This essay and subsequent videos were originally published for the Freewaves: Latin America Video Festival held in Los Angeles in November, 2002. |
The beginning of electronic art in Peru occurred at the VIII International Festival of Video Art, organized by the Peruvian critic and art historian, Alfonso Castrillón and Jorge Glusberg of the Art and Communications Center of Buenos Aires. This event was celebrated at the Continental Bank's Exhibition Hall in Lima, directed by Castrillón, in September of 1977. However, after that first and favorable moment, electronic art came to an almost complete halt for nearly two decades, although some sporadic and isolated interventions took place (Arias and Aragón, Esther Vainstein, Eduardo Villanes, among others).
A significant event came to pass in 1995 when Gianni Toti arrived in Peru. Toti, one of the most important international video artists, is an organic intellectual, one who confronts theoretical depth and cultural action in his untiring search for new languages in artistic and scientific creation. Since 1996, Toti has developed the "Tupac Amauta" Project in Peru and France (CICV Pierre Schaeffer) which relates pre-Columbian and Andean thought with present social struggle from a Latin American and global perspective. Thanks to this international effort, Peru's isolation began to be modified. In that year (considering the previously mentioned encounter of 1977 as a historical reference), the Second Video Art International Festival, organized by HAT (High Andean Technology) and the Visual Arts Gallery of the Ricardo Palma University, was celebrated in Lima. Ever since then, the festival has been held annually, with a massive response from the public, confirming the great interest in new manifestations of art and technology. Within this local context, the public presentation of video art requires a different positioning, both "from the creators and curators. It is undeniable that the modes of video art exhibition are fundamental: to see a monitor in a corner, or four parallel projections, defines different situations, many of them directly associated to a defined attitude. As Bruce Nauman has stated: "video: a private medium in a public space".
That is why this program's approach is more focused on free creation (universal?) vs. the typical "Latin American content" cliché. These young artists do not often wish to represent folkloric or typical elements or contents, but rather try to construct new forms of creation, analyzing their local context. That is, since the information and the perception of the information has been globalized, artists are allowed to work within a contemporary-western structure (television, radio, internet, advertising, etc.) similar to that of their colleagues in other parts of the world. This does not mean that perceptions of the local reality do not exist; what happens is that this reality is also transformed, mainly in the urban core, which is, in the case of Peru, just as it is in a large part of Latin America, where the great percentage of the people of the country live.
Art critic Gerardo Mosquera suggests, "this does not mean that a Latin American "look", or certain similar lines of work occur, but that these resemblances are going to be more similar at a conceptual or artistic level than at the level of identifiable elements taken from folklore, history, religion or nationalism". This new body of work is not only due to the development of new technologies, but also to the increasingly active participation of Latin American artists in international festivals and exhibitions of electronic art. Likewise, the recent proliferation of said events and encounters in Latin America has allowed the promotion of valuable exchanges among the region's artists, curators and theorists, managing to re-define Latin American cultural diversity.