Laav_. An experience of creation and social research in the educational department of a contemporary art museum. Chus Domínguez and Belén Sola

November 2018

In a recent talk, Paul B. Preciado spoke of the political genealogy of museums and their importance as complete institutions, ones that are aligned with prisons, hospitals or schools in their work in favour of the normative production of subjectivity[1]. The museums we know today are the legacy of the countercultural revolution of the 1970s and subsequent decades of activism and institutional criticism of the museum-mausoleum. They strive to cease being spaces of the elites – the erstwhile bourgeoisie of the nineteenth century, spaces of heterocentric, white enunciation – that produce while legitimizing «our truth» as Western bearers of a privileged culture.

Moving nearer to our time, we see museums enter a new period marked by a «multicultural» mission in which a variety of actions are deployed to account for contemporary cultural and identity diversity so that they may be redeemed from the hegemonic colonial, erudite mandates from which they were born. For this reason, since the 1990s, exhibitions involving women, LGBTI + identities, artists from Africa, Asia or Latin America etc. have appeared on the agendas of the most renowned contemporary art museums. In parallel, educational departments, spaces traditionally intended for the reproduction of curatorial discourse and the indoctrination of audiences with the desire to become cultivated, experienced an unprecedented boom accompanied by the postmodern multicultural discourse. Education in museums thereby became, just like exhibitions, a device with which to activate this new museum paradigm: a device for acquisition, classification and programmatic specialization to attract diverse audiences, in a concept of banking and transactional[2] education that has no qualms in adopting the concept of mediation as a banner for this new postmodern contract between museums and citizens.

Museums, while claiming to give voice and place to others to whom they refer as publics, audiences, users or even clients, have in reality re-empowered themselves after decades of institutional and social discredit. They now exercise their authority by deploying strategies that are applauded by broad sectors, not only social and cultural ones but -and much more significantly- business. A host of activities for all types of public, selected and «sectioned» according to age, origin, (dis)ability, ethnic group, cultural interests and divided even by gender or sexual identity, are the new tactics of postmodern museums that assume in their proposals the commercialization, not only of the art object, but of the processes and experiences that they can provide.

This manner of understanding museums within their own political genealogy and situating the work of departments of education and cultural action today is necessary to encapsulate the work of the Laboratory of Experimental Audiovisual Anthropology, (Laboratorio de Antropología Audiovisual Experimental, Laav_). This space was formed to experience new ways of doing things; firstly, with people that break with the logic, on the one hand, of consumer hyperproduction, and, on the other, of postmodern cultural colonization.

Aware of the importance of museums as privileged social spaces, configurators of the public sphere, melting pots of diverse subjectivities and unexpected relationships, it was important that the ways of activating such potentialities were also in line with the project’s principles and objectives. Accordingly, the Laboratory aims for its practices to define it as a feminist space, one which advocates the celebration of diversity in terms of social and cultural justice but also the implementation of projects where people’s desire and interest takes precedence over the discursive outline that can propitiate an exhibition or a work. The Laboratory is therefore a social space in essence and this is crucial to understanding its experimental nature as a test tube for research.

Using the definitions of Almudena Hernando, the Laav_ is committed to a working method linked to «relational identity» as opposed to what is termed «individual identity», and which refers fundamentally to methods that pertain to patriarchy. Issues such as authorship, the concept of artwork as a product or the importance of exhibition circuits legitimized by the art system, are less important in the assessment of work than the ability to generate emotional bonds, relationships of trust and respect and the ability to resolve creatively and collectively the challenges that arise during the work process.

We can situate as precedents of Laav_ several prior experiences with collectives and chiefly a series of audiovisual workshops: I /We (2012-2015), which evolved into a community that is active at present, La Rara Troupe[3], which reflects in the first person on issues related to mental health, as an issue that affects society as a whole beyond diagnoses. This project has demonstrated throughout its development, from creative practice and associated research, the possibilities  —and limitations —of autoethnography, the strategies to summon or gather everyone’s creative capacities, the need to work with inclusive groups, the importance of opening up the community to a network that regularly introduces new perspectives, and the diverse ways in which those of us who work in the museum institution can situate ourselves within those communities.

These experiences and learnings raised the possibility of creating Laav_ as a stable framework of action and thought in order to experiment and investigate collaborative practices with communities through audiovisual creation. In all cases, we understand our work to be a practice that is intrinsically linked to the community that makes it and that sets out in its design from the first-person plural. Beyond trying to use audiovisual language to illustrate or represent an aspect of reality, the aim is to employ it as a form of collective enunciation and creative, critical and transformative reflection that generates a new reality through the articulation of images and sounds in «a clash of cultures, voices, bodies and languages»[4]. Miguel Ángel Baixauli, in his profound analysis of Laav_, wrote:

If we think that knowing means to adequately represent what we suppose things are (our theoretical idea about them), we do not depart from Western metaphysics, from the projection of the intelligible model over the sensible, from meaning over the perceptible, from linguistic categories over what is real. If, instead, knowing means transforming what we think and transforming ourselves, then it is no longer a matter of representing anything, but of thinking differently, as Foucault would say, of going through an experience that transforms what we thought[5].

Audiovisual creation as a means to explore social issues about the human group that makes it becomes a practice which makes autoethnography from ourselves, which questions the notion of the other, an audiovisual anthropology based on trial and error, empirical and experimental, ever searching for new expressive possibilities, even if it does not disdain the paths already travelled by cinematic and anthropological tradition. David MacDougall warned of a non-questioning anthropology, one that is more interested in confirming what it already knows than in seeking «something quite different», in the face of what was proposed by the possibility of a «radical ethnography»[6]. Thus, the framework of the Laboratory arises naturally as a space in which experimentation and research go hand in hand when creating and generating embodied knowledge»[7]. It is about questioning and rethinking questions about representation, aesthetics and learning, as well as the ideas of community and identity. As Catherine Russell wrote, «autoethnography is a vehicle and a strategy for questioning imposed forms of identity and exploring the discursive possibilities of non-authentic subjectivities»[8].

One of the Laboratory’s essential approaches is the collaborative act, understood as a horizon towards which we are heading along different paths, none without its difficulty. Alain Bergala in The Cinema Hypothesis identifies an extreme difficulty with regard to this: 

In the act of creating cinema, one of the greatest difficulties, and the cause of many failures, lies in the fact that despite it appearing to be collective work, there is only one person who has the film as a future whole in their head, although always in a rather blurred way and with poorly-defined areas. The fact that the shooting of a film mobilizes a team does not change anything in this regard: the centre of creation in the cinema is always an individual[9].

Bergala, while raising the impossibility of a truly collective cinema, targets the solution: will we be able to get a community to imagine a film? The key point would be to get the group to «have the film in their head». The generation and management of a common imaginary in something as elusive as an artistic creation is an essential task in collective processes. At the Laav_, we regard the creation process as also a process of discovery and shared learning. We might not have to be clear about a final result right from the start, but rather opt for an organic cinema that is discovered, collectively, on the path of creation. As Ignacio Agüero recalls, «Godard already did this from his first film, shooting and discovering cinema at the same time»[10]. This also incorporates one of the educational dimensions inherent in any process, learning from the practice itself.

Other difficulties entailed by collaborative creative practices relate to the knowledge and technical skills necessary to undertake them, which that raises the need for accompaniment by professionals or experts. Jay Ruby points out the consequent paradox: 

Films with shared authority may be an impossibility. Collaboration requires participants to have some kind of technical, intellectual and cultural parity. If the subjects are recognized as filmmakers trained in collaboration, why would they need an outside person? Would they not want to make their own films?[11]

Again, the approach to the problem can provide the solution. Ruby talks about the professional who gives advice as an outsider. We at the Laav_ have chosen to try to expand the community so that it includes all of us who are undertaking the project, a community in which all the members have to learn from each other over a sustained period. Therefore, we would be making our own film, even though it may be characteristic of an «imperfect cinema in the sense of the entertainment industry’s canons of language and form», in the words of Jacobo Sucari Sucari[12].

Parity between all the community members at the technical, intellectual and cultural level to which Ruby refers may be impossible. However, to what extent is it necessary? Parity in the community must be a given but at the level of power: power to do, to reflect, to decide, to question, to imagine. Communities comprise a diversity that supposes in itself a richness that enables the sharing of knowledge and responsibilities and the generating of knowledge. Collaboration consists of that: recognizing the need to combine this knowledge, resulting from the social as well as the technical, artistic or affective fields. In this way, the notions of the expert or outsider become blurred and authorship moves to a collective conception, one which recognizes creative capacity and artistic sensitivity in all participating subjects.

So far, the Laav_ has implemented, in addition to the aforementioned work group La Rara Troupe, three more projects[13], each linked to a community of practice. Puta Mina was proposed as an audiovisual excavation on the disappearance of mining and its associated life forms through a montage-confrontation of dialogues by women connected to mining with images made by miners in galleries that are now practically inactive. Women’s voices thereby resonate in a space that has not belonged to them but of which they have been an essential support. With Proyecto Teleclub, we opened a line to the rural world, which is affected in Spain by an intense depopulation and acculturation process. We chose as an axis for the project a teleclub, a sociocultural venue in a small locality near the city of León in which we had detected an interesting confluence of old and new inhabitants. We attempted to create a group with the aim of its working from the daily life of the space but the dismantling of the rural society itself prevented the project from reaching completion, for reasons that included the venue being controversially closed midway through the process. We are currently trying to analyse and assess the learnings that a «failed» project might have brought us in order to continue with the line of research on rurality.

The final project, Libertad, invites adolescents as well as teachers, artists and mediators to make a feature film about repression and youth during the Civil War and the Franco regime, based on the oral testimony of a woman who in her youth experienced the darkest side of our history. In this case, we suggested analogue film format (16 mm.) to be used for the audiovisual production, with handmade developing by the participants themselves. The physical and collective work with the historical and cinematographic material is taking shape —as we write— in a complex encounter over time between young people with very different socio-political environments.

