curatorial intensive

Becoming the Media

By David Ayala-Alfonso

For Curating in the Public Realm

Becoming the Media: Art-full manners for media intervention

A proposal by David Ayala Alfonso

Becoming the Media explores the intersection between arts and politics in Colombia, specifically through the use of mass media in the second half of 20th century. The project consists of a documentary exhibition, a sourcebook, academic events and a series of interventions, taking place in the fall of 2012. The point of departure for this examination will be El Bogotazo, the massive riot spurred by the murder of the leftist political leader and presidential candidate Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, on the 9th of April of 1948, marking the beginning of a period known in Colombian history as La Violencia (The Violence). Lootings, burnings and killings on 9th of April were confusingly covered by local radio stations, whose control changed hands several times in that day, ending in a takeover by state armed forces.  This and subsequent events were studied and exploited by Colombian artists through the second half of 20th century. In turn, these artists’ work has been an influence for a younger generation of local artists who are currently developing derived reflections on the mediascape.

This is a project that aims to serve as a device for empowering citizens through the consciousness of the subjective condition of information being delivered by media. Through artistic interventions, gestures and procedures, user and producer roles are redefined, and the ability to become a producer stimulates a critical approach to the problem of information, ultimately framed within consumption processes. Interventions in the public realm are framed within a spectrum whose ends are depicted by Michele de Certeau’s definitions of strategies and tactics, moving from government-sponsored initiatives to urban guerrilla pirate broadcasts. Thus, more than a historical narrative, Becoming the Media proposes a particular review, whose ordinal criteria is the nature and intensity of the relation of each artistic initiative to the means of power, political subjects and mass media dynamics. Becoming the Media seeks to articulate a group of research projects on this subject, currently being developed by local artists. This is a main feature of the project, as participants won’t only be invited to show their work or to develop a commission, but also as researchers for the whole process. Their research and commissions will be the core materials for the project that will also feature a great variety of resources, artists’ works and contextualizing documents, both in the book and in the documentary exhibitions. Commissions would consist of interventions on TV, newspapers, radio, Internet, and street advertising, a course of action already present in several projects, such as Carlos Guzman’s SNIM-TV, who creates nocturnal spontaneous broadcasts in the streets of downtown Bogota, or Alix Camacho’s Mistakes Filmes, where DVD movies are purchased, intervened and then secretly re-inserted into pirate movie markets. 

The exhibition component of the project is intended for taking place in the Bibliographic Exhibitions Room at Luis Angel Arango Library in Bogotá. It will include written samples, historical images, and audiovisual samples, contextualizing the different approaches to politics and media, made by Colombian artists in the past fifty years, from the perspective of a younger generation of artists and researchers. Academic events will include workshops on alternative communication, screenings, a documentation website and occasional lectures. Becoming the Media aims to cover a broad potential audience, by taking advantage of a redundant presence, creating materials for different locations, developed in coherence with the forms of the interventions, processes and behaviors identified in the project. Thus, an issue of {{em_rgencia} magazine will also be dedicated to the subject through an open call inviting to approach to the subject, either by examining the outcome of the project or by proposing different glances.

Learn more

For more information about Becoming the Media, please contact curator David Ayala Alfonso at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

About the Curator

David Ayala-Alfonso

David Ayala-Alfonso is a Colombian Curator, Artist, and Researcher working between Bogotá and London. He is a guest curator at the traveling exhibitions program of Independent Curators International, and part of the editorial teams of Journal of Visual Culture, Cultural Anthropology and {{em_rgencia}. Ayala-Alfonso has been Curator in Residence and Academic Coordinator at FLORA ars+natura in Bogotá, and lectured in different art schools in the US and Colombia. He has published books and articles on interface theory, Latin American art history, artist-run spaces, performance studies, visual studies, urban sociology, anthropology of education and artistic interventions in the public realm. He is also an occasional collaborator for different academic publications as a writer and a translator. Recent work as a curator and as part of the art collective Grupo 0,29 has been featured at Museos de Arte at Banco de la República in Bogotá, South London Gallery, the David Rockefeller Center at Harvard University, the BMW Guggenheim Lab, Concordia University in Montreal, Columbia College in Chicago, and Centro Cultural La Moneda in Santiago. He has been awarded the Fulbright Grant, the AICAD post-graduate Teaching Fellowship, the ICI-Dedalus Award for Curatorial Research and the Early-concept Grant for Exploratory Research at SAIC. Ayala-Alfonso holds a MA in Visual and Critical Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Specialization in Art Education from the National University of Colombia, and is preparing publications on critical heritage, and art in the public realm to be released in 2019.

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