Grafías para habitar un territorio [Graphisms to Inhabit a Territory]. 2009. Stills from video drawing. 5.50 min
Grafías para habitar un territorio [Graphisms to Inhabit a Territory] is the result of my personal experience of inhabiting a new territory, Santiago, Chile. My incursion into video animation was fruit of research geared to bringing into my practice new languages that would attest to that experience.
The gist of the work does not stray from the language of drawing, though it incorporates handwritten text as word and as new graphic possibility.
The video, which lasts a total of 5’50,” is a visual essay that partakes of different bibliographical sources related to immigration, the construction of Latin American identities, and philosophy (texts quoted), to build a point of view on the experience of inhabiting. That information is interspersed with personal reflections that comment on the texts cited.
The gradual appearance of text puts together a map of the city of Santiago in order to reflect, visually, on how we inhabit a territory, on what it means to recognize oneself in a new city, and on how language determines the way we perceive reality. While the process of reading—its pauses and flows—sets the pace of the work, it is graphic in nature: words, regardless of their content, draw shapes, paths and courses, traces.
The work addresses issues like the construction of a largely unfeasible language, that is, the language constructed by the words of others, in order to explore a territory in which one recognizes oneself gradually through a process of inhabiting
The text in the work says:
(the hereafter is an act)
Departure from a number of the body’s homes
Departure from the local space and from fleeting duration
But a horizon never vanishes; it is displaced. It does not move away in that displacement, however, but rather moves along with the one who walks, at steady pace, towards it, staying at a constant distance from its gaze.
(saying farewell is obsolete)
Contradiction cannot be resolved—a third reason for a sorrow that sticks to us.
In Latin America, depending on the country, different phenomena have occurred: sometimes the Spanish colonizers inbred with the Indians, sometimes (as in Brazil), the Africans too, and sometimes languages and populations known as “Creole” came into being. It is very difficult, even if we think in racial terms, to say whether an Argentine or a Chilean is of European or Amerindian origin. And it’s even harder to decide about, let’s say, a Jamaican.
And yet, distance sometimes seems as vast as my convictions…
(Saying farewell is obsolete)
You shouldn’t get so very sad… I feel better when I know you’re well.
It is worth noting, in passing, something that is very illuminating about peoples and their phenomena. Each natural accident produces its own customs and traditions, such that when they are repeated, we run into the same means of stopping them invented by entirely different peoples.
(I don’t see the east in the Andes. When I get lost, the horizon moves)
In short, we can call something immigration when the immigrants accept to a large extent the customs of the country they have emigrated to, whereas—in cases of migration—the migrants radically transform the culture of the territory to which they have migrated.
(Saying farewell is obsolete, and yet each goodbye brings me into the present)
After an instant, I know those never before seen better than I know anyone. I am with them and among them.
Not to be a member of anything is to arouse suspicion: when seeking naturalization, you are expressly asked to list your memberships […] Powerless in an overwhelming society, the individual experiences himself only as socially mediated. […] You feel yourself to the marrow a lawyer’s wife, a member of a student body.
Adorno, T. (2003).Mensajes en una botella, in Zizek, S. Ideología. Un mapa de la cuestión. Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica. (English titles: Messages in a Bottle; Mapping Ideology)
Eco, U. (1997). Cinco Escritos Morales. Barcelona: Lumen. (English title: Five Moral Pieces
Jameson, F and Zizek, S. (1998) Estudios Culturales, reflexiones sobre el multiculturalismo. Buenos Aires: Paídós. (English title: Cultural Studies: Reflections on Multiculturalism)
Michaux, H. (2002). Antología Poética (1927-1986). Buenos Aires: Adriana Hidalgo. (Anthology of Poems (1927-1986))
Sarmiento, D.F. (2001). Facundo. Buenos Aires: Ediciones Clásicas.