All these experiences have constituted a learning space in which to propose new artistic and research paths from within the framework of the museum and audiovisual anthropology. We try not to forget, while preparing new projects, that each has to suppose a questioning of our own journey.

 

NOTES

This text was written as a request from Cinema por venir (Sonia Martínez and Miguel Ángel Baixauli) Issue 12, Concreta, November 2018. This is the original version.

[1] Contemporary Culture Course, MUSAC, 2017. Online at:  https://vimeo.com/239484758. [Most recently consulted on 9 August 2018].

[2] Paulo Freire refers to banking education as that based on the deposit of knowledge from the educator to the educatee, ruling out any trace of bidirectionality in this relationship and, much less, any critical and transformative capacity in the educational act.

[3] Online at: http://raraweb.org. [Most recently consulted on 9 August 2018].

[4] Russell, Catherine: Experimental Ethnography: The Work of Film in the Age of Video, Duke University Press, Durham, N.C., 1999.

[5] BAIXAULI, MIGUEL ÁNGEL: «Notas sobre, para y con el LAAV_», Laav, 2017. Online at: https://laav.es/notas-sobre-para-y-con-el-laav_-miguel-angel-baixauli [Most recently consulted on 9 August 2018].

[6] MacDougall, David: Transcultural Cinema, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N. J., 1998.

[7] Russell, Catherine: Óp. cit. Bill Nichols: «The fragmented and hybrid identities produced in a multitude of “personal” films and videos have been celebrated by critics and theorists as forms of “embodied knowledge” and “politics of localization”».

[8] The chapter titled «Autoethnography: Journeys of the Shelf», always has the first person in the singular form, unlike the We assumed by the Laav_.

[9] Bergala Alain: La hipótesis del cine. Pequeño tratado sobre la transmisión del cine en la escuela y fuera de ella, Laertes, Barcelona, 2007.

[10] Agüero, Ignacio: La imagen congelada. II Seminario Punto de Vista, 2014, Gobierno de Navarra, p. 57.

[11] Jay Ruby in «Speaking For, Speaking About, Speaking With, or Speaking Alongside-An Anthropological and Documentary Dilemma», Visual Anthropology Review, Autumn 1991, Volume 7, Number 2. pp. 57-58. Ruby repeatedly uses the expression «shared authority», distinguishing between authorship and authority.

[12] Sucari, Jacobo: «Retóricas de lo participativo en el documental social», DSP Plataform, La Virreina, 2017. Online at: http://plataformadsp.org/retoricas-de-lo-participativo-en-el-documental-social [Most recently consulted on 9 August 2018].

[13] Online at: https://laav.es/category/grupos-de-trabajo [Most recently consulted on 9 August 2018].

 

(Español) Relatorías. Encuentros Laav_ 18

Sorry, this entry is only available in European Spanish.

Investigaciones híbridas: entre lo académico y lo museístico. Elena Sánchez Nagore.

Relatoría gráfica. Coral Bullón

Relatoría gráfica. Zoe Hernández

Encuentros Laav_ 18. Pablo Coca


Investigaciones híbridas: entre lo académico y lo museístico. Elena Sánchez Nagore.

Febrero 2019

La universidad y el museo. Alguien allí presente las definió como dos estructuras monstruosas sometidas a la lógica capitalista, lastradas por las políticas antiguas de la vieja modernidad y aisladas en sí mismas. No era el más esperanzador de los escenarios para arrancar los Encuentros Laav_18. Museos y Universidad. Investigar en un espacio híbrido, que pretendían precisamente tender puentes entre las dos instituciones a través de la participación ciudadana y de la experimentación audiovisual, pero dejaba claro que existía un muro por romper y un camino por construir.  

El Laboratorio de Antropología Audiovisual Experimental[1] del Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León convocó en noviembre de 2018 a docentes, investigadores, artistas, galeristas y estudiantes[2] para quebrar ese muro e imaginar ese camino. A partir de notas tomadas durante esas jornadas, este texto pretende rescatar algunas de las ideas que salieron a relucir en la reunión, en la que se trató de dar respuesta de forma colectiva a varias preguntas clave: ¿Es posible llevar a cabo una investigación desde el ámbito académico que se desligue de lo textual? ¿Ofrece el museo ese campo de libertad a la universidad? ¿Qué podría hacerse para romper la dinámica estanca que aleja a las facultades de los centros de arte, aunque sea desde la utopía?

La hipótesis de un espacio común

Las tensiones entre el arte, la ciencia y los espacios de legitimación vienen de lejos, y adquieren especial visibilidad hoy en museos y universidades, organismos que, al tiempo que alientan la innovación y el descubrimiento en sus respectivos campos de conocimiento, demandan un sometimiento al canon. Ambas instituciones se rigen por sus propias reglas, a veces contradictorias, y ponerlas a dialogar, como era el propósito de los Encuentros Laav_18, no parecía sencillo. Ni siquiera las facultades de Bellas Artes, Educación, Comunicación Audiovisual y Antropología, representadas en la reunión para construir en común, comparten entre ellas los mismos objetivos y metodologías. El reto consistía, entonces, en encontrar una vía en la que los saberes y herramientas de cada disciplina pudieran enriquecerse mutuamente, revirtiendo en el museo al mismo tiempo que el museo revirtiera en ellas. Esbozar un marco compartido para la investigación social, abierto a las comunidades y enfocado al trabajo colectivo, para acercarse a la realidad a través de la creación.

Como recuerda Néstor García Canclini[3], “construir espacios en los que el saber y la creación puedan desplegarse con autonomía es una de las de las utopías más enérgicas de la cultura moderna, desde Galileo a las universidades contemporáneas, de los artistas del renacimiento hasta las vanguardias”. Por lo antagónico de sus propósitos, los procesos que constituyen la modernidad están condenados a entrar en conflicto y a convivir con crispación, sometidos siempre a presiones que chocan entre sí relacionadas con la sofisticación, la difusión, la autenticidad o el rendimiento económico. Al artista se le pide independencia, pero a la vez se requiere su encaje en la maquinaria. La academia exige rigor, pero busca trascender. Los centros de arte desean conectar con el público, pero con frecuencia siguen siendo percibidos como espacios cerrados. Estas y otras cuestiones afloraron en los encuentros Laav_18, donde se revisaron algunas de las causas que obstaculizan que facultades y museos acompasen sus ritmos.  

Tal y como se constató en los encuentros, el sistema de investigación de la universidad, jerárquico, competitivo, autorreferencial y sometido de forma permanente a la validación de la ANECA[4], dificulta que profesores y alumnos se desvinculen de la lógica del currículum para involucrarse en proyectos externos, en este caso museísticos. Cuando las carreras profesionales se miden en congresos y papers resulta complicado trabajar al margen de la meritocracia y los índices de impacto. Los créditos ECTS[5], que cuantifican la productividad en horas, no ayudan. Tampoco lo hacen las exigencias del mundo exterior, que condicionan los proyectos académicos o la oferta de titulaciones a su encaje en el mercado.  

En el campo concreto de las Bellas Artes, los ponentes subrayaron que existe una fuerte división entre teóricos y creadores, abonada por la disparidad de las leyes académicas y museísticas, que entorpece el desarrollo de propuestas originales y la ruptura de esta dicotomía forzada. En el de la Antropología, subsiste cierta iconofobia[6] que tiende a relegar las imágenes a una mera función ilustrativa e impide que las investigaciones visuales sean mayoritariamente aceptadas como un formato del todo válido para la transmisión del conocimiento científico. El texto, ya sea en el catálogo de una exposición con su necesario ISBN o en un artículo indexado que razona la metodología empleada en un trabajo etnográfico experimental, todavía manda en la universidad. No obstante, los enfoques híbridos propician el nacimiento de ideas nuevas que permiten avanzar. Como propuesta para desarrollarlas, el Laboratorio de Antropología Audiovisual Experimental invitó a utilizar el museo como espacio para la investigación social.  

El trabajo del Laav, un posible puente entre dos mundos

Desde su creación en 2016, el laboratorio del Musac combina herramientas artísticas y de las ciencias sociales para trabajar con comunidades en proyectos de investigación. Sus trabajos, enfocados a la autorrepresentación de los colectivos que participan en ellos, incorporan metodologías pedagógicas, etnográficas y audiovisuales, pero a la vez se sirven del arte para acercarse a lo real. En ese cruce de perspectivas se han gestado en los últimos años grupos de trabajo como La Rara Troupe, Teleclub, Puta Mina, Libertad u Hostal España. Proyectos colaborativos que generan textos y vídeos y que, pese a abordar temas tan dispares como la salud mental, la cultura rural, la memoria minera, la guerra civil o las personas mayores, comparten una apuesta común por la narración crítica, polifónica y experimental.   

Para quienes hemos abordado la antropología con herramientas audiovisuales desde el ámbito académico, como es mi caso, las propuestas del Laav resultan inspiradoras como ejemplo de obras reflexivas y sociales que pueden llevarse a cabo desde fuera de la academia aplicando tanto técnicas que proceden de ella como recursos ajenos. Es el caso de la película Puta Mina (2018)[7], cuya versión definitiva se estrenó en el Musac durante los encuentros tras haber girado por varios festivales. Nació por iniciativa de la antropóloga Conchi Unanue apoyada por el Laav, pero se diseñó y construyó por las personas que intervinieron en ella como una obra de autoría compartida. A través de las conversaciones entre varias mujeres mineras de la cuenca del Gordón (León), la cinta saca a la luz las vivencias y recuerdos de quienes jamás bajaron al pozo a faenar, pero que sin embargo convivieron a diario con ese duro oficio, hoy en extinción, que marcó la vida de la comunidad durante medio siglo. Se trata de un relato femenino crudo, incómodo, contrahegemónico, alejado de las frías crónicas de los periódicos sobre el desmantelamiento de la industria del carbón, pero también de las narraciones de los propios mineros, hombres, a veces esquivas con la cara menos amable y heroica de la mina y la lucha obrera.

