An Archaeologist’s Feast
By Roberto Echen
Curatorial Text (Memorious Mud, Hall 11 CC Recoleta 2015)
Some decades ago, Foucault (1) opposed Archaeology to History –perhaps because he was obsessed with the problems posed by the unavoidable Borges. L'archéologie du savoir suggests not thinking just about the archaeology of epistemic constructions but, as a bouncing effect, establishes a way of thinking as archaeology.
Foucault’s idea comes at a time when modernity moves towards its “post”.
And so is art.
Facing the past (not as a radical rework). When the new ceases to be a category of the “work of art” appraisal, art will find the (perhaps paradoxical) novelty of the past in the operation of visiting already trodden paths.
Here, ‘visiting’ obviously means this exploration task, this encounter from places that bring a whole history of “truth in facts” into play, from the place of its remembered refresh, a memory that builds here and now as a remembrance.
Memory files are not consistent or organized material based on clear mathematical principles or performance organic designs.
Memory plays –or rather starts playing (and so does perception)– with “facts”, considering they are nothing but (and Nietzsche knew it since the very beginning) the ongoing refresh of a construction that gets its truth not from an alleged objectivity but from its own subjective-objective construction.
The remains live the lives of the living dead and accompany us along the paths we follow.
Not because we no longer have a future. The future is possible, but it cannot be so without the horde of zombies that inhabit it.
Andrés Paredes knows he is committed to and involved in this contemporaneity.
He knows that –somewhere– this possibility to make art in this contemporaneity commits him to his biography. Meanwhile, his “auto” biography (the ‘self’ part of the biography) does not unequivocally belong to him, but entails the collective construction that constitutes any archaeology.
And particularly when archaeology inevitably meets genealogy. Not only that of an experimentation with the very field that takes him to places where genealogy is unavoidable but based on the acceptance that takes this term to the family formation scope (with everything such a term may mean).
An apparently memory-free material –that easily and quickly falls apart– turns into the privileged recipient of memory layers that merge and cross in the earth with the water that builds them in the very act of remembering them.
A catalog-free archive of a world that becomes past at the moment mud turns it into present, in that representation that takes us to another time without ceasing to be here and now: a time travel without leaving the present, with the only time machine of this device where the mud pleasantly transports us to other worlds that come from the past to let us know they are not gone, that they were there, provided somebody manages to shape this mud that –from this very action and only drawn by it– contained them.
It is not the staging of a past world, it is not about showing us dinosaurs (by the way, Paredes does not show us dinosaurs) “as if” they were here moving around their habitat (it is not a science museum or a film that tries to make us believe we are there) but a possibly contemporary scenario for something that dates back as much as we want, the remains of a script that depicts us from the script of our possibility to remember.
Getting into the scene (an action that is literal here, for in order to see what happens inside this spectral landscape, you have to get into it) does not mean believing you are there (there is no mimesis in this world that is all the same built with mimetic elements) but knowing that it comes from another place and –despite that very fact– from a place as embedded as it is foreign: memory.
Doubly in this case.
Because this means that –at some point– what we remember is the mix (the mud) of one memory (which we intend to believe as ours) with another one (which we would like to say–even though we know that, finally, we are not sure about it– that is the author’s, the so-called Andrés Paredes).
It is an archaeologist’s feast.
Something that (probably) could not happen if this archaeology were not –at the very time of its production- art.
(1) Of course he was not alone and, besides he was backed by some distinguished unusual thinkers of an unusual history such as Warburg and Benjamin, but, above all, Nietzche.