Liquid Ecologies in Latin American and Caribbean Art 9780367198985, 9780367199005

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Liquid Ecologies in Latin American and Caribbean Art
 9780367198985, 9780367199005

Table of contents :
Half Title
Series Page
Title Page
Copyright Page
List of Figures
List of Plates
List of Contributors
1 Beyond the Blue: Notes on the Liquid Turn
PART I Liquid Epistemologies
2 Turbulent River Times: Art and Hydropower in Latin America’s Extractive Zones
3 Acts of Remaining: Liquid Ecologies and Memory Work in Contemporary Art Interventions
4 An Expanse of Water: How to Know Water Through Film
PART II (De)Colonised Flows
5 Untangling the Mangrove: Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor in the Colombian Caribbean
6 “The Roar of the River Grows Ever Louder”: Polluted Waters in Colombian Eco-Art, From Alicia Barney to Clemencia Echeverri
7 Amazonian Waterway, Amazonian Water-Worlds: Rivers in Government Projects and Indigenous Art
PART III Fluid Memories
8 Water, Women and Action Art in Latin America: Materializing Ecofeminist Epistemologies
9 Memories in the Present: Affect and Spectrality in Contemporary Aquatic Imaginaries
PART IV Bodies of Water
10 Submerged Bodies: The Tidalectics of Representability and the Sea in Caribbean Art
11 Cecilia Vicuña’s Liquid Indigeneity
12 “A Water of a Hundred Eyes”: Reconfiguring Liquidity in Recent Chilean Contemporary Art

Citation preview

Liquid Ecologies in Latin American and Caribbean Art

This interdisciplinary book brings into dialogue research on how different fuids and bodies of water are mobilised as liquid ecologies in the arts in Latin America and the Caribbean. Examining the visual arts, including multimedia installations, performance, photography and flm, the chapters place diverse fuids and systems of fow in art historical, ecocritical and cultural analytical contexts. The book will be of interest to scholars of art history, cultural studies, environmental humanities, blue humanities, ecocriticism, Latin American and Caribbean studies, and island studies. Lisa Blackmore is a senior lecturer in Art History and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Essex. Liliana Gómez is a SNSF (Swiss National Science Foundation) professor at the Institute of Art History at University of Zurich.

Routledge Advances in Art and Visual Studies

This series is our home for innovative research in the felds of art and visual studies. It includes monographs and targeted edited collections that provide new insights into visual culture and art practice, theory, and research. The Digital Interface and New Media Art Installations Phaedra Shanbaum Ecocriticism and the Anthropocene in Nineteenth Century Art and Visual Culture Edited by Emily Gephart and Maura Coughlin Popularization and Populism in the Visual Arts Attraction Images Edited by Anna Schober Dialogues Between Artistic Research and Science and Technology Studies Edited by Henk Borgdorff, Peter Peters, and Trevor Pinch Contemporary Art and Disability Studies Edited by Alice Wexler and John Derby The Outsider, Art and Humour Paul Clements The Contemporary Art Scene in Syria Social Critique and an Artistic Movement Charlotte Bank The Iconology of Abstraction Non-Figurative Images and the Modern World Edited by Krešimir Purgar Liquid Ecologies in Latin American and Caribbean Art Edited by Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez For a full list of titles in this series, please visit

Liquid Ecologies in Latin American and Caribbean Art

Edited by Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez

First published 2020 by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 and by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RN Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2020 Taylor & Francis The right of Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez to be identifed as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identifcation and explanation without intent to infringe. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A catalog record for this title has been requested ISBN: 978-0-367-19898-5 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-19900-5 (ebk) Typeset in Sabon Apex CoVantage, LLC


List of Figures List of Plates Editors List of Contributors Acknowledgements 1 Beyond the Blue: Notes on the Liquid Turn

vii ix x xii xvi 1



Liquid Epistemologies 2 Turbulent River Times: Art and Hydropower in Latin America’s Extractive Zones

11 13


3 Acts of Remaining: Liquid Ecologies and Memory Work in Contemporary Art Interventions



4 An Expanse of Water: How to Know Water Through Film




(De)Colonised Flows 5 Untangling the Mangrove: Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor in the Colombian Caribbean

71 73


6 “The Roar of the River Grows Ever Louder”: Polluted Waters in Colombian Eco-Art, From Alicia Barney to Clemencia Echeverri G I N A M C D A NIE L TA RVE R




7 Amazonian Waterway, Amazonian Water-Worlds: Rivers in Government Projects and Indigenous Art




Fluid Memories 8 Water, Women and Action Art in Latin America: Materializing Ecofeminist Epistemologies

125 127


9 Memories in the Present: Affect and Spectrality in Contemporary Aquatic Imaginaries




Bodies of Water


10 Submerged Bodies: The Tidalectics of Representability and the Sea in Caribbean Art



11 Cecilia Vicuña’s Liquid Indigeneity



12 “A Water of a Hundred Eyes”: Reconfguring Liquidity in Recent Chilean Contemporary Art






2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5

2.6 2.7 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 6.1 6.2 6.3

Martin Ryckaert, Mining Operations Along a River (1620) Jacob van Ruisdael (Dutch, 1628/1629–1682), Two Watermills and an Open Sluice, 1653, oil on canvas 66.4 × 84.1 cm (26⅛ × 33⅛ in.), 82.PA.18 Double-dial longcase clock from Park Green Mill, Macclesfeld, made by E. Hartley, Macclesfeld, 1810 Alejandro Otero, Torre solar (1986) Aluminium and stainless steel; 50 metres high × 53 metres diameter in upper section. Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Station, Guri Carolina Caycedo, Serpent River Book, 2017. Artist Book and customized table. 38 × 241 × 215 inches. Installation photograph at BANK, Basement Building 2, Lane 298 Anfu Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China Carolina Caycedo, Serpent River Book, excerpt (2017) Carolina Caycedo shares the Serpent River Book with people affected by the Hidroituango dam in Antioquia, Colombia, 2018 María Magdalena Campos-Pons; Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits, 2015, Peabody Essex Museum Salem María Magdalena Campos-Pons; Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits, 2015, detail; Peabody Essex Museum Salem María Magdalena Campos-Pons; Sugar/Bittersweet, 2010, mixed-media installation, dimensions variable; Smith College Museum of Art Clemencia Echeverri; Río por asalto, duration: 9:44 minutes, loop; video multichannel installation, six screens, Sound 7.1, XII Shanghai Biennale, 2018–2019 “The Extraction of Tears” (7:48) “Abuela Grillo and the Flood” (8:51) “Tracing the River’s Course” (10:40) “On the River’s Edge” (7:47) Alicia Barney, detail of Río Cauca, 1981–1982, mixed media and variable dimensions Clemencia Echeverri, still from Sin cielo, 2016–2017, video wall with nine monitors and stereo sound, 11:20 minutes Clemencia Echeverri, still from Sin cielo, 2016–2017, video wall with nine monitors and stereo sound, 11:20 minutes

15 15 16 21

27 28 28 40 40 42 47 60 61 63 66 91 97 97

viii Figures 7.1 7.2

7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 8.1 8.2 8.3 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 12.1 12.2 12.3

Harry Pinedo/Inin Metsa, El Protector II (The Protector II), 2020 Harry Pinedo-Inin Metsa, El Rugir del Yana Puma (crítica hacia la destrucción y la contaminación de la Amazonía), (The Guardian and The Black Puma’s Roar); critique against the destruction and contamination of the Amazon, 2017 Harry Pinedo/Inin Metsa, Dueño de las Cochas 2, (Guardians of the River Ponds 2), 2013, acrylic on canvas Roldán Pinedo/Shoyan Sheca, Río de Kené (River of Kené), 2018, acrylic on canvas Roldán Pinedo/Shoyan Sheca, Doncella (Barred Catfsh), 2018, acrylic on canvas Rember Yahuarcani, Buiñaiño, esposa del Creador (Buiñaiño, the Creator’s Wife), 2009, acrylic and natural dyes on tree bark Yeni y Nan, Transfguración elemento tierra, 1983/2013 (detail). Digital prints from original negatives, 13 × 13 in / 33 × 33 cm María Evelia Marmolejo, Anónimo 3, 1982, documentary photograph, 11.42 × 8.07 in / 29.5 × 20.5 cm., Río Cauca, Colombia María Evelia Marmolejo. Anónimo 4, 1982, documentary photograph, 11.42 × 8.07 in / 29.5 × 20.5 cm. Río Cauca, Colombia “Chile, an aquatic territory” Strange constellations painted on their bodies View of the Enrique Ramírez’s exhibition Los durmientes, Palais de Tokyo (20.10.14–23.11.15) Ruins. A shot from Las aguas del olvido. Director: Jonathan Perel, 9 minutes, 2013, Argentina Jean-Ulrick Désert, The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya, 2017. Mixed media on vellum, 108 × 72 in Jean-Ulrick Désert, The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya, 2017, detail. Mixed media on vellum, 108 × 72 in Nadia Huggins, Untitled, from the series Circa No Future. Digital photograph, variable dimensions Nadia Huggins, Untitled, from the series Circa No Future. Digital photograph, variable dimensions Nadia Huggins, Fighting the Currents, from the Transformations series, 2015. Digital photographs, variable dimensions David Gumbs, still from Water and Dreams, 2014. Digital video, 6:14 min Still from Cecilia Vicuña, Mar tejido (2012) Still from Cecilia Vicuña, Kon Kon (2010) Still from Cecilia Vicuña, Quipu/Ceque (2010) Still from Cecilia Vicuña, Kon Kon (2010) Francisca Montes, Mar interior (2009) Francisca Montes, Primera Línea (2011) Carolina Saquel, Cuero Vivo (2009). Still from video work


109 113 114 114 116 134 137 138 147 148 151 154 168 169 173 175 177 179 188 189 195 197 212 213 216


Plate 1 Plate 2 Plate 3

Plate 4 Plate 5 Plate 6 Plate 7 Plate 8 Plate 9 Plate 10 Plate 11 Plate 12 Plate 13

Plate 14 Plate 15

Tony Capellán, Mar invadido, 2015, detail. Found objects from the Caribbean Sea, 360 × 228 in. Installation view at Pérez Art Museum Miami. Jean-Ulrick Désert, The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya, 2017, detail. Mixed media on vellum, 108 × 72 in. Carlos Cruz Diez, Ambientación cromática (Chromatic Environment, 1977–1986). Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Station, Engine Room No. 1, Guri, Venezuela. 28 × 300 × 26 m (92 × 984 × 85 ft.). Engineers: H. Roo, A. Gamboa, E. Carrera, G. Chavarri. Carolina Caycedo with Marina Magalhaes, Isis Avalos and Samad Guerra, River of Everyone River of No One, 2017. Cecilia Vicuña, Kon Kon, 2010. Cecilia Vicuña, Kuntur Ko en el Mapocho, 2015. Rember Yahuarcani, La creación del mundo (The Creation of the World), 2007, acrylic and natural dyes on tree bark. Rember Yahuarcani, Buiñaiño, 2009, acrylic on tree bark. Claudia Müller, Nadíe puede empujar el río, 2016. Installation view. Dimensions variable. Francisca Montes, Mar interior, 2009. Photographic prints. Installation view. Yeni y Nan, Simbolismo de la cristalización—Araya (1984–1986/2013). C-print from ektachrome slide, 13¼ × 19½ in / 33.7 × 49.5 cm. Clemencia Echeverri; Treno, canto fúnebre, video installation, exhibition Actos del Habla; Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogota, 2009. María Magdalena Campos-Pons; Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits, 2015, blown glass, cast glass, steel, cast resin, silicone, acrylic, polyvinyl chloride tubing, water, and rum essence, dimensions variable; Peabody Essex Museum Salem. Photograph by Peter Vanderwarker. Alicia Barney, Río Cauca (1981–1982). Mixed media and variable dimensions. Photograph by Mauricio Zumaran. Clemencia Echeverri, still from Sin cielo (2016–2017). Video wall with nine monitors and stereo sound, 11:20 minutes.


Lisa is Senior Lecturer in Art History and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Essex, United Kingdom. She received her PhD in Latin American Cultural Studies from Birkbeck College in 2011, where she was a grantee of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. She has worked as a lecturer at the University of Leeds, the Universidad Simón Bolívar and the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas. From 2014–2017 she was the Postdoctoral Researcher on the project Modernity and the Landscape in Latin America: Politics, Aesthetics, Ecology at the University of Zurich, and from August–December 2019 she held the Alberto Flores Galindo Visiting Professorship at the Faculty of Art and Design, Pontifcia Universidad Católica del Perú. Lisa works at the intersections of scholarly research, curatorial projects and creative practice. She is the author of Spectacular Modernity: Dictatorship, Space and Visuality in Venezuela 1948–1958 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017) and the co-editor of Downward Spiral: El Helicoide’s Descent From Mall to Prison (UR/Terreform, 2018), Natura: Environmental Aesthetics After Landscape (diaphanes, 2018) and The Politics of Culture in the Chávez Era (Wiley/Blackwell, 2019). Her research has been published in the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, Bulletin of Latin American Research, Cuadernos de Literatura and Revista Estudios, among others. She recently curated the exhibitions Carolina Caycedo: When Walls Become Rivers (2020), Gone to Ground (2019) and Alejandro Jaime: Aggregate Flows (2019) at Art Exchange, University of Essex, co-curated hidro—grafías at Casa Luis Perou de la Croix, Bucaramanga, and is codirector of Después de Trujillo (2016) a feature-length research flm on post-dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. Lisa Blackmore University of Essex Liliana is SNSF (Swiss National Science Foundation) Professor at the Institute of Art History at the University of Zurich, where she directs the research project Contested Amnesia and Dissonant Narratives in the Global South. Post-Confict in Literature, Art, and Emergent Archives. She received her PhD in Latin American Literary and Cultural Studies from the Freie Universität Berlin and her Habilitation (postdoctoral thesis) from the University of Zurich. From 2013–2016 she was a visiting scholar at the University of Harvard and in 2016 a visiting professor for visual history at the University of Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia. She is the author of Lo urbano: Teorías culturales y políticas de la ciudad en América Latina (Pittsburgh IILI, 2014), the editor of the special issue History through Photography (E.I.A.L., 2015) and co-editor of Estéticas sucias y cultura basura (Iberoamericana, 2019), The Sacred in the City



(Continuum, 2012), Relaciones caribeñas. Entrecruzamientos de dos siglos (Peter Lang, 2011) and Entre el olvido y el recuerdo. Iconos, lugares de memoria y cánones de la literatura y la historia en Colombia (Editorial Pontifcia Universidad Javeriana, 2010). She is editor of the forthcoming book Performing Human Rights. Contested Amnesia and Aesthetic Practices in the Global South (diaphanes, 2021). Recently she curated the exhibition Contested Landscapes, Emergent Archives (2019) at the Orient-Institut Beirut in Lebanon. Liliana Gómez University of Zurich


Giuliana is a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the University of Essex and Lecturer in Anthropology at the Pontifcia Universidad Católica del Perú. Her current project is about the political aesthetic dimension of Amazonian art and the production of new curatorial narratives in collaboration with indigenous artists. Her research concerns Latin American contemporary art with a focus on political economic processes, transnational articulations and diverse epistemologies. She has been Peru’s Director of Museums, Coordinator of the Lima Contemporary Art Museum and curator of indigenous contemporary art exhibitions. She has also been granted the ILAS Fellowship, the Wenner Gren Foundation Fellowship, the NYU Thinker Fieldwork Grant, the Carolina Foundation Fellowship, etc. Her publications include Arte y Antropología: Estudios, Encuentros y Nuevos Horizontes (editor, 2017) and the forthcoming book Confguring the New Lima Art Scene: An Anthropological Analysis of Latin American Contemporary Art (Routledge, 2020). Giuliana Borea University of Essex/Pontifcia Universidad Católica del Perú Adriana is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Spanish & Portuguese at UC–Irvine. Her frst book, Sentencing Canudos: Subalternity in the Backlands of Brazil (2010), took on how the community of Canudos and the war to destroy it acquired historical and cultural intelligibility through dominant accounts and how alternative accounts of the war that circulated contemporaneously challenge this grammar of sense and thus apparent non-sense. Since that book she has worked increasingly with flm from Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, which has led to manuscript she is fnishing on infrastructures of visuality in Latin America (see “Visuality as Infrastructure” Social Text (2018)). Adriana has also returned more recently to her work on the sertão to focus on the meanings and forms of water and its scarcity. Her next book project is tentatively titled Thinking Water and will focus on how visual forms materialize a knowledge of drought, rivers, rains and the sea. Adriana Michéle Campos Johnson UC–Irvine Elizabeth is Professor in English at the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is co-editor of Caribbean Literature and the Environment (University of Virginia Press, 2005), Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment (Oxford University Press, 2011), and Global Ecologies and the Environmental Humanities: Postcolonial Approaches (Routledge, 2015). She is the author of Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacifc Island



Literatures (University of Hawaii Press, 2007) and a book about climate change and the literary and visual arts entitled Allegories of the Anthropocene (Duke UP, 2019). With Thom Van Dooren, she is co-editor of the international open-access journal Environmental Humanities. Elizabeth DeLoughrey University of California, Los Angeles Irene earned her PhD in Romance and Visual Studies in 2011 at Cornell University with a dissertation that questions representations of youth vis-à-vis neoliberal discourses in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. She currently works as a researcher at the University of Buenos Aires and at the CONICET on a project that considers the affective and political uses of music and sound archives in recent flms. She has published articles on youth, market culture and affectivity in contemporary narrative and cinema, on memory studies, and on geographical and urban imaginaries. She is the author of Geografías afectivas. Desplazamientos, prácticas espaciales y formas de estar juntos en el cine de Argentina, Chile y Brasil (Pittsburgh, LARC, 2019) and has recently coedited two volumes: Más allá de la naturaleza. Imaginarios geográfcos en la literatura y el arte latinoamericano reciente (Ediciones Alberto Hurtado, Chile, 2019) and Afectos, historia y cultura visual Una aproximación indisciplinada (Prometeo, Buenos Aires, 2019). Irene Depetris Chauvin CONICET, Argentina Tatiana is Associate Professor in the Departments of Latino and Caribbean Studies and Art History at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She is the author of Mexico’s Revolutionary Avant-Gardes: From Estridentismo to ¡30–30! (Yale University Press, 2013), winner of the 2014 Humanities Book Prize awarded by the Mexico Section of the Latin American Studies Association. A 2017–18 Getty Scholar, Flores received the 2016 Arts Writers book prize from the Andy Warhol Foundation and was the 2007–2008 Cisneros Visiting Scholar at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. She serves on the editorial boards of Art Journal, ASAP/Journal, and Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture. Professor Flores was an invited expert to the launch of the Getty Foundation’s initiative Pacifc Standard Time: LA/LA and curated the exhibition Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago for the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, California. Tatiana Flores Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Sophie is an art historian and Assistant Professor at the Department of Aesthetics, Pontifcia Universidad Católica de Chile. She holds a PhD in History of Art from University College London. She is the co-editor and co-author of Sabotage Art: Politics and Iconoclasm in Latin America (I.B. Tauris/Bloomsbury Press, 2016). Her recent publications include an article on Liliana Porter published by Tate’s research project “In Focus” (2018) and the article “Epidermal Cartographies: Skin as Map in Chilean Art (1979–1994)” in the Oxford Art Journal (December, 2019). Halart is currently working on a book manuscript examining the notions of maternity and materiality in Argentine and Chilean recent art. Sophie Halart Pontifcia Universidad Católica de Chile



Gina is Associate Professor of Art History at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, and researches modern and contemporary art, art institutions, and visual culture of Latin America, specializing in Colombia. She is the author of The New Iconoclasts: From Art of a New Reality to Conceptual Art in Colombia, 1961–1975 (Ediciones Universidad de Los Andes, 2016) and co-editor of Art Museums of Latin America: Structuring Representation (Routledge, 2018). Tarver earned a PhD in art history from The University of Texas at Austin with the support of a Fulbright grant. Gina McDaniel Tarver Texas State University Paul is Lecturer in Latin American Film and Visual Culture at the University of Bristol. His frst monograph, currently in preparation, examines the political potential of domestic space in contemporary Argentine and Chilean cinema. New research, funded by the British Academy, explores the ecological and cultural signifcance of images of the Pacifc in modern Chile and Peru, working across a variety of media. He is a co-editor, with Lucy Bollington, of the forthcoming volume The Limits of the Human in Latin American Culture (University of Florida Press), which analyses how discourses of humanism and posthumanism have operated in and have been shaped by a wide range of literary and visual cultures in the region. He has also co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Romance Studies on domestic spaces in contemporary Latin American cinema and has published articles on topics including the relation of Argentine cinema to Italian neorealism as well as the fction of Roberto Bolaño. Paul Merchant University of Bristol Esther is Professor at the Fine Arts Faculty of the Complutense University of Madrid, where she also received her PhD in Art History (2011). Her doctoral dissertation, Presencias hídricas en el arte contemporáneo. Una perspectiva desde la semántica material explored the use of water in contemporary art and water semantics. She has been granted by the ICO Foundation and the Fundación Especial Caja Madrid. From 2014–2018 she has worked as a lecturer at Nebrija University, UNIR and U-TAD. Her research deals with the operative-imaginative dimension of contemporary media and materials. In 2014 she was guest researcher at the Universität für Angewandte Kunst Wien in the research project Liquid Things (2013–2016). She curated the exhibition H2O: Emergencias (2013, UCM) and co-curated The 4th State of Water. From Micro to Macro (2012, CoCA, Torun). She is part of the artistic collective Tejidos de agua, implicated in the conservation of wetlands. Esther Moñivas Complutense University of Madrid Rory is Senior University Lecturer in Latin American Cultural Studies at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Literature, Testimony and Cinema in Contemporary Colombian Culture: Spectres of La Violencia (2008), co-editor of the volumes Latin American Popular Culture: Politics, Media, Affect (2013), Latin American Cultural Studies: A Reader (2017) and Transnational Spanish Studies (2020), and editor of the Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies. His current research explores the history and cultures of the Magdalena River as they have shaped the economic, biopolitical, and symbolic processes of nation building in Colombia between the midnineteenth century and the present day. Rory O’Bryen University of Cambridge



Rember is a visual artist and writer who belongs to the Uitoto ÁIMENƗ Clan. His artistic work focuses on Uitoto mythology and epistemology. He has participated in the 8th Beijing Biennial (2019) and in group exhibitions such as Dialogues from the Contemporary (MUCEN, Lima, 2019), Magic and Reality (Millennium Monument, Beijing and Shanghai Museum of Art 2016), Inner Visions, Sacred Plants, Art, and Spirituality (Richard F. Brush Art Gallery, New York, 2016) and The Skin of a River: The Amazon in Contemporary Art (San Marcos Art Museum, Lima, 2008). He has been a resident artist at the Shangyuan Art Museum International Residence Program (Beijing, China, 2019) and MARTE Arte Contemporáneo (Montevideo, Uruguay, 2016). His work is represented in collections at the San Marcos Art Museum and the Shangyuan Museum of Modern Art. He has given public lectures of contemporary indigenous art and of Uitoto philosophy and history. His books include El sueño de Buinaima (2010) and El verano y la lluvia (2017). Rember Yahuarcani Visual Artist


This volume bears the fruits of a long-term collaboration between the editors and the authors which began with a panel titled Liquid Ecologies in the Arts at the Latin American Studies Association conference in Lima, Peru, in 2017, and was followed by an open call and author meeting at the Department of Art History at the University of Barcelona in 2018, kindly supported by Ana María Guasch and Julia Ramírez Blanco. We are grateful to the artists and flmmakers who have generously provided images to accompany this volume and to Carmela Fruci for all her invaluable assistance.


