The Curatorial Incubator V.16: Living in Hope – Program #7

the process of making consistent, 2009, Guillerminia Buzio

Vtape presents

THE CURATORIAL INCUBATOR v.16: Living in Hope – program #7

The seventh edition of this year’s Curatorial Incubator starts Friday, February 12, 2021, with a Zoom Live introduction by emerging curator Camila Salcedo at 7pm ET followed by the first title in her program, the process of making consistent by Guillermina Buzio.

This year’s Curatorial Incubator is almost at the end. This year we invited eight incubatees to each make a program that responds to the theme of Living In Hope. In keeping with the restrictions of COVID-19, we are taking the entire program on-line, unrolling one title per week with an on-line Zoom conversation at the end of each program featuring the curator and the artists.

On Friday, February 26, 2021, Camila Salcedo will be in conversation with artists Guillermina Buzio, Nela Ochoa, and Julieta Maria at 7pm ET on Zoom Live. Check the Vtape website for a link to this conversation.

PROGRAM #7 Curated by Camila Salcedo
Performative Faiths (Spanish version below)

Growing up in Venezuela, my grandparents had altars in dedicated rooms in their homes, and they lit candles throughout the day for the “ánimas benditas,” souls in limbo that had not yet transcended into heaven. Popular traditions embracing the dead, like this one, are widespread and commonplace sources of hope in Venezuela, primarily for those living in the most impoverished and violent communities, whether in city barrios or in rural communities, where untimely death occurs often and unjustly. In cemeteries in the most crime-ridden areas of Caracas, people pray to the santos malandros (“holy thugs”), a sect of outlaw saints with a large cult following, such as Ismael Sánchez, known for performing crimes of generosity not unlike Robin Hood. These saints derive from the spiritist faith, part of Venezuela’s María Lionza religion, which reveres a mestiza goddess of the same name and borrows from colonial Catholicism, as well as Afro-Caribbean and Indigenous faiths. “María Lionzeros,” those who practice the religion, embrace death through many rituals, including ones by which religious leaders invoke and embody the dead.

Popular beliefs and santos that keep death at the forefront, similar to the ones in Venezuela, are embedded in the social fabric across Latin America. The artists’ works selected for this series reinterpret the rituals of these faith-based traditions. In the process of making consistent, Guillermina Buzio examines the tradition of altars dedicated to those who have suffered tragic deaths throughout Argentina. Nela Ochoa fictionalizes her own experience of faith-based rituals while growing up in Venezuela by subverting Catholic gestures in que en pez descanse, or “may [they] rest in fish,” a pun on the popular myth that if one bathes in the ocean on Holy Friday one will turn into a fish. In Exercises in Faith: Embrace, Julieta Maria questions sacrificial offerings by literally taking the life of a fish by intimately embracing it with her hands. Through their performative actions, the three artists explore popular traditions that give people hope in the face of death in Latin America.

Camila Salcedo is an interdisciplinary artist, independent curator, community facilitator and arts educator based in Toronto. She is interested in unlearning, questioning, and dismantling systems and institutions that were created to define us such as nations, identity, politics, and migration. She has a BFA from NSCAD University from 2018.


Performative Faiths

Guillermina Buzio, the process of making consistent, 2009, 05:55
the process of making consistent is a video performance in which the artist sits naked in a set that recreates a “Gauchito Gil” altar located near the site of her mother’s accidental death during Argentina’s dictatorship. The artist describes this performance as “healing and painful,” evoking both past and present traumas. In it, she remains motionless as her friends and strangers adorn her with photographs, trinkets, and prayers, emulating altars devoted to those who have died tragically. The work also weaves photographs of the “Gauchito Gil” altars, a gaucho (cowboy) outlaw figure widely revered in Argentina as a saint, and videos of the Crogmañon Altar, an altar for the 194 people who tragically died in a nightclub fire in Buenos Aires. At the bottom of the screen a text scrolls of invented prayers, as well as written wishes, through which the artist commemorates her loved ones.

Nela Ochoa, que en pez descanse, 1986, 16:35
que en pez descanse is a surreal video work modeled after the artist’s childhood. All of the characters have cult-tendencies, except for the main character who is distrustful and apprehensive of society’s rules. The characters perform odd choreographic gestures that are slightly “off” from the traditional gestures of the Catholic faith. For example, instead of “crossing” themselves with their right hand, they do it with both hands; instead of kissing the small cross made by their index and thumb, they put their hand into their mouths; instead of taking communion wafers, they ingest a whole live fish. The title is a pun using the word “pez” meaning fish, instead of “paz,” meaning peace, and directly translates as “may [they] rest in fish;” it is also a reference to the popular belief that if a person bathes on Good Friday, the day commemorating Christ’s crucifixion, they will become a fish.

Julieta Maria, Exercises in Faith: Embrace, 2011, 06:00
Exercises in Faith: Embrace is a video performance in which the artist sacrifices a live fish that was destined for human consumption and decontextualizes the purpose of its life by killing it for the sake of art. In this “exercise in faith,” she exercises her control and power over the fish by holding it in her hands and hugging it carefully against her chest until it slowly passes away. In the middle of the video, the action subtly starts to replay backwards, so that if looped, the fish will remain in perpetual agony. This can be an incredibly difficult performance to watch, as one observes the artist inflict death upon a live animal during what is usually an act of care – a hug or “embrace.” The artist explores how “faith” and “trust in god” are used as coping mechanisms for living, even though death is our eventual destiny.


