04th march 2022 – 06th may 2022
“The collective struggle supposes, at its base, a collective responsibility and, at the summit, a collegiate responsibility. Yes, it is necessary to implicate everyone in the
struggle for the sake of our common salvation. There can be no pure hands, no innocents, no spectators. We all dirty our hands in the swamps of our land and the tremendous emptiness of our minds. Every spectator is a coward or a traitor.” (Frantz Fanon; 155.)
Tangier was one of the most important cities in Northern Africa, above all on account of its geographic situation, only 14kms across the Straits from Gibraltar, the port of entry to Europe. It was a frontier city, sitting between two worlds, two continents, and two cultures. Known until 1956 (the date of its independence) as the “Tangier International Zone”, its administration and legislation were assumed by Spain, France, and the United Kingdom under the Tangier Protocol, which was signed here on 18th December 1923. Five years later Italy joined the Protocol, and then later Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal. The Tangier Protocol was signed in a pre-war, military context. The Spanish occupation of Tangier occurred during the Second World War, between 1940 and 1945, when the Franco government dissolved the Protocol and targeted with persecution and repression all civil servants who had remained loyal to The Second Republic. Once the war was over the city regained its international status.
Ana Navarrete, curatorReferences: BOE núm. 68, de 20 de marzo de 2019Aplicación provisional del Protocolo entre el Reino de España y el Reino de Marruecos para la donación irrevocable de la propiedad del “Gran Teatro Cervantes” de Tánger, hecho en Rabat el 13 de febrero de 2019., páginas 27672 a 27673 Mouna AARAB y Sarah AMAROUCHI, BABEL, nº 17, febrero 2004. Páginas: 61 y 62. http://tangier.free.fr/esp/cervantes.htm Frantz FANON, Los condenados de la tierra, Fondo de Cultura Económica, México 1983. Juan GOYTISOLO, << El misterio de Tánger>> El País Opinión, 30 agosto de 2003. https://elpais.com/diario/2003/08/30/opinion/1062194407_850215.html Peio H. RIAÑO, <<España regala a Marruecos el Gran Teatro Cervantes de Tánger>> El País Cultura, 9 de febrero 2019. Joaquín MAYORDOMO, <<Tánger: un nuevo Eldorado para la empresa española>> El País Economía, 21 mayo 2017.https://elpais.com/economia/2017/05/18/actualidad/1495126509_559043.html
Postcolonialism and the exercise of unlearning in the exhibition spaceMona Jas, curator Culture, art and education contain subjective norms and rules that, depending on the perspective and power constellation, are determined and, consequently, have to be fought for. In this context, the concept of culture is often used as an unreflexive notion, formed during colonial times in order to create exclusions, “also ethnically demarcated, in the sense of ‘own’ and ‘foreign’ or ‘other culture” (Mörsch/Zürcher Hochschule der Künste 2013: 35). In the art field, the works of non-western artists of the Global South remain judged by social or religious criteria and not according to aesthetic criteria, as it happens with artists from the Global North (Kravanga 2016: 76; Gamedze 2018). These are the points from which postcolonial theories stem from. Questions of postcolonialism start from the historical facts of colonialism. With the transantlantic slave trade, (1) colonialism “as the great imperial project of the modern era” reached heights never seen before (Kravagna 2016: 66). In this context, the work examines the extent to which the notion of the colonial world order- as well as the attitudes that sustain colonialism- keep influencing political, economic and cultural aspects to this day. The post-colonial theories also analyse the power relationships and the responsibilities for change by focusing on the various narratives (2) of those who were or are colonized and those who colonize (cf. Kravagna 2016; Kilomba 2016; Eggers et al. 2009; Ha et al. 2016). The systematic exploitation of the colonized, exclusively profit-oriented, was and is ideologically legitimized by the construction of a thought edifice of apparent cultural distinctions. Western European Enlightenment elites provided the appropriate evidence(s) “by offering ‘convincing’ arguments and memorable images of difference and superiority or inferiority” (Kravagna 2016: 66; Hund 2017: 79-113). Postcolonial perspectives expose the constructed differences that make the degradation and oppression of the “other” seem consequential. Thus, Stuart Hall, co-founder of the Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies, unmasks the contexts of perfidious degradation in his article The Spectacle of the “Other” by analyzing the representation of black athletes in commercial advertising. Racist stereotypes and polarizing terms creep into a society’s visual communication without comment (Hall 2004: 108-116). (3) Consequently, there is a clear need for the fields of art, culture and education in the global North to move forward in reflecting on and overcoming colonial attitudes. This is to analyse the impact of colonial attitudes from three literary studies perspectives (cf. Castro Varela/Dhawan 2015). One is Edward Said’s study Orientalism (cf. Said 1979), in which it is revealed how the Western exoticisation and the