Beyond the Blue Notes on the Liquid Turn Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez

As we write this introduction, communities in Brazil have just marked the frst anniversary of the catastrophic collapse of the Brumadinho tailings dam at the Córrego do Feijão iron mine. On January 25, 2019, a rumble ran through the landscape of Minas Gerais. As if in slow motion, the grassy contours of a verdant mound began to tremble. A skirt of mud at the base of the mound started to spew a brown haze. Then, suddenly, a river of mud erupted and began fowing inexorably downstream. As it swept away buildings, the mudfow claimed 270 lives, rendering the landscape as a brown, sticky wound. Over the following months, the industrial residues once held back by the dam seeped into the soil and subterranean water courses, catalysing changes that have spread across the region’s ecosystem. As much as engineers work to flter sediments from its current and dispose of them somewhere “safe,” it is anticipated that the tailings will enter other river systems and communities and potentially fow into dams that feed hydroelectric infrastructure. Rivers know no bounds; their only impulse is to fow, so as they percolate through hydrological and hydraulic systems, the tailings from Brumadihno, like other contaminating liquids that overspill the structures built to contain them, will likely fnd their way into the food chain, where they will be metabolised by human and non-human bodies in trace forms. The imbrication of all forms of planetary existence with water has created a prevailing chromatic shorthand in popular imaginations where liquid life is ciphered by broad swathes of transparent waters: a blue planet inhabited by blue bodies. At their most life-sustaining, liquid environments offer amniotic fuids that foster fourishing and tranquil waters for sensorial immersions, like the one pictured on the cover of this volume. Yet there was nothing blue about the 12 million cubic metres of tailings unleashed from the iron mine. What burst through the dam was a cocktail of toxic terracotta sludge—an anthropogenic mixture of diverse forces and histories, affects and philosophies. As a waste product of extractive industries that dig deep into geological matter, the Brumadihno tailings are inseparable from the colonisation of Latin America that generated global thirst for its resources and that made the region’s waterways routes to connect peripheral resources to metropolitan centres. Infrastructures are, as Brian Larkin has written, artefacts with their conceptual roots in the Enlightenment idea of a world in movement and open to change and progress.1 In Latin America and the Caribbean, infrastructures help implant “cognitive empire” that, as Boaventura de Sousa Santos writes, sought to obliterate indigenous knowledges grounded in respect for the agency of non-human life forms.2 The muddy sediments also attest to the quest for economic developmentalism launched by postcolonial republics and the contemporary role of transnational corporations in growing this strategic sector. Images of


Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez

the breached dam liquefy dominant resource imaginaries where hydraulic landscapes are tropes of human supremacy over nature. Steeped in trauma and framed by acts of public mourning, Brumadihno has become a liquid cemetery and protest site where families demand justice for the loss of their loved ones. Liquefed landscapes such as this are, then, host to turbid histories of capital fows, philosophical currents, aesthetic traditions and residual traumas that connect distinct spaces, times and bodies. They are precisely the type of complex liquid ecology that we were interested in probing when we opened a call for contributions to this book. The rise of the “blue humanities” as a subfeld of the “environmental humanities” and the “oceanic turn” have turned scholarly attention to human engagements with liquid environments across a range of disciplines, periods and artefacts. Within this transdisciplinary shift, this book aims to advance a paradigm or turn to probe the relational web of liquidity in its historical, political, environmental, social, epistemological and aesthetic dimensions. Core concerns that run through the pages to follow are: How do metaphors of fuidity and liquidity serve as vessels for dominant or subaltern epistemologies? How are liquids physically harnessed and aesthetically mobilised? And how might liquid ecologies in the arts produce counterfows in prevailing political, economic and cultural paradigms?

Thinking with Water Liquid Ecologies in the Arts confronts, from the remit of Latin America and the Caribbean, the challenges posed by cultural studies scholars in recent years that involve defamiliarising water and moving beyond paradigms that objectify or romanticise it as resource.3 The task is not to think about water but with it. Our departure point for positing liquid ecologies as a new critical, theoretical and analytical framework for cultural production was that water is never simply water. As a material substance, it varies in viscosities, intensities and densities, which defy purely ocularcentric paradigms of knowledge. The naked eye cannot grasp contamination held in suspension, nor can it flter visually the opacity of dense sediments; hence such inquiries demand the activation of other senses and modes of knowing. Liquidity and fow are not straightforward concepts that merely describe physical phenomena but instead tropes and metaphors loaded with histories and ideologies whose usage is never innocent. Just one example of the inherent contradictions of liquid lexicons can be found in the way that free fows shore up contemporary discourses of globalisation, economic liberalisation and the digital age—three phenomena actually structured by borders, asymmetries and exclusions rather than purely fuid interchanges. Hence, we sought contributions that would consider counterfows to hegemonic imaginaries by scrutinising how notions of liquidity and fuidity serve as metaphors and allegories that entrench economic and political models and how thinking with water through cultural production uncovers alternate engagements with liquidity. The language of liquidity matters insofar as it refers to states of matter those states take on epistemological, political and ethical implications. The feminist philosopher Nancy Tuana has offered warnings in this respect, advocating attention to viscosity rather than fuidity because “viscosity” retains an emphasis on resistance to changing form, thereby a more helpful image than “fuidity,” which is too likely to promote a notion of open



possibilities and to overlook sites of resistance and opposition to the complex ways in which material agency is often involved in interactions, including, but not limited to, human agency.4 To grapple with the metalanguage of fow, then, is to approach critically the risk that a “liquid turn” might generate its own circulatory system of idioms and commonplaces which might underplay the turbulences that occur when thinking with (and like) liquid ecologies and systems of fow control. Perhaps the most cited assertion in the blue humanities is that “we are all bodies of water.”5 Taken lightly, this statement, voiced by the feminist scholar Astrida Neimanis, might infer a dissolution of bodily boundaries, establishing, at its most superfcial, confuences that ignore the temporal and physical specifcities of liquid ecologies. Yet Neimanis herself counsels against over-simplifcation, noting that: “Water is always sometime, someplace, somewhere.”6 Put another way, fows are contingent, not absolute. Similarly, porosity is mediated by membranes, from cellular ones that operate biologically to infrastructural ones that work hydraulically or, as this book contends, aesthetic ones.7 The work is to apprehend, sense and analyse liquid ecologies in whose viscous formations the human and non-human converge, bringing the sediments of history while facing climatic, infrastructural, economic, sociopolitical and cultural forces in dynamic processes of becoming. By centring this book on cultural production, we contend that visual and literary works are especially generative media to work through the variable intensities, viscosities and porosities of liquid ecologies. In recent times, liquidity has been prominently reintroduced into the debates on late capitalism by the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, who coined the notion of “liquid modernity” as a metaphor for social and formdissolving processes as a fugitive modern world perception and instability of social orders.8 Grounding his concept in the Marxian dictum of “all that is solids melts into air,” Bauman posits that formerly solid sociocultural and economic formations have dissolved into water. He approaches liquidity as an analytical category to describe the contemporary condition and to allude to fears of formlessness. The arts, and particularly Latin American and Caribbean arts, have long and productively engaged with liquids and liquidity to create alternative ways of conceiving the world and manifesting its inherent asymmetries, ruins and processes of ruinations, as well as exceeding the binary separations of nature/culture to parse the confuences of human and nonhuman realms. The installations by artists such as Alicia Barney and María Magdalena Campos Pons, discussed in this book, exemplify how artists engage with scientifc and industrial engagements with water-as-object while also creating works where liquids are material mediums rather than representational referents. As they generate states of liquidity, visual and literary works also operate as differential membranes that signal the porosities of nature and culture, the human and more-than-human. This has renewed interest in the aesthetics and ethics of embodiment among scholars across a range of felds, from ecofeminism, to new materialism, to eco-criticism. This attunement to the senses as a source of knowledge dissolves Cartesian divides of mind and body, creating openings onto other subjectivities and bodies of knowledge. Yet a danger also lies in the normalisation of embodiment if it becomes a swift shorthand to assert a deep entanglement of human body and liquid matter. Against this backdrop, this volume engages in close commentaries of cultural production to ask: How do specifc media generate instances of embodiment where viewers and readers become


Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez

aware of their own entanglement in liquid ecologies? And what is at stake politically and ethically in aesthetics of embodiment and their reception?

Living in Ruined Landscapes For the feminist philosopher Donna Haraway, this challenge involves the exercise “making kin” in the ecological present, which scholars variously term the Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene and Chthulucene.9 Liquid ecologies as a conceptual framework speaks directly to the task of thinking critically and narrating ethically our inter-/intra-action to other processes and species. The anthropologist Anna Tsing offers in The Mushroom at the End of the World methodologies for this task, recognising sites of ruination in trouble as our contemporary home and calling to integrate their histories and narratives into our knowledge practices.10 As she traces the life of the matsutake mushroom, a weed that fosters forest life in damaged places, Tsing demonstrates how precariousness and interchange characterise all life and death. She identifed—in contaminated, unfnished, ongoing and not predetermined practices— methods that allow us to live with ruins and with what remains of the man-made ecological disasters. The chapters of this book touch upon that power of telling alternative and dissonant narratives, as they materialize in the arts the potential to render visible and tangible omitted and submerged gestures of other possible worlds. In so doing, they foreground situations of environmental conficts, violence and contamination. They project, analyse and speculate about how the manifold use of the materials and tropes of liquid and liquidity in the arts refect an alternative history of aesthetic theory that reclaims an ethical as well as a political responsibility in twentieth and twenty-frst century arts. Accordingly, the chapters bring into dialogue Latin American and Caribbean cultural production to outline an aesthetic theory whose measure is not art itself, but life. By delving into how the arts generate alternate practices and narratives, this book orients liquid ecologies to the urgent need to rethink human and non-human relationships amid ruined landscapes that symptomatize environmental and deep social crises, where political confict and ecological decline are not separate phenomena but intimately related. This critical endeavour is informed by a longer genealogy of fuidity and the idea “to fow” that have been aesthetic and semantic tropes since the nineteenth century, when originally fuids had positive connotations in philosophical discourses before later becoming synonymous with decadence, weakness or degeneration. Following a reversal of the original vitalistic concept of fow, fuidity in the aesthetic register thus began to stand for the violation of norms and for the freeing up of aesthetic subjectivity when it became a productive force in early twentieth century aesthetic modernism.11 Fluidities have historically been metaphors of potent inspiration in philosophy and aesthetics while also connoting material processes of erosion and contamination whose valences stretch far beyond symbolic realms. The chapters relate to both connotations that persist today in the concepts of fow and fuidity, oscillating between a dynamic liveliness and a form-dissolving decay that coincide in specifc discourses, artefacts and practices. The liquid turn might be identifed, at least from curatorial practices, by recent exhibitions that explicitly dialogue with and unite artworks that discuss, use and expand on liquidity and liquids, particularly water, as material signifers, metaphors and/or aesthetic theories. A signifcant current exhibition that inspired this book is



Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago at the Museum of Latin American Art (2017–2018), curated by Tatiana Flores.12 As the frst survey of twenty-frst-century Caribbean arts, it deploys the archipelago not as a metaphor but as an analytical framework to locate thematic continuities in Caribbean arts against a more traditional reading of the Caribbean as a discontinuous and fragmented space defned by linguistic multiplicity. With its focus on the undercurrents and the Caribbean relationality, the exhibition assembled artworks that rethink the oceanic and fuid conditions of the archipelago as a productive moment to narrate about the shared (micro)histories of the Caribbean islands, thus opening new analytical terrains of “conceptual mapping,” “perpetual horizons,” “landscapes ecologies,” and “representational acts.”13 Another exhibition that shaped our reading of fuids and liquidity in Latin American arts, and particularly the important role of rivers to understand the emergent landscapes, the visual and material cultures of contemporary Colombia, was the exhibition Waterweavers: The River in Contemporary Visual and Material Culture (2014), curated by José Roca and Alejandro Martín, inaugurated at the Gallery at the Bard Graduate Center in New York.14 With a shift towards a conception of the exhibition as epistemology and the river as a fuid interweaving of knowledge production, the exhibition focused on diverse and mainly indigenous arts and craft practices. It centered on forms and processes of knowledge production related to Colombia’s rivers and fuvial landscapes, where the river was the conceptual link that moved across disciplines by connecting the images of water and weaving.15 Roca states: Waterweavers would metaphorically move from a single thread to a woven form, and from the source of a river in the jungle or the mountains to the place where it eventually fows into the sea. The exhibition concept is literally and metaphorically held together by water.16 What recently has been probed in the terrain of exhibitions and curatorial practices as a conceptualization of bodies of water, fows and fuids as aesthetic and epistemic practices has its conceptual and discursive precursors in the feld of literary studies, which has informed the emergent (critical) oceanic studies, blue humanities, and other water conceptualizations from within the humanities. The literary scholar Elizabeth DeLoughrey has prominently shaped the critical discussions of transoceanic surfaces, oceanic submersions and other entangled oceanic imaginaries, particularly of the Caribbean and the Pacifc, and their theorizations as fows, fuidity and alternate narratives of liquids against the background of anthropogenic climate change.17 Broadening the discussion centered around the Anthropocene, her refection on alternate narratives of the Caribbean offers an aesthetic of “sea ontologies” that expand the original limited Western conceptualization of anthropogenic changes with its tendency to neglect the man-made climate crisis on a global scale and thus overlook the deeper impacts of forms of ruins and their erosion of landscapes and personhood.18

Navigating the Volume Liquid Ecologies in the Arts is grouped into four parts that address a wide range of phenomena, probing the historical and political, cultural and environmental impacts of colonisation, urbanisation and industrialisation in Latin America and the


Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez

Caribbean through analyses of multimedia installations, performance, photography, flm, poetry and testimony. Together, they address critical genealogies of liquids and fuidity and analyse aesthetic interventions that mobilize and recreate different fuids and fows to restage their absence, scarcity and vital materiality and to rethink the relationships between periphery and metropolis and their related forms of knowledge and knowledge practices. The book thus traces cultural histories and analyses of hydrological and hydraulic projects centred on the engineering of bodies of water and consider shifts in their semantic, sensorial and social orders amid contexts of political and environmental violence and confict. The dynamic movements of liquid run through this book in confgurations and situations that reframe liquids and fuidity never as pure, abstract fow but as contingent instances of contamination, overfow, counterfow, stasis, vortex and refux. In the frst part, “Liquid Epistemologies,” Lisa Blackmore weaves together industrial history, cultural anthropological approaches to infrastructural aesthetics and ecocritical analyses of artworks to probe human relations to the material lives of infrastructures and rivers. Her chapter, “Turbulent River Times: Art and Hydropower in Latin America’s Extractive Zones,” examines the temporal regimes subtending resource imaginations of water, hydraulic infrastructures built to control fow and artistic engagements with rivers. The focus on rivers’ turbulent fow patterns and resistance to the containments of hydroengineering draws attention to the way nonhuman forces overfow Western paradigms that conceive water as a controllable and extractible resource. By analysing major site-specifc works produced by the kinetic artists Carlos Cruz-Diez and Alejandro Otero for the Venezuelan hydropower plant Guri in the 1970s in light of its recent infrastructural breakdowns and transdisciplinary thinking on the Anthropocene, Blackmore elucidates the role that art-making played in dominant resource imaginations but also proposes alternate approaches to these artworks that disturb their mere monuments to hydraulic hubris by tracing their openings to non-human forces and rhythms. Through a close reading of Carolina Caycedo’s Serpent River Book (2017), Blackmore also shows how art fgures rivers beyond modernity’s regulated tempos, as assemblages whose turbulent temporal regimes muddy Western notions of linearity and reason. In “Acts of Remaining: Liquid Ecologies and Memory Work in Contemporary Art Interventions,” Liliana Gómez addresses how the current environmental crisis—with the related political conficts against soil and people and their psychic and material implications—has been part of contemporary art interventions that experiment with fuid media, such as rivers, water or alcohol. By discussing the use of liquids as material signifers and even ontological materials, the chapter delves into the memory work of artworks by María Magdalena Campos-Pons and Clemencia Echeverri, to argue that they interrupt silences and omissions of social crisis that are deeply entangled with violent man-made transformation of landscapes. The chapter further speculates on the use of liquids as a media-refexive dimension of art that mirrors a long engagement in Latin American and Caribbean arts with fuidity and liquidity as cultural metaphors that ground new analytical terrains. The artists’ works, as acts of remaining, draw on what Ann Laura Stoler coined as “imperial debris” by recreating liquids to materialize omitted or submerged gestures that embody the ephemeral materiality of memory work and in so doing foreground liquid epistemologies. From a different angle with “An Expanse of Water: How to Know Water through Film,” Adriana Michéle Campos Johnson examines the emergence of water not only as a global source of confict



but as a means to problematize sense, that is, a regime of meaning and a mode of sensory presentation. By conceiving flmic forms as infrastructures to access water, the chapter discusses fctional and documentary flms that stage and document water conficts in Latin America to introduce an epistemology of water that such conficts induce. By inquiring into the formal limits that emerge when such problematization is channeled specifcally through visual practices, Johnson asks: “How do we factor in visuality when water is presented on screen?” Through analyses of Icair Bollín’s Even the Rain, the animated short Abuela grillo on the Bolivian water wars, Carolina Caycedo’s counter-extractivist audiovisual work and the flmic work by Paz Encina, the chapter rethinks water’s flmic visualization as a mode of resistance that has opened it up to new forms of contestation. The second part, “(De)colonised Flows,” examines the entanglement of diverse bodies of waters with economic, political and social formations installed by colonial, extractive and developmentalist regimes and explores counternarratives and imaginaries through which rivers become spaces of contestation against forms of dispossession and epistemic violence. In “Untangling the Mangrove: Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor in the Colombian Caribbean,” Rory O’Bryen centres his attention on a corpus of visual and literary works that reveal the processes of violence and necropolitics that shape the amphibious landscapes of the biodiverse region of La Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta, located between the Magdalena River and the Sierra Nevada on Colombia’s Caribbean coastline. He contextualises the ecology of this geographical “ecotone,” which covers land, river and sea, in the history of racial marginalisation and dispossession and contemporary threats posed by drug traffcking. O’Bryen considers the tempos of these modes of violence and asks how literary and visual representations might support an “environmentalism of the poor” that renders apprehensible the often-hidden injuries of class, race and gender that are mingled in the very matter of the ciénaga and its testimonies of violence. In “‘The Roar of the River Grows Even Louder’: Polluted Waters in Colombian Eco-art, from Alicia Barney to Clemencia Echeverri,” Gina McDaniel Tarver also attends to violence inficted on Colombian bodies of water as she develops a genealogy of works by two major artists that situates the emergence of eco-art with Barney’s Río Cauca (1981–2) and analyses it alongside Echeverri’s recent Sin cielo (2016–7). The chapter identifes how these artists appropriate the methods, materials and aesthetics of science and industry to contour the epistemological worldviews that contain rivers while also showing how eco-aesthetics overfow those paradigms to call them into question. Through close analyses informed by contextual commentary on historical conficts and modern sources of contamination of the River Cauca, McDaniel Tarver makes a case for art’s capacity to catalyse political ecological action in specifc local contexts. Finally, in “Amazonian Waterway, Amazonian Water-Worlds: Rivers in Government Projects and Indigenous Art,” Giuliana Borea and Rember Yahuarcani show how works by contemporary indigenous artists from the Peruvian Amazon counter a project of economic instrumentalisation and hydrological transformation that would reduce the river to transport and commercial infrastructure. They do so by tracing the endurance and liveliness of indigenous peoples’ conceptions of rivers and their relations to river management and making through analyses of works of Shipibo artists Harry Pinedo (Inin Metsa) and Roldan Pinedo (Shoyan Sheca) and the Uitoto artist Rember Yahuarcani. The chapter delves into rich water-worlds to situate these artists’ works as “ontocritical art” in which ecological issues are part of a complex web of ways of


Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez

being in the world and mediations of the power relations that structure it. Crucially, through the artistic-ethnographic collaborations and conversations between Yahuarcani, a Peruvian Uitoto indigenous artist and writer, and Borea, a Peruvian Italian mestizo anthropologist, the chapter foregrounds and questions the complexities of negotiating common and establishing decolonial methodologies to write about liquid ecologies. In Part III, “Fluid Memories,” the two chapters discuss the relationships between memory and water, subverting any stabilizing cartographies and thus proposing to claim fuids as aesthetic materials that delve into Latin American cultural epistemologies. Esther Moñivas reconsiders with “Women, Water and Action Art in Latin America: Ecofeminist Epistemologies” the footprint that the slightest, fuid, ephemeral or socially imperceptible gestures can leave in physical-symbolic space. In her outline of ecofeminist art practice, she explores the positions that some female artists have maintained in the feld of contemporary art in relation to ontology, epistemology and symbolism of water. Centered on the works by Lygia Clark, Ana Mendieta, Yeni & Nan, Basia Irland and María Evelia Marmolejo, who all worked performatively with water and their own bodies, the study does not propose a genealogy of feminist practices around water but aspires to agglutinate around the concept of the fuid a non-linear sequence of interrelations between bodies, memories, imaginations and materialities that occurred at different times and in different places in Latin America and the Caribbean in the last fve decades. With “Memories in the Present: Affect and Spectrality in Contemporary Aquatic Imaginaries,” Irene Depetris Chauvin encounters another way to disclose cultural and social, hidden, disavowed and omitted gestures that are part of a “work of mourning,” when she introduces a “spectrogeography” of the aquatic in contemporary visual art as a cultural metaphor. She analyses aquatic imaginaries in contemporary audiovisual works from Argentina and Chile, focusing on audiovisual works by Patricio Guzmán, Enrique Ramírez and Jonathan Perel. By charting representations of the Pacifc Ocean and the Río de la Plata, the chapter conveys an “affective mapping” that considers how spaces disrupt conventional ideas of presence and absence and argues that such mapping attests to the potential of aesthetic practices to articulate alternate narratives of “being together” in the aftermath of loss and dictatorships. Depetris Chauvin posits that the works subvert stabilizing cartographies and use anachronism to refect on the contradictory meanings of water as source of life, epicentre of cultures and cemetery for victims of political violence, indigenous communities and contemporary migrants. The fnal part, “Bodies of Water,” probes art-making in dialogue with riverine and maritime spaces. In “Submerged Bodies: The Tidalectics of Representability and the Sea in Caribbean Art,” Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores situate the ocean as a transnational, circulatory space, mapping traces of economic, political and material exchange and environmental crises. Focusing on the Caribbean, they mobilise Kamau Brathwaite’s concept of “tidalectics” as an analytical framework that embraces relationality and non-linearity to probe the diverse temporalities circulating in maritime waters. They trace forgotten or submerged bodies of history in works by Tony Capellán, Jean-Ulrick Désert, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Nadia Huggins and David Gumbs, identifying in their analyses a range of aesthetic strategies, from realism to abstraction, to consider how art-making engages humans to reconnect to our embodied immersion in tidalectic becoming. In “Cecilia Vicuña’s Liquid Indigeneity,” Paul Merchant discusses the Chilean poet, flmmaker and



performance artist Cecilia Vicuña’s engagement with the disastrous consequences of the unrestrained exploitation of Chile’s water resources. He refects on how Vicuña’s work seeks to reclaim the materiality of bodies and streams of water and their fundamental role in shaping the Chilean landscape, positing an affnity between the negative spaces created by the action of rivers and the sea and those on society’s margins, such as indigenous groups, victims of political violence, and women. Merchant argues that Vicuña’s work articulates a fuid appeal to indigenous identity as a mechanism for ensuring future sustainability rather than as a nostalgic invocation of a lost way of living, exploring thus the political potential of “liquid indigeneity” against the deterritorialising force of Bauman’s “liquid modernity.” It thus recontextualises Vicuña’s work within the conceptual framework of liquid ecologies. Finally, in “’A Water of a Hundred Eyes’: Reconfguring Liquidity in Recent Chilean Contemporary Art,” Sophie Halart identifes liquid tropes in works by Claudia Müller, Francisca Montes and Carolina Saquel and analyses them in light of macroeconomic restructuring that installed a new extractivist and globalized model after the military coup of Augusto Pinochet in 1973. Halart situates the use of liquidity in works by contemporary female artists as a critical response both to the dictatorship’s patriarchal equivalence of women and territory as the bedrock of nationhood and to the “dry” conceptual aesthetic strategies that characterised the Chilean Escena de Avanzada in its responses to authoritarian politics. She argues that Müller, Montes and Saquel, by opting for subtler, ecofeminist orientations over aesthetic strategies commonly found in environmentally engaged “artivism,” engage with water to advance more embodied forms of production and spectatorship which articulate a renewed understanding of territorial belonging.

Notes 1. Brian Larkin, “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure,” Annual Review of Anthropology 42 (2013): 327–343. 2. Boaventura de Sousa Santos, The End of the Cognitive Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018). 3. See, for instance, Cecilia Chen, Janine MacLeod and Astrida Neimanis, Thinking with Water (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013). 4. Nancy Tuana, “Viscous Porosity: Witnessing Katrina,” in Material Feminisms, edited by Stacy Alaimo and Susan J. Hekman (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008), 188– 213, 194. 5. This is the statement that opens Astrida Neimanis’s chapter “Hydrofeminism: Or, on Becoming a Body of Water,” in Undutiful Daughters: Mobilizing Future Concepts, Bodies and Subjectivities in Feminist Thought and Practice, edited by Henriette Gunkel, Chrysanthi Nigianni and Fanny Söderbäck (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 85–99. 6. Neimanis, “Hydrofeminism,” 90. 7. On cultural production as porous membranes see Lisa Blackmore, “Being River: Ambient Poetics Beyond the Human,” in The Routledge Companion to Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Latin American Literary and Cultural Forms, edited by Guillermina De Ferrari and Mariano Siskind (in press). 8. Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000). 9. Donna Haraway, “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin,” Environmental Humanities 6 (2015): 159–165. 10. Anna Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015). 11. See here the study by Kassandra Nakas, Verfüssigungen. Ästhetische und semantische Dimensionen eines Topos (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2015), 8–9.

10 Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez 12. Tatiana Flores and Michelle Ann Stephens (eds.), Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago (Long Beach, CA: Museum of Latin American Art in Association with Fresco Books & SF Design LLC and Duke University Press, 2017). 13. Ibid. 14. José Roca and Alejandro Martín (eds.), Waterweavers: A Chronicle of Rivers (New York: Bard Graduate Center, Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, 2014). 15. Ibid., 16. 16. Ibid., 26. 17. Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacifc Island Literatures (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007); Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Allegories of the Anthropocene (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019). 18. Elizabeth DeLoughrey, “Submarine Futures of the Anthropocene,” Comparative Literature 69, no. 1 (2017): 32–44.

References Bauman, Zygmunt. Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000. Blackmore, Lisa. “Being River: Ambient Poetics beyond the Human.” In The Routledge Companion to Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Latin American Literary and Cultural Forms. Edited by Guillermina De Ferrari and Mariano Siskind (in press). Boaventura de Sousa Santos. The End of the Cognitive Empire. Durham: Duke University Press, 2018. Chen, Cecilia, Janine MacLeod and Astrida Neimanis. Thinking With Water. Montreal: McGillQueen’s University Press, 2013. DeLoughrey, Elizabeth. Allegories of the Anthropocene. Durham: Duke University Press, 2019. DeLoughrey, Elizabeth. Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacifc Island Literatures. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007. DeLoughrey, Elizabeth. “Submarine Futures of the Anthropocene.” Comparative Literature 69, no. 1 (2017): 32–44. Flores, Tatiana and Michelle Ann Stephens (eds.). Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago. Long Beach, CA: Museum of Latin American Art in association with Fresco Books/SF Design LLC and Duke University Press, 2017. Haraway, Donna. “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin.” Environmental Humanities 6 (2015): 159–165. Haraway, Donna. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham: Duke University, 2016. Larkin, Brian. “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure.” Annual Review of Anthropology 42 (2013): 327–343. Lowenhaupt, Tsing Anna. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015. Nakas, Kassandra. Verfüssigungen. Ästhetische und semantische Dimensionen eines Topos. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2015. Neimanis, Astrida. “Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water.” In Undutiful Daughters. Edited by Henriette Gunkel, Chrysanthi Nigianni, and Fanny Söderbäck, 85–99. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Roca, José and Alejandro Martín (eds.). Waterweavers: A Chronicle of Rivers. New York: Bard Graduate Center, Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, 2014. Tuana, Nancy. “Viscous Porosity: Witnessing Katrina.” In Material Feminisms. Edited by Stacy Alaimo and Susan J. Hekman, 188–213. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008.

Part I

Liquid Epistemologies


Turbulent River Times Art and Hydropower in Latin America’s Extractive Zones Lisa Blackmore

Affecting two thirds of river basins, the combined weight of the world’s dams has literally shifted the axis of Earth and changed its speed of rotation, rewriting geohistory in the era of the Anthropocene.1 At a time when massive anthropogenic transformations of river basins continue apace, water has become entangled in the matrix of extractivism, put to work as a resource for hydroelectricity, mining, and other industries. Mapped and measured, dammed and channelled, privatised and traded, rivers’ commodifcation accelerates geohistory to match the temporality of the “extractive zone”—areas shaped by “the colonial paradigm, worldview, and technologies that mark out regions of ‘high biodiversity’ in order to reduce life to capitalist resource conversion.”2 The corporate and state-led resource imaginations that underpin such enterprises entail a reckoning with time that funnels rivers into the linear trajectory of industrial modernity, generating optimistic narratives that posit human intervention into “natural” resources as an awakening of matter whose untapped energy generates wealth and better collective futures.3 Yet the lives and times of rivers escape such enclosures. As Patrick McCulley writes in Silenced Rivers, hydraulic systems are founded on the conviction that humans can decipher the lives of rivers, but the hydrological present is “rendering obsolete one of the key assumptions used in dam planning and design—that the hydrological past is a reliable guide to the hydrological future.”4 Climate change is altering fow patterns, causing foods and droughts that elude predictive metrics. The accretion of sediments and toxic sludge behind embankment walls is reframing dams as potential catastrophes or ruins-in-waiting. And grassroots and indigenous opposition to extractive industries and megadams is questioning paradigms of Western modernity by positing alternate worldviews and traditions of buen vivir (the good life) against progress at all ecological costs. These phenomena compel a reappraisal of human relations to rivers, particularly in relation to reckonings with river time. In this chapter, I examine the temporal regimes subtending resource imaginations of water and artistic engagements with hydraulic infrastructures. Engaging with industrial history, the infrastructural turn in cultural anthropology, and ecocriticism, I establish a transdisciplinary framework to explore the confuences of socio-political processes of industrialisation, the formation of resource imaginations, the environmental aesthetics of artworks, and the material lives of infrastructures and rivers. The frst section delves deeper into the questions at stake in thinking about rivers’ temporalities, positing time not as an abstract concept but as a contact zone for diverse epistemologies and assemblages of human and non-human forces. Next, I discuss three artworks produced in dialogue with hydraulic infrastructures from the 1970s to the present. Beginning with the outsize

14 Lisa Blackmore kinetic artworks created for the Guri Dam in the Orinoco Basin, a major hydroelectric project that exemplifes the peak of megadam construction in 1970s South America, I consider how installations by the Venezuelan artists Carlos Cruz Diez and Alejandro Otero relate to spectacular infrastructural scale and ecological thinking. Finally, I discuss the practice of the contemporary Colombian artist Carolina Caycedo, exploring her collaborations with anti-dam movements and victims of infrastructural failures, focusing on her Serpent River Book (2017) as a polychronic work that enfolds alternative temporalities and worldviews into the spatiotemporal order of modernity.

Extractivist Time, Submerged Times Water and power are intimately entangled. With irrigation canals from 8,000 years ago found on the eastern edge of Mesopotamia and remains of the earliest dam from 3,000 bce discovered in Jordan, hydraulic structures attest to a long global history of human settlement and territorial alteration.5 These infrastructures informed the “hydraulic hypothesis” that scholars formulated in the 1950s to establish causal links between large-scale irrigation systems and the emergence of centralised, political states in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, Mesoamerica, and the Central Andes.6 Modern hydraulic technologies from the Soviet White Canal to the Hoover Dam, through to Itaipú and Hidroituango, materialise the “liquid power” that corporations and nation-states exercise to colonise river fow and control people.7 These “infrastructural monuments” serve state propaganda and corporate public relations agendas that cipher progress through images and discourses of industrialised nature, attesting to a worldview which empowers humans to control rivers through brute force.8 Like other infrastructures that enable the extraction, mobilisation and processing of matter for economic gain, hydraulic technologies symbolise the temporal paradigm of progress steeped in the Enlightenment idea of a world where goods, ideas, and people circulate in optimal systems that eliminate friction and turbulence.9 The increasing dimensions of dams built in the second half of the twentieth century in the resource-rich Global South updated this paradigm. The peak of dam-building that occurred at that time was in line with the temporal precepts underpinning high modernist developmentalism, which enshrines linear progress, absolute truths, and rational planning as foundations of ideal social orders. As international development agencies, like the World Bank, advocated and fnanced the industrialisation of the so-called developing world, human intervention in rivers was justifed, along with “the whole thrust of international politics and trade . . ., as bringing a benevolent and progressive ‘modernization process’ to a backward Third World as David Harvey has argued.”10 Industrialisation is a key part of this development paradigm, and hydropower has long been at its heart. This is clear from early paintings in the European landscape tradition. In seventeenth-century Netherlands, hydraulic technologies literally enabled the emergence of this aesthetic tradition as land reclamation created agricultural terrains that could be painted. Later, water’s role as a resource for extraction, transport, and the processing of raw materials became a leitmotif of paintings such as Martin Ryckaert’s Mining Operations along a River (1620) (Figure 2.1) and Jacob van Ruisdael’s Two Water Mills with an Open Sluice (1653) (Figure 2.2). Both present a harmonious relationship between human and non-human fows in the space-time of capitalist production. In the frst, the river is a picturesque motif that guides the gaze outwards from the extractive zone toward the (implicit) economic circuitry of the

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Figure 2.1 Martin Ryckaert, Mining Operations Along a River (1620). Source: Public Domain/Courtesy Walters Art Museum.

Figure 2.2 Jacob van Ruisdael (Dutch, 1628/1629–1682), Two Watermills and an Open Sluice, 1653, oil on canvas 66.4 × 84.1 cm (26⅛ × 33⅛ in.), 82.PA.18. Source: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

16 Lisa Blackmore marketplace and emerging urban centres. In the second, the river’s force is captured in the white highlights of its gushing torrent, thus suggesting its potent fow and condition as a valuable resource for hydropower. Flow control was also intrinsic to the consolidation of the industrial revolution as it aided the shift from cottage industries to factory production in British manufacturing. In the eighteenth century, rivers became canals whose liquid infrastructure served to transport raw materials to mills and commodities to marketplaces. Inside the mills, water powered mechanised production and quite literally marked capitalist time. An early nineteenth century double-dialled clock used at Park Green Silk Mill in Macclesfeld exemplifes how water and hydraulic systems installed a temporal regime that optimised the extraction of labour from employees and with it the production of capital (Figure 2.3). The clock had two faces, one marking “real” time, the other

Figure 2.3 Double-dial longcase clock from Park Green Mill, Macclesfeld, made by E. Hartley, Macclesfeld, 1810. Source: Photograph: Science Museum Group Collection ©The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 Licence.

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“mill time.” Since the latter’s hands were connected to the waterwheel that moved the spinning machines, time only advanced if water fowed. If the machines slowed, then so too did “mill time,” meaning that the workers could not go home until production targets had been reached. Although geographically removed from Latin America, the concept of “mill time” exemplifes the intimate relationship between water and extractivism that holds sway over the global economy. Water has connected the “peripheries” of Latin America to the geopolitical “centres” of industrial capitalism since European colonisation catalysed large-scale extraction of raw materials. From the emancipatory processes of the nineteenth century up to the present, the strategic economic importance of hydropower and mining means that water remains central to the articulation of linear trajectories that present resource extraction as the best route to development. Resource extraction thus keeps alive the “cognitive empire” that, as Boaventura de Sousa Santos writes, inaugurated the imposition of Western rationalism on indigenous knowledges of the South.11 This process of “epistemicide” altered experiences of time and human relations to non-human life forms as it caused “the destruction of the knowledge and cultures of these [indigenous] populations, of their memories and ancestral links and their manner of relating to others and to nature.”12 The murder of environmental activists, among which Honduran anti-dam activist Berta Cáceres in 2016 is just one high-profle case, evinces the fatal impacts that endures in the ongoing process of epistemicidal violence. In this fraught world-ecological context of humanity-in-nature, water’s production as a natural resource has facilitated the hegemony and imposition of certain cultural futures over other temporalities, stigmatised as “backwards.”13 Decolonisation begins with the awareness that natural resources and the economies and infrastructures that extract and instrumentalise them are anything but “natural.” They are the product of resource-making, a process that operates at the intersection of nature and society and constellates culturally in resource imaginations that articulate through semiotics and aesthetics the epistemologies that mediate human/non-human relations. The transformation of rivers and water into resources shares the tripartite temporal logic that subtends other resource imaginations, which posit that active human labour transforms nature’s passive grounds into wealth and, in turn, better futures. For this to happen, “natural” resources are frst conceived as primordial matter that was always already lying dormant but whose potential to generate energy and wealth produces temporal effects and affects, where extractive development synchronises collective life with urban modernity and offers up the promise of human progress.14 The aesthetics of hydraulic infrastructure are key to this process. Martin Heidegger parsed its philosophical, material, and aesthetic dimensions in his discussion of German hydroelectric infrastructure, where he described how through modern technology the energy concealed in nature is unlocked, what is unlocked is transformed, what is transformed is stored up, what is stored up is, in turn, distributed, and what is distributed is switched about ever anew. Unlocking, transforming, storing, distributing, and switching about are ways of revealing.15 Implicit in this notion of revealing (poiesis) is the idea that hydraulic infrastructures materialise aesthetically the temporal affects attached to resource imaginations, as well as evincing the power relations that underpin them. The spectacular scale of

18 Lisa Blackmore dams evidently speaks to human mastery over nature but also displays a dark underbelly, since their construction entails modes of dispossession and spatial amnesia. The rising waters that create artifcial bodies of water that serve hydropower and industrial plants literally engulf cultural experiences of time and economic processes that do not synchronise with modernity. Dams staunch the ebb and fow of communities’ longstanding biorhythms, drowning out traditional patterns of agriculture, fshing, and, in turn, nutrition, creating, as Rob Nixon observes, a “submergence zone”—a dense liquid ecology that “swallows place-based connections to the dead, the dead as living presences who move among past, present, and future, animating time with connective meaning.”16 For all their towering size, dams, like other infrastructures, are neither homogenous nor all-powerful. As the recent infrastructural turn in cultural anthropology has shown, they are poetic and aesthetic phenomena, loaded with complex cultural meanings, temporal imaginaries, and contested affective, phenomenological, and sensorial valences.17 When viewed in contrast to deep geo-hydrological time, hydraulic infrastructure exemplifes the myopic focal range of anthropocentric paradigms that mediate human/non-human relations. Rivers inscribe histories that challenge human comprehension; this is evident in the Orinoco Basin: Two billion years ago, great rivers fowed across this part of what we now call South America, meandering, fooding, constantly changing their routes, just as the Amazon and the Orinoco do today. And, as rivers always have, they carried with them huge cargoes of sand, travelling hopefully, born from the disintegrating rocks of ancient mountains long since subdued and fattened. . . . The ocean to which the rivers fowed has long since been swallowed up and obliterated by the vociferous churning of the Earth’s plates, today’s Atlantic being only a distant, indirect descendant.18 Understood in this expansive timeframe, it is hard to overstate how utterly dams alter river basins. Dams and reservoirs are the antitheses of rivers, whose “ontogenesis” is to fow in different volumes and intensities, but always to fow.19 Left to its own devices, a river is a sculptor that works tirelessly as it “irrigates and drains, excavates and backflls the terrain through which it fows.”20 Lakes, wetlands, and porous rocks that store and release water manifest aesthetically in landscape features and watersheds’ cultural, geological, and ecological memories, just as streamfow records are documents in the history of rivers that depict how their fuctuating courses “rise and fall like a heartbeat.”21

Orinoco Flows This heartbeat is what dam structures alter and stop. Again, the Orinoco Basin exemplifes this eloquently. The 948,000 km2 river basin, which stretches from its watershed in the highlands of Guayana to its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean, takes up some four-ffths of Venezuela’s land mass and a quarter of Colombian territory. Born in Angel Falls, then fed by the Kukenan, Arobopo, and Yuruani rivers as it moves through the Gran Sabana’s ancient tabletop mountains, the Orinoco River fows 1,700 miles. In its upper course, it is swelled by tributaries that include the Caroní, a river that historically carried 52 million tonnes of sand toward the ocean each year. However, since the 1970s those grains have been halted some 100 miles downstream