Cuando se proyectó en León pudo adivinarse su impacto por el clima que se generó en el patio de butacas. Hubo personas que abandonaron la sala y otras que tomaron la palabra para compartir su emoción y agradecimiento. Superando la simple representación binaria del Otro través del género, parecía que Puta mina había conseguido revertir una pequeña parcela de poder, en este caso narrativa, que era a la vez muy específica y local. Y lo estaba haciendo desde el museo. Quizás, pese a la desconfianza inicial que generaba la capacidad de esta institución para conectar con la calle y desbordar sus márgenes, había motivos para el optimismo. Quizás, ese deseado encuentro entre lo antropológico, lo artístico y lo colectivo no quedaba tan lejos.

Algunas propuestas para avanzar

Como se puso de relieve durante los Encuentros Laav_18, toda etnografía es en sí colaborativa, ya que siempre sale a buscar el objeto de estudio fuera de la institución. También existe una relación antigua entre la antropología y los museos, en la que la primera ha suministrado a menudo material a los segundos. Por ello, las metodologías de la disciplina pueden ayudar hoy a estudiar qué artefactos son los que entran en los centros expositivos y, sobre todo, cómo se producen.

Aunque por lo general las facultades de antropología y los museos se desenvuelven en ecosistemas cerrados y resulta difícil mezclarlos, existen iniciativas que tratan de buscar convergencias. Además del Laav, en los encuentros se mencionó la Muestra de Antropología Audiovisual de Madrid, que cada año proyecta una selección de películas con vocación etnográfica en el Museo Nacional de Antropología. Organizada por el Instituto de Antropología de Madrid en colaboración con este centro, se desarrolla en un espacio abierto al público que facilita el acceso a quienes no están necesariamente vinculados a ninguna de las dos instituciones. En su última edición incorporó además una sección dedicada a trabajos audiovisuales realizados por estudiantes, permitiendo el visionado y el debate en torno a obras de creadores no profesionales, trabajos de alumnos o ensayos fotográficos y audiovisuales gestados dentro de la academia que normalmente no encuentran en ella su cauce para ser difundidos.

En ese sentido, en los Encuentros Laav_18 se convino que la universidad puede superar la rigidez de su burocracia y de sus canales de transmisión tradicionales y servirse de la flexibilidad del museo para dar visibilidad a sus proyectos. También ayudar a diseñar propuestas específicas destinadas en origen a su exhibición fuera del campus desde distintas áreas del conocimiento, como el arte, la antropología, la comunicación audiovisual o la educación. El contexto propicia, sin duda, un campo de libertad extra no necesariamente reñido con el rigor.

Sin embargo, ninguna de estas opciones, que devuelven desde la universidad al museo lo que este les brinda en forma de información, archivos y espacios, contribuye en última instancia a liberar del todo la investigación social y artística de la institucionalización. Los ponentes invitados recalcaron que los comisarios de los centros de arte han de justificar sus proyectos ante sus financiadores de maneras muy concretas, mientras que el sistema de acumulación de méritos por el que se rige la academia induce a profesores y alumnos a participar en actividades computables y a excluir el resto por una cuestión de falta de tiempo. De alguna manera, los procesos acaban siendo mediados por normas que se dan la espalda. Como se expresó en los encuentros, si se desea una transformación esta debe venir desde dentro, buscando resquicios en las estructuras oficiales de legitimación que permitan revertir el trabajo colectivo invertido entre todos los eslabones de la cadena creativa.

Afortunadamente, es posible que la colaboración entre museos y universidades cristalice de muchas maneras. Más allá de las muestras y las proyecciones, quizás los formatos más habituales en los que se produce ese acercamiento entre los dos mundos, en los Encuentros Laav_18 se propuso canalizar ese esfuerzo común a través de encuentros de intercambio de saberes, grupos de investigación multidisciplinares o espacios nómadas de exhibición que salgan a la calle. Se barajó el diseño compartido de cursos de extensión universitaria y de cursos en línea masivos y gratuitos[8] como una forma de propiciar la apertura de los contenidos desde la docencia, al tiempo que se recordó la importancia de dar forma a posibles talleres tras escuchar las demandas de las comunidades participantes en vez de someterlos a esquemas concebidos a priori. También desde una perspectiva pedagógica, se instó a que los proyectos de antropología audiovisual establecieran lazos con la educación no solo universitaria, sino secundaria, en la línea seguida por el grupo de trabajo Libertad, que involucró a adolescentes en un trabajo de memoria histórica empleando herramientas de vídeo analógico. Todo parecía conducir, en definitiva, a huir de estructuras rígidas y mostrarse permeable a escenarios imprevistos para explorar lo colectivo, aunque estos apenas estén esbozados. Tras asistir durante dos días a la exposición de sugerencias, ideas e incertidumbres, quienes acudimos en noviembre a León nos fuimos con la certeza de que no había una sola fórmula de experimentar, sino múltiples.

Ni las investigaciones sociales de carácter audiovisual que surgen al abrigo de la universidad ni las que se gestan desde el museo se libran de momento de su adscripción al texto. La justificación teórica sigue siendo requerida en ambos contextos, incluso cuando estos se hibridan, pero eso no impide que este tipo de trabajos se desarrolle y continúe explorando vías nuevas de representación cultural que se desliguen de la palabra escrita. Mi experiencia personal como autora del primer TFM[9] audiovisual dentro del Máster en Investigación en Antropología y sus Aplicaciones (UNED), que en principio no contemplaba este formato como soporte de entrega, fue complicada pero satisfactoria. El reto nos animó a Sara Sama, mi directora, y a mí a buscar la manera de que este proyecto pudiera ser evaluado como el resto en un entorno no necesariamente especializado, lo que exigió la elaboración de un texto teórico adicional en el que se detallaban los objetivos, retos y metodología empleados. Pese a las dificultades, pudimos llevar a cabo la tarea con éxito, lo que nos demostró que existen formas de revertir los obstáculos y maneras gratificantes de sacar adelante investigaciones híbridas. Puede que los espacios en las que estas tienen cabida sean todavía escasos, pero quizás ese sea el estímulo para continuar imaginándolos.   

NOTAS

[1] El Laboratorio de Antropología Audiovisual Experimental, coordinado por Chus Domíngez, creador audiovisual, y Belén Sola, responsable del Departamento de Educación y Acción Cultural del MUSAC, es un espacio para la investigación y la creación desarrollado desde el DEAC MUSAC.

[2] Entre los ponentes invitados a los Encuentros Laav_18 figuraban, entre otros, Diego del Pozo, artista, productor cultural y profesor en la Facultad de Bellas Artes en la Universidad de Salamanca; Víctor del Río, ensayista y profesor de Teoría del Arte en la Universidad de Salamanca; Alberto Santamaría, poeta y director del Departamento de Historia del arte/Bellas Artes en la Universidad de Salamanca; Olaia Fontal, profesora en la Facultad de Educación de la Universidad de Valladolid; Lorenzo Bordonaro, doctor en Antropología y artista; Sara Sama-Acedo, profesora de Antropología en la UNED; y Javier Fernández, director de cine y profesor asociado en el Dpto. de Comunicación Audiovisual de la Universidad Carlos III. El texto recopila ideas aportadas por todos ellos e incorpora algunas nuevas.

[3] García Canclini, N. (1990). De las utopías al mercado. En Culturas híbridas. Estrategias para entrar y salir de la modernidad. Capítulo I (pp. 31-63). México. D.F.: Grijalbo.

[4] Agencia Nacional de Evaluación de la Calidad y Acreditación.

[5] European Credit Transfer System.

[6] Castaing-Taylor, L. (1996). Iconophobia: How Anthropology Lost It at The Movies. Transition No. 69 (1996), pp. 64-88.

[7] Puta mina (2018) fue desarrollado por Laura Alonso, Raquel Balbuena, Chus Domínguez, Mari Fernández, Áurea González, Belén Sola, Cristina Turrado, Conchi Unanue, Mercedes Ordás.

[8] MOOC (Massive Open On-line Course)​ o CEMA (Curso En línea Masivo y Abierto), en castellano.

[9] Sánchez Nagore, E. (2016) Vida social de un graffiti (Trabajo Fin de Máster). Facultad de Filosofía UNED.


Elena Sánchez Nagore es licenciada en Comunicación Audiovisual por la Universidad de Navarra y máster en Investigación en Antropología por la UNED, donde obtuvo la medalla de la Facultad de Filosofía al mejor expediente académico. Trabaja como periodista y editora en prensa, donde ha coordinado proyectos editoriales para diversos medios, entre ellos El País en la actualidad. Fotógrafa y camarógrafa ocasional, como investigadora le interesa el cruce entre la etnografía y el arte.


Coral Bullón.

Febrero 2019


Coral Bullón (Ávila, 1995) tras terminar la carrera de Bellas Artes en Salamanca, se sumergió en las cuestiones teóricas acerca del arte y actualmente realiza un máster de Filosofía por la especialidad en Estética en esa misma ciudad. A pesar de centrarse en la investigación – en arte contemporáneo, fotografía y feminismos, entre otros temas – también realiza proyectos artísticos de manera individual y colectiva.


Zoe Hernández.

Febrero 2019

Clicar sobre la imagen para acceder al archivo pdf.


Zoe Hernández, nacida en Zamora, manifestó su inquietud por lo artístico a una temprana edad, lo que la llevó a comenzar su formación en la Escuela de Arte y Superior de Diseño de su ciudad natal. Estudiante ahora de la facultad de Bellas Artes de la USAL, continúa sus estudios en el área de escultura con especial interés en lo experimental y la poética de lo intrascendente.


Encuentros Laav_ 18. Pablo Coca.

Febrero 2019

Durante los Encuentros Laav_ que organizó el MUSAC de León el 23 y 24 de noviembre de 2018, se produjo un intenso debate sobre algunos de los aspectos que atraviesan el espacio del museo desde la perspectiva de la antropología visual. Entre los temas debatidos en ambas sesiones, apareció de manera recurrente el problema de la investigación como parte del proceso de producción de conocimiento en la contemporaneidad.

