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  • Curating Performance/Translating Poetry: Regina Jose Galindo and The Body of Others

Carolin, Clare, Journal Article, Curating Performance/Translating Poetry: Regina Jose Galindo and The Body of Others Viz Inter-Arts. (In Press)

Abstract or Description:

Regina Jose Galindo (born Guatemala City 1974) belongs to a generation of artists who, in the years following Guatemala’s civil war (1960-1996), developed performance as a major artistic statement. Lacking cultural infrastructures and material resources, they created works using their own bodies, performing them in the open spaces that had been denied to citizens during the years of conflict. Galindo’s first performances developed from her poems and dealt specifically with the experience of living in post civil war Guatemala, where gang related criminal activity is endemic, an estimated 80% of the population lives in poverty, and the homicide rate is among the highest in Latin America – with killings of women more than doubling in the five years up until 2006.

Amateurs, usually friends or acquaintances, recorded Galindo’s earliest performances on video and the image quality and camerawork of the resulting documentation is poor. As the context for the production and reception of her work has widened, not only has the documentation of Galindo’s performances evolved technically and formally, but her position as ‘performer’ within her own practice has shifted from lone protagonist, in the early works produced in Central America (e.g Quien puede borrar las huellas?/Who can erase the traces? (2003), to orchestrator of the actions of others (Curso de supervivencia para hombres y mujeres que viajaran de manera illegal a los Estados Unidos/Survival skills course for men and women preparing to travel illegally to the United States, 2008), to complete corporeal absence in the most recent works — which nevertheless continue to invoke the presence of a human body: La Conquista /The Conquest, 2009, and Busto, 2009, a classical self-portrait bust in heroic socialist realist style currently on show at the 10th Havana Biennale and described by Galindo describes as ‘an experiment in approaching the human body from another perspective.’

This paper will address three areas drawn from my experience of working with the artist on Regina Jose Galindo: The Body of Others, the survey exhibition of her work that I curated at Modern Art Oxford in 2009: First, the problem of curating a predominantly performance based practice for an exhibition context bound by temporal and spatial convention (translating performance into object/exhibition); second, the question of curating for an audience whose experiences are remote to the context and subject matter of the artist’s practice (translating meaning from one geographical and socio-political context to another); finally, I will examine the reciprocities and negotiations that occur between artist and curator in the presentation of the artist’s work (the task of the curator), and how this influences the process of translation, inflecting the final manifestation of the work as exhibition. The central focus of this exploration will be the notion that the act of ‘curating performance’ is analogous to that of translating poetry from one language to another, and that because both media share an ‘untranslatable’ core, any attempt at translation will necessarily produce a shift in both form and meaning. I will propose that it is precisely the untranslatability at the core of Galindo’s practice, both as a poet and as a performance artist, that has produced the shift in her practice.

This article is adapted from a presentation originally made at the conference The Task of the Curator: Translation, Innovation and Intervention in Curatorial Practice organised by the Department of Museum and Curatorial Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz in May 2010.

Official URL: http://viz.ucsc.edu/about.html
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W100 Fine Art > W130 Sculpture
Creative Arts and Design > W400 Drama > W410 Acting
Creative Arts and Design > W600 Cinematics and Photography
Creative Arts and Design > W800 Imaginative Writing > W820 Poetry Writing
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Copyright Holders: Clare Carolin
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2011 19:39
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2011 19:43
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/720

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