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from the headwaters by the man-made Lake Guri, a huge reservoir built to store water to power Venezuela’s largest hydroelectric plant. There, a barely half a century old embankment wall has transformed a 3 billion-year-old hydro-geological formation, altering the river’s heartbeat and surrounding topography by controlling its fow and trapping its sediments behind a concrete barricade. As well as exemplifying the impacts of extractivism on river basins, the Orinoco Basin is a unique case study of how art dialogues with the temporal regimes of resource imaginations. Although predominantly an oil economy, from the 1940s onwards the Venezuelan state, with foreign investment and World Bank funding, established a new hub of resource extraction and steel production in Guayana. The project was the nation’s most ambitious territorial reorganisation and generated profound economic, social, and cultural transformations to what had been a remote and forgotten region, decentralising the economy away from the capital Caracas, the nation’s oil hubs, and the wealthy national corridor that stretched from the border with Colombia in the west to Puerto La Cruz in the east.22 Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela’s only planned city, was founded in 1960 at the confuence of the Orinoco and the Caroní. Designed by urban planners at MIT, it became the headquarters of the state-owned Corporación Venezolana de Guayana (CVG) and electricity company Electrifcación del Caroní C.A. (EDELCA). The latter dammed the Caroní, created the Raúl Leoni Hydroelectric Plant and reservoir (today renamed Simón Bolívar, but commonly known as Guri), and built further dams and hydroelectric facilities downstream. Completed in 1969, the frst stage of Guri comprised a 690 meter long, 106 meter high dam and a 1,750 megawatt capacity powerhouse. From 1976 till 1986, further construction increased the dam by almost 60 meters in height and almost doubled it in length. At the time of its completion, Guri was the largest hydropower plant in the world, with a reservoir whose body of water measured nearly ten times the capacity of the original project and which continues to provide some 80% of Venezuela’s energy supply across the national grid. This high modernist project engendered a resource imagination that framed the feats of industrialisation as a reordering of deep geological time, where a landscape steeped in myth was incorporated into modernity. The state disseminated this account in audiovisual and print media, among which the 1988 publication Art in Guri is emblematic. The hardback book, authored by art critic and photographer Alfredo Boulton and printed in colour in English and Spanish, celebrated the human capacity to harness the River Caroní to drive national development and presented hydraulic technologies as a radical (and ecologically harmless) intervention in the Orinoco’s history and material fows. Maintaining a triumphant tone throughout, the book departs from descriptions of the primeval time of the river basin’s exuberant biota, acknowledging its place in the colonial imagination as the site of El Dorado, and fnally auguring a future of untold wealth realised as dam infrastructure. In Boulton’s account: That entire world of vegetation, of primary force, of mysterious forests, snakes and cataclysmic sounds, that entire magical world suddenly comes to a halt at the docile edge, the lake, which outlines at the feet of the Raul Leoni Dam a new Parima set in the very same geographic spot where the ancient cartographers of Rotterdam, De Bry, Blaue and Hondius placed the site of El Dorado and its capital Manoa in the ancient maps of the 17th century.23

20 Lisa Blackmore The course of this linear trajectory from magical pre-history to modernity is reinforced visually, with reproductions of the maps mentioned earlier, then photographs of the Guayanese landscape, from the tepuys where the rivers are born, downstream via potent waterfalls, to fows rendered static by Lake Guri’s embankment walls. With water reframed as tamed resource, the photographs then show waterfalls of another type—the gushing fows and clouds of vapour unleashed down spillways in the tradition of the “technological sublime.”24 Finally, the Caroní is pictured after its release from the turbine rooms, its peaceable fow apparently unaltered despite the transformations enacted on the river bed, as the water, its sediments fltered and its temperature raised, impacts with force as it is released from the hydroelectric plant and returns to its course. Departing from this remote territory, the visual narrative continues with photographs of the national grid that serve to illustrate how the energy that pulses through electric infrastructure connects territory and social body to the tempo of modernity. Guri’s resource imagination did not stop there. To match the scale of the infrastructure, the state hydroelectricity company, EDELCA, commissioned Carlos Cruz Diez and Alejandro Otero to produce site-specifc works for Guri. These two artists were leading proponents of cinetismo, the kinetic art movement that, along with geometric abstraction, was in the ascendant in Venezuelan art from the mid-twentieth century onwards, lauded by critics as a leap into the future that put the country on a par with metropolitan centres of modern art.25 Carlos Cruz Diez’s Ambientaciones cromáticas (Chromatic Environments, 1977–1986) were industrial-scale installations that spread across Engine Rooms 1 and 2. In the frst, polychromatic murals measuring 263 metres long and 23 metres wide lined the walls and ten 14-metre wide multi-coloured metal and fberglass “chromostructures” capped the turbines, creating an immersive, vibrating space (Plate 3). In the second, the Mural de color aditivo (Additive colour wall) lined the building with a 300 metre long and 28 metre wide section of multicoloured stripes, some with black metal sheets in relief. At one end of the hall, the wall was covered by the Chromosaturation, a large panel whose 1200 bulb lamp would change colour from red to green, then to blue, when visitors on the mezzanine level opposite pressed a button. The works did not represent the river but rather evoked its passage through the turbines through the spliced lines of colour that generate their own vibrational feld as they unfurl along the engine room walls. Fittingly for a work that combines art and infrastructure, the Chromatic Environments combine the two meanings of the term “abstraction” that bridge the felds of aesthetics and hydraulics: in the former abstraction is an stylistic term, while in the latter it refers to the act of extraction. In Cruz Diez’s works, water is rendered abstract as it is represented nonfguratively in an infrastructural environment where liquid fows are being abstracted from the river. Alejandro Otero designed his intervention for a site outside the turbine rooms, next to the embankment wall. His kinetic sculpture, Torre solar (Solar Tower, 1986) (Figure 2.4) measures 50 metres in height and 53 metres in diameter and constitutes the concrete tower, which supports two rings of rotating blades. The structure was clad in 57 tonnes of melted steel—an homage to one of the main industries in the Ciudad Guayana extraction and manufacturing hub. Like those buried in the engine rooms, the Torre solar is also a turbine, but one spun by air, whose blades refect the changing colours of the sky as they rotate like an earthbound satellite. The sculpture was placed next to the concrete spillway in the Plaza La Democracia (Democracy Square), designed by Domingo Álvarez, and surrounded by large, red granite rocks extracted

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Figure 2.4 Alejandro Otero, Torre solar (1986) Aluminium and stainless steel; 50 metres high × 53 metres diameter in upper section. Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Station, Guri. Source: Photograph by Domingo Álvarez. Courtesy Fundación Otero Pardo.

from Guayana. Boulton, in his commentary on the commissioned works in Art in Guri, replays this historiographical narrative, insisting throughout the book on the parity between progress in hydropower and art. The works marked the completion of the two fnal stages of construction, which had been combined into a single stage to speed up the project to satisfy rising demand for energy detonated by Venezuela’s oil boom of the 1970s. He describes the commissioned works as proof of the “civilizing role of artistic creation” which acknowledges that “progress is indeed present, and with much force, in all that takes place in the artistic feld.”26 The artists’ rejection of a mode of fgurative representation of the “ancestral river with a historical account narrated by images of nature or scientifc characters in theatrical pose” and their selection, instead, of kinetic abstraction signalled, Boulton wrote, “a new attitude of man towards his creative forces.”27 The art critical commentary thus complemented the temporal framework of the offcial resource imagination where hydropower infrastructure awoke the Orinoco Basin’s dormant liquid resources, thrusting Venezuela into industrial modernity.

Stuttering Flows, Winds of Time This is the dominant narrative, and certainly the scale of Cruz Diez and Otero’s works beftted the grandiose tone of the offcial resource imagination. Brian Larkin’s assertion that “the poetic mode [of infrastructure] means that form is loosened from its

22 Lisa Blackmore technical functions” recognises that infrastructural aesthetics are fundamental to the role that these assemblages have in resource imaginations.28 Guri’s technical function is to produce ceaseless fows of energy that in turn enable the constant circulation of people, ideas, and goods. Its poetic function is to exalt human dominance of nonhuman matter through the vast scale of its construction and constant generation of energy. The site-specifc artworks commissioned for the hydroelectric plant were to amplify this poetic function. However, it is important to consider whether they might be read otherwise, not so much as complements to the narrative where hydropower and kinetic art symbolise the colonisation of nature but as openings onto ecological thinking, where non-human forces whose deep geological times and meteorological rhythms percolate the industrial present to create vibrant assemblages that are less stable in their cultural meanings. In Confronting Images, Didi-Huberman proposes that images cannot be reduced to legible, mimetic representations but that, much like dreams, their forms are “rent” by dynamic openings of negativity and alterity. Such rendings allow other places and times to surface as if through “a movement whereby something that has been plunged into the water momentarily reemerges, is born before quickly plunging in again: it is the materia informis when it shows through form” and can thus be sensed aesthetically.29 If the resource imagination at Guri is not foreclosed but traversed by rendings, what might re-emerge from them? What other ways of revealing (poeisis) might the hydropower plant’s site-specifc works themselves open to? In recent years, Venezuela has been subsumed in regular and protracted blackouts. These interruptions in its infrastructural circuitry, caused in 2016 by unprecedented droughts and in 2019 by breakdowns in the grid, alter the temporal regime of modernity, manifesting rendings in the resource imagination of hydropower. Revisiting Cruz Diez’s works in this context invites a reading that attends to the syncopations that climate change and the slowing turbines are generating in daily life in Venezuela, and, more broadly, in the temporal regimes of the late capitalist ideal of seamless 24/7 connectivity.30 Cruz Diez’s kinetic works are undoubtedly a simulation of the accelerated temporality of modernity, yet their form is also predicated on a slowing down of the sensorial-cognitive construction of colour that opens to temporal interstices rather than pure fow. His method of splitting form (fraccionar la forma) breaks down colour into component parts that are reassembled through embodiment as the viewer moves past them. Whereas colour is usually perceived as a stable phenomenon, the spliced lines of colour in the Muro aditivo are full of rendings that create a vibrating, and thus unstable, chromatic feld. The kinetics of the Chromatic Environments’ colour murals thus also operate interstitially, between the lines rather than only as a spectacular display of infrastructural proportions. By slowing down the construction of colour, a process that usually happens so quickly that it is imperceptible, Cruz Diez’s artworks open to fuctuating experiences of time and chromatic energy that problematise the assumption that bodies of water and human bodies behave in predictable patterns. Hydroelectric production is premised on smooth and constant fows, but both they and the polychromatic murals are open to more syncopated rhythms. Alterations in rainfall and river fow can slow down the water’s passage through the turbines, thus stalling energy production and producing power outages. Similarly, the viewer does not necessarily move past the murals in a single, fuid movement. If we imagine a body moving past the murals, stopping and starting along the linear trajectory of the turbine hall, this stuttering motion interrupts the fuid generation of vibrating colour, creating

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rendings in constant fow where the chromatic environment opens to other temporal experiences of inertia and stasis. In short, imagining the rendings in constant fow produced by altered fow patterns of bodies of water, on one hand, and errant bodies, on the other, can go some way to de-stabilising the dominant imaginations of Guri and the Chomatic Environments. Moving beyond the monumental images of hydropower infrastructure by attending to these rendings opens cracks through which stuttering fows of water, time and colour re-emerge as turbulences that ultimately unhinge the anthropocentric paradigms of time that subtend hydropower. Otero’s Torre solar also opens to temporal regimes that problematize its interpretation as a monumental ode to progress. For Boulton, Guri and Otero’s work were foundation stones in a new history of Venezuelan aesthetics and progress, “the source of a new country, of a new Venezuela . . . [where] [t]he Powerhouses and the large machines are testimonial symbols that, honoring the ancient, mystical sites, greet the visitor at the entrance to this brave new world.”31 The infrastructural monument is, in this reading, a new tepuy: a double for the solidity and grandeur of the massif mountains that rise from the Gran Sabana’s billion-year geology. The scale of industrial monumentality thus emulates that of geological majesty in a bid to attest to Venezuela’s defnitive entry into modernity as the concrete and steel tower looms over the granite rocks below it. However, this lithospheric dialogue might also be viewed as a reminder of the vast rending that separates the expansive geohistory of the Gran Sabana from the recent past of human extraction of its resources. Seen in this context, Otero’s work’s self-consciously modern materials presage their own obsolescence and ruination, a ruination that, in geohistorial terms, is imminent and will relegate the infrastructural monument (both the Torre solar and Guri itself) to the status of future fossils of the Anthropocene: remnants of the oppositional thinking that separates nature and culture, non-human and human realms. The revealing, then, that might be seen in Torre Solar is one of a temporal unfolding that is directed by morethan-human forces of material decay, in which human constructions—like the concrete legacy that will be “the most abundant anthropogenic sedimentary rock on the planet” and thus humanity’s most signifcant trace fossil—will too be consumed and transformed by the ceaseless processes of weathering and erosion that occur even as infrastructure attempts to colonize fows and set progress in stone.32 This is not to suppose that Otero was presaging debates on the Anthropocene. Even so, the artist expressed keen interest in the ways non-human forces enlivened and coproduced his works. This curiosity was already present in 1967, when he wrote that “Vibrations, transparencies, fows of water, for example, do not suggest to me a form or series of forms, but become the alphabet and syntax of form.”33 In Torre solar, Otero embraced wind as a medium for sculpture, allowing its speed to determine kinetic form and thus opening it to meteorological forces whose rhythms are not controlled or harnessed but fow and circulate at will. In this opening to the formlessness of wind, the artwork participates in a temporality that is radically different from the metrics of harnessed fows that underpin the modern project. Torre solar’s time is an unpredictable becoming born of the assemblage of industrial and natural forces, where wind power is not a resource to be extracted but shape-shifting energy that animates a sculptural body or subjects it to stasis. Much like unpredictability of liquid fows that in recent years have interrupted Guri’s energy production, the turbulent air that animates Torre solar can be viewed as a reminder that wind, sun, and water are not mere resources to be harnessed by energy infrastructure but forces whose rhythms remain ever unpredictable,

24 Lisa Blackmore rising and falling, surging and receding. For all its high-tech appearance, then, Otero’s work need not necessarily be viewed as an infrastructural monument whose meaning is foreclosed. With Didi-Huberman, we can approach it too as an opening to fuctuating currents and forces that invites the viewer to “lose the unity of an enclosed world to fnd [her- or] himself in the uncomfortable opening of a universe henceforth suspended, subject to all the winds of meaning.”34

In the Pleats of Time Rivers may seem to always fow forward, mirroring the linearity of time, but as they encounter other material bodies, they double back in eddying countercurrents that percolate fows and push some of the present back into the past. Turbulent and eddying rivers inspired the late French thinker Michel Serres to move beyond the linear paradigm that informs scientifc thought and historicism. Drawing on sensorial attunement, fuid dynamics and the critique of modern reason, through his work he explored turbulence as a recurrent and multi-valent fgure of thought, positing it as a material imagination of water, temporal framework, counter-epistemology to Western reason, and methodology for exploring fuid interchanges between knowledge disciplines.35 “Time does not always fow according to a line, he asserted, “nor according to a plan but, rather, according to an extraordinarily complex mixture, as though it refected stopping points, ruptures, deep wells, chimneys of thunderous acceleration, rendings, gaps—all sown at random, at least in a visible disorder.”36 Serres called this topological time: a disordering of linear time and its attendant epistemology of metrical geometry. If geometry is a set of fxed marks that designate precise distances and proximities, topology is a spatio-temporal disorder of nearness and rifts where the predominance of sight gives way to tactile experience. He explained this concept with a concrete example, proposing that if those same points were dotted onto a handkerchief and crumpled up, the distances between them would collapse into contact zones that intersect and overlap, bringing past and present into a confuent time that is “polychronic, multitemporal, and reveals a time that is gathered together, with multiple pleats.”37 Following Serres’ critique of logocentrism, this experience of time is primarily sensorial and tactile, occurring “where sight disappears into touch, where touch, sensitive and delicate, sees contours.”38 The fgures of eddying water, the pleats of time, and the predominance of touch over sight all call into question the instrumentalisation of water as a resource that powers industrial progress and whose temporal regime and material condition are translated into diaphanous hydrological representations, such as maps, satellite imagery, or pictorial scenes such as the landscape paintings analysed earlier. Thinking about water topologically might also evoke an epistemological delta where the indigenous mythologies that enliven the great river basins of Latin America (and, of course, North America) percolate the colonised fows of industrialised rivers with more-than-human forces. This occurs in Amazonian cosmology, where water is Yacumama (from the Quechua yaku, for water, and mama, for mother), a deity that protects water sources. In southern Colombia, the same river serpent form is a life-creating force associated with the Milky Way. The temporal imaginaries attached to rivers are therefore polychronic in the sense that Serres educes: “gathered together, with multiple pleats,” where ancestral epistemologies and capitalist resource extraction are folded into complex formations.39 Polychronicity (rather than linearity or hybridity) is imbricated with

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the experiences of modernity in the region, where different temporal regimes are interwoven and contested in diverse experiences of space and aesthetics. Polychronic bodies of water are rich in affective and communal attachments but also typcially rife with political struggle and violence, especially as dam building advances apace and transnational corporations and national governments disseminate public relations campaigns that posit extractive industries and hydraulic technologies as incontrovertible motors of economic development. A crucial question at this juncture concerns the visual politics and temporal regimes of dam building, which Rob Nixon sets out in Slow Violence when he asks “how to bring into imaginative focus threatened communities and ecosystems rendered invisible by the celebratory developmental rhetoric that gushes from big dam technocrats, cabinet ministers, World Bankers, and media moguls?”40 This challenge informs the work of the contemporary Colombian artist Carolina Caycedo, who, through her long-term project Be Dammed, seeks to decolonise rivers via aesthetic strategies that insist on their status as a hydrocommons that is fundamental to social and ecological well-being, rather than extractible resources. She writes that “In Indigenous cosmogonies of the Americas, all bodies of waters are connected. Rivers are the veins of the planet, their waters associate communities and ecosystems.”41 By making visible practices of buen vivir (sustainable living) and grassroots resistance in areas earmarked for hydroelectric megaprojects, Caycedo elaborates a “countervisuality” to the hegemonic resource imagination of the extractive zone, focusing on hydropower projects such as the El Quimbo in Huila and Ituango in Antioquia, Colombia, built on the convergence of national development policies and transnational capital.42 This politically and socially engaged agenda frames her exhibitions and informs her participation as an activist and artist in social movements such as Ríos Vivos (Living Rivers) and Descolonizando La Jagua (Decolonizing La Jagua) in Colombia, as well as her connections with other social activist groups in South America. Activism and art constantly percolate in Caycedo’s practice and this is perhaps nowhere clearer than in the Geochoreographies, assemblages of bodies in river ecologies that range from traditional get-togethers to cook soup (sancocho) by the riverbank to artisanal fshing with nets (atarrayas). A geochoreography is a psychosocial space, performed by the body, individual or collective, being fully aware of the relationship with its environment. A geochoreography aesthetically imprints a living image on the landscape, producing an expansive motion of the body and its location. Expanding the body helps to avert fear, and to counter physical and psychological displacement.43 As bodies repopulate the river as a space of entangled coexistence, they refute in real time the frozen temporality of the depopulated satellite views leveraged in macroplanning to occlude practices of dwelling. Similarly, by making visible enduring practices of artisanal economies, the geochoreographies counter the environmental impact studies that sanction the physical and symbolic displacement of communities considered asynchronous with progress so they can be “evacuated from a place and time and thus uncoupled from the idea of both a national future and a national memory.”44 A work that problematizes even more explicitly the temporal dimensions of rivers’ reformulation as resource and the erasure of epistemologies and river times that do not synchronise with industrial and urban modernity is Caycedo’s Serpent River Book (2017). A compendium of visual and written materials gathered during the

26 Lisa Blackmore artist’s research and her work with communities in Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico affected by the industrialization and privatization of rivers, the 72-page accordion fold artist-book combines archival images, maps, poems, lyrics, and satellite photos, with Caycedo’s own images and texts on river bio-cultural diversity. Disputing the developmentalist discourse supporting dam building projects, which uses metrics of hydrology and demography to fatten and commodify rivers, this publication is comprised topologically, gathering diverse and polychronic voices, geographies, and histories in the pleats of time as folds that can be activated by the body. Ostensibly, the book is structured according to a linear logic of time and hydrology, since its component parts trace the river (not any single river) from its sources, through its upper, middle and lower courses, down to the delta where it meets other bodies of water. The sections depart from ancestral Amazonian river cosmologies where “the river is the cobra grande the yurapari, the yacumama [. . .,] one of the four big snakes that meanders through the world [. . .] in the cosmos, in the air, in the water, and under the earth.”45 The upper course charts peasant knowledge through social and economic engagements with the river that are infuenced by indigenous knowledge. The middle shifts to the “military-industrial complex of visuality,” through maps, plans, satellite photographs, and corporate documents from dam-building enterprises that refect a high modernist optics of macro-planning.46 The lower course presents the collapse of this worldview through photographs of infrastructural collapse, overfowing tailings dams and rivers, and stranded communities. The fnal sections present social movements’ creative responses to these catastrophes, closing with an image of the Paraná Delta taken from space, where this high-tech image is merged with the image of a jaguar’s face and the phrase “I am the jaguar, and when I look into your eyes, you stop being prey and become another jaguar,” inspired by anthropologist Eduardo Kohn’s How Forests Think, a book which moves beyond anthropocentric anthropology to explore more fuid ontologies of human and non-human life forms.47 Through this intertextual reference, Caycedo explains that the book’s ultimate aim is to advocate a paradigm shift: We cannot remain in this Western tradition that says: “I think, therefore I exist,” which means that you don’t need anything else in the world to be a human, when actually it’s the total opposite. We need the other to exist. It’s only until [sic] the jaguar looks into your eyes, when the river touches your body, when you breathe the air, when another entity of the territory perceives you, that’s the moment when you become.48 By embracing rather than rejecting alterity and engaging with a visual politics in which animals make humans the object of their gazes, the Serpent River Book emulates the Amerindian perspectivism discussed by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, where Amazonian indigenous theory renders taxonomies of nature/culture, human/non-human fuid rather than binary.49 The Serpent River Book can be unfolded from diverse starting points, and its top side can be folded into the bottom. This means neither temporal nor hydrological linearity are fxed but are constantly negotiated through the embodied experience of reading and manipulating the object. The book’s form thus allows river times and courses across Latin America and other regions to converge in fuid, ludic experiences that intersect past and present, ancestral and infrastructural epistemologies, human agencies and vibrant non-human matter. The book literally plays with time, enfolding and unfolding a liquid

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topology, to adapt Serres’ concept, in which river fow is not a predictable volume of water that can be channelled into the metrics of capitalist production and industrial development but a dense, percolating liquid ecology of human and non-human subjects where river times and cultural meanings are multiple and contested. For Serres, topology is fun, instructive, and has a strong infuence on intuition. Once you’ve entered into this kind of thinking you realize how much all of what we’ve said about time up till now abusively simplifes things. More intuitively, this time can be schematized by a kind of crumpling, a multiple, foldable diversity.50 In this spirit, Serpent River Book playfully crumples the temporal regimes of extractivism. At the outset, an instruction manual advises users of the book’s negotiable meanings and multiple purposes, noting light-heartedly that “neither the images or words are tied to any particular intention” and counselling the user to activate their body by breathing deeply and raising their arms before navigating the folds. The manual closes with a list of potential uses for the book, which might serve to “make someone fall in love” and to enable its user to “be in two places at the same time.” While the former of these uses opens the extractivist time to affective experience, the latter proposes an explicitly topological mode of embodiment that materialises in form and content in the pleats of book, which folds hand-sewn riverscapes into satellite images of dam breaches (Figure 2.5) and splices diagrams of hydrological cycles into photographs of a batea, the wooden pan used in artisanal gold mining in Colombia (Figure 2.6). Activated in workshops and assemblies of community groups affected by dam building (Figure 2.7) as well as in performances in arts institutions (Plate 4), the

Figure 2.5 Carolina Caycedo, Serpent River Book, 2017. Artist Book and customized table. 38 × 241 × 215 inches. Installation photograph at BANK, Basement Building 2, Lane 298 Anfu Road, Xuhui District, Shanghai, China. Exhibition PST/CST. 9 December 2017–20 January, 2018. Source: Image courtesy the artist.

