by pointing out artists have passed from activism to mediation. He placed on the table a series of unpublished strategies which could be called "soft resistance"; "interventions" and "deconstructions", which interrupt the gregarious state of things, while creating a reflection which re-opens the link with the world. More than an art of opposition, this is an art of dissemination which, among other things, changes its attitude to institutional power and market pressures. In the place of confrontation, it seduces these to achieve its objectives; it does not attempt to impose, but simply gestures the return of wonder. This is a predominantly cynical outlook aimed towards the independence of thought, not the control of power. The hardest work has been left to humor, irony and critical commentary, a specific exercise which attests to the absurd as the purification of subjectivity.

It is worthwhile link the project carried out by Marí­a Alós in the theater lobby to the proposals put forth during the round tables. Using tactics opposed to the discursive, this statistician asks exact questions which can moderate the environment and disclose trends. In the face of questions to which one was asked to reply solely yes or no, the response called for making a stand, an exercise which was rewarded with a red or white cord, the first to mark the radicals and the second the conservatives. The first dayí­s question: Is it possible to transform the institution from within? made me remember what several speakers had already observed, that the frustration of the vanguards was the eventual incorporating of their more radical proposals back into the system, for which reason it seemed to me prudent to raise the question: Can resistance triumph, without being assimilated and converted into some kind of institution as a result? This was Alósí­ second question, which in-turn forces one answer with even more questions. Does art lose its provocative scope upon being integrated into the market system? Is it ethically corrupted by being directed through institutional channels? Jim Morrison smashed a television set when he found that cars were being advertised to the tune of Light My Fire. It would be too painful to end the game in a radical nihilism where nothing is worthwhile and everything runs the risk of being meditated. How long does resistance last? A few seconds (fissure). A battle in a symbolic field it effective or efficient? How does it change or affect the world or the manner in which we view it?

At the beginning and at the end of the Symposium, its director, Issa Bení­tez, mentioned that thought itself is already an act of resistance. To generate self-awareness and to doubt cultural paradigms is inherent to intellectual thought. Perhaps the meaning of the gesture fails to reach the masses or only arrives converted into a spectacle, nevertheless an artist can lay the foundation for future generations (Duchamp) or, perhaps, over the course of time, can end-up as common place (Salvador Dalí­). To enter decisively in the order of readings proposed by contemporary art is theoretically fundamental, while disciplinary guidelines and traditional formats no longer function in the face of the complex moment being lived by people. A change in the visual discussion represents an important part of social change, a specific action is more transgressive than a face-to-face confrontation with power. Hard resistance breaks while soft resistance becomes transfigured.

This year, SITAC took place Jan. 22 - 24, 2004 at the Teatro de los Insurgentes in Mexico City.

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About the Author
A philosopher holding a degree from UNAM (1996), Itala Schmelz has developed her professional work as a critic and curator in the visual arts. As of 1993 she has organizad exhibitions such as Siqueiros: el Lugar de la Utopía (1994), at the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, La feria del rebelde (1994) at La Panadería, Reflexiones y pesadillas (2001) at Ex Teresa Arte Actual y Superficial (2001) at the Centro de la Imagen. Ms. Schmelz has published in numerous art magazines, outstanding among which are : Curare, Nitro, Luna Córnea, Artnexus, Flash Art and Trans. She has also collaborated in important works of research such as that carried out for the Cromos de Calendario exhibition (1998) which was presented at the Museo Soumaya. She has directed the Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros since 2001. In November 2003, in conjunction with a numerous work team, she developed a multidisciplinary event entitied El Futuro + a
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