27.08.2005 — 13.11.2005
Farsites: Urban Crisis and Domestic Symptoms in Recent Contemporary Art was an exhibition of works by fifty-two international artists exploring issues of urban rupture — moments when the grid and systems of the modern city fail or fall short. The artworks selected for the exhibition reflected a broad range of understandings of “crisis” occurring in public, urban settings — economic, political, institutional, social, systemic, or cultural.
A collaborative effort of the Centro Cultural Tijuana, inSite_05, and the San Diego Museum of Art, Farsites was the first exhibition jointly organized by visual arts institutions in the highly charged border region of San Diego/Tijuana.
Curated by Adriano Pedrosa, Farsites included documentary projects by five adjunct curators focused on five cities in the Americas: Buenos Aires, Caracas, Mexico City, New York, and São Paulo. The catalogue features essays by Brazilian psychoanalyst Suely Rolnik, and California-based cultural critic and urban and media historian Norman Klein, as well as by Adriano Pedrosa and the five adjunct curators.
Farsites was the museum exhibition component of inSite_05 — a network of cultural events that includes Interventions, commissioned projects in public spaces in San Diego and Tijuana; Conversations, an ongoing series of dialogues, workshops, lectures, and publications; and Scenarios, supporting new forms of artistic practice in the public sphere.
Venues: Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT) and San Diego Museum of Art
Farsites: Urban Crisis and Domestic Symptoms in Recent Contemporary Art seeks to complement BYPASS, the “Interventions” component curated by Osvaldo Sánchez, establishing connections between inSite_05’s two-city museum exhibition and the public projects realized in the San Diego-Tijuana region. Departing from Sánchez’s framework for BYPASS, Farsites takes up related themes and concepts, and includes visual art in all media, drawing from contemporary artists living primarily in the Americas. The artworks selected for this exhibition seek to establish a relationship with the concepts and themes developed in the public projects, but not in relation to the San Diego/Tijuana region, thus avoiding any site-specific approach.
“Assuming that the city is the product of uncontrolled flows, BYPASS aims to highlight the unprogrammed expanses that we might christen the urbanism of the informal. Here we are addressing not only the informality of urban settlements, of public services, or of cross-border transit patterns, but also the informal dynamics of economy and exchange, of language and codification, of behavior and belonging. The urbanism of the informal is that impact zone where the bets are placed on what the map portrays and what it omits — what it enhances and what it renders silent and invisible. Those pliant, permeable spaces that function like membranes, like porous woven cloths that filter, contaminate, and extend the processes through which identification takes form, these are ‘those representational spaces that have been omitted from what is “social”’ (P. Bourdieu).” Osvaldo Sánchez, “BYPASS,” inSite_05, preliminary conceptual framework [my emphasis].
Thus, Farsites gathers works of art in a museum context that are informed by the themes above yet are related to sites other than the San Diego-Tijuana region. In addition, if the “Interventions” component, because of its processual nature, is able to develop projects that may refer to or perform shifts, fluxes, flows, and transformations, Farsites, as a more static component, necessarily privileges objects and avoids documenting artworks of a processual nature or that occur outside the museum’s walls (that, after all, is the task of “Interventions”).
If the contemporary urban site has been taken as the central locus of our research and reflection, our focus was not so much the totalizing cityscape or map, the all-encompassing urban grid, with its modern and efficient representations, systems, controls and flows, but rather, those moments or loci where the grid and the system fail or fall short — a micro evidence or fragment that nevertheless remains relevant as an emblem or symptom. All cities encounter such moments/loci, be they at the micro or macro level, in public or private fields. In so-called third-world cities these moments/loci seem harsher and more evident, coming about on the streets in a daily basis, quite simply because of the lack of available public resources to aptly control them in a clean and efficient way — “sanitizing” and “sterilizing” them. However, in the so-called first-world cities, these moments occur as well. There, they retain their particularly striking quality precisely because of the context in which they occur, making evident the inappropriateness of the most modern (the richest and the most developed) systems, in sharp contrast with the public, urban setting.