No cabe duda que existe una profunda preocupación sobre este hecho tanto en museos como en el ámbito académico, aunque por diferentes motivos. Esta cuestión tiene que ver con la propia génesis del conocimiento y los procesos de legitimación del saber, una realidad compleja que tiene además numerosos matices. Este texto es fruto de la reflexión colectiva surgida durante estas jornadas.

La investigación es una actividad intelectual, reflexiva y sistemática que trata de analizar o comprender alguna situación o problema específico de una realidad compleja. No obstante, ante los diferentes posicionamientos, es necesario plantear una serie de interrogantes sobre qué significa investigar en la contemporaneidad, qué otras maneras de investigar existen más allá de la académica (producción artística, cultural, proyectos comunitarios, etc), si los museos deben ser contemplados como centros especializados en esta materia o si la producción artística puede ser considerada investigación.

Responder a estas preguntas no es sencillo y, en cierta medida, forma parte de un debate mucho más complejo sobre la legitimación de la producción del saber. Además, la investigación se enfrenta a numerosos problemas como la falta de financiación, tanto pública como privada, el reconocimiento como centros de investigación de espacios ajenos a lo académico y el complejo condicionante de las temporalidades de estos procesos, ya sea de índole administrativa-burocrática, institucional o de los agentes implicados.

En los últimos años, los museos han anhelado su declaración como centros de investigación. Las labores de conservación, estudio, exposición y difusión del patrimonio material e inmaterial que marcó el ICOM en el año 2007, no parecen suficientes para que estos espacios sean reconocidos en esta labor.

Nadie parece dudar del enorme potencial que presentan los museos en esta tarea, dado que cuentan entre sus muros con factores determinantes: los artefactos culturales, sus públicos y comunidades de aprendizaje, además de una intensa actividad susceptible de formar parte de este tipo de procesos. Si esto es así, no se entiende su falta de consideración como centros de investigación, como tampoco se comprende que la práctica artística no sea reconocida como una actividad indagatoria.

En cualquier caso, parece que nadie del sector cultural queda plenamente satisfecho con esta situación. Existe, por tanto, una suerte de crisis sistémica de la cultura, en la que sus agentes parecen estar instalados en un malestar continuo.

El proceso de “producción” de conocimiento ya intuye una concepción propia de la economía de mercado. En el caso de la Universidad, inmersa en las lógicas del capitalismo cognitivo, ha tendido en los últimos años hacia un modelo de economía neoliberal que ha privatizado incluso la producción del conocimiento, favoreciendo la división del trabajo, entre teoría y práctica, entre teóricos y productores. Esta situación ha sumido a sus profesionales a una intensa e interminable tarea de contribuir con sus aportaciones a esta maquinaria de creación del saber, de superproducción curricular. Nunca antes hubo tantos proyectos de investigación y publicaciones académicas que han llegado, incluso, a saturar el mercado científico.

El panorama de muchos museos no es mucho más optimista, más si cabe desde la crisis económica que ha favorecido la externalización de numerosos servicios, algunos tan importantes como la educación, que tanto ha contribuido a la producción y gestión del conocimiento en estas instituciones. Además, los museos se enfrentan desde entonces a grandes problemas de financiación, lo cual repercute en la investigación. Estos centros están sometidos a los vaivenes políticos que, en muchas ocasiones, buscan una rentabilidad cortoplacista, no con el fin de crear las estructuras necesarias de accesibilidad a los ciudadanos, sino para multiplicar exponencialmente el número de visitantes como parte de una estrategia política.

La Universidad ha ostentado el monopolio en materia de investigación, al menos en el campo de las humanidades y de las ciencias sociales. Las relaciones con los museos se han establecido tradicionalmente desde una supuesta jerarquía del conocimiento. De hecho, no son pocas las ocasiones en que desde el ámbito académico se ha puesto el punto de mira en los museos: públicos, artefactos, autores y políticas expositivas. No obstante, habitualmente han dejado al margen de los procesos de indagación a sus profesionales, seguramente por el carácter endogámico del ámbito académico, el desinterés por parte de los investigadores de incluir a otros agentes culturales, la ausencia de una tradición en este tipo de colaboraciones o la falta de reconocimiento de los museos como centros de investigación.

Si esto es así, por qué los museos no plantean investigaciones sobre sí mismos. Tal vez, la pregunta no sea la adecuada, sino, más bien, qué tipo de indagaciones se realizan desde dentro de la institución. Los museos no desarrollan los mismos modelos de investigación que las universidades, porque difieren de estas en el contexto, los recursos, las vías de difusión o en las dinámicas de sus profesionales. Por tanto, tal vez sea el momento de reivindicar otras formas de investigar que dependan más del contexto y no tanto de una forma de concebir la propia epistemología de la investigación.

En cualquier caso, no es el mejor escenario que ambas instituciones, al menos cuando hablamos de investigación, se sitúen en diferentes niveles respecto a la producción del conocimiento. Durante el debate quedó clara la postura de sus participantes, la apuesta por explorar vías de colaboración que favorezcan un enriquecimiento mutuo.

Museos y universidades deben plantearse la construcción de vías de colaboración que se traduzcan en proyectos de investigación entre iguales, sin relaciones jerárquicas. Por tanto, en primer lugar, se debe problematizar el propio concepto de investigación en el marco del sistema económico en el que estamos inmersos.

Tal y como se apuntó al principio del texto, son muchos los interrogantes que surgieron durante estas jornadas y pocas las respuestas, si es que estas existen. El debate puede ayudar a establecer puentes entre agentes e instituciones, favorecer proyectos de colaboración o generar alianzas estratégicas donde implicar no solo a los profesionales del ámbito universitario, museístico o creativo, sino también al territorio, al contexto local y, por supuesto, a sus comunidades. Museos y universidades deben ser aliados en esta empresa. Pese a los inconvenientes, debemos pensar en plural, en comunidad, en colaboración y, tal vez, sea el momento de repensar otras formas de investigar.


Pablo Coca eslicenciado en Historia del Arte, Doctor en Educación Artística y profesor del Área de Didáctica de la Expresión Plástica de la Universidad de Valladolid. Ha sido Coordinador del departamento de Investigación y Educación del Museo Patio Herreriano de Arte Contemporáneo Español (2008-2018), de los Departamentos de Educación y Acción Cultural de los museos provinciales de Castilla y León (2008-2010) y responsable educativo en Valladolid del programa expositivo “Constelación Arte” de la Junta de Castilla y León (2005-2010).


 

The School for the Deranged. La rara troupe, story of a journey. Belén Sola Pizarro

Riot at the psychiatric hospital,
the weather man was hanged for forecasting
hail, lightning, thunder and howling wind.
The Convention of the Deranged has met
The Convention of the Deranged has decided that
tomorrow will be sunny and fine.

Kortatu

January 2019


Key words: mental health, art education, art museums, community art, self-representation, affective politics, audiovisual.


 

The year was 2012. The place: León, the capital of a northern Spanish province and with a population of just 130,000. Its public health system ran a psychiatric hospital on the outskirts, the Santa Isabel Mental Health Hospital, which had a small supporting network through primary and psycho-social[2] care centers. Meanwhile, the León Association of Relatives and Friends of the Mentally ill (ALFAEM) was gaining in strength on the basis of a protective discourse that drew funding for the creation of supervised flats, residences and other resources for people diagnosed with a mental disorder.

Bearing several voice recorders and small home video cameras, we began by giving presentations at the hospital and different mental health centers, teaching those who approached us the main aims that we had set for the project. These we explained as a workshop which taught how to use audiovisual media in order to narrate our own life experiences in the first person.

We started the workshops at Santa Isabel Hospital and within a few weeks we realised that we were running a characteristic risk with this type of approach for a museum that attempted to work with people and in the context of reality: we were being used as an occupational resource by the hospital or by those who approached us, who often had no interest in the audiovisual format and who showed an unwillingness to speak from the first person. The approach included radio programs with guests, dedicated songs or discussions with medical teams and other healthcare professionals, despite our efforts to broadcast something different that went beyond customary radio formulas.

In a few months, we decided to leave the hospital and started to work in a stable, continuous manner at the museum. We regarded this as a neutral[3] space for those from the hospital or ALFAEM centers. It was “a space without a diagnosis”, as one colleague said afterwards (Sola, 2015, p.234, paragraph 5). The museum therefore became a space that convened from the “normality” of an artistic workshop, for which diverse people “enroll”: local artists, students, those known through their other activities at the museum, and others who learned of the workshop from the experiences of users from the hospital or the ALFAEM or even the medical teams themselves.

It was then that the project took its first unexpected turn; the desire arose in us to remain together, to continue with the workshop but considering what we “could do” and therefore what we as diverse people “could be” if we continued to meet and work collectively. This gave rise to the group of people who would become the driving force of La rara troupe. It stemmed from the desire to share a space of truce and to break with our daily diagnoses, marking out paths that are not only connected with mental illness but also with the social dissatisfaction that brought us together. 

We named the workshop Yo/nosotrxs (I/We) to express not only the illustrative but also the communicative purpose of the act of making audiovisuals. But beyond projective proclamations, the bodies that came together were able to generate the confidence that we belonged to something that was still to be done and especially something that was to be done by us. This was perhaps the feeling that encouraged us and surrounded us at meetings and that ran cross-sectionally through all the workshop’s actions in this second year. 

In this first stage, the methodological approach was the exchange of video-letters, first between us and later with other groups outside León. These exercises achieved their purpose; they returned a state of equality to the different voices that had been stripped of all authority for being small, invisible or confused. We became aware of the minimal differences that existed in our desires and fears, opening ourselves up to the modesty of feeling bad, knowing that this is what happens to you as a consequence of the feelings and reflections that come out from the images, as a result of the depth that a silence or the histrionics of a laugh might possess.