28 Lisa Blackmore

Figure 2.6 Carolina Caycedo, Serpent River Book, excerpt (2017). Source: Image courtesy of the artist.

Figure 2.7 Carolina Caycedo shares the Serpent River Book with people affected by the Hidroituango dam in Antioquia, Colombia, 2018. Source: Image courtesy of Movimiento Ríos Vivos.

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Serpent River Book encourages a mode of embodied sensing of fow where “The river debouches into yourself. You can play with the foldouts to build different fows and current.”51 As performers unfurl it and collectively embody the hydrological course, they activate and explore spatio-temporal folds, intertwining their diverse bodies with the similarly diverse histories and cosmologies that traverse the rivers as a single body of water—the veins of the earth that Caycedo seeks to draw out as a hydrocommons whose well-being is a collective duty within the model of “ecological democracy” that activists such as Vandana Shiva claim should govern human/non-human relations.52 Ultimately, then, through its accordion pleats of time, the Serpent River Book approximates non-instrumentalised modes of being-river: articulating through embodiment the becoming of a global river-people—A Gente Río (We River), as Caycedo titled her work at the Bienal de Sao Paolo in 2016—where the liquid ecology is a collective space for the confuence of diverse river times, knowledges, and bodies in dynamic processes of becoming.

Polychronic Rivers Rivers of mud washing away vehicles and homes. Water gushing from burst diversion pipes. Mountains of viscous tailings erupting from embankment walls. Multitudinous funeral marches to protest the murder of anti-dam activists. . . . Half a century after the peak of megadam construction, the resource imaginations surrounding hydropower and hydraulic technologies are fooded by catastrophic failure, climate disaster, civic resistance, and indigenous knowledges. “Observe the mingled fows and the places of exchange and you will understand time better,” wrote Michel Serres.53 Rivers, in this perspective, are not linear phenomena but multi-temporal “organic machines” whose liquid fows and structures of containment are assemblages of ancient organic matter and life forms, modern technologies and economies, all mixed together.54 Opening the senses to the mingled fows of rivers calls for alternate approaches to their lives. Criticising the “mad romance with concrete” of hydraulic infrastructures that imperil sustainable water cultures, the environmental activist Vandana Shiva offers a stark warning on that front, signalling the need for “the consciousness of knowing that we are 70 percent water, and that the planet is 70 percent water, and to tread extremely lightly to ensure that water balance is not destroyed,” because “[w]hen the awareness and consciousness of our living in the water cycle dies, that is when water culture dies.”55 This chapter has argued for the generative potential of probing reckonings with river time that occur at the interfaces of hydrology, hydraulics, and art. It has shown that placing in historical perspective water’s conversion into resource unearths modes of domination and violence catalysed by colonisation, the modern project and contemporary regimes of extractivism. Tracing this historical framework also exposes the infrastructural, visual, and discursive apparatuses that subtend dominant resource imaginations through different periods of industrial history, which have sought to justify the harnessing of liquid fows to synchronise them with the prospect of development and the tempo of modernity. Art-making has long been imbricated in the formulation of resource imaginations of hydropower, but its role in these dynamics is by no means foreclosed, since artworks too are fuid in their cultural meanings. Gaston Bachelard wrote in Water and Dreams that water’s “material imagination . . . will never be fully understood until the equilibrium between experiences and spectacles has been

30 Lisa Blackmore re-established.”56 By the same token, the artworks discussed here were not selected to pit outsize infrastructural aesthetics against socially and ecologically engaged modes of art practice, nor to fgure river times as either spectacular or immersive, industrial or natural. This would be too simplistic. To understand the outsize kinetic artworks at Guri merely as scenographic representations of ceaseless fow renders them nothing more than fxed mirrors to the triumphalist rhetoric of hydroelectric infrastructure. This realisation informed this chapter’s quest for alternate ecocritical interpretations. This task entails historicising art critical accounts of Cruz Diez and Otero’s works to show how they operated as component parts of a spectacular visual regime that was itself a sign of the high watermark of dam building, when faith in human mastery of nature manifested in hydraulic hubris. It also involves moving beyond critiques of this modernist framing of the kinetic artworks at Guri to avoid enclosing the poeisis of these artworks and the infrastructure in which they are embedded to the context of their production. Attending to the material and temporal conditions that shape the ever-unfolding site-specifcity of Cruz Diez’s vibrating colour works and Otero’s rotating wind sculpture is important, since it enables the works to be grasped as a part of process of becoming that is not fxed but fuid. Their own material and symbolic existence within an infrastructural artefact that is ageing and malfunctioning reframes them in more urgent terms. Revisiting kinetics through ecocritical perspectives also renders more fexible the practice of art history, attuning it to the ecological challenges of a hydrological present whose patterns are becoming erratic and demand readiness for the unpredictable events that shape contemporary economic, political, and literal climates. It is into this specifc context that Carolina Caycedo’s practice makes such a conscientious intervention. In their self-awareness of the political and economic regimes that shape contemporary extractive zones, her works reveal the fows of the transnational capital that fund megadam projects and the national policies that seek rent capture by commodifying the territories, confronting them with the lives and voices of communities whose coexistence with rivers often predates colonial and republican states alike and proposes sustainable modes of dwelling that do not harm them. In so doing, she renders art-making an engaged platform through which to contribute to the shaping of a world in which alternate river times and modes of dwelling are not occluded from the public imagination but emerge as part of a complex topology. What is clear from the analyses developed here is that art calls into question anthropocentric epistemologies that continue to assert human mastery of nature even in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. Ultimately, probing the turbulence of diverse river times contributes to the conceptual framework of liquid ecologies as it seeks to think water in its many complexities, pushing beyond water’s enclosures as a double for linear time, an aesthetic motif and commodifed resource. In a liquid ecological perspective, rivers are a mingling of epistemologies where the human and non-human converge amid climatic, infrastructural, economic, socio-political, and cultural forces in constant fux. They bear in the sediments of time a vast geohistory that serves as material reminder that human life is feeting but that even so it holds a capacity to change planetary existence, generating violent encounters and collective gatherings. When operating in this context, art has an powerful potential to encourage sensitivity to ecological issues. At best, it might even inspire the cultivation of water cultures that foster the well-being of human and non-human lives.

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Notes 1. Jacques Leslie, Deep Water: The Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005), 4. 2. Macarena Gómez-Barris, The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2017), xvi. 3. Elizabeth Emma Ferry and Mandana E. Limbert, Timely Assets (Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press, 2008), 4. 4. Patrick McCulley, Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams, 2nd ed. (London & New York: Zed Books, 2001), xxxvii. 5. Ibid., 14. 6. The principal proponents were Julian Steward et al., Irrigation Civilizations: A Comparative Study (Washington: Pan American Union Social Sciences Monographs 1, 1955) and Karl Wittfogel, “Developmental Aspects of Hydraulic Civilizations,” in Steward et al., Irrigation Civilizations. 7. Eric Swyngedouw, Liquid Power: Contested Hydro-Modernities in Twentieth-Century Spain (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014) and Matthew Gandy, The Fabric of Space (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014). 8. Anna Niemark, “The Infrastructural Monument: Stalin’s Water Works under Construction and in Representation,” Future Anterior 9, no. 2 (2013): 1–14 and Paul Josephson, Industrialized Nature: Brute Force and the Transformation of the Natural World (Washington: Island Press, 2013). 9. Brian Larkin, “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure,” Annual Review of Anthropology 42 (2013): 327–343, 332. 10. David Harvey, The Condition of Post-Modernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Social Change (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989), 35. 11. Boaventura de Sousa Santos, The End of the Cognitive Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018). 12. Boaventura de Sousa Santos, “Epistemologies of the South and the Future,” From the European South 1 (2016): 17–29, 18. 13. Jason Moore, Capitalism and the Web of Life (London: Verso, 2015), 3. 14. Ferry and Limbert, Timely Assets, 6. 15. Martin Heidegger, “The Question Concerning Technology,” in The Question Concerning Technology & Other Essays, trans. by William Lovitt (New York & London: Garland, 1977), 3–35, 16. 16. Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), 162. 17. See Brian Larkin, “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure,” Annual Review of Anthropology 42 (2013): 327–343 and Hannah Appel, Nikhil Anand and Akhil Gupta, The Infrastructural Toolbox, September 24, 2015, 18. Michael Welland, Sand: The Never-Ending Story (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), 79–80. 19. The term belongs to Georges Didi-Huberman, which he uses to describe Giuseppe Penone’s sculptures Essere fume (Being River), in which the artist seeks to emulate in sculptural form the primordial erosion on stones that rivers exert in the expansive framework of geoand hydrological time. See: Being a Skull: Site, Contact, Thought, Sculpture (Minneapolis: Univocal, 2016), 46. 20. Welland, Sand, 83. 21. Sean Flemming, Where the River Flows: Scientifc Refections on the Earth’s Waterways (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017), 37, 40. 22. Industries included diamond and gold mining, and the iron, steel, and aluminum industries (at that point still managed mainly by US companies). For a full account of the Ciudad Guayana project, see Felipe Correa, “A New Industrial Frontier: Ciudad Guayana,” in Beyond the City: Resource Extraction Urbanism in South America (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016), 89–110. See also Lisa Blackmore, “Colonizing Flow: The Aesthetics of Hydropower and Post-Kinetic Assemblages in the Orinoco Basin,” in Natura:

32 Lisa Blackmore

23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56.

Environmental Aesthetics after Nature, edited by Jens Andermann, Lisa Blackmore and Dayron Carrillo Morrel (Zurich: diaphanes, 2018), 171–197. Alfredo Boulton, Art in Guri (Caracas: Ediciones Macanao, 1988), 24. See David E. Nye, American Technological Sublime (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994). See Roberto Guevara, Arte para una nueva escala (Caracas: Maraven S.A., 1978). Boulton, Art in Guri, 28. Ibid., 68. Larkin, “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure,” 335. Georges Didi-Huberman, Confronting Images: Questioning the Ends of a Certain History of Art, trans. by John Goodman (University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2005), 143. Jonathon Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep (London: Verso, 2014). This is an argument I develop in more depth in the book chapter “Colonizing Flow,” cited earlier. Boulton, Art in Guri, 26. Colin Waters and Jan Zalasiewicz, “Concrete: The Most Abundant Novel Rock Type of the Anthropocene,” in Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene, vol. 1 (London: Elsevier, 2018), 75–85. Alejandro Otero, “Pensamientos de Alejandro Otero,” in Alejandro Otero: Memorabilia, edited by José María Salvador (Ciudad Guayana: Sala de Arte SIDOR, 1993), 23, 26. Didi-Huberman, Confronting Images, 140. Emphasis added. See, for instance, Michel Serres, The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Knowledge, trans. by Margaret Sankey and Peter Cowley (London: Bloomsbury, 2016). Michel Serres and Bruno Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time, trans. by Roxanne Lapidux (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 57. Ibid., 60. Serres, The Five Senses, 304. Serres and Latour, Conversations, 60. Nixon, Slow Violence, 160. Carolina Caycedo, BE DAMMED (Ongoing Project), be-dammed-ongoing-project Nicholas Mirzoeff, The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2011). Carolina Caycedo, BE DAMMED (MFA diss., University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 2014), 66. Nixon, Slow Violence, 151. Carolina Caycedo, interview with the author, 28 September 2018. Mirzoeff, The Right to Look. Eduardo Kohn, How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013). Caycedo, interview with the author, 28 September 2018. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, “Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism,” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 4, no. 3 (September 1998): 469–488. Serres, Conversations, 59. The artist’s website contains photographic documentation of these actions. Andy Opel and Vandana Shiva, “From Water Crisis to Water Culture,” Cultural Studies 22, no. 3–4 (2008): 498–509. doi:10.1080/09502380802012591 Serres, The Five Senses, 289. Richard White, The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996). Opel and Shiva, “From Water Crisis to Water Culture.” Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter (Dallas: Dallas Inst Humanities & Culture, 1999), 14.

References Appel, Hannah, Nikhil Anand and Akhil Gupta. The Infrastructural Toolbox: Cultural Anthropology, September 24, 2015.

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Bachelard, Gaston. Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter. Dallas: Dallas Inst Humanities & Culture, 1999. Blackmore, Lisa. “Colonizing Flow: The Aesthetics of Hydropower and Post-Kinetic Assemblages in the Orinoco Basin.” In Environmental Aesthetics after Nature. Edited by Jens Andermann, Lisa Blackmore, and Dayron Carrillo Morrel, 171–197. Zurich: diaphanes, 2018. Boulton, Alfredo. Art in Guri. Caracas: Ediciones Macanao, 1988. Caycedo, Carolina. BE DAMMED. MFA diss. University of Southern California, 2014. Caycedo, Carolina. “BE DAMMED (Ongoing Project).” Accessed November 26, 2019. http:// Correa, Felipe. Beyond the City: Resource Extraction Urbanism in South America. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016. Crary, Jonathon. 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep. London: Verso, 2014. de Sousa Santos, Boaventura. The End of the Cognitive Empire. Durham: Duke University Press, 2018. de Sousa Santos, Boaventura. “Epistemologies of the South and the Future.” From the European South 1 (2016): 17–29. Didi-Huberman, Georges. Being a Skull: Site, Contact, Thought, Sculpture. Minneapolis: Univocal, 2016. Didi-Huberman, Georges. Confronting Images: Questioning the Ends of a Certain History of Art. Translated by John Goodman. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 2005. Ferry, Elizabeth Emma and Mandana E. Limbert. Timely Assets. Santa Fe: School for Advanced Research Press, 2008. Flemming, Sean. Where the River Flows: Scientifc Refections on the Earth’s Waterways. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017. Gandy, Matthew. The Fabric of Space. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014. Gómez-Barris, Macarena. The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2017. Guevara, Roberto. Arte para una nueva escala. Caracas: Maraven S.A., 1978. Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 1989. Heidegger, Martin. “The Question Concerning Technology.” In The Question Concerning Technology & Other Essays. Translated by William Lovitt, 3–35. New York & London: Garland, 1977. Josephson, Paul. Industrialized Nature: Brute Force and the Transformation of the Natural World. Washington: Island Press, 2013. Junka-Aikio, Laura and Carolina Severino-Cortes. “Cultural Studies of Extraction.” Cultural Studies 31, nos. 2–3 (2017): 175–184. Kohn, Eduardo. How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology beyond the Human. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. Larkin, Brian. “The Politics and Poetics of Infrastructure.” Annual Review of Anthropology 42 (2013): 327–343. Leslie, Jacques. Deep Water: The Epic Struggle over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005. McCulley, Patrick. Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams. 2nd edition. London & New York: Zed Books, 2001. Mirzoeff, Nicholas. The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011. Moore, Jason. Capitalism and the Web of Life. London: Verso, 2015. Niemark, Anna. “The Infrastructural Monument: Stalin’s Water Works under Construction and in Representation.” Future Anterior 9, no. 2 (2013): 1–14. Nixon, Rob. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011.

34 Lisa Blackmore Nye, David E. American Technological Sublime. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994. Opel, Andy and Vandana Shiva. “From Water Crisis to Water Culture.” Cultural Studies 22, nos. 3–4 (2008): 498–509. doi:10.1080/09502380802012591. Otero, Alejandro. “Pensamientos de Alejandro Otero.” In Alejandro Otero: Memorabilia. Edited by José María Salvador. Ciudad Guayana: Sala de Arte SIDOR, 1993. Serres, Michel. The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Knowledge. Translated by Margaret Sankey and Peter Cowley. London: Bloomsbury, 2016. Serres, Michel and Bruno Latour. Conversations on Science, Culture, and Time. Translated by Roxanne Lapidux. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1995. Steward, Julian. Irrigation Civilizations: A Comparative Study. Washington: Pan American Union Social Sciences Monographs 1, 1955. Swyngedouw, Eric. Liquid Power: Contested Hydro-Modernities in Twentieth-Century Spain. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014. Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. “Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism.” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 4, no. 3 (September 1998): 469–488. Waters, Colin and Jan Zalasiewicz. “Concrete: The Most Abundant Novel Rock Type of the Anthropocene.” In Encyclopedia of the Anthropocene, Vol. 1. Edited by Dominick DellaSala and Michael Goldstein, 75–85. London: Elsevier, 2018. Welland, Michael. Sand: The Never-Ending Story. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009. White, Richard. The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.