PROGRAM #7 Curated by Camila Salcedo
Santas del Pescado

Mientras yo crecía en Venezuela, mis abuelos tenían cuartos dedicados a altares en sus casas, donde prendían velas a las ánimas benditas (del purgatorio), almas en el limbo que aún no habían trascendido al cielo. Tradiciones que acogen a la muerte son fuentes comunes y extensas de esperanza en Venezuela, principalmente para aquellos que viven en las zonas más pobres y violentas, como barrios o comunidades rurales, donde asesinatos inesperados suceden con frecuencia. En los cementerios de Caracas ubicados en las zonas más violentas, las personas le rezan a los santos malandros, una secta de santos criminales con grandes seguimiento de culto. Un ejemplo de estos santos es Ismael Sánchez, quien es conocido por haber cometido crímenes generosos como el personaje de Robin Hood. Estos santos provienen de la fe espiritista, parte de la religión María Lionza en Venezuela, la cual venera a una diosa mestiza del mismo nombre, tomando tradiciones y creencias del Catolicismo colonial y religiones Afro-Caribeñas e Indígenas. Los María Lionzeros involucran la muerte a través de rituales en los que evocan y encarnan los muertos.

Creencias populares que acogen a la muerte y a los santos malandros, similares a los de Venezuela, están inmersos en el tejido social en Latinoamérica. Los trabajos elegidos para esta serie reinterpretan los rituales de estas tradiciones basadas en la fe. En the process of making consistent (el proceso de hacer consistente), Guillermina Buzio examina la tradición de los altares dedicados a aquellos que han sufrido muertes trágicas alrededor de Argentina. Nela Ochoa lleva a la ficción los rituales de fe que experimentó durante su niñez en Venezuela, al subvertir gestos Católicos en que en pez descanse, obra basada en el mito de que uno se convertirá en un pez si se baña en el mar un Viernes Santo. En Exercises in Faith: Embrace (Ejercicios en Fé: Abrazo), Julieta Maria cuestiona ofrendas sacrificiales al literalmente darle muerte a un pez mientras lo abraza íntimamente en sus manos. A través de sus acciones performáticas, las tres artistas exploran tradiciones populares Latinoamericanas que dan esperanza ante la muerte.


Santas del Pescado

Guillermina Buzio, the process of making consistent, 2009, 05:55
the process of making consistent (el proceso de hacer consistente) es un video-performance en el que la artista está sentada desnuda dentro de un escenario construido que recrea un altar a Gauchito Gil, el cual estaba situado cerca del lugar dónde su madre falleció accidentalmente durante la dictadura argentina. La artista describe este performance como “curativo y doloroso,” ya que evocó traumas de su pasado y su presente. En el video se mantiene inmóvil mientras que sus amigos y extraños la adornan con fotos, objetos y oraciones, emulando altares dedicados a quienes han muerto trágicamente. El video también entrelaza fotos de altares de Gauchito Gil, un gaucho y figura criminal conocida y venerada en Argentina, y videos del Altar de Cromañón, dedicado a las 194 personas que murieron trágicamente en el incendio del “boliche” en Buenos Aires en el 2004. En la parte de abajo de la pantalla hay un texto móvil con oraciones inventadas y deseos, a través de los cuales la artista conmemora a quienes ama.

Nela Ochoa, que en pez descanse, 1986, 16:35
que en pez descanse es un video surreal basado en la niñez de la artista. Todos los personajes tienen tendencias de culto, menos el personaje principal, quien desconfía de las reglas estrictas de la sociedad. Los personajes actúan gestos coreográficos de la fe Católica incorrectamente, como por ejemplo, en vez de hacer la cruz con la mano derecha, lo hacen con ambas manos; en vez de besar la cruz hecha por su pulgar y dedo índice, meten la mano entera dentro de su boca; en vez de tomar la comunión, ingieren un pez vivo. El título es una referencia a la creencia de que si uno se baña un Viernes Santo, el día que conmemora la crucifixión de Jesús, uno se convertirá en pez.

Julieta Maria, Exercises in Faith: Embrace, 2011, 06:00
Exercises in Faith: Embrace (Ejercicios en Fé: Abrazo), es un videoperformance en el que la artista sacrifica la vida de un pez que estaba destinado a morir para ser consumido, y descontextualiza el propósito de su vida al matarlo para hacer arte. En este “ejercicio en fé”, ejerce su control y su poder sobre el pez, al acogerlo en sus manos y abrazarlo en contra de su pecho hasta que lentamente muere y se convierte en pescado. A la mitad del video, la acción empieza a repetirse al revés, de manera de que si es looped, el pez se mantendría en agonía perpetua. El performance puede ser muy difícil de ver, ya que uno observa a la artista matar a un pez durante lo que es normalmente un acto de cariño, un abrazo. La artista explora cómo la “fe” y la “confianza en dios” son utilizados como mecanismos de supervivencia, aunque la muerte es nuestro destino eventual.

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