Video-letters: Autumn 2012

Video-letters: Spring 2013

Video-letters: Autumn 2013

 

Yo/nosotrxs became a space made possible by the coexistence of those who otherwise could not coincide in the same space. We had won a battle: the right to be together, to create a “community of alienated bodies[4]”. However, this was not enough for us; we also needed to obtain the means to create, investigate and produce knowledge from our encounters and do so in our own way. Listening to another person and recognizing him or her, this was to be the first step to coming together, renouncing inclusivist correction because, according to Aracil (2016): “the reason or idea of inclusion plays the leading role in most clinics and therapies for the mentally ill. It is as a victimizing practice which aims to neutralize the know-how of the other”. At our meetings, the fact that we were together involved deactivating victimized individualities through the enhancement of the vulnerable, anomalous, sick or rare, opening up a space for the knowledge of the bodies who suffer and starting to work from a common starting point; expertizing life, politicizing discomfort, inscribing it in the accumulation of disregard for contemporary ways of life.

In 2014, the workshops were extended and the activity exceeded the working day in the museum. We met to record, enjoy a coffee, chat about the weekly meetings, the difficulties we encountered with certain colleagues or the ideas that occupied us. We proposed texts to read together and guests whom we would like to welcome[5]; we started to feel that the diversity that we embodied was covered by the skin of a shared drum and we started to breathe and generate residues while we experimented with our own limits and desires. The resonances were multiple but we needed to narrate them collectively. 

Fin de línea (2014)

 

At this time, we decided to call ourselves Rara web (Strange Web). The aim was to highlight the meeting space with “les otres”, a virtual window from where we were showing ourselves a world that did not see us but that named and diagnosed us; a new frontier had just been crossed. We were no longer “me and the world”, “me and the outside”, we managed to be plural from the identification of our limits and corporalities.

As Garcés (2011) states, dealing honestly with reality would be, not so much “adding the victims’ vision to the image of the world, but altering our way of looking at it in a deep-rooted way”. Rara web attained that transformed gaze exactly, right from when it was proclaimed in the plural. Moreover, as I said above, I would like to stress the idea that in Rara there are no more “victims”, people who have approached the group at first by “belonging” to a diagnosis have managed to escape[6]; a space with a host of possibilities has been opened from the desire to be others or even better, to be ourselves. 

A new change affected the project, in which Rara web became the group now known as La rara troupe. La rara stopped representing (seeing themselves as) individualities and began to act as a collective body, making their films using everyone’s ideas, implementing affective policies more than ever and putting emotions into play and knowing how to make them circulate creatively (Ahmed, 2015).

Mental suffering is what brings us together and causes intensities that transcend individual limits; it is in pain and discomfort where we anchor the sense of being together and it is from pain and frustration that we feel authorized to produce ways of naming ourselves and addressing ourselves.

On the other hand, this relationship of affections is organized in a circular manner. It appeals not only to identities, which are organized collectively and not hierarchized by professionals or medical diagnoses but to the filmic productions that we make. This is interesting because it affords a relevant place to the audiovisual not only as transmitting tools[7] but as objects that work affectively within the group, becoming links in the affective identification that we establish with them. Returning to Ahmed, it is perhaps enlightening how “in affective economies, feelings do not reside in subjects or in objects but are produced as the effects of circulation” (2015, p.31). This is exactly what happens in La rara, which produces or creates movement around the relational effects (of an emotive type) based on a circular organization between the subjects and the objects that we produce and with which we identify.

We started 2015 with a creative residence as the guests of Azala[8]. This was a week-long experience of coexistence that enabled us to test how far we could pressurize the spaces of collaboration between us. This was a new scenario where private space and common spaces, creative work and each person’s specific moods had to find their place. It was at this time that we began to be called La rara troupe, a name that we intend to keep and that arose from the idea of travel offered by the residence.

The project proposed investigating the idea of troupe as a collective of artists or creators who move together, as a “company” in the original etymological sense of the word, as a body of actors, dancers or technicians etc., as well as the roles each of us play in the collective in order to recognize ourselves in them or to question them. Moreover, we were moving from our reference “institutions” on a daily basis; from our work, from the hospital, shared homes or the museum, so we decided to name the residence des-plazados (dis-placed). In short, the working week together was an opportunity to delve into the notion of the community and the contradictions and frictions that occur in our collaborative work.

We undertook many audio-visual exercises that week, starting with individual presentations and continuing with group exercises. My presentation exposed a concern that had occupied me for some time; my role as “the uncoordinated coordinator” and this is how I expressed it:

Perhaps what Azala taught us as a group were more the differences between us than the similarities; those who wanted to experiment with the camera compared to those who were enjoying the best days of their final years; the liters of coffee and the kilograms of sugar we consumed seemed to ratify the exercise of freedom that many colleagues said they needed.

The days of residence passed with an intensity that our guest/reporter Martín Correa (Sola, 2015, p.297) described:

 (…) La rara is encountering the questions, detecting the collective and individual needs and this is a giant step. In the face of a creative approach, the “what to do” is not only relative to a format or a tool (the “how”). The “what to do” is subject to a need or desire, to a search that is sometimes difficult to detect because we come from a life path marked by an excess of control, where one is almost always told what to do. I said then that I have seen that they have created that context of rest, space of fracture, habitable limit, in relation to the former conditions of oppression: and the needs are becoming visible, those that were there before, but that are now becoming visible, communicating, expressing themselves. It is there, with these first seeds it is necessary to get down to work, compose, create. And that is what perhaps needs to be developed. Many creative processes are focused on the tool, La rara troupe already knows that the tool is both a means and an end for telling something that hurts, something that in many ways “is urgent”, which is like a “scream” from within. La rara troupe has found or has begun to find that “cry” that “is urgent”. Now it is time to continue analyzing formats, tools, ways of telling and building a body for what is tellable. (…) 

Building un cuerpo para lo contable (a body for the tellable) was the yearning contained in the two videos that we projected at the end of our residence:

Des-plazados (2015)

 

The first video created with the camera a choreography of bodies that were under the sign of the hug, as a metaphor for the communion between us. Picnic, on the other hand, was an exercise where the camera was only a guest to the scene of conflict that occurs in a totally unpredictable way.

I would like to think of the first as a video-machine in the sense that the audiovisual tool organizes and puts bodies to work in order to exercise the metaphor of collective work. The second acts as a video-symptom, where the discomfort produced is largely a consequence of not knowing how to shake off our mental states and individual obsessions. In any case, and based on listening to the assessment interviews we conducted, the week in Azala signified for La rara troupe an experience of life and freedom that was unfailingly linked to the creative act.

Personally, I enjoyed listening to a phrase that I said back then in this recording: “I have learned how to accept myself in the group from my professional role [9]. I think this refers to the experience of shifting position, learning to be someone else, knowing how to incorporate learning slowly although this forces you to question yourself and observe yourself in an often obsessive and frustrating manner. Doubting yourself as an exercise to account for yourself, these are two ways of shifting in one’s work that cause pain and fatigue but that I understand as necessary conditions in creative projects where the body is present.

La rara troupe, from that moment, was so named as a group of artistic creation, but it has never renounced its political identity as a think-tank on mental health through the investigation of two issues:

– The generation of contemporary ways of life that make us ill and produce multiple discomforts and that, ultimately, also make us incapable of organizing ourselves collectively.

– The use of vulnerable or precarious lives as part of a normalizing and capacitating discourse that seeks to open up spaces where voices that are said to be ill can be integrated.

This is an odd time enabled us to connect to our daily existence in April 2016. Recording moments discovered at random or explicitly sought, we used our cameras to share time spaces loaded with everyday life. The film expressed the dignity of our vulnerable lives and was intended to show the importance denied by small things, endowing them with interest, which is also a metaphor for our small and precarious but significant and valuable lives.

Son curiosos estos días (2016)

 

A new change occurred at this time, one that was not so much endogenous or self-referential but exogenous or reflexive. This was the ability of the project to imagine a larger space within the museum for research and implementation of creative projects with communities. Since 2016, La rara troupe has been integrated into the Laav_ Laboratory of Experimental Audiovisual Anthropology[10], which was launched in the Educational Department of MUSAC and became the test-tube project from which to learn from the group’s constant experimentation.

In 2017, invited by Alfredo Aracil, we formed part of the exhibition Notes for a Destructive Psychiatry. Here, we proposed an audiovisual exchange with another group from Madrid that was coordinated by the mediation team of La Sala de Arte Joven, the venue for the exhibition. Therefore, two videos were born out of the aim to investigate the construction of a collective body, managing ideas that crossed between performance, rite, fiesta and play.

The first video represents an experience arising from the reading of excerpts from the book Ser o no ser (un cuerpo) (To be or not to be (a body)) by Santiago Alba Rico. We were able, not without great effort, to reach consensus, to assemble in a half-abandoned square of one of those half-finished neighborhoods that exist in any provincial capital and make a paella. The video could be divided into two sections; in the first (until minute 4’45”), we collected images taken on the day we explored the square and in the second, we filmed while we were cooking the paella: in both cases we used the sound from experimentation exercises that we recorded in the space.

The Madrid group responded with a highly dynamic video in which play was highlighted as a collective experience, so we decided to conclude the co-relation by recording a party to provide continuity while enabling us to include a variety of different actions. As a cinematographic reference, we used Tongues untied (Riggs, 1990). This inspired the concluding choreography, subtitled with the text of a colleague, Ángela María, who gave the video its name. The rest was an odd recording of the proposals made by each of us, from a karaoke to a free painting workshop that also involved reading or dressing up.

Apuntes para una psiquiatría destructiva (2017)

 

Apart from these videos, the participation of La rara troupe has signified recognition from legitimate cultural spaces. La rara definitively abandoned its links to the training workshop and began to be a creative space again. This does not come from La rara but rather from the space of artistic legitimation par excellence: the exhibition.

Between the fall of 2017 and the spring of 2018 we experienced some hard times. Some people quit the group permanently and those who remained strived to balance the need for activist demands on the part of many colleagues with the radicalization of the artistic proposal of others. Our latest film, La Humana Perfecta (The Perfect Human), yet to be released, coexists in a few weeks with texts by Félix Guattari and the film Le moindre geste by Fernand Deligny in the context of a reading group and a thought program[11] at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. Beyond the symbolism of an anonymous group defined as “rara” sharing a table with recognized and authorized names from the world of culture, La rara troupe was convened to show itself as a space with accumulated wisdom sufficient to produce and share knowledge. We arrived at this using our own (self) tools created or what is the same, epistemologies located in our discomforts.