Acts of Remaining: Liquid Ecologies and Memory Work in Contemporary Art Interventions Liliana Gómez

Acts of Remaining The current environmental crisis, linked to a long and violent transformation of landscapes with the related political conficts against soil and people and their psychic and material implications, has been contested by art interventions that brought up and experimented with the motives and media of fuidities and bodies of water. By understanding liquids as ontological materials, this chapter addresses the memory work by a series of contemporary artworks that are critical ecologies. In the way they critique universalism and the opacity and the invisibility of displaced and forgotten histories of violence, such as the “histories of racial thought and settler colonialism,” the artworks discussed are also interventions into the narratives of the Anthropocene.1 In Western narratives the use of the term Anthropocene reproduces the lacunae of history about the diverse forms of violence, economic, racial, or political, into which environmental transformations are embedded. The artworks brought together in this chapter, I will argue, interrupt these silences and omissions as they use liquids against the obliteration of a social crisis, deeply entangled with the violent man-made transformation of landscapes. The chapter further discusses the use of liquids and bodies of water in these artworks as a media-refexive dimension of art, mirroring a long engagement in Latin American and Caribbean arts with fuidity and liquidity as cultural metaphors that ground new analytical terrains. The chapter specifcally focuses on the recent installation Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits (2015), by Cuban-born artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons, and its relationship to two of her earlier works, Everything is separated by water (1990) and Sugar/Bittersweet (2010). In her latest, site-specifc installation, Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits, Campos-Pons examines the Cuban sugar trade, offering a material and architectural inquiry into the Atlantic passage, the industrial landscape, and its ruins, recreating the material transformations of the landscape through sugar and rum distillation. These works are brought into dialogue with two video installations by the Colombian artist Clemencia Echeverri, Treno (canto fúnebre) (2007) and Río por asalto (2018). Echeverri has worked on diverse forms of violence related to the Colombian armed confict, specifcally forced disappearance. She stages the river in her audio-visual work to visibilize it as a place of burial and death and, signifcantly, as a counter-memory against the lacunae of Colombian historiography and its silences. Both artists problematize through the medium of liquids the hidden and forgotten histories of violence in the form of a social and ecological crisis, through forced disappearance in Colombia and forced displacement related to the transatlantic slave trade

36 Liliana Gómez in Cuba. Campos-Pons reconnects the ocean with the sugar industry and Echeverri renarrates the agency of the river against the backdrop of modern mega-infrastructural river dams, entangled with ruins and processes of ruination of a present past. Art has the capacity, they suggest, to reveal and make perceptible the psychic and material sedimentations of forms of violence and thus the economic history that often lies behind them. Their interventions refect a new sensibility to engage various contexts for the understanding of fuids and liquids as ontological materials that are bound to the material histories of Latin America and the Caribbean. The chapter adopts a theoretical perspective to engage with the use of liquids and, in particular, water in these artworks and to connect them to the discursive depth that liquidity has experienced in recent discussion.2 I also wish to connect this approach to the emergent discussion that orients itself towards the decolonial practice of slow histories of violence3 that problematize the deeper implications of the “interstices of exile, displacement, and memory,” that materialize a social crisis.4 My approach is thus inspired by a body of theoretical literature that grounds my discussion of liquid ecologies and memory work. First, I adopt the notion of performance elaborated by performance scholar and Latin Americanist Diana Taylor.5 Contrary to Phelan’s argument about the “‘ontology of performance,’ stressing the liveness of the performative event, the now in which that performance take place,” I take performance to be a practice that deepens our understanding of a temporality beyond the present.6 Further, as Taylor productively elaborated, contrary to Phelan’s reasoning, performance participates not only “in the circulation of representations of representation” but relates to a human time anchored in cultural memory.7 I thus follow Taylor’s rereading of performance as aesthetic practice that is bound to memory and archive, orienting it towards a temporality that we conceive as history. Accordingly, performance “participates in the transfer and continuity of knowledge,” Taylor insists, against the primacy of the written and documented word as the sole constitutive element of memory in Western modern culture. Echeverri explores this continuity of knowledge in the forms of mourning and loss as lived experiences of the Colombian armed confict through the psychic and material impacts on the river, the main performative element in her audio-visual installations, inquiring into the memory work of the waters of Colombian rivers. In both her video and sound installations, Treno (canto fúnebre) and Río por asalto, she delves into the river as a site of mourning and witnessing political and environmental violence, while she recreates through the echoing of the water the evanescence of memory. Campos-Pons, for her part, productively uses performance as an aesthetic practice to make tangible the submerged gestures of violence of the slave trade that embody the ephemeral materiality of memory work. With her performance work Agridulce (Bittersweet), making herself present as an artist in her installation in Salem, she consciously employs performance to reenact what remains, anchoring this bodily knowledge of resistance in a time of cultural memory. Second, I wish to bring together this understanding of performance with the perspective of the posthuman feminist phenomenology that helps sharpen my discussion on liquid ecologies and the conceptualization of liquids as ontological material. With Bodies of Water, the cultural studies scholar Astrida Neimanis laid the ground to reorient the discussion on water as perceived through the female body towards a more analytical framework of water as an inherent perspective of human and non-human relationships.8 This of course has consequences for a Western epistemology that underlines the discussion of the dichotomy of nature and culture, and thus memory.

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Adopting a phenomenological perspective means to recognize corporeity (Leiblichkeit) as central to the perception of the world and meaning in human time and experience, as sustained in the earlier works by the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and, I wish to add, memory. Further, the idea of corporeity refers to the body (corps propre) as a condition of experience and constitutive dimension of the perception of the world that lays the ground for an embodiment of a feminist consciousness.9 This is particularly pertinent for framing the work of María Magdalena Campos-Pons but also to contextualize the use of river water in Clemencia Echeverri’s audio-visual and sound installations. As underscored by Neimanis, water refects resistance to the omissions and neglect in debates on the Anthropocene, understood as Western hegemonic discourse, and thus constitutes the “most urgent, visceral, and ethically fraught sites of political praxis and theoretical inquiry.”10 Both artists, I will argue, reimagine through their artworks the embodied relation we have to water, critically inquiring into the broader impacts on “the man-made currents of the Anthropocene,” with its long history of violence, that seem to pull us further away “from any ‘safe operating humanity.’”11 As acts of remaining, their artworks inquire into the submerged gestures that materialize the cultural impacts of violence on humans and non-humans alike, to thus become a powerful memory work. Expanding on the posthuman feminist phenomenological perspective, it becomes urgent to reread the work of Campos-Pons, as it critically reconfgures various bodies of liquids that bind together the ocean water of the Atlantic passage with the bodies of the slave trade, her refection on the embodiment of water, as materialized in her work Everything is separated by water (1990). Understanding liquid as an ontological material that becomes the thread of Campos-Pons’s work, my discussion of her aesthetic production thus leads us beyond the narratives of black diaspora, race, and ethnicity that have often framed the reception of her artwork. Accordingly, unfolding the ecocritical engagement of both artists by discussing fuids and liquids, as used as ontological materials in their art practices, I also aim to work out how they contest on a meta-level the forgotten history of the landscapes to which their artworks irreducibly relate. Liquids and bodies of water thus become counter-narratives of these neglected and omitted histories of the social crisis and the embedded imperial debris revisited in a subtle, critical way by both artists.12 Campos-Pons explores in her late work the powerful usage of forms and signs “to historicize the unruly legacy of displacement, dispersal, and loss in which transatlantic slavery and modernity are violently bound.”13 Throughout her work she materializes “the discrepant temporalities—broken histories that trouble the linear progressivist narratives of nation-states and global modernization.”14 Accordingly, as evincing “the plenitude of the African diasporic archive,” her work challenges the reduction of the use of this archive “to the narrow context of racial identity rather than as a vehicle for freeing the imagination of contemporary art and its resilient embedment in classical Western art” pushing beyond such essentialist reading.15 It is precisely this thread of a media-refexive dimension of art that will guide us through the reading of the artworks. They contour a neglected discussion delving into the violent transformations of environment and personhood against the backdrop of the modern capitalist production of space. Both artists use the fgure of thought of liquidity as another temporality, with its resiliences and non-linear time lapses, and as creative movement to unfold ambivalences, contradictions, and the incommensurable of cultural work giving shape to their interventions that “offer the analytic capacity to join the waste of

38 Liliana Gómez bodies, the degradation of environment, and the psychic weight of colonial processes that entangle people, soil, and things.”16 The artists’ works, as acts of remaining, thus engage with what anthropologist Ann Laura Stoler elaborated as “imperial debris,” in the way they recreate liquids—such as rivers, water, or alcohol—to materialize omitted or submerged gestures that embody the ephemeral materiality of memory work, and in so doing foreground situations of political or environmental confict and social crisis against forgetting.17

Bodies of Water: Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits The theme of liquids and water has been a recurrent one in the works of artist María Magdalena Campos-Pons. Its frst materialization was with her early mixed-media relief Everything is separated by water, including my brain, my heart, my sex, my house (1990). From a feminist perspective, Campos-Pons problematizes her body and embodiment, as an Afro-Cuban artist and her experience of “double exile,” through a “critical and aesthetic language, disruptions and divisions between gender and sexuality, the politics of race and class, and the representation of the imagined community” that entangle diverse bodies of water together.18 In this early work a painted column of water divides the image of a female body with barbed wire that encloses the halves of the fgure, while on the feet rest the renderings of seemingly Aztec temples. This relief certainly alludes to the history of ritual practices of sacrifce in the Americas and thus foretells the importance ancestral rituals will have in Campos-Pons’s œuvre.19 With Everything is separated by water Campos-Pons grounds her long feminist engagement with “embodied materiality, infected with an affective and political subjectivity.”20 Curator Lisa Freiman underscores that this early work, besides the numerous themes that are part of Campos-Pons’s conceptual work, “provides a strong framework for understanding her aesthetic production” to come.21 Further, as a conceptual artist, Campos-Pons explores materials as signifers in her work, as “the decision to work with one medium or [material] is based on how that particular material embodies the concept of the work.”22 The title further suggests that water is thought of as body of water, a female body encircled by water, “including my brain, my heart, my sex.” As has been acknowledged “the body as a medium for subaltern artists stems from the ‘specifc relationship between mind and body for colonized and enslaved peoples and their descendants.’”23 Experiences such as traumatic loss and familial destruction, “‘severing the body from will’,” seem to “ground New World subjectivities.”24 In the Women’s Art movement, which started during the 1970s, the “idea of self-conscious body imaginary and female experiences as source material for creating earth sculptures, imagined rituals, and performances” thus became an effective strategy for critical inquiry.25 Sharing this discursive context, I argue that Everything is separated by water seems also to be a conceptualization of water, as an embodiment of water, used here as an ontological material that resurfaces in the later aesthetic production of the mixed-media installation Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits, referring explicitly to an understanding of the body as “both nature and culture, both science and soul, both matter and meaning.”26 Refecting explicitly on the body of water in a double meaning of the female body, marked by the experience of being AfroCuban and of embodiment, expanding it to the idea of the oceanic conditions of her native place, the island of Cuba, the title refers to the insularity of the island and the restricted movement due to the economic embargo of that time.

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In her recent installation Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits, Campos-Pons works with constellations of sugar using various materials to relate to the landscape of Cuba and her childhood experience there, to the rusty industrial architecture of the former sugar mills, to the transformation processes of rum distillation and of the packing and shipping of sugar. This allegory of material transformation of landscape and personhood through sugar is not at all trivial. The installation was shown at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts, in 2015, a place deeply interwoven with the sugar industry and the hidden history of the slave trade, which later becomes an important place for rum distillery. Originally not intended as such, the mixed-media installation became a site-specifc artwork entangled with the place’s economic and environmental unconscious.27 As a material inquiry into the Atlantic passage and the industrial landscape, Campos-Pons explores both the material and psychic impacts of sugar and rum distillation, with which slavery and her own ancestry and family history have been entangled. Mimicking the industrial-looking, now ruined landscape of Cuba with the architecture of sugar refneries, Campos-Pons not only connects the island with the area of Salem and the rum distillery but also evokes the psychic ruins and processes of ruination and how the sugar industry impacted on the degradation of landscapes and personhood. In her installation, the materiality of this landscape is transformed into elliptical bulbous glass and tubular glass sculptures combined with steel elements as a resilient industrial material in luminescent colors ranging from a purplish brown and oceanic blue to a dark bottle green and transparent golden yellow or beige (Plate 13). This color range certainly alludes to the earlier sculpture work Sugar/Bittersweet (2010), where Campos-Pons problematizes racism and slavery by mimicking the colonial classifcation of skin colors.28 Art historian Adriana Zavala reminds us of the parallelism of “the process of refning sugar and . . . the long, fraught history of Cuban colorism, both as lived experience and as cultural discourse.“29 Further, as a system of interconnected tubes, the installation mobilizes liquids as fows to overcome the sedimentation of the land and the archive, vis-à-vis the mobilization of memories by involving the spectator through the embodiment that is in constant fux. Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits, a title consciously chosen, is also a metaphor, and metaphors “are anything but seamless similarity” but rather “disturbances”: “They can be disruptive, suggest new analytic space and new associations, even as they seem smoothly to line up with that to which they refer,” Stoler points out. “Metaphors can be political actors when they stretch our visions to new domains.”30 Both alchemy and elixir allude to the imaginaries of liquids materialized here in the form of alcohol that appeals to the soul and the spirits (Figure 3.1). Campos-Pons unfolds liquids as formless and ephemeral materials. They reshape a sacred aura inscribed into the spirits of the Yoruba gods and goddesses, who are also materialized in the diverse range of colors in this specifc installation, which embeds a cultural resistance and a counter-narrative to the violent history of slavery. The color blue, embodied in the glass tubes (Figure 3.2), seems to refer to the water deity from the orishas of the Yoruba religion while materializing liquids as cultural signifers. Further, the color certainly reconnects to both themes of bodies of water, ocean water, but also the laboring bodies of slavery. Everything is separated by water foretold how water is related in particular to the female body. Accordingly, it embeds a mythical depth, a cultural time, in which Africa is entangled with the Americas through the Atlantic passage, articulating resistance to the invisibilized and violent history of slavery and

40 Liliana Gómez

Figure 3.1 María Magdalena Campos-Pons; Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits, 2015, Peabody Essex Museum Salem. Source: Photo by Peter Vanderwarker.

Figure 3.2 María Magdalena Campos-Pons; Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits, 2015, detail; Peabody Essex Museum Salem. Source: Photo by Peter Vanderwarker.

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the Afro-Cuban diaspora. The meaning of alchemy and elixir refers to this mythical depth and sacred realm where liquids are cultural substances in these religious and ritual practices that challenge the space of modernity projected by an ever-expanding capitalism spurred by the sugar industry and the slave trade. Using liquids as cultural metaphors, “alchemy” and “elixir” seem to ground new analytical terrains that anchor the reading of this installation as memory work. Further, through this material and metaphorical use of liquids, this recent artwork is an expanded reading of the artist’s previous works. Liquids have become, I argue, the main signifers in CamposPons’s œuvre, which seem to correspond to a new paradigm of fuidity in emergent Latin American and Caribbean arts.31 But liquids, in this installation specifcally, are not only materialized as colors but also as sound. The real sound of different liquids was materialized as “gurgling sounds” and “swelling vocals,” emitted from various speakers. “These evoked the pouring of rum, a precious ‘elixir’ and the culmination of the histories and arduous processes evoked by the sculptures arrayed,” Zavala points out.32 This sound effect, staging liquids through the installation of these anthropomorphic sculptures “laden with the tragic historical circumstances that made turning sugar into rum possible,” is one the main performative elements to re-materialize and reveal the omitted and submerged gestures of cultural memory.33 As sound and color, liquids become part of a phenomenological dimension constitutive of the perception of the world, in which corporeality is central to the making of meaning. I argue that the use of liquids, as performed in the works by Campos-Pons, makes of water and alcohol ontological materials to refect on the relationship between the vulnerable body and the world and to refect on memory as an ephemeral and haunting form of being. This is especially problematized in both the installation and the recurrent real performance by the artist that accompanies this site-specifc installation. Campos-Pons relates “not just to the invisibility of the laboring bodies that make the sugar we consume so voraciously in the frst world, but also our sometimes willful ignorance regarding structures of violence and injustice that compel certain bodies to labor.”34 The installation of sculptures of glass and steel, which gives a temporary form to the formless liquids, are thus part of a memory work that the artist has elaborated since her early art interventions.35 Liquids are used in her work as material signifers of this cultural memory and the hidden history of violence that she delves into with this inquiry. The installation at PEM in Salem is thus brought to its full comprehension by Campos-Pons with the performance Agridulce (Bittersweet), which she uses to thematize explicitly the vulnerability of the body in “all its fragility . . . what it means to be there and breathing.”36 She underlines that “I only do performance when there is an urgency to really be there myself.”37 In this repeated performance, the artist, dressed in a green robe with white painted face and feet, enters the installation’s room and confronts the audience, offering freshly cut sugar cane, while calling out, “Try it. It’s sweet.”38 The language game in this performance materializes the bittersweet irony of the installation staging the production of sugar and rum. Through her body presence, the artist reenacts the omitted memories of plantation slavery but simultaneously alludes to the complex ritual of the orishas gods, invoking by her use of a machete the warrior deity Ogún of the AfroCaribbean Yoruba religion. Juxtaposing the submerged knowledge of ancestral rituals of dance and resistance with the “specter of enslaved black women’s labor on Cuba’s sugar plantations,” her performance and her bodily presence embody the forgotten gestures of the ephemeral materiality of memory work.39 Performance thus becomes

42 Liliana Gómez here the act that remains against a reproduced obliteration and historical forgetting. Zavala reminds us that the use of the performance by Campos-Pons calls to mind the ways that artists of color must negotiate the contexts within which their work is shown. Fundamentally, it was through her performance and her bodily presence in Agridulce that [she] brought the violence of transatlantic and global trade “home” to Salem, home to New England, and home . . . to the East India Marine Society’s cabinet of curiosities.40 Contesting this submerged landscape of violence by entangling different geographies together, the performance becomes a form to remember the related embedded processes of ruins and ruination, and thus an act to intervene in the cultural memory. The performance meant to render transparent the more opaque installation of all other objects, “While these objects exemplifed a delicate, metaphoric, and decidedly nonconfrontational modality, one suggestive of a desire to impede the viewer’s ability to know directly, quickly, or completely, Agridulce, by contrast, spectacularized the bitterness of sugar and slavery.”41 Accordingly, Campos-Pons seems to establish a productive relationship with the audience and invites them to “reconsider the whole meaning of the work.”42 Sugar with the fuids of water and rum, as material signifers of modern capitalism, becomes here a powerful allegory and “sign of colonial violence” and thus the continuation of the artist’s work of “survival and witnessing.”43 Her installations and performance seem to interrupt the established yet “incomplete historical narratives” in the way she unfolds the present past with its long unspoken history of violence.44 Campos-Pons’s installation and performance certainly establishes a formal dialogue with Sugar/Bittersweet (Figure 3.3), a sculpture installation that thematizes the history

Figure 3.3 María Magdalena Campos-Pons; Sugar/Bittersweet, 2010, mixed-media installation, dimensions variable; Smith College Museum of Art. Source: Photo by Stephen Petegorsky.

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of violence of slavery and its “legacy in Cuban colorism” that “was suggested by the spears piercing the colored disks, the multiplicity and repetitive spatial arrangement of the threaded disks, and their sorting by color, all expressive of an ‘accumulation of sorrow and pain.’”45 In her early art intervention, relating to the diasporic memory and Afro-Cuban history, Campos-Pons begun to problematize the invisibilized processes of ruination of landscape and personhood. Yet, with this recent work on rum distillery at PEM in Salem, Zavala underscores, “she issued an epistemological challenge to locate meaning both within the art object and phenomenologically within the contingencies of its institutional context.”46 Further, read as a criticism of the plantation economy, both installations thematize the long-lasting cultural and environmental degradation, contesting the forgotten history of this political violence, loss, and diasporic displacement. Herewithin, the use of liquids is explicitly related to the trans-generational trauma and degradation of personhood that become central to Campos-Pons’s elaboration of the bio-history of landscape and bodies. In the way she recreates, with this latest installation, a complex body of smells and colors, sounds and surfaces, she refects on the modern materialities and technologies of the sugar production and rum distillery that have become the memory of the landscape. The relationship between these landscape transformations and the darkest history of the slave trade and bonded labor remains only implicit here, yet it articulates latencies and crises, repetitions and differences, repressions and possible “aprèscoups.” Overall, Campos-Pons’s works problematize the experience of the effects of history for individuals and for cultural communities. With Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits she creates her own archival structure choosing materials that she uses as “primary sources” such as blown glass, cast glass, steel, cast resin, silicone, acrylic, polyvinyl chloride tubing, and liquids such as water and rum essence. With these “archival” materials she aims to contest the spatial and historical amnesia of forced labor and environmental degradation, encountering it with the use of totemic, futuristic and ancestral sculptures that oscillate between the unsaid and the invisibilized, the familiar and the displaced, material space and unconscious time. Curator and art critic Okwui Enwezor once argued that Campos-Pons’s work refects the powerful character of the unruly legacy of displacement, dispersal and loss. Her work, through the suggestive use of liquids, has created evocative soundscapes that relate to modern time and the rhythm of industrial architecture such as the sugar mill. But she never demands a confrontational engagement with the cruelty of the slave trade and sugar production of past centuries. Liquids such as water and rum are thus mobilized here as ontological materials as they embody the visceral history and memory of this violent transformations of landscape and personhood against a spatial amnesia, inasmuch as these sites of sugar production and its ruins, both in New England and on the island of Cuba, largely remain forgotten.

