[-empyre-] The city as an old skin -- retrofitting

Ana Valdés agora158 at gmail.com
Sat Mar 24 10:36:24 EST 2012

As always Johannes you make my skin crawl :) (and I say that in a really
good sense, flattering your capacity of provoking new readings and deeper
discussions :).
I spent a few hours with Sabela today and we laughed heartily off the
different levels and "skins" the discussion is navigating through :)
Teddys indeed high political post left in me a longuing and a necessity of
formulating new strategies. But (and I apologize if I am very personal now,
but it's my experience of these days, all politics are personal here, in
this country.)
As I said before I am back in Uruguay after 34 years of political exile,
before I spent four years in a high security jail very similar to Gitmo.
I was very young, only 19 years old. Our conception of political changes
was a strange mixture of Guevarism and Messianic tendences. We belonged to
a movement which argued the only strategy to take the power was the armed
We were teenagers and we were naive and political idiots, but the
punishment was severe, my generation in jail or in exile, many dead, many
maimed for life, many mental crippled.
After the meeting with Sabela I met a dear friend, she spent 13 years in
prison, the totality of the dictatorship. Her husband, her syster and her
brother in law are dead and their bodies missing, they are certainly among
the human remains hunting our country or Argentina, since our military
cooperated and traded prisoners...
In the government of Uruguay now both the president and the vicepresident
spent 13 years in jail as well.
I expected from them radical changes and radical postures but I was
They are not radical and they are not making radical changes, Uruguay's
economy is boosting and the inversors acclaim the president and the social
But the prize of this peace is high, we have still a law we tried to
derogate for 30 years, a law giving amnesty to all military crimes commited
during the dictatorship. Only very few of the military responsables of the
coups de etat are in jail.
When Teddy ask for new political answers I feel a kind of feeling of "deja
vu". We have already seen how the political scenarios have a tendence to
reproduce themselves, in despite of which color is the party ruling.
Yesterday I attended a meeting for organizing a political meeting for the
Palestine, another feeling of deja vu. I told myself: "I have already done
that, in another country, in another life, in another time, how many time
we need to start again the same struggles we believed we were ready with?"


On Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 11:56 PM, Johannes Birringer <
Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk> wrote:

> dear all
> thanks Simon for your very interesting and refreshingly perplexing
> response,
> reminding us, surely tongue in cheek, of bleeding-heart sentiment as a
> proper gift the Left have left
> (and probably we have the better music collection?).....
> not so sure I am, though, about your defense of OCCUPY and social
> networked-sentiments
> and sentimental revotutions / twitter revolutions and global solidarities
> and unifications.....,
> OCCUPY of course does not need a defense, even though I would like to hear
> more commentary
> in regard to the architectural and urban politics under discussion..
> and I do hope OWS was not an installation piece/durational performance (or
> an artistic homage to Tahrir),
> although this is perhaps a fascinating idea, after all;
> and retrofittingly speaking, i am now going
> to think a bit on "occupy"  in the context of a new graffiti/tattooing
> gestural politics of withdrawal or tactical "retreatment" (the topic that
> was
> suggested in the first week by Kamen Nedev) –  and some of the really
> thought-provoking proposals Teddy Cruz had
> brought here ( and Aristide also suggested rethinking " conceptual frame
> of an occupation").
> I have gone back to the opening of this discussion (collected in a file &
> sketchbook  that is growing), i feel it is so long ago, and yet only just
> happened.
> Teddy's long post on "re-thinking our practices" (March 16) did not
> receive much feedback, and yet I felt it was one of the strongest political
> interventions
> here, with many direct action or practical propositions, and I wish i
> could hear more from you how they ate implemented, whether they are
> implemented;
> how they are translated.
> Having lived in Texas for quite a number of years, many of us there looked
> at the Taller de Arte Fronterizo/Border Arts Workshop (BAF/BAW) in Southern
> California, and what you now argue, is less along the lines of
> "performance art" practices and earthworks (yes, "rethinking" Earthworks
> [Robert Smithson]
> i was told, is considered timely now by www.alaudapublications.nl, and I
> am all for it), and more political and organizational groundwork?   as you
> write:
> >>
> through my own interests in terms of my work at the Tijuana-San Diego
> border, I am realizing the need to take ‘detours’ from architecture in
> order to contact the domains that have remained peripheral to design
> itself, namely economy and policy. Only the knowledge of the protocols
> embedded in stupid urban policy and discriminating economic models can give
> ‘us’ the ammunition to present counter models.>>[TC}
> I understand what you say about the need to take detours. Das betrifft uns
> alle.
> Is there still a connection from the older border arts workshop to these
> newer practices (and thus, has something like Gómez-Peña's "Pocha Nostra"
> workshop pedagogy drifted off into irrelevance?)?
> Teddy propositions:
> >>
> - We need to be the enablers of new models of political representation and
> participation (the site of intervention is education itself and the very
> notion of community: who represents who during this period of
> transformation)
> >>
> indeed.
> greetings
> Johannes Birringer
> dap-lab
> La frontera es lo único que compartimos    (old proverb from Chicano
> warriors and artists, quoted by Guillermo Gómez-Peñay otros)
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre


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"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with
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