La humana perfecta (2018)

 

With this brief tour of the work of La rara troupe I have wished to highlight two things: firstly, the museum’s current role as a privileged place for social research from artistic research methodologies; and secondly, the need to enable spaces for organization in community with subalternized or minorized identities and doing so from the conscious taking of the word and images, the construction of our stories and the creation therefore of our own genealogical narratives.

The School for the Deranged, which is La rara troupe, makes demands and brings into play its life, its emotional states and its discomforts and becomes conscious of a shared alienation. This unites us in a journey where neither medical diagnoses nor neoliberal recipes of social adjustments and pills make people fuller or happier.

I needed six years of Rara to give up on my desire to burn down the museum. Now, I just want to fill it with those who are deranged; it gives back meaning to my work here.

 

NOTES

The first version of this article was originally published in Re-visiones in December 2018. It is a first person narration of the project  “la rara troupe(The Strange Troupe), a space for creation and co-existence between a group of people both with and without a mental illness diagnosis. This space has been conceived and shaped since 2012 in the Educational Department of MUSAC (Castile and León Contemporary Art Museum). We recommend both reading the texts and watching the videos linked in the text.

[1] Chus Domínguez, audiovisual artist. chusdominguez.com

[2] The public Mental Health System has shifted radically from the Francoist asylum or mental hospital to the current semi-private welfare state that was introduced in the 80s.

[3] This does not mean that we think that the museum as an institution is neutral, rather the opposite. As Preciado (2017) says, the museum is a machine that produces subjectivity and reproduction of regulatory codes. 

[4] See video “El cuerpo del delito/The Evidence” in this paper. Minute 4’45.

[5] Another symptom of our forming a research group was the desire that arose in the group about (self) training. This led us to begin to expand our audiovisual meetings by adding texts and guest voices. We started in February 2014 with the Grupo Esquizo Barcelona and since then workshops, talks and meetings, as well as several readings suggested by us, proved key to the growth of La rara troupe. For an exhaustive tour of guests and texts, see raraweb.org/blog

[6] I only provide observations that are directly drawn from the La rara troupe workspace and relationship as I am unable to extend them to other contexts.

[7] The audiovisuals we produce are not intended to be tools of self-expression or an anti-stigma pamphlet but are creations of our own imaginations and, as such, of our subjectivities in the making.

[8] Creation space located in Lasierra, Álava. www.azala.es

[9] https://archive.org/details/2.EntrevistaIdaAzala/3.entrevistas_vuelta_Azala.mp3, min. 38

[10] www.laav.es

[11] http://www.museoreinasofia.es/actividades/fuerza-posible-hacia-poietica-vivir-juntas

 

REFERENCES

Aracil, A.(2016). “Saber-hacer con el otro, La Rara Troupe o la potencia de la anomalía”. En: https://laav.es/saber-hacer-con-el-otro-la-rara-troupe-o-la-potencia-de-la-anomalia-alfredo-aracil/ (Recuperado el 10/06/2018)

Aracil, A. (2017). Apuntes para una psiquiatría destructiva. Catálogo. Madrid.

Ahmed. S. (2015). La política cultural de las emociones. UNAM (ed.). México, D.F.

Garcés. M. (2011) “La honestidad con lo real”. En Álvaro de los Ángeles (ed.), El arte en cuestión. Sala Parpalló, Valencia.

Preciado, P. (2017) “Salir de las vitrinas: del museo al parlamento de los cuerpos”. Vídeo de la conferencia en https://vimeo.com/239484758 (recuperado el 10/06/2018)

Riggs, M. (1989) Tongues Untied. Película documental. 55’. EEUU.

Sola, B. (2015). Prácticas artísticas colaborativas, nuevos formatos entre las pedagogías críticas y el arte de acción: La rara troupe. Tesis Doctoral. ULE.

About the impossibility of anthropological cinema

Film practice, ritual and mourning. Emotion as a border between the self and us. The researcher and professor Noemí García Díaz, through the exploration of the relationships between art, anthropology and psychology, opens a new way in this project about the possibilities and limits of audiovisual anthropology, “a discipline that has never been consolidated, nor defined, located on the border, in an eternal search for identity. In this unstable transit that has allowed us to hybridize with art we find its maximum interest and potential”.

The word against the darkness, a prologue for Puta Mina. Daniel Bernabé

“¿Cómo contar lo que no nos pertenece, lo que no conocemos, aquello que se oculta bajo la tierra? ¿Cómo hablar de un territorio vinculado a un trabajo o de un trabajo que sólo se da en un determinado territorio? ¿Cómo narrar a una comunidad, a un colectivo de personas cuyas vidas han girado alrededor de una profesión, de una compañía, de un concepto casi mítico de clase social? Construyendo un grupo donde las palabras y las imágenes encuentren un impulso y un cobijo”.
Seguir leyendo

The voices of the mine. Regarding the process in creating Puta mina (Damn Mine). Chus Domínguez

Noviembre 2018

The last shout. 1

In June 2016, nearly everything was lost. Four miners from the Hullera Vasco-Leonesa company had shut themselves indefinitely in the Aurelio pit, near the town of Ciñera, as a protest against the government’s refusal to approve compensation on closing the mines. Conchi Unanue, an anthropologist and a Laav_ colleague who was raised in the area, said that it was urgent for us to film the lock-in since this was the last shout of the mining industry, a desperate cry that was not concerned with seeking an improvement in working conditions in the future. Rather, it sought the mine’s closure, albeit an organised one with the involvement of the company’s workers. Lacking the time to design a project that had already been forced upon us, we decided to give a camera to the miners so that they could film the lock-in. Given the isolation they encountered in the mine, we could only try to make them aware of the interest that would be created by a recording of everything that, insofar as they were able and wished, would reflect their situation.

While we waited for the pictures to arrive, we summoned the group of people with whom, apart from the confined miners, we could create and develop an audiovisual project. This was a project that, beyond the actual protests, would examine the social situation of mining, as well as its origins and evolution. We started by organising a meeting in a central café in Ciñera with several women who had connections to the mine, almost all local inhabitants. The fact that we limited our invitation to women made it clear that we were interested in hearing the voices of those we considered an essential part of the mining community, but who had barely received any legitimacy as authorised voices.

In that first meeting, we were able to clearly observe an example of the inertia afflicting the mining region when a local man approached the only male present at the meeting (the writer of this article) to ask jokingly what was going on. Although it was informal, his presence served to issue a kind of warning. Or, at the very least, he was trying to poke his nose in.

As a way to start, it was proposed at the meeting that the women involved would record conversations in a variety of situations, either among themselves or with other local women, and they were assigned two audio recorders for the purpose. The idea was to record dialogues about the social issues that continued to surround the mine and the life associated with it. The group agreed to meet periodically to collect the material recorded and to progress with the audiovisual project, while waiting to see what might happen with the lock-in. From then on, two action groups had already been identified: one that would be generating images in the mine and another that would collect the voices of the women.

Puta Mina (Damned Mine).

We soon began to receive the videos recorded by the miners during their lock-in. They showed situations such as strolls through the mine or the collective writing of a declaration, while jokes were made explicitly to the camera. Their arduous conditions and the impossibility of exchanging impressions about the meaning and need for these recordings made us feel that some of the recordings would be difficult to use. As was understandable, the miners did not film many of their difficult moments, such as their many hours of inactivity or moments of anguish. The difficulty we envisaged in the possibility of assembling these materials may have been related to the fact that the request for the recording had come from the outside -our side- and not from the miners themselves. They did not have a clear awareness of the scope the materials recorded by them might have. In any case, we tried again to inform them, while always considering the sensitivity of their situation, of the importance of reflecting the different moments they were experiencing in their confinement.

The next recordings we received, as well as the relaxed scenes we have already mentioned, showed further strolls through the mine in which they described places and tasks that they had been undertaking before their work ended. It was an ode to those tasks that were disappearing. After the lock-in had lasted several days, approximately one hour of material had been recorded. It was impossible to obtain an image of the lock-in that reflected inactivity or anguish. The miners would not stop filling the silences and talking, showing their voices, in a sort of spell that seemed aimed at bringing the mine back to life as they went around identifying the galleries, tools or tasks.

The situation took on a difficult new phase when the four miners started a hunger strike. Finally, they abandoned their protest a few days later. They had spent a total of 19 days in the mine. The day the miners came out we recorded the cries of support for them in the entrance of the mine. At sunset, amid a sensation of defeat that hung over a landscape that was virtually a ruin, a conversation with a group of women led one to utter the pairing puta mina that would end up giving the project its name.

Give voice, have voice.

With regard to the recordings of conversations made by the women, we realized that these kept being postponed and were hardly getting made. It seemed that somehow our presence was required for the meetings and recordings to happen; as mere mediators or technicians for the recording; as virgin ears for stories that had often been told; or, perhaps, as those who legitimised the importance of recording those conversations. This contributed to our feeling that in the communities of practices connected with Laav_, our presence is as necessary as that of others and that everyone, including us, contributes to the project from their field of knowledge and action. This, despite the fact that our voices, apart from Conchi Unanue’s, barely appeared in the recordings since our role was to listen and learn about a culture that was relatively removed from us. Nevertheless, we assumed the task of catalysing meetings and technical recording, while attempting to bring a certain awareness of filmic construction to the dialogue situations.

Several hours of conversations were recorded, first in cafés and later at the school in Ciñera, which became our usual meeting place. At the beginning, it had been suggested that both the women directly involved in the project and any others related to the mine would participate in the recordings (the importance of the testimony of older women was discussed, for example). However, in the end most dialogues took place between those who formed part of the group that had been created. This is a characteristic form of the work of Laav_: projects are developed from the first person and are built collectively from the experiences of those who comprise the group.