Contested Waters: The River as Memory Work From a different perspective and in particular from within the perception of the body of fuvial water, the Colombian artist Clemencia Echeverri has worked since the mid1990s on the psychic and material sedimentations of the slow history of violence and the impact of economic development on the Colombian river landscape. Signifcantly, her œuvre stands for a new sensibility to engage the various contexts for understanding fuids and liquids as ontological materials that are bound to the complex material

44 Liliana Gómez histories of Latin America since colonial times. The psychic and material impact of diverse forms of violence that shaped the experience and reality of Colombia in the 1980s has been thematized since the return of Echeverri to her home country in the late 1990s, particularly in her video art and installations.47 In an earlier work, Treno (canto fúnebre), which I consider to be a signifcant piece to unlock the meaning of her entire work, Echeverri explores mourning and loss as lived experiences of the Colombian armed confict and, in particular, forced disappearance. The sound and video installation was shown for the frst time in 2007 at the Gallery Alonso Garcés and later in 2009 as “Actos del Habla” (Acts of Speech) at the Museo de Arte of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá, and later on many other occasions (Plate 12). With the piece set up as a video installation, with two or more simultaneous video projections, Echeverri stages the river as both powerful material and protagonist to remember and mourn the losses resulting from political and environmental violence. Art theorist María del Rosario Acosta López points out: Art, however, has another way of remembering, because its aims are different to those of an archive-type memory. Art actively transforms facts into past; it produces the very experience of their passing by and consequently interrupts their immutability. Thus, by means of art and yet within its boundaries, the past appears ungraspable and mutable, it appears as what the present will never be able to store and keep to itself. Nonetheless, and precisely for this reason, the past—in its ungraspable form—proffers new possibilities of comprehension. Therefore, art neither resolves nor leaves what has happened behind; it does, however, clear a different pathway for remembrance by revisiting the past, by accompanying its loss, and by mourning it. Thus, due to art’s fragile procedures, this path has its own way of “exercising justice,” another kind of justice.48 Both her evocative video works and installations Treno (canto fúnebre) and Río por asalto relate to what Acosta López has framed as art that resists oblivion “by means of its own fragility, that is, without attempting to solve the problem of memory but rather by way of disclosing its aporetic features.”49 Staging the river in its own materiality of watery texture and sound, presenting it as powerful formless liquid and fuid force, both video works render the lacunae and silences of loss and non-narrated violence tangible, irredeemably contoured by the river. With Treno (canto fúnebre), Echeverri shows the river Cauca that has absorbed so many disappeared corpses, while she recreates through the echoing of the water the evanescence of memory. The forces of the torrent run into a vortex, growing inside us and presently cropping up into the surface. Human voices draw echoes in that density. Those are calls—voices traveling through remote silences, in the darkness of the water’s depth. What is working on us here is the power of a subtle allegory that consigns us to war, to violence among men, and to mourning, the curator María Belén Saez de Ibarra reminds us.50 With this installation, Echeverri lines up two river banks, unable to be crossed, that powerfully work as metaphor that alludes to the “impossibility of shifting positions in the midst of the confict—to the death experience itself.”51 The video installation thus delves into the unspoken social

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crisis that the river as a tomb unfolds, enclosing the unmourned dead bodies while it speaks of the unspeakable experience of death and, on the meta-level of this artwork, of the interruption of the otherwise “communicative capability of language.”52 Resisting oblivion, the river remains as a refection of death and thus becomes an act of speech. Echeverri is one of a number of contemporary artists who have started to work explicitly on the Colombian armed confict and specifcally on the form of violence that is forced disappearance. The river Cauca, which is present in many of her audiovisual works, is one of the deadly rivers of the Colombian fuvial landscapes, embodying many nameless corpses, making it the river of burial and death. Yet Echeverri’s intervention not only uses the river water as a material in which to bury the victims but rather documents in a suggestively poetic way the many human practices of burial rituals in the form of the search for the leftovers and remains of a violent death. Suddenly, in this video work, the currents of the river throw up a shirt or trousers that become the only evidence of a human body, caught by someone, who in this act, next to the river, is the only witness who mourns the lost body in the form of a fuvial funeral rite. The installation invites us as spectator to participate in the act of waiting and searching in the dark black river water that offers a testimony, carrying the clothing forward in its streams. Echoing a human voice calling someone’s name, the water seems to become a material signifer to mourn disappearance and death. Echeverri’s audio-visual installation, set up on two or more big screens, immerses the spectator in texture, sound, and liquidity as the sole testimony to absence sensed here as the elusive present past. In this fragility of disappearance, the river water contests a landscape that buried countless disappeared bodies while witnessing their absence in a moment of embracing their memory of a past presence. Acosta López points out that Echeverri’s work is on the fragility of memory of the complex long-lasting armed confict in Colombia; it is about the fragility that surrounds “every attempt to resist oblivion and the strength that nonetheless seems to arise from fragility itself.”53 I wish to argue that Echeverri does this through the motifs and use of water to inquire into the mourning and death of unmournable disappeared bodies. Furthermore, in her installation, water and bodies of water are burial places to become the materials of mourning and for mourning practices and thus a resistance to oblivion. This is also suggested by the chosen title, Treno (canto fúnebre), alluding to the mourning chant. As a material part of ritual practices of mourning, chanting and thus the human voice give form to and perform pain and death, becoming next to the river’s own “chanting” the echo of the body of pain. The river water thus materializes these archaic ritual practices while embedding them into human time. As liquid, the material of water not only appeals to this profound symbolic function but also makes us participate through the sensorial realm of the body. As body of water expanding the perception of human time, the river that mourns seems to give meaning to death (if at all possible) and thus becomes part of a profound human experience. Echeverri seems to suggest with this installation that corporeity, here both of the river and the human body, becomes the constitutive dimension of the experience and perception of the world and its past. The “attempt to preserve the past as a living memory,” Acosta López underlines, must always be carried out in the form of loss, that is, in the form of its “absenting.” Art, therefore, must attempt here to present the past as what can never be

46 Liliana Gómez fully present, i.e., as that which always exceeds the very same possibilities of its own representation.54 Echeverri’s audio-visual work alludes to this quality of art, as her artwork certainly functions as allegory for the history of violence in Colombia and particularly of forced disappearance. Her work relates further to “the potentiality of art to evoke the unforgettable, to let it form and dwell in the vanishing representations that withhold it in its paradoxical character. It is here,” Acosta López sustains, “that the past is remembered in its resistance to being forgotten, moreover, only remembered as this resistance through the repetitive experience of its loss.”55 As sensible work, Echeverri’s intervention particularly molds the materiality of the sonic and visual that give the river its fuid form. In this audio-visual work, she materializes through the echoing of the water and the voices calling out the names of the disappeared, the psychic and material sedimentations of violence, suggesting in the form of a funeral song a last journey, an intimacy, as well as the possibility of mourning the disappeared, whose bodies often never surface or reappear. It is the stream of water that allegorically carries along history’s pasts as it materially carries the disappeared corpses, secretly enclosed in the river, as a non-narrated, non-audible, and non-visual knowledge. In the way the river binds its knowledge to memory and thus the history of violence of disappearance, the artwork gains a performative character. Performance genealogies draw on the idea of expressive movements made and remembered by bodies, residual movements retained implicitly in images or words (or in silences between them), and imaginary movements dreamed in minds not prior to language but constitutive of it, Taylor argues. “Whose memories, traditions, and claims to history disappear if performance lacks the staying power to transmit vital knowledge?”56 In the repeated gesture of mourning and remembering the disappeared, staged visually and sonically in this art intervention, the river water becomes the main performative element that constitutes memory against oblivion, whereas on the level of language we are unable to contest or mourn. Echeverri’s installation is thus an intervention in the impossibility of speech, in order to “document” or narrate the violence of disappearance and its absence. Yet as a speech act it works on the embodied gestures of a possible mourning, an embodiment the river performs against the silences.57 It is water that constitutes the beginnings of a shared and collective remembrance of a violent past and an experience of human time, both as repetition and mourning. As ontological material in this sense, the river becomes the memory of the landscape related to the embedded history of violence. Further, the river seems to be the “body-archive” and embodiment of memory.58 This idea has been further explored by Echeverri with her recent audio-visual installation Río por asalto displayed at the Shanghai Biennale 2018, curated by Cuauhtémoc Medina with María Belén Saez de Ibarra, Yukie Kamiya, and Wan Weiwei. As a multichannel video installation on six room-enclosing screens, the work plunges the spectator visually and acoustically into the river Cauca, traversing the locations of Bocas de Ceniza and the Atlantic coast at Ciénaga, where the river fnally rests as dead matter (Figure 3.4). Yet this time the dark black river beginning as torrential water bursts into the space of the spectator, and along the evolution of the work it becomes smooth, seeming to have mutated into dead water full of wooden logs and all sorts

Acts of Remaining


Figure 3.4 Clemencia Echeverri; Río por asalto, duration: 9:44 minutes, loop; video multichannel installation, six screens, Sound 7.1, XII Shanghai Biennale, 2018–2019. Source: Photo by estudio C. Echeverri.

of trash and leftovers. The video work draws on the river’s mutation and its death foretold, following a powerful stream that turns into black, calm, dead water before plunging into the Atlantic Ocean. The installation seems to be an orchestration of the river’s life cycle and subsequent violent stages of ruin and processes of ruination, when the river’s fow is brusquely stopped at Ituango, Colombia’s interior riverscape, and its hydroelectric power station with its large artifcial lake, into which the river water is submerged, becoming a coffn to the adjacent villages and other human and ecological relics. The video installation seems to foretell Colombian waters and fuidities, its liquid ecologies that are part of the slow violence witnessed by the country and its landscapes. In this installation, this river can also become a cadaver that does not leave space for any more mourning. Echeverri’s installation contests the disappearance of this rich fuvial Colombian landscape, the result of environmental violence; in the installation, nevertheless, “The river defends itself, attacks, expresses, hides, and overcomes itself.”59 The artist seems to ask: Can we really kill the river?60 As a chronicle of a death foretold, Echeverri’s installation is also a “madrigal, a Lied, a song, an anthem, a requiem and an elegy,” and as a shout of protest it is thus a resistance to the long history of political and ecological violence, as the title “river by assault” suggests.61 In the video installation, the body of the river performs its resistance to death. Through the medium of the sonic and the visual, the artist gives voice to the river that becomes the main protagonist of resistance to the man-made modern and industrial

48 Liliana Gómez mega-projects Colombia has witnessed for many decades that seem to ultimately threaten all of humankind. As a subtle critical-poetic intervention in the West’s oblivion of nature as agent, Echeverri delves into the rivers’ past, plunging into its powerful and untamable materiality and the soundscape of water, which binds us to a deeper ancestral time of resistance and knowledge. Río por asalto becomes a decolonial gesture as well, gaining its momentum from the fuidity the river materializes as resistance to oblivion. In another context, Acosta López reminds us of the intimate relationship between memory and fragility: Rather than being a coherent and comprehensive narrative created to make the past and the present coincide and, thus, rather than attempting to reconstruct and preserve the continuities that the violence of history interrupts and dislocates, art can be an answer that stands in solidarity to the past’s fragmented memories—which, in tension with the present, resist being sacrifced as well as being resolved.62 Both audio-visual installations by Echeverri, Treno (canto fúnebre) and Río por asalto, refect this kind of critical and sensual memory work in the way they unfold the diverse temporalities and materiality of the river water as liquid ecologies, not so much to resolve the contradictions of the past but rather to create a new sensibility to form and articulate a meaningful relationship with the environment’s present past, allowing for political engagement by the audience and a new bodily perception of landscapes, thus creating new and unexpected alliances.

Liquid Ecologies and Embodied History I have shown how Campos-Pons and Echeverri foreground situations of political and environmental confict contouring a social crisis of the present past through their art interventions by using the medium of liquids and water in a subtle critical way. Understanding their ecocritical engagement as “Feminists and anticolonial campaigns for environmental justice,” their interventions also expand the narratives of the Anthropocene to include the histories of racial thoughts and the inherent colonialism into a critical refection on environmental violence.63 Campos-Pons’s work in particular understands and criticizes colonialism as “carried by currents in a weather-andwater world of planetary circulation, where we cannot calculate a politics of location according to stable cartographies or geometries.”64 Both artists’ work relates to what Neimanis considers to be the meaning of contemporary toxic transits “as structured by a latency, a temporal lag.”65 Their works refect on different temporalities, thus contouring the psychic and material impacts of violence on both landscapes and personhood. Using liquids and specifcally water as a material signifer while inquiring into its nature as an ontological material, the artists unfold liquid ecologies as critical entanglements of humans, non-humans, and the environment, against a background of cultural memory in the Americas with its latencies and eruptions, resiliences and omissions. Their work, which I understand as performative acts, makes available past and present environments in the form of resistance, remembrance, and renovations allowing for new semantic situations and alternative horizons to contest the complex history of environmental violence, tracing it back to political and economic forms of confict.

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Campos-Pons, for her part, argues for an interactional and contra-punctual constitution of cultural identities and memories. She critically articulates the Caribbean experience of slavery, environmental degradation, contamination, and violence in her aesthetic work, which fnds its reverberations in Echeverri’s long engagement with the history of violence in Colombia. In their works they both embody gestures of witnessing against forgetting, and thus they establish an intimate but powerful relationship with the oceanic and fuvial landscapes respectively. Overall, they make palpable “new de-formations and new forms of debris of violence that work on matter and mind to eat through people’s resources and resiliences as they embolden new political actors with indignant refusal, forging unanticipated, entangled, and empowered alliances,” as underscored elsewhere by Stoler.66 And they intervene, on the meta-level, in the genealogies of the present, working “through the less perceptible affects of imperial interventions and their settling into the social and material ecologies in which people live and survive.”67 Let me remind you at this point what performance scholar Rebecca Schneider observed about the relationship between performance, body, and the archive as something that may describe the concerns shared by these art interventions. She writes: When we approach performance not as that which disappears (as the archive experts), but as both the act of remaining and a means of reappearance . . . we almost immediately are forced to admit that remains do not have to be isolated to the document, to the object, to bone versus fesh. . . . Still, we must be careful to avoid the habit of approaching performance remains as a metaphysic of presence that fetishizes a singular ›present‹ moment. As theories of trauma and repetition might instruct us, it is not presence that appears in the syncopated time of citational performance but precisely (again) the missed encounter—the reverberations of the overlooked, the missed, the repressed, the seemingly forgotten.68 Schneider, in her study, analyses the place of body, event, and performance in the Western archive culture. In doing so, she focuses not on language or its connotative contextual remnants but rather on the body-event and its multiple mediatization as a specifc historical archive. This means a radical reversal of perspective to not only study the corporal practices as forms of recording, preservation, and actualization of history but also to allow a refection on cultural phenomena in which culture as a space of mediation in an active act between body and body, and as a feld of a visceral and embodied history, becomes tangible. Following this, both artists’ work and long engagement with the various forms of embodiment of water outlines, I argue, a possible transfer of the past onto the present through the medium of liquid, specifcally water, understanding this bodily transmission as a form of counter-memory. Schneider in her analysis does not only conceive the event as performance as a form of documentation but also the gesture of the archiving itself as an event that succumbs to the order of the ephemeral yet is the constitutive part of memory. Every form of documentation, including those supposedly more permanent forms such as texts, photographs, or flms, could be detached from its “source” and the restrictive principals of the “archontic house arrest” and become an autonomous force that is able to blur the semantic difference with its original.69 Following this, I wish to sustain that through the medium and material of water, inquiring into liquid ecologies and its embodied history, Campos-Pons and Echeverri have elaborated a complex model of

50 Liliana Gómez memory work that refects the capacity of art of creating a new powerful sensibility. As acts of remaining, these art interventions contest the long-lasting degradation and processes of ruination of landscapes and personhood, thus interrupting the forgotten and invisibilized histories of environmental violence with its embedded economic and political conficts.

Notes 1. Gómez-Barris reminds us that the term “Anthropocene” has been used to identify “the crisis of future life on the planet” yet omitting the “histories of racial thought and settler colonialism that are imposed upon categorizations of biodiversity, spaces where the biotechnologies of capitalism accelerate.” Gómez-Barris points out that the Anthropocene has been used to demarcate “the temporalities and the spatial catastrophe of the planetary through a universalizing idiom and viewpoint that hides the political geographies.” Macarena Gómez-Barris, The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspective (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017), 4. 2. See here the study by Kassandra Nakas, Verfüssigungen. Ästhetische und semantische Dimensionen eines Topos (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2015). 3. See here the discussion led by Rob Nixon with Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011). 4. Okwui Enwezor, “The Diasporic Imagination: The Memory Work of María Magdalena Campos-Pons,” in María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Everything Is Separated by Water, edited by Lisa Freiman (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 65. See also the conversations with the artists in: Bell, Lynne, “History of People Who Were Not Heroes: A Conversation with Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons,” Third Text 12, no. 43 (1998): 33–42; María Magdalena Campos-Pons and William Luis, “Art and Diaspora: A Conversation with María Magdalena Campos-Pons,” Afro-Hispanic Review 30, no. 2 (2011): 155–166. 5. Diana Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2003). 6. Ibid., 142. 7. Ibid. 8. Astrida Neimanis, Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology (London: Bloomsbury, 2017). 9. See, for instance, the discussion on the aesthetics of Merleau-Ponty: Emmanuel Alloa and Adnen Jdey (eds.), Du sensible à l’œuvre. Esthétiques de Merleau-Ponty (Brussels: La lettre volée, 2012). 10. Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 20. 11. Ibid., 20. 12. Here I follow Neimanis’ argument: “A feminist fguration of bodies of water . . . extends the key critique of an Anthropocene talk that pits Man against Nature ‘out there’. Bodies of water insists that if we do live as bodies ‘in common,’ this commonality needs to extend beyond the human, into a more expansive sense of ‘we’.” Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 12. 13. Campos-Pons’s work on slavery is part of a long engagement with the psychic and material impacts of slavery in the contemporary US, shared by other leading Afro-American female artists. See here: Huey Copeland, Bound to Appear: Art, Slavery, and the Site of Blackness in Multicultural America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013). 14. Enwezor, “The Diasporic Imagination,” 65. 15. Ibid., 65. 16. Ann Laura Stoler (ed.), Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013), x. 17. See also Ann Laura: “We thus start from the observation that the less dramatic durabilities of duress that imperial formations produce as ongoing, persistent features of their ontologies have been set aside as if less ‘at hand’, less pressing, and less relevant to current global priorities and political situations than their more attention-grabbing counterparts. We attempt to broach, albeit indirectly, a set of questions not often addressed: What conditions the possibilities by which some features of colonial relations remain more resilient,

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18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27.


29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54.


persistent, and visible than others? If ‘violent environments’ are made so not by a scarcity of resources but by grossly uneven reallocation of access to them, the dispossessions and dislocations that accompany those violences do not always take place in obvious and abrupt acts of assault and seizure, but in more drawn out, less eventful, identifable ways. Our focus is on the more protracted imperial processes that saturate the subsoil of people’s lives and persist, sometimes subjacently, over a long durée.” Stoler, Imperial Debris, 5. Enwezor, “The Diasporic Imagination,” 71. Lisa Freiman(ed.), María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Everything Is Separated by Water (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 13. Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 28. Freiman, Everything Is Separated by Water, 13. Ibid., 14. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid. Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 33. The idea of the site-specifcity of the installation has been developed in detail by Adriana Zavala with “Blackness Distilled, Sugar and Rum: María Magdalena Campos-Pons’s Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits.” Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture 1, no. 2 (2019). “Given the association in Cuba of gradations of sugar with gradations of racial whitening, and how these were imposed onto the bodies of mixed-race women as receptacles of social meaning, I suggest (acknowledging the risk of an overly literal interpretation) that the yellow and pinkish beige sculptures Campos-Pons created for Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits might be interpreted as evoking the racial trauma of this system of gendered bodily signifcation.” Zavala, “Blackness Distilled,” 21. Zavala, “Blackness Distilled,” 20. Stoler, Imperial Debris, x. See here the chapter by Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores in this present volume. Zavala, “Blackness Distilled,” 21. Ibid. Ibid. Also see the study by Flora M. González, “Possession and Altar Making: Reconstruction of Memory as Artistic Performance in the Multimedia Installations of María Magdalena Campos-Pons,” Cuban Studies 31 (2000): 102–117. Zavala, “Blackness Distilled,” 30. Ibid. Ibid., 29. Ibid. Ibid., 30–31. Ibid. Ibid., 31. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid., 17. Ibid., 31–32. Also see the discussion in the chapter by Gina Tarver in this present volume. María Del Rosario Acosta López, “Memory and Fragility: Art’s Resistance to Oblivion (Three Colombian Cases),” CR: The New Centennial Review 14, no. 1 (2014): 73. Ibid., 74. M. Belén Saez de Ibarra, “Deep Inside the River. Treno: Video and Photography Installation.” 2009. Accessed October 17, 2019. proyectos/treno Ibid. Ibid. Acosta López, “Memory and Fragility,” 76. Ibid., 76–77.

52 Liliana Gómez 55. Ibid., 79. 56. Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire, 5. 57. Interestingly, Taylor further sustains: “For Phelan, the defning feature of performance— that which separates it from all other phenomena—is that it is live and disappears without a trace. The way I see it, performance makes visible (for an instant, live, now) that which is always already there: the ghosts, the tropes, the scenarios that structure our individual and collective life. These specters, made manifest through performance, alter future phantoms, future fantasies.” Taylor, The Archive and the Repertoire, 143. 58. See here in particular the essay by Dorota Sajewska, “Körper-Gedächtnis, Körper-Archiv. Der Körper als Dokument in künstlerischen Rekonstruktionspraktiken,” in Seien wir realistisch. Neue Realismen und Dokumentarismen in Philosophie und Kunst, edited by Magdalena Marszałek and Dieter Mersch (Zurich: Diaphanes, 2016). 59. María Belén Saez de Ibarra, “Texto Curatorial.” 2018. Accessed January 13, 2020. www. 60. Ibid. 61. Carlos Jiménez, Río por Asalto. 62. Acosta López, “Memory and Fragility,” 79. 63. Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 35. 64. Ibid., 36. 65. Ibid. 66. Stoler, Imperial Debris, 29. 67. Ibid., 4. 68. Rebecca Schneider, Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment (New York: Routledge, 2011), 101. 69. Sajewska, “Körper-Gedächtnis,” 346.

References Acosta López, María Del Rosario, “Memory and Fragility: Art’s Resistance to Oblivion (Three Colombian Cases).” CR: The New Centennial Review 14, no. 1 (2014): 71–98. Acosta López, María del Rosario (ed.). Resistencias al olvido: memoria y arte en Colombia. Bogotá: Universidad de los Andes, Ediciones Uniandes, 2015. Alloa, Emmanuel and Adnen Jdey (eds.). Du sensible à l’œuvre. Esthétiques de Merleau-Ponty. Brussels: La lettre volée, 2012. Bell, Lynne, “History of People Who Were Not Heroes. A Conversation with Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons.” Third Text, 12, Nos. 43 (1998): 33–42. Campos-Pons, María Magdalena, and William Luis. “Art and Diaspora: A Conversation with María Magdalena Campos-Pons.” Afro-Hispanic Review 30, no. 2 (2011): 155–166. Copeland, Huey. Bound to Appear: Art, Slavery, and the Site of Blackness in Multicultural America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. Enwezor, Okwui. “The Diasporic Imagination: The Memory Work of María Magdalena Campos-Pons.” In María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Everything Is Separated by Water. Edited by Lisa Freiman, 64–89. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007. Freiman, Lisa (ed.). María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Everything Is Separated by Water. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007. Gómez-Barris, Macarena. The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspective. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. González, Flora M. “Possession and Altar Making: Reconstruction of Memory as Artistic Performance in the Multimedia Installations of María Magdalena Campos-Pons.” Cuban Studies 31 (2000): 102–117. Jímenez, Carlos. Río por Asalto. 2018. Accessed January 13, 2020. www.clemenciaecheverri. com/clem/index.php/proyectos/rio-por-asalto. Nakas, Kassandra. Verfüssigungen: Ästhetische und semantische Dimensionen eines Topos. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2015.