construction of a so-called Eastern world. Furthermore, it is Homi K. Bhabha’s concept of hybridity (cf. Bhabha 1994), who proposes a model of a third space in which “cultural differences cannot be identified and, thus, they cannot be appropriated” (Castro Varela/Dhawan 2015: 236). The third perspective comes from the literati Gayatri Chakravorti Spivak, who argues that the privileges and scholarly classifications of a colonial understanding of education must be unlearned (cf. Spivak 2008/1988). (4) In his works Preludio and Contra-público Tangerino (2022) in the exhibition Todo espectador es un cobarde o un traidor (Every spectator is a coward or a traitor), the artist Juan Carlos Robles explores the concept of art by examining critically the relationships between artists, art and public. In his critical view against domination, the works are linked to an understanding of the “unlearning”: It is the spectator who must reflect and analyse categories such as gender, ethnicity and class in the exhibition space when facing the main characters represented in the Contra-público Tangerino work. In this way, the spectators of the video installation become a direct counterpart to the works and they cannot escape them. The materiality of what is shown in Preludio stresses contact and tactility, highlighting the immediacy of the visual language of the artistic work (Bourriaud 2006: 165). In this way, the two works exhibited could generate new relationships that develop between the spectator, the artist and the world. Following the approach of relational aesthetics, the works of art function in this way as a social interstice, “The work of art as a social interstice.” (5) This aspect is supported by the format of the exhibition, as, in contrast to cinema, theatre, opera or reading of a book and listening to a music piece, it allows to shift simultaneously from thought to lived experience with others. From a white cube that in its design whatever influence supposedly disruptive from everyday life is avoided in order to ensure a “pure” perception of the art (cf. O’Doherty 1996/1976,) the exhibition space transforms itself with the works exhibited by Juan Carlos Robles in a setting of communication and sensual enjoyment. Todo espectador es un cobarde o un traidor opens spaces for action in which one acts partisan in the sense of communicative reflexivity. These spaces have as constitutive features a reflexivity towards the concept of culture, as well as a critical distance from the notions of values and norms associated to the “art” (Mörsch/Zürcher Hochschule der Künste 2013: 162). The urgency of contemporary approaches to art such as this is evident here. Embodied knowledge inscribed in the body – such as learned classifications of gender, ethnicity and class can and must be unlearned by questioning and displacing an existing canon. This is a process that cannot be completed: The concern of an unlearning practice is to suspend colonial hierarchies (cf. Sternfeld 2014). It remains to be seen whether this must remain a utopia or whether it will become a reality through the examination of the works Preludio and Contra- Público Tangerino in the context of the exhibition Todo espectador es un cobarde o un traidor as “micro-utopias” (Bourriaud 2006).
- Theories of postcolonialism analyze the consequences of oppression and exploitation by colonialism, which continue to have an impact today. Therefore, the verbs are both present and preterite.
- The term “narrative”, which is now widely used, is due to the introduction of the “meta- narrative” (French: métarécit) by the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard. In The postmodern knowledge: A report, Lyotard described the end of the great narratives (see Lyotard 2019/1979). Métarécit was translated into English with the term narrative (English: “narratives”). Thereafter, this term spread in language use to designate established narratives of a society or institution.
- For the German-speaking countries, for example, the heavily criticized advertising campaign of Ferrero Rocher Germany chooses [white]” 2013 (italics by the author). Interdependencies of colonial attitudes and culture and education are analysed for the German-speaking countries in particular in publications such as masks, myths and subjects (Eggers et al., 2009) and re/visionen (Ha et al., 2016)
- The concepts of opacity and globality by Édouard Glissant also constitute another central theoretical Curatorial positions offer Glissant’s writings numerous points of reference (see Glissant/Obrist 2011; Masilela 2018b).
- Bourriaud refers to Karl Marx with the concept of the intermediate space, who describes with the intermediate space smaller and self-sufficient trade communities that evade the structures of capitalist economy. The term ‘interspace’ was used by Karl Marx to denote trade communities that have escaped the framework of the capitalist economy: barter, sale with loss or self-sufficient forms of production. A space in between is a space in social relations that, although more or less harmoniously and openly fits into the overall system, suggests other possibilities of exchange than those that prevail within the system. Exhibitions of contemporary art occupy exactly the same position in the field of trade in representations (Bourriaud 2006: 161).