It is a pleasure to be writing this introduction to the fifth issue of the INSITE Journal—the first that INSITE is able to publish both online and in print. Journal_05 is inspired by Speech Acts, a play conceived, written, and directed by Andrea Torreblanca, that was performed several times daily during July and August 2021 at Museo Jumex in Mexico City.
Speech Acts was born out of a generous invitation by Museo Jumex's Chief Curator, Kit Hammonds, for INSITE to propose an intervention in his exhibition, Normal Exceptions: Contemporary Art in Mexico. Andrea, who as INSITE's Director of Curatorial Projects since 2018, had devoted a substantial amount of time to organizing and making the INSITE Archive publicly accessible online, was asked to imagine what form that intervention might take. When Andrea met with us after a month or so of considering the challenge, we were more than slightly skeptical about the feasibility of realizing her idea: to write and produce a play (including the commission of an architectural “set” that would function as a support for the creation of a new dance and performance) based entirely on recorded speech and texts culled from nearly thirty years of INSITE's projects and public programs—all in six months.
Fortunately, our concerns were not shared by Kit, who immediately embraced Andrea's conception of the project and became an invaluable partner in making it a reality. Among other things, he agreed to commission Andrea's dream team: Wonne Ickx and Carlos Bedoya of the Mexico City-based architectural studio, PRODUCTORA, to design the stage set; and choreographer Arturo Lugo from Proyecto Amplio Espectro to conceive the performance.
Of course, this is not to suggest that Speech Acts was by any means an easy project to produce. Rather, it would not have been possible without the collaboration of tenacious curators willing to explore alternative forms of bringing archival material to life outside of traditional exhibition models; artists in a variety of disciplines willing to explore the edges of their practices; and the wholehearted support of an institution with the sensitivity, technical creativity, resources, and experience necessary to realize Andrea's vision.
In addition to the record of the play, we are delighted to publish in INSITE Journal_05 new texts and contributions by outstanding voices, including Ariella Aïsha Azoulay, Cristina Rivera Garza, Keller Easterling, and Kit Hammonds, that explore “speech acts” as a subject that is increasingly relevant to contemporary issues surrounding the expression of ideas. In addition, Journal_05 presents an opportunity to reconsider several past INSITE projects, particularly Andrea Fraser's Inaugural Speech. Andrea (Fraser) has been enormously generous in working with Andrea (Torreblanca) on an interview that takes this seminal 1997 project as a point of departure for what operates, in the end, as an extraordinary conversation about the issues that the term “speech acts” evokes.
Finally, we wish to extend our gratitude to the team that made INSITE Journal_05 possible: to Derek López Vergara and María Calderón from Cítrico Gráfico + Red for their innovative design of both the online and print versions; to Julie Dunn and Carlos Palacios for their tenacious but gentle English and Spanish copy editing; to Liz Mason-Deese and Adriana Santoveña for their sensitive translations of complex texts from Spanish to English and vice versa; to Juan Diaz and Luis Farfán for coordinating the online version of the Journal; and to Andrea Torreblanca, a formidable curator and editor in the many initiatives that she is currently leading for INSITE.
Michael Krichman & Carmen Cuenca
Executive Directors INSITE