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Art & Theory
An Experiment in Assembling the City's Sexual Memory
by Ana María Garzón Mantilla

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Installation view

Installation view

Installation view, detail

Installation view, detail

In the afternoon the findings were shared by reflecting on the way you coexist with other citizens, how you protect your body on the streets and in the public-transport system, where the physical closeness can sometimes make you uncomfortable and people brush against you inappropriately. There was a playful exercise imitating the tour de force that you have to do to get off a crowded bus: dance steps, contortions, pushing and shoving. It was interesting to see how the tousling became more intense, how the game actually turned into a representation of the violence you experience and exercise on public transport.

On the last day of the workshop the day was divided into two periods, one for sharing experiences dealing with sex and the city, the other for preparing brief projects. One group wrote a song, another drew a map of the city and wrote phrases linking the Quito imaginary to sex on it; a third drew comics and selected photos... The workshop thus drew to a close, leaving a few reflections up in the air.

For Motta, holding the workshop in Quito, given that doing so in Guatemala did not work out, provided the possibility of putting into practice the exercise of mapping the city on the basis of sexualities. Since it was his first time in Quito, he relied on the support of the participants so as to avoid making an artificial imposition on the way they related to the city. And both he and some of the participants agreed that it would have been better to have had more time to examine the results of the research in greater depth.

Referring to the short length of the workshop and by way of a balance, Juan Pablo Viteri, a professor at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, stated that: "The city is a highly complex, dynamic space and the ways each individual relates to it are endless --pretty much infinite. Thatís why trying to map the city in just two days was impossible; a task like that demanded an in-depth, meticulous job that would always end up incomplete. Thatís why in the measure that the workshop was carried out before the proposed aim of creating a map, sharing and reflecting on the relations that each member of the group has managed to negotiate with the city through their bodily experience was revealing. These dialogues, experiences and experiments allowed me to gain insights into the multiple ways of inhabiting the city through the body, and although each experience was different and personal, they all shared one thing: making use of public space is always a power game in which individuals, using their body, must claim, negotiate or generate a strategy for inhabiting and appropriating the space".

The open-ended methodology ended up being too complicated for some participants, since they expected Motta to provide more specific guidelines on the piece. Here the participants imaginaries and expectations on the kind of workshop Motta should conduct clashed, but there was a consensus that greater mediation during the process was needed. In spite of that, as Paola Rodas, a professor at San Francisco de Quito University said, it was "refreshing to adopt a queer stance and establish these spaces for dialogue".

Some of the participants continue to work on projects that are linked to their group themes. It was also interesting to see how the workshop became an opportunity to form friendships and find common interests. Thinking about the city from a sexual-mapping perspective is challenging because it seeks to change existing paradigms on ways of understanding urban space and opens up the possibility of occupying public space with an awareness of its sexual connotations, the relations that are generated between city dwellers and the creative potential for finding forms of representation.



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