During these recordings, some women with fewer ties to the locality of Ciñera gradually began to join. They belonged to the Coal Women association, which in recent years has played a leading role in numerous demands linked to mining. It is indeed revealing that one way of recognising this association in the public space and in the media is through a slogan that brings their voices and their bodies directly to mind: “There they are, that’s them, the Coal Women”. An interesting slogan, it simply says, by naming them, we are. As Marlene Schäfers writes, the voice, through the performative act of its repetition, “represents a disciplinary force capable of generating social categories and subjective positions”2. Being requires having a voice, a voice that wants to count and to be taken into account. As they themselves claim, they want to be known as the Coal Women and not as miners’ wives. It would seem that the mantra “there they are…” would serve to be invested with a denied power, a slogan that is also expressed from the third person, as evidence that recognition must come from outside.

Although it may be read today as a simplistic dichotomous opposition of man-woman, orality-writing, in The Voice in Cinema, Michel Chion speaks of the feminist movement as one of the reasons why importance was given to the voice in the 70s, when the book was written: “Feminist discourse usually sets out the voice as a fluid, continuous expression as opposed to what is written, with its firmness and discontinuity; or to the word, with its limited, circumscribed, organising nature. The voice would be a space of freedom which women would have to take back”3. This “taking back” refers to a fight for power in which the parity between the contestants is not specified, although it is interesting that it proposes women as the subject of the action. An alternative that is all too common to the (re)taking of the voice by women (or by any person or subgroup) may be read in the expression “giving a voice to those who do not have it”, uttered from a position of power that, deep down, shows no wish to be handed over. James Clifford stated: “Time is past when privileged authorities could routinely ‘give voice’ (or history) to others without fear of contradiction”4.

Visual anthropology has been most attentive to the issues surrounding the expression “give voice”, as is reflected in the title of a key article by Jay Ruby: “Speaking For, Speaking About, Speaking With, or Speaking Alongside: An Anthropological and Documentary Dilemma”. In it, we find the two sides of the coin. On the one hand, we read: “The documentary is assumed to give a «voice to the voiceless», that is, portray the political, social and economic realities of oppressed minorities and others previously denied access to the means of producing their own image. From this perspective, the documentary is not only an art form, it is a social service and a political act”5. But, on the other hand, he later explains: “it was assumed that the filmmakers were able to discover and report the truth about other people. Documentaries were understood as […] the official version of someone else’s reality. The people portrayed were regarded as not capable of speaking for themselves”6.

Ways of saying.

In mining society, and in its representation in the media, the separation marked by gender is obvious: the man is the one who “works in the mine”7; he is the visible part of the social-labour framework, while the work and voice of the woman are buried by male overrepresentation.

Writing about the emancipation of the subject, Alberto Santamaría says that the problem “is not in the saturation of images but in the elimination of the voice (and of the language). The other appears as a terrorist, as a victim, as an immigrant etc., it appears but its language has disappeared. This subject is enclosed under a label-image whose mission is to encapsulate and prevent any discourse whose purpose is the flight of this form of sensitive cataloguing”8. And he continues by quoting Rancière: “Workers’ emancipation begins with the possibility of constituting ways of saying, ways of seeing, ways of being that break with those that are imposed by the dominant system”.

Linked to this, and based on how the recording was organised, I proposed9 the idea of ​​using the image and soundtracks without synchronisation, assigning each a genre and a space: the images would be the ones recorded by the miners during the lock-in, underground, and the soundtrack would be formed basically by the women’s voices talking, on the surface. In a way, the social structure itself had suggested to us the formal device for developing the audiovisual project, a device that would work by situating the voices in a space that they had not occupied, the interior of the mine, but also in the space that grants visibility, or, more accurately, audibility. On the other hand, this formal decision also suggested, by not showing the bodies emitting the voices, that it was not just certain women who were the protagonists of the story, but that it extended to an entire community. 

Michel Chion talks about the magic and power of the acousmatic situation, when the source of sound is not seen on the screen. As long as the acousmatic voice does not fulfil a mere presenting or commentating function, it occupies “a specific place in the cinema, being on the screen without being on it”. The women, through the lodging of their voices in the images from the galleries, are also in the mine without being in it. What might produce a certain dissonance is that we know they are not there (a voice, right at the beginning of the film, makes it clear that women do not go down the mine), although at times it would seem that they were indeed there.

Serge Daney distinguished the offscreen voice, the one whose source is not seen and that runs parallel to the images without affecting them, as in the case in typical expository documentaries, from the onscreen voice, the one that does intervene in the image. This voice would affect the characters because they hear it. Here Daney is referring to classic cinema of fiction and characters. In the case of Puta mina, the voice does affect the image; in fact, it is introduced into the image although one might ask who the characters affected are. Could it be the mine itself that hears those voices? 

In November that year (2016), the first meetings organised by Laav_ took place. One was held in Ciñera under the motto: What does it mean to be a male or female miner today? First, we showed the film Harlan County, USA (Barbara Kopple, 1976) which, although it was produced very differently from ours and possessed a very clear individual authorship, clearly displays the voice of women miners. We then screened a short teaser assembled from the video and audio material that we had collected up to then. This was followed by a debate in which there was airing of different views, among them those of several women, including some that had been present at the start of the recordings. They confessed to missing the drama and emotion that they viewed as inherent in the story of mining, something they had seen in the American film. Although we noted a marked interest in continuing to speak from the emotional viewpoint with regard to mining accidents and the difficulty of life in the area, the group chose to continue the project in a search to find other stories and voices to add to those that were already known.

To continue the project, we decided to try to record further video material since, as we have mentioned, the footage recorded by the miners during the lock-in was of limited use. With the project evolving, we felt that the image track did not have to stick to a specific protest. Showing the inactive, empty mine also had much to do with what we wanted to recount, while also proposing a visual treatment that varied from most films about mines, in which work is at the heart of the whole image. We then contacted several watchmen who, with the company’s permission, undertook two more filming sessions that contributed less than an hour of new footage of a practically silent mine, in which only some dismantling work was taking place. Although they had been told that the soundtrack would be “occupied” by the dialogues of the women, and that it would be convenient to record a large part of the material in silence, practically all the sound line was occupied again by conversations between the miners. The need to tell the camera about the places and tasks in the mine can be related to the conversational habits among watchmen when they go through the galleries, by obligation in a group. However, it is also that the interests of the participants, male and female miners, have been different, together with awareness of the audiovisual process taking place. This represented a difficulty when trying to achieve, during montage, silent sound environments of the mine that could accommodate the women’s dialogues. This impossibility of combining the two types of voices, masculine and feminine, is not a merely technical matter; it clearly symbolises different narrative levels and makes it hard to combine the stories coming from the two, at least given the time available to carry out the project.

Identification with anyone’s voice.

After several months of dialogue collection, a major change occurred due to the fact that some of the Coal Women invited other female colleagues who were not part of the Ciñera environment. Other mining areas (mainly Laciana, also in the province of León), other voices, other stories and interests began to appear in the conversations. These displaced the narrative core from Ciñera to mining in general and even to the social struggles beyond mining, which also called into question the specificity of the area. This signified a point of friction in the development of the project as it led to doubts about issues that had been taken for granted and stirred up a terrain in which the initial group had felt comfortable. Politically, it suggested a shift in line with Rancière’s The Politics of Aesthetics, when he stated that a political subject “is a collective of enunciation and manifestation that identifies its cause and its voice with those of anyone, with those of all of them who have no “right” to speak”10.

Furthermore, as the new members did not reside in Ciñera, some meetings were held in León, at the Department of Education and Cultural Action of the Contemporary Art Museum of Castilla y León (MUSAC) where Laav_ has its headquarters. Without planning to do so, we had created two groups of women, partially separated both geographically and in certain of their interests and views. Although we believe that every project has to evolve and welcome the unpredictable, even moments of conflict, there are twists in the projects that can sometimes represent a major obstacle to their development. If we were already questioning the relevance of the failure to have had more dialogue with the locked-in miners, who in the final analysis constituted a separate group, this new division of the main working group did not appear to favour the search for an integrated plural view. The solution to the problem was found in the montage, as detailed below.

By the end of the 15 recording sessions, spread over several months, we had collected many hours of dialogues. These were voices whose initial background had been the audio context of Ciñera’s cafés or school and in the final stage appeared in the more neutral environment of the MUSAC office.

Constructing a multiple voice.

In most of the experiences of Laav_ , we have concluded that the montage phase is when the film really grows. This is not only because this is where the script finally gets written, while the collected materials are being assembled, but also because it constitutes a meeting point for all the participants and among them, the images, sounds and ideas that, despite not having taken concrete shape, have hovered over the project more or less explicitly. This does not mean that previously the tasks of reflection and recording have not been intensive, but until this encounter takes place, it is very difficult for those involved, many of them neophytes in the field of audiovisual creation, to have any real awareness of the discursive and artistic power they have at their disposal.

In the case of Puta mina, this phase took place around the voices broadcast by two monitors and a recorder, which in turn documented the new dialogues generated by the listening and editing. This listening-recording device was active for some 20 sessions, and enabled, finally, a true meeting between the women of the above two groups. A dynamic mixed Ciñera-León core was formed, consisting of some 7 women (at this stage of the project’s development some participants had quit due to the commitment it required). These women strove to choose and place in a certain order the fragments of the conversations that would become part of the film.

The criteria for selecting fragments were connected of course with what was available but special value was afforded to moments of dialogue, dissent and even overlapping, while the voice was considered as an object that is full of connotations, with regard to the presence of different timbres, accents, volumes, voice breaks etc. As Marlene Schäfers says: “to understand the role of the voice in social life, it is imperative to study not only how voices routinely function as metaphors, but also their sonic, embodied and material dimensions”11.

In his analysis of Laav_12 , Miguel Ángel Bauxaulli writes with regard to Bakhtin’s Theory that “subjectivity itself is dialogic and builds its own voice but one that is always multiple, polyphonic, inhabited by many voices that engage in dialogue and compete with each other, the voices of the others that constitute its own”. Similarly, we might say that through the montage the voices were constructing a subjective, multiple voice of the mine, which would appear again as a character narrating itself.

