Throughout 20 years, the Patronato de Arte Contemporáneo (PAC) has been a key institution to support and give continuity to multiple projects within the field of visual arts in Mexico. Christian Gómez, PAC’s program coordinator, suggest some guides to learn about the 140 initiatives supported through the program that arose in response to the pandemic emergency.
By invitation of Terremoto, this text suggests some key points to approach the projects supported by the PAC/Covid-19 Fund. In this sense, it’s writing from an affirmative character has been impossible. To approach a compendium such as this Fund—which involves 140 initiatives of very diverse natures—and from an institution such as the Patronato de Arte Contemporáneo—a civil association founded in 2000 to contribute to the development, promotion, and reflection of contemporary artistic production in Mexico—the pretension of a single voice and, much less, of a single narrative, makes no sense.
In this context, invited by this publication to write this text, it is vital for me to situate myself as just one voice of the collective structure that is PAC in which I have been working for four years as coordinator of its programs and SITAC: Nodos insisting on the ideas of companionship and care. As I have pointed out in other spaces, I use the voice as a form of mediation that suggests reading keys to be discussed. Thereon, here I suggest just three to navigate the contents of this fund.
The first would then be to place the PAC/Covid-19 Fund among the support the PAC has offered for 20 years, all of which has been possible thanks to a constant procurement of resources to be allocated to the stimulation of independent artistic experimentation. Reviewing the history of projects supported by the PAC allows us to glimpse a constellation of points to be connected and narratives yet to be made. There are projects that have stood out for stressing other spaces of artistic, institutional, and state representation. It’s also possible to follow a series of trends, urgencies, and languages marked by the very development of artistic practices, which overflow the lines dictated by other hierarchies. Since 2000, in a consistent manner, we may follow different threads and plots; agents, voices, and some of their transits.
In 2020, with the emergence of Covid-19 and its disastrous implications for an already precarious artistic ecosystem, the open-call that during the last five years was directed to independent spaces, curatorial, educational, and editorial projects, was rapidly transformed by the Board of Directors into the PAC/Covid-19 Support Fund. This was a more flexible type of support, without categories and aimed at the subsistence of the projects, granted in two stages and thanks to an extraordinary procurement of resources to a total of 140 initiatives: a significantly higher number than the average of 30 projects in recent years.
A huge number: 140 proposals arising from the most diverse ethical and aesthetic discussions. Together, they form an active panorama of an artistic ecosystem conformed of mostly young participants. In it, interests and urgencies are intertwined which, although previously noticed, have become unusually evident and powerful in the last year. There are community work projects; formal experimentation; modes of organization and discussion on the precariousness of the artistic field, with notes towards better practices; educational and self-training projects, understood in a broad sense; feminist, gender, and queer approaches; research with new approaches to art theory and history; decolonial and anti-racist approaches; and different understandings of criticism, which have long distanced themselves from the patriarchal perspectives that seek to prevail.
Another key would be self-narration. Far from the objective of organizing or categorizing them, the different projects are presented in a microsite designed by Estudio Herrera through a series of testimonies on the ways of living and working from art in the last year. As we explained there, the compendium “contains images, videos, and texts in first person, from vulnerability, from the critique of a historical moment and the resurgence of violence produced by the economic model in which we live, as well as some notes towards the future-oriented by resilience, resistance, collectivity, and sustainability. Publicly exhibiting these testimonies is an acknowledgment and therefore we share it as the valuable document of our time that it shapes”. Our invitation to read them is to hear/see/feel/think the claims, the marks in the language, the critique of the panorama, and the aim towards new agreements in the art system that together they suggest.
The third key would be in the invitation to detonate possible crossroads. To rehearse previously unnoticed relationships, to put oneself in relation, to discover oneself in the dialogue. Although for some time now in the Sesiones@PacSitac we have stimulated exchanges between the different projects based on shared problems. As well, throughout the SITAC program and in particular, in SITAC Nodos, we have incorporated direct, situated, and decentralized dialogues with several of them, the recently revealed panorama opens up an enormous field with multiple dialogues yet to be built.
In a conversation with Diego del Valle Ríos, editor of Terremoto, the idea arose that it was possible to guide this text from desire and intuition. From this perspective, I would like to take some phrases from the testimonies of the representatives of the projects—mostly collectives—who incite an imagination of the future, precisely from their desires and intuitions. They enunciate possible futures—or at least they distance themselves from a present that reveals itself outdated in terms of the urgency of something different—and question us from there. I propose these phrases as a starting point for a conversation that has yet to take place. Also, because these ideas are in dialogue with so many other ideas expressed in this publication. The selection is not objective but affective: these phrases, like so many others in the 140 initiatives, challenge us because of the way they point to new agreements in the contemporary artistic ecosystem.
“It is real to think in first person in strong situations like the one we live in today; think in first person in regards to your own projects and how your professional career advances. However even though the pandemic arrived late to the indigenous communities, it gives you a starting point to reflect in a more global way and understand this from a more local perspective. That was really what my work tries to express. Beside the dynamics, the space, the community, the rural, the forest that make you forget the new modality in which we live today.”
Luis Giovanni Fabián Guerrero, Purepecha Visual Artist, Territorio Sagrado [Sacred Territory]
“Although we are going through the vertigo of digital life, we realized that we can continue to generate affective networks and collective work through responsible and honest dialogue. This consists of recognizing our differences with empathy and without fear of dissent. To encourage the development of exhibition platforms as independent as possible and strengthen ties between collectives and organizations through collaboration, as well as appeal to intergenerational and intersectional work.”
“Save the artist had already been working since its inception with stressing the problems that we as art workers live because contemporary art also has a patriarchal structure.”
Mario Wandu, Save the Artist
“…we will have to continue looking for ways to subsist and to reformulate that what we believe is already established. We reiterate that the most radical and most important thing for us are the collaboration networks that are generated with each artist, as well as the mutual support that lasts after the projects thanks to the bonds that we generate through affinity and friendship.”
Carmen Huizar, nohacernada.org
The PAC has a board of directors made up of 17 contemporary art professionals, a team of 5 people, and multiple interlocutors.
This text by Anthony Huberman on the role of care in medium-scale institutions has been a mantra.
To dimension this observation, it is worth remembering that the PAC gave $1,273,000 MXN pesos in support per call in 2019. In 2020, from the resources added thanks to a special resource procurement effort, it granted around $2,740,000 MXN pesos.