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Art & Theory
Interview with Reinaldo Laddaga on Art of Emergency. Part 2
by Santiago Garcí­a Navarro

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Estética de la Emergencia

Santiago García Navarro: With which current critical positions in the arts do you identify?

Reinaldo Laddaga: I interpret "criticism" in the usual sense, of exposing what should be intolerable. And two recent projects strike me as being particularly intelligent and effective. MV Bill, a rapper from Rio, and his producer Celso Atahyde have spent several years interviewing teenagers involved in drug trafficking. Doing the interviews and the filming called for an intricate process, which they recorded and communicated in two books. At the end of the process, they made a television program for the Globo network: it is an extraordinary video, very different to the kind of thing we are used to expecting from a documentary. Dave Eggers, a U.S. writer who also initiated a publishing project called McSweeney's and organizes a series of writing workshops for underprivileged teenagers known as Valencia 826 (the address where the first workshop was held in San Francisco), has just published a book in conjunction with Valentino Achak Deng, a young Sudanese refugee living in the U.S. The title is What is the What. The book, which is very intense, forms part of the wide-ranging exploration of the possibilities of representation in producing forms of solidarity between strangers in an age of globalization.

SGN: Has your view of the projects you examine in the book changed subsequently in any way?

RL: The truth is that all the projects I refer to in the book are still active in one way or another, branching out and continuing, sometimes without the presence of the artists who started them. This even applies to those (Liisa Roberts's for example) that were meant to accomplish a limited purpose for a limited time. As for my position in this regard, I have to say that, for better or worse, my views have changed very little since the book was written. There are things I would state more specifically, of course, but in terms of content I still stand by what I wrote. I would also say that I waver in the way I view the capacity of the kind of artistic activity I try to describe to multiply and develop. This has to do with the comings and goings of a political, social, cultural world that seems to be in search of a stable form. Nowadays, in the United States, where I write, the end (in appearance) of the right wing's ascending curve and the reappearance of an art and a way of thinking that is increasingly interested in forms of life in common definitely makes me optimistic.

SGN: Did you follow up on those ramifications and prolongations that you talked about?

RL: Yes I did, to a greater or lesser degree depending on each case: as far as I know the main players in Park Fiction have worked together with a group called Sarai from New Delhi, although I do not know the outcome of their collaboration. Roberto Jacoby has been busy with a series of projects, the best known of which is Dark Room, which he presented in Belleza y Felicidad a couple of years ago and more recently at Malba. The group of Italian writers Wu Ming is more active than ever, and has been trying out collaborative, decentralized forms of production in various formats.

December 2006

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About the Author
Santiago García Navarro writes about art, politics and architecture. He was member of the Duplus group, with whom he published El pez, la bicicleta y la máquina de escribir (Buenos Aires, Fundación Proa, 2006). He lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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