In the process of editing dialogues, it is vital to try to respect their original meaning as much as possible. As the participants discovered during the process, this enables any discourse to be altered easily. Here, there is an increase in the capacity for “ventriloquism” possessed by ethnographic text and video although collective editing using one’s own materials is a good way of avoiding changing the discourse of others. On the one hand, there is multiple supervision of any action, and, on the other, in reality there are now no “other people”; the voices we edit are ours.

Perhaps the voices that are missing in the film are those of Laav_. As we mentioned above, in the recording sessions we decided to be observers or mediators. However, during editing, we played an active role, possibly as much as the rest of the participants. This participation appeared in the recording that was made during editing, and we thought of including it in the final production. However, in the end, due to the amount of material we had accumulated and the time available for it to be selected, we decided to use only the voices recorded prior to the audio montage.

The invisible world

The images and sounds of the mine still had to be edited. The montage of the dialogues took much longer than expected and the presentation of the film was immediately scheduled for the Second Laav_ Meetings (October 2017), a year after the teaser that had generated so much debate. This stage of editing should have been completed in just a few days and the group members were able to participate only on a few occasions.

It had been agreed that the faces of the miners would not be clearly seen as the aim was, just like with the voices, not to personalise, and thereby extend their image to that of “any miner”. According to the device that was proposed, there had to be no correspondence between images and dialogues, it was simply a case of uniting/colliding the conversations already selected with the images and sounds of the mine in a somewhat random manner, without seeking a descriptive discourse in the summation of images-voices. The shortage of images collected made the montage relatively quick.

The general arrangement and the form of montage, in which priority was given to the women’s voices, rather questions the approach of classic production, which usually considers images (and synchronous sounds with them, although these occupy a secondary position) as a starting point and articulating element. In our case, the montage of voices works as an essential axis, and the image-mantra was superimposed on it, like an infinite loop in the journey through similar galleries, an image that was sometimes missing, due to the mine’s darkness and because there is no longer anything to see. The film is situated in a strange territory, as the viewer soon begins to yield in the search for a clear meaning and a narration in the visual and indulges in the experience of aimless wandering led by voices that do not come from the image. Other sounds are also omnipresent, coming from the mine; these are synchronous with the images, and somehow enclose, contextualise or transport the sounds-voices. 

Audio work takes priority in the film, and here we agree with Isobel Anderson13 that “Sound takes the listener further into the unseen imaginary world of stories and that in some contexts, oral storytelling, rather than restricting the listener’s imagination, it can enable remarkably immersive and creative listening experiences.” In our case, the “invisible world” corresponds to the interior of the mine but also to many aspects of social context. Anderson mentions Brian W. Strum’s notion of “storylistening trance”, “the altered state of consciousness experienced when listening to stories”. And she uses the following quote from the latter: “… people who listen to stories can undergo a profound change in their experience of reality.” We believe this idea to be closely linked to what we understand by audiovisual anthropology, which we place in a space between art and knowledge that the viewer accesses through listening “with all of your body instead of from the outside with just your eyes”14. Although Anderson’s text is focused on sound art and site-specific performance, we believe it can be perfectly applicable to Puta mina. It is precisely the sounds, the voices, that expand what we see, the ones that unmask the place, the ones that release the ghost.

Justin Patch15 reminds us of the close relationship between sound and emotions, as well as the importance of an anthropology that is capable of gathering that relationship. “In the long shadow of interpretive or symbolic anthropology, the idea that social life is a text and can therefore be read and interpreted, has unknowingly prioritized the eye over the ear. However, frustrations with the limits of this approach have led anthropologists towards more poly-sensual ways of investigating and experiencing culture.”  For Patch “while the eye judges, the ear participates”. And later he talks about the “critical eye” against the “emotional (and irrational) ear”. As David MacDougall indicates, “cinema offers anthropology […] a mixture of embodied, synesthetic, narrative and metaphoric threads …” 16  

Voices that circulate.

The last stage was the audio mixing17, which defines how and where the viewer really perceives the sounds. Here, technological mediation is essential. Schäfers18 highlights the importance of paying attention to this mediation with regard to its influence on ideologies of the voice: “the voices are able to circulate separately from the (human) bodies that produce them. This ability throws up the question of how circulating voices ought to be matched to their origins. Ideologies of the voice determine what kinds of answers people will find to that question and where consequently they locate subjectivity and agency.”

The mix was aimed at giving priority to understanding the voices, which had been recorded mainly using a professional microphone, and which were cleaned up to improve legibility, while leaving enough residue to retain the space in which they had been generated so that they would not sound too neutral. Moreover, the sounds of the mine had been recorded by the miners using an amateur video camera, with automatic sound recording, and therefore with low quality (only one session used a professional sound recorder). This audio was filtered slightly for technical reasons, although it was not processed to try to get another sound. The environment picked up by the domestic camera accorded with the amateur aspect of the image; together they formed one of the film’s narrative levels. The other level superimposed was the women’s dialogues. 

The key issue with regard to the audio mixing was to relate those two narrative or sound levels: voices and noises, exterior and interior, creating through technology a new reality on interacting. It helped that the materiality of some spaces in which the dialogues were recorded (small interiors) could be confused with the materiality of some of the spaces in the mine. The pact that the viewer establishes with the proposal also helped to integrate those levels: situating the voices in the space that they have not physically occupied but that symbolically they have every right to inhabit.

The language.

The preview of the work took place during the second Laav_ meetings. It was shown at Ciñera’s Emilia cinema, which had been closed for years and was reopened specifically for the event. The screening drew quite a lot of people, mainly from the local population of the mining area.

At the conclusion of the film, a discussion began between the female miner-directors and the public. It was very significant to note at the end how the voice of some male miners invaded the theatre space and drowned out the voice of the women. These men said that there was “not as much machismo” as the film had depicted and that for them what we had shown was not the mine; it did not represent the mine as they had known it. The spectators in the front rows could perhaps hear the soft voice of one of the women who presented the film: “it’s just that you haven’t realised…”. Jacques Rancière wrote: “The reluctance to consider certain categories of people as political individuals has always had to do with the refusal to listen to the sounds that came out of their mouths as something intelligible”19.

While these lines were being written, a year has passed. The premiere of the film in its final version is scheduled for the third Laav_ meetings (November 2018) and it is also being shown at several festivals. At each of these screenings we will try to listen afterwards to see whether the film has opened any cracks in the wall aimed at separating the voices of the mine from language.


Notes

  1.  The author wishes to thank Belén Sola and Miguel Ángel Baixauli for their suggestions and contributions while preparing this text. Also, to all those who participated in the project, especially to the miner co-directors of the video Puta mina (2018): Laura Alonso, Raquel Balbuena, Mari Fernández, Áurea González, Cristina Turrado, Conchi Unanue and Mercedes Ordás. Finally, the conversations with Rafael Martínez del Pozo, who was in charge of mixing the audio for the video, have been essential in the writing of the section “Voices that circulate”.
  2. SCHÄFERS, MARLENE: «Voice», In the Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Anthropology (eds) F. Stein, S. Lazar, M. Candea, H. Diemberger, J. Robbins, A. Sanchez & R. Stasch. p. 6. Online at: http://doi.org/10.29164/17voice [Most recently consulted on 3 November 2018]. It may not be coincidental that the research on the voice from the viewpoint of philosophy and anthropology, is largely conducted by women. Ricardo Piglia wrote in Formas Breves: “Simone Weil indicates the feminine voice as being opposed to the written tradition: the archive of the memory was built in the body of the woman contrary to the written tradition, which has been linked since its origins to the techniques of the State, to religious communication, to agrarian calculations. The female story (Scheherazade) resists the dictates of the king.”
  3. CHION, MICHEL: La voz en el cine, Cátedra, Madrid, 2014, p. 11-12.
  4. CLIFFORD, JAMES: Dilemas de la cultura, Gedisa, Barcelona, 2001, p 21.
  5. RUBY, JAY: «Speaking For, Speaking About, Speaking With, or Speaking Alongside-An Anthropological and Documentary Dilemma», Visual Anthropology Review, Autumn 1991, Volume 7, Number 2. p. 51.
  6. RUBY, JAY: Óp. cit., p. 53.
  7. It is obvious that it could not even be said that women do not work in the mine, since if we understand by “mine” all the labour, social and cultural framework necessary for mineral extraction to work, women play an essential role. And as Laura says, who claims to be a miner at the beginning of the film that results from this process, women also go down the mine through the daily conversation they share with men.
  8. SANTAMARÍA, ALBERTO: Parodojas de lo cool. Arte, literatura, política, Textos (in)surgentes, Santander, 2016, p. 58.
  9. Although the project has been described as something that is plural and shared, it has been deemed appropriate at this point to highlight an individual contribution that, like others that may not be described in this text, has had a decisive influence on the development of the project. The tension between collaboration and other possibilities of collective creation is always present in this type of project, a subject that we will leave for a more detailed analysis in the future.
  10. RANCIÈRE JACQUES, Sobre políticas estéticas, Servei de Publicacions de la Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, 2005 pp. 77-78.
  11. SCHÄFERS MARLENE: Óp. cit., p. 4.
  12. BAIXAULI, MIGUEL ÁNGEL: «Notas sobre, para y con el LAAV_», Laav, 2017. Online at: https://laav.es/notas-sobre-para-y-con-el-laav_-miguel-angel-baixauli. [Most recently consulted on 3 November 2018].
  13. ANDERSON ISOBEL: «Voice, Narrative, Place: Listening to Stories». Online at: https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/228635/228636. [Most recently consulted on 3 November 2018].
  14. ANDERSON ISOBEL, Óp. cit.
  15. PATCH JUSTIN: «Caught in the current: writing ethnography that listens». Online at: https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/290439/290440. [Most recently consulted on 3 November 2018].
  16. MACDOUGALL, DAVID: Transcultural Cinema, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N. J., 1998. p. 83.
  17. Mixing sound by Rafael Martínez del Pozo dialogue with Chus Domínguez.
  18. SCHÄFERS MARLENE: Óp. cit., p. 8.
  19. RANCIÈRE JACQUES: Óp. cit., p. 14.