The artworks in the exhibition may reflect, directly or indirectly, a broad range of understandings of “crisis” occurring in public, urban settings — in economic, political, institutional, social, systemic, cultural levels. On the one hand, the artworks may point to the failure of modern desires and projects, documenting and recording such instances in a critical way, or at times articulating creative responses to such adverse situations, in a more propositional way. On the other hand, artworks may emerge from a subjective or personal response to such notions of crisis, offering more poetic reflections that are equally relevant. In this sense, the notion of “crisis” must also be understood in meanings beyond the public and the urban. It is here that the importance of the private, domestic, personal, and bodily territories become significant — viewed as a symptom, reflection, continuation, extension, or disruption of the crisis in the public, urban levels. What is fundamental here is the detection of moments/loci where there is clash, collision, or friction between the urban modernist grid with unforeseen, unpredicted, uncontrollable, or unimagined forces and desires.
These critical moments/loci have been increasingly troubling artists worldwide and informing their production in many ways. However, artworks cannot be read as an unbiased, critical, journalistic, or investigative documentation or representations of these moments/loci of crisis. The notion of symptom is relevant in this context: the symptom is understood as a change or shift in the physical or mental, concrete or contextual, bodily or psychological states. It must remain clear that the notion of symptom as it is associated with artworks is not to be understood solely as a side effect or an uncontrollable manifestation, let alone with therapeutic connotations, but rather as a complex and deliberate manifestation, a fragment or micro evidence of a larger crisis.
In addition, Farsites includes an important documentary component: five individual projects related to such varied understandings of crisis in the public, urban domain, which are also associated to personal, micro levels. These documentary projects have been developed by a group of five adjunct curators who have conducted research in different cities: Ana Elena Mallet (“Mexico City: Architect Mario Pani’s Nonoalco-Tlatelolco Housing Project”), Betti-Sue Hertz (“New York City: Blackouts in 1965, 1977, 2003”), Carla Zaccagnini (“São Paulo: Tunnels, Bridges, and Viaducts”), Julieta González (“Caracas: Avenida Libertador”), and Santiago García Navarro (“Buenos Aires: The Palermo Viejo Assembly”).
These cities have been selected as major urban centers in the Americas that have recently undergone moments of crisis, and constitute rich cultural and artistic centers in their own right. Nevertheless, the choice of these five cities must not be taken as the election of the most significant ones in the Americas — other equally complex and interesting cities could have been chosen, such as Bogotá, Havana, Los Angeles, Miami, Rio de Janeiro, or Santiago. The five selected cities are to be taken as one possible constellation among many other different, equally significant ones.
The documentary component of the exhibition is characterized by research that privileges personal and micro investigations, referencing micro-history, the Histoire des Annales or personal history, rather than all-encompassing, macro or panoramic documentation. The documentary projects are interspersed within the exhibition itself, establishing connections with the artworks themselves, gathering and organizing a range of documentary materials — photographs, press clippings, documents, literature, film, video, and personal accounts — that represent moments/loci of crisis in distant sites. Although the documentary component of the exhibition focusses on five specific cities, the installation of Farsites itself does not assume that criteria. In fact, the overall concept of the installation avoids segmenting the exhibition in more obvious or facile groupings, such as gathering objects and artworks according to each of the five cities, or dividing and grouping them according to references to the urban, the architectural, the domestic, or the personal, let alone separating artworks from documentary projects. The approach has been to compose, through the juxtaposition of artworks and documentary projects, different layers and levels or readings throughout the exhibition spaces, which will weave themes, concepts, and origins — the urban, the architectural, the domestic, the personal: Buenos Aires, Caracas, Mexico City, New York, São Paulo, and elsewhere. These interwoven and multilayering curatorial strategies will hopefully offer different accesses, opening up many trajectories throughout the exhibition spaces in San Diego and in Tijuana.
inSite Exhibition Coordinators
San Diego Museum of Art
Derrick R. Cartwright, The Maruja Baldwin Director
Betti-Sue Hertz, Curator, Contemporary Art
Lucia Sanroman, Exhibition Coordinator
Centro Cultural Tijuana
Teresa Vicencio Álvarez, General Director
Abril Castro, Exhibition Coordinator
Farsites Exhibition Sponsors
The San Diego Foundation
Jacques & Natasha Gelman Trust
CONACULTA - Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, FONCA
The San Diego Union Tribune
La Colección Jumex