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Neimanis, Astrida. Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology. London: Bloomsbury, 2017. Nixon, Rob. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011. Roca, José and Alejandro Martín (eds.). Waterweavers: A Chronicle of Rivers. New York: Bard Graduate Center, Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, 2014. Saez de Ibarra, M. Belén. “Deep Inside the River. Treno: Video and Photography Installation.” 2009. Accessed October 17, 2019. treno. Saez de Ibarra, M. Belén. “Texto Curatorial.” 2018. Accessed January 13, 2020. Sajewska, Dorota. “Körper-Gedächtnis, Körper-Archiv. Der Körper als Dokument in künstlerischen Rekonstruktionspraktiken.” In Seien wir realistisch. Neue Realismen und Dokumentarismen in Philosophie und Kunst. Edited by Marszałek, Magdalena, and Mersch, Dieter, 339–366. Zurich: Diaphanes, 2016. Schneider, Rebecca. Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment. New York: Routledge, 2011. Stoler, Ann Laura (ed.). Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013. Taylor, Diana. The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas. Durham, London: Duke University Press, 2003. Zavala, Adriana, “Blackness Distilled, Sugar and Rum: María Magdalena Campos-Pons’s Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits.” Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture 1, no. 2 (April 2019): 8–32.


An Expanse of Water How to Know Water Through Film Adriana Michéle Campos Johnson

This chapter is driven by the emergence (or reemergence) of water as an important register for confict worldwide and the resulting problematization of what we might call, following Jacques Ranciére, the sense (a regime of meaning) and sense (a mode of sensory presentation) of water.1 The intensifed drive to privatize water is part of the expanding frontier of processes of extraction, the extension of what Karl Marx called primitive accumulation into new domains so that new kinds of substances, elements, objects, or pieces of knowledge can be “understood and seen as resources available for extractive operations.”2 Such extension includes not only the material expansion of the energy frontier or the spread of soy and biofuel plantations through the generalization of an agribusiness model but also the harvesting of biological substances from human bodies, data mining, or even, in an expanded sense of extraction, the transformation of emotions into raw material for marketing maneuvers.3 It also involves water. According to Maristella Svampa, the effect of an intensifed extractivism in last few decades in Latin America has been to “reprimarize” it. Svampa pairs this change with a reaction she describes as the “ecoterritorial turn” or an “environmentalization” of indigenous and campesino struggles where a new terrain of confict is forged through a language of buen vivir, the commons, environmental justice, or food sovereignty (in contrast to an older Latin American left language that privileged the confict between labor and capital). While conficts over access and possession of water are not new, then, it shows up today as a loaded terrain on which the struggle between new forms of extraction and counter-narratives to this process is played out. If water poses a particular challenge in such struggles, it is due in part to its liquidity or, more accurately, to a mutability in form that goes beyond its liquid state. Water’s lack of fxity and proper place—the diffculty in containing it or fencing it in—has led it to be termed an “uncooperative commodity.”4 Thus, it is often through infrastructures such as buckets, pipes, bottles, dams, and boats that we access water, and it is also through such infrastructures that water is shaped and that the means of accessing water can be privatized. My wager in this essay is to propose visual forms (drawing/ painting, cinema, maps, photography) as yet another infrastructure of access to water and to think about how they inform the two senses of water.5 Indeed, flms, both fctional and documentary, have been one of the principle means through which conficts over water have been registered and circulated in Latin America. Some of these not only document the conficts but also stage the epistemological problematization of water that such conficts impel. By this I mean, following Michel Foucault, that the flms, as a form of thinking, take on the challenge presented to a previously settled distribution of the sensible and intelligible. If,

An Expanse of Water


as Foucault says, the object of such problematization does not preexist it and cannot simply be subject to representation but is formed in response to an unsettling, then what ‘water is’ might become an open question.6 It can come to pose a problem not only to politics narrowly defned but to a certain distribution of sensibility and intelligibility understood more broadly, putting into question “existing modes of sensory presentations and forms of enunciation” that stabilize or contain water in different forms.7 Additionally, however, I want to think about the formal limits that might crop up when such problematization is channeled specifcally through visual practices. How do we factor in visuality when water is presented on screen? Central to this question is Henri Lefebvre’s argument that the increasing production of abstract space under capitalism is accompanied by the growing dominance of a visual logic. For Lefebvre, the priority accorded the “arts of the image” such as painting and cinema were one indication of an onslaught of visualization whereby social life became increasingly the “mere decipherment of messages by the eyes.” All impressions that were not-optical, that were derived from taste, smell, touch, and even hearing, were, he said, fading away or becoming simply a transitional step towards the visual.8 To read Lefebvre alongside Ranciére, then, is to be attentive to a continued dominance of the visual even within a re-distribution of the sensible so that the question is not simply how to track changing confgurations of space and time, visibility and invisibility, speech and noise but to follow the weight given to the visual as the primary conductor and organizer of sense and sense. If the problem that water poses is something that we can witness through flm, does it then become something to be seen and pointed at, its centrality to life abstracted and made visible and thus “killed,” as Lefebvre suggests?9 What kind of mode, practice, or experience of visuality might reconfgure a settled fabric of sensory experience so as to back away from the dominance of a visual logic of abstraction?10 Films are particularly interesting sites for this question insofar as they are not exclusively a “visual medium” but, in the words of sound designer Randy Thom, “a complex web of elements which are interconnected almost like living tissues” (including, of course, sound).11 Three of the four flms I analyze directly address recent or ongoing conficts over water use and conceptions, situating themselves within a concern over the expansion of practices of expropriation and privatization that I noted at the outset. If I lead with an analysis of Icair Bollín’s Even the Rain (2010), it is because it is one of the more well-known fctional and commercial flms to treat water wars in Latin America and one that frequently shows up on the syllabi of college courses. It also exemplifes the way attempts to represent conficts over water can depend on a certain stabilization and abstraction of water as a resource that can be contained and presented on screen. Two flms that draw on indigenous relationships with water in order to stage a confrontation with extractive logics are Abuela grillo (2009), an animated short on the Bolivian water wars, and Carolina Caycedo’s Land of Friends (2014), which concerns the effects of dam construction on the Magdalena River in Colombia. In both cases, and in contrast to Even the Rain, water is not abstracted as water so much as embodied in different forms on screen. Paz Encina’s Viento Sur (2012), fnally, falls outside the neo-extractivist (and counter-extractivist) paradigm that shapes the other three flms. I fnish with Viento Sur, however, because Encina’s markedly different visual work on the river that flls the horizon of her flm taps into older archives of relationships with water, sitting askew to the polarizations that structure the other flms.

56 Adriana Michéle Campos Johnson

Water as Problem Political disagreements over what to do with water or who has access to water harbor questions about what water is and what its agentive qualities might be. What are the forms through which water is made intelligible, and how does water, in turn, inform social, economic, and political life? If activist Vandana Shiva coins the term “hydrojihad,”12 for instance, it is to make the point that conficts over scarce water resources are often at the heart of what we may otherwise understand to be ethnic or religious conficts. Alternately, the term “blue gold” seeks to make coming conficts intelligible by a series of displacements through which water can occupy the place held in the twentieth century by oil (black gold), which in turn occupies the place held by gold proper as driver of conquest and confict. Despite the widely differing use-values of all three, the terminology sets up an equivalent relation between water, oil, and gold. Not only do they thus have exchange-value, but the equivalence also casts oil and water as determinant of value in some way, just as gold once anchored the circulation of currency. By pouring water into the logic of exchange and property, its relationship with confict becomes intelligible. The possibility that it might signify differently shows up, on the other hand, in the “water is life” formulation that has proliferated around indigenous/non-indigenous struggles over water access. The “is” establishes a holding ground that temporarily brings together two incommensurate worlds beyond metaphor. The formulation doesn’t simply suggest that water is necessary to or is the foundation of life but also that water IS life and that, if this is so, we are talking about another kind of water and another kind of life. Disjunctions like these animate the notion of “perspectivism” elaborated by Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiro de Castro. In contrast to more commonly circulating notions of cultural relativism that assume a single world viewed in different ways (where a stable world is ontologically prior), Viveiro de Castro argues that Amazonian epistemologies propose instead the coexistence of different worlds as a consequence of different perspectives. In one example, Viveiro de Castro cites a Piro woman who responds to a mission teacher trying to persuade her to prepare food for her child with boiled water as a way of protecting her from waterborne diseases by saying, “Perhaps that is true for the people from Lima. But for us, people native to this place, boiled water gives diarrhea. Our bodies are different from your bodies.”13 Viveiros de Castro goes on to elucidate that “the Piro water anecdote does not refer to an other vision of the same body, but another concept of the body [a nonbiological idea of the body]—the problem being, precisely, its discrepancy from our own concept, notwithstanding their apparent ‘homonimy.’”14 Equivocation, he says—in which the same word (body, water, life) seems to refer to different things—is not simply disagreement, misunderstanding, or a mistake: it is “a failure to understand that understandings are necessarily not the same, and that they are not related to imaginary ways of ‘seeing the world’ but to the real worlds that are being seen.”15 Instead of a stable signifed (body or water) given different signifers in different languages, the phenomena of equivocation posits a “view of different worlds”16 where there is no common signifed. My point in citing Viveiros de Castro is to show that if dissent is taken far enough, the materiality of water—as a certain kind of thing in the world—cannot be presumed to function as an ultimate ground, anchoring the confict over water in a prior consensus, as the place or meaning assigned to such materiality may itself be open to dispute.

An Expanse of Water


Still, even within a perspective that assumes the materiality of water as ground, the mutability of its material forms makes for slippery ground. One approach is to fgure water as inhabiting, temporarily, a successive catalogue of forms: Eventually water, Having been possessed by every verb Been rush been drip been Geyser eddy fountain rapid drunk Evaporated frozen pissed Transpired—will fall Into itself and sit. Pond.17 Don McKay’s poem (“Pond”) fgures water-as-water without a defnitive body unlike water-as-river, as ocean or as pond. Indeed naming water water abstracts it away from a body, turns it into the pure potentiality and restless motion in his poem so that its only persistent quality is its verb-ness. Yet by describing such potentiality as “possessed” by its different incarnations, water is not only agential (verb-like) but also passive. What is named water seems formless until we perceive it temporarily at rest, falling into or becoming pond. At the same time, one might go further and notice that in the optics of science, water, the moment of liquidity, is itself a resting state for a molecular combination that has solid and gaseous forms. To call it water is to stabilize this combination in its fuid form; water can become steam, or ice, but is not yet. Hence the estrangement generated by Michael Allaby’s statement that “Weather consists mainly of water in one or another of its forms,”18 where it might take us a second to cross the gap and recognize weather-fuctuations broadly (not just rain) as so many redistributions and instances of the earth’s hydrological cycles. If naming water water gives it a resting place in liquidity—so it is not just a verb but an infnitive waiting to be conjugated— then it is halfway to form rather than formless, one stop within a predictable cycle. Insofar as this fuidity is also conjugated in relationship to more stable and solid forms of embodiment, it is already a way of locating water. This is the point made by the anthropologist Stefan Helmreich when he suggests that the fuidity of water is a rhetorical effect of how we think about nature and culture, so that very difference between greater and lesser formlessness becomes itself a carrier for other differences: Water as nature appears as both potentiality of form and uncontainable fux; it moves faster than culture, with culture often imagined in a land-based idiom grounded in the culture concept’s origins in European practices and theories of agriculture and cultivation. Water as nature appears as that fowing substance that culture may be mobilized to channel—think of canal locks, dams, and irrigation networks.19 To give water a resting place in its liquid state is to deem it fux and potentiality, something that can be, as McKay put it, “possessed” by form. When posed against the apparent solidity of canal locks, fowing water fgures as a substance to be squeezed into human-determined forms. Note, however, that water-as-river is itself infrastructural: cutting through land, rivers divide it, and their length turns them into channels of mobility.

58 Adriana Michéle Campos Johnson Yet naming a river depends on seeing a river, an art that according to Dilip Da Cunha, in The Invention of Rivers, depends on the “tracing of a line.”20 On the one hand, writes Da Cunha, this line, the edge of a river (or pond), constitutes water as a substance separate from land: water and land take place on either side of a line that also unites them in difference. The line also does for a river what an “epidermis does for an organism, that is, allow the individuation of a corporeal thing.”21 It “calls out an unique entity that can be named, touched, represented, engineered, but above all believed to exist.”22 On the other hand, the traced line of the river on the map, the perceptual blueprint through which rivers are seen, also marks its extension, an entity with a beginning and end through which water fows from source to ocean so that to hear or speak the word river (unlike the sitting pond) is to “think fow and see lines.”23 Da Cunha will argue that this art of seeing rivers is also, at bottom, an “invention” of rivers because there exists the possibility of choosing another moment in the hydrological cycle as the defning relationship to water. The counter-point to a linear world where identities have a clear and distinct edge is an imagination anchored in what Da Cunha calls a rain terrain, a feld-like world where identities extend into one another for varying extents.24 From this perspective, one perceives a rain-driven open feld of wetness, or a wetness that is everywhere before it is water somewhere. From this other perspective, foods are not water out of place, in violation of a designated line, but part of an expanding/contracting feld of wetness. Rather than fowing, this watery stuff “is precipitating, seeping, soaking, evaporating and transpiring in ways that defy delineation.”25 It is also being held or collecting in interstices, pores, terraces, aquifers, ponds, glaciers, snowfeld, soils, and even plants and animals for varying extents of time ranging from seconds and minutes to centuries and eons.26 While some of these holding spaces might be imagined, according to our “tank-like” imaginaries, as having clear boundaries in which water is set apart from its holding environment, others, as Andrea Ballestero argues in her analysis of the challenge aquifers present to fguration, have no such lines: “What is the aquifer standing against when it is distributed liquid across different rock densities and empty spaces?”27 A terrain of distributed wetness through rocks, spaces, air and bodies—where wetness is not a thing, nor a verb in different conjugations, but an attribute and thus always in combination with something else—may take us past water. Against wetness, water is collected, located, given rest somewhere, even in drops, even in a cycle.

Colonizing Rain Icíar Bollaín’s flm Even the Rain (2010) follows a transnational flm crew involved in flming a Hollywood-epic type movie in Bolivia about Bartolomé de Las Casas and his denunciation of the human destruction wrought by the Spanish empire. It so happens that the moment they pick to flm their flm coincides with the water wars of 2000. This is only relevant to them, however, because Daniel, the Bolivian actor who plays the leader of indigenous resistance to the Spanish Empire, takes a leadership role in the water wars. So the movie works to draw out a series of parallels between three structures of dispossession: the Spanish colonization of indigenous bodies, the privatization of water in Cochabamba, and the Spanish flm-crew’s use of Bolivia and its population as cheap landscape and cheap extras for the flm in production. In this narrative, water enters essentially through a metaphorical structure: it works as a stand-in for the way the current inhabitants of Bolivia are treated as a natural resource

An Expanse of Water


from which surplus value can be extracted by the global flm industry, just as international companies sought to extract surplus value from water. In other words, it was a natural resource that was out there, one that—as in Marx’s narrative on primitive accumulation—existed in a certain metabolic and unproblematic relationship to the human, a necessity for the basic work of maintaining human life but one whose access has since been blocked, severing the preexisting relationship. Water comes to the screen, therefore, as subordinated to its relationship to the human: a “useful support for agriculture, industry, commerce, power-generation and the well-being of people and cities—a substance that is (equitably or inequitably) organized to serve human cultures.”28 The title “even the rain” signals the crossing of a conceptual limit. Processes of privatization of water are not new—selling municipal water systems, fencing in access points to beaches—but what is marked with particular outrage is the expansion of such processes beyond water as stabilized (even if temporarily) in one container or another (groundwater, river, lake) into other parts of the water cycle to include water falling from the sky. How can ownership be claimed of the rain? In a speech given by Daniel, he pushes this logic further to its seemingly absurd consequences: will they claim ownership of his tears, he asks the large crowed? His sweat? His response is that they will only get his piss. The movie projects therefore an expanded sense of water to include other scales and internal geographies—scaled up to include rain and down to include sweat and tears— but held together by the circulation of water from droplet to ocean, trickle to food, cup to lake. The rhetorical effect of Daniel’s defance (they will only get my piss) lies not only in including within this circulatory path the internal spaces of the human body but also in extending water into useless forms. Yet by marking such useless forms as beyond the line somehow, it reinforces the centrality of water’s usefulness as a human resource in the flm. Water, in the words of Cecilia Chen, is “discursively contained and conceptually ordered, even as it is physically extracted, treated, and piped to where we live. This limited and limiting approach to water has become a part of humanity’s relation to itself, to nature, to the world and to its internal and external others.”29 An alternative to such a way of ordering water can be found in the short animated flm Abuela Grillo, which also addresses the Bolivian water wars but problematizes water differently by personifying it in the fgure of a grandmotherly water-spirit (Abuela Direjná) based on Ayoreo mythology. The short flm is the product of a cultural exchange between Bolivia and Denmark and was written by eight Bolivian students as part of The Animation Workshop under the artistic direction of French cartoonist Denis Chapon. The plotline of the short follows the water-spirit who frst wanders and waters the land freely (both cultivated lands but also landscapes with scarce human presence) but is then captured, hooked into a factory, and forced to squeeze out water from her body (including her tears) in bottle form (Figure 4.1). This constriction of fow into certain ordered and proftable channels that pass strictly through a relation to the human causes drought to proliferate. Predictably, the situation is resolved by a giant storm and food she brings down upon the land that wash away the various forms of containment and allow her to wander freely again. Embodying water differently in the short has a number of effects. The forms by which we perceive water, as bodies of water, are both foregrounded as such in the flm—as a grandmother’s body—as well as estranged in a humanoid body. Indeed, signifcantly, her body does not metonymically represent other delimited waterbodies (no other water bodies like lakes or rivers appears in the flm) but indexes a resting state in the circulation of water between ground and sky. While she doesn’t designate

60 Adriana Michéle Campos Johnson

Figure 4.1 “The Extraction of Tears” (7:48). Source: Abuela Grillo (12:42 minutes) Animation. Vimeo. Directed by Denis Chapon. Produced by Animation Workshop of Denmark. 2009.

something as amorphous as wetness per se, the water that is (sometimes) her body is never fully bounded or contained as such but marked by leakiness and movement. Outside pieces of her body follow her like supplements, so that she sometimes—but not always—trails clouds, rain, and snow. This fuctuating externality of her body or instability of her body accompanies a certain unpredictability in the effects of her presence. The second effect of the personifcation of water as a subject of sorts, therefore, is to set up “water” as having a certain logic and agency of its own apart from its relationship to humans, as something other than useful or as exceeding anthropocentric ideas of service: useless waters are “less intelligible, as agents of troublesome, unpredictable and transformational energies—energies that are integral to risky processes of becoming, including but certainly not limited to death.”30 The water forms that come in and out of relation with her (clouds, rain, snow, storms, foods) do so in ways that seem both alternately willed and inadvertent, never fully controlled or predictable. In one early scene she is shown accidentally bringing a food upon a small village that had invited her to stay there temporarily. Staying still—trying to stop the transformation and errancy of water or binding it to the human (even if, in this frst instance, it is done in an open and generous way, with a gift of food to her and an invitation to stay)—is coded as potentially dangerous. This embodiment also changes the kind of work visuality is made to perform as the medium in which the senses of water are delivered. Although Even the Rain turns a lens on the process of producing flms and the unequal power and labor structures subtending it, it does not question the visual form itself as a means of access. Indeed, the exploitative structure of the fction flm company is contrasted with the documentary-eye of a woman called María who is tasked with following the making of the flm but who fnds herself registering and sometimes flming the tensions that the rest of the crew want to ignore. María is a stand-in for the flm we are watching, one organized therefore by a logic of witnessing and revelation where parallel structures of exploitation (Spanish colonialism, privatization of water, background and extras in flm production) are made visible. This logic of witnessing leads to a scene near the end of the flm in which Daniel gives the flm’s producer, Costa, a vial of water as a gift. This scene is meant to bring

An Expanse of Water


into contact two radically different understandings of water; it is meant perhaps to stage a kind of equivocation in Viveiro de Castro’s terms. Thus for Daniel to offer water as a gift seems to indicate forms of value that exceed the market economy. Insofar as the quantity of water is minimal it also exceeds any use-value. It is only a gift. Costa’s response is to use the Quechua word yaku, gesturing perhaps to the impossibility of a faithful translation, to something other than simply another linguistic equivalence to agua. At the same time, the presentation of yaku as embodied in the vial mirrors its stabilization as something that can be presented on screen. The point is not only that a commodity logic returns to haunt this scene because it appears in the form of a bottle (because water cannot be gifted except insofar as it is enclosed in a container of some sort) but also that the movie stabilizes water/yaku as something to be apprehended visibly in a sequence that turns water into a message to be deciphered through eyes. In the frst shot of the sequence, the camera trains its focus on the vial of water being lifted out of a box; in the second moment, we are shown Costa holding up the vial and looking at it. In the third shot, as Costa says the word yaku, we are shown the eyes of the Bolivian taxi-driver who glances back at them and the vial in the rearview mirror: although we have no idea what he may think of the gift exchange, he is nonetheless brought in to participate in it visually. If the vial of water bears a message that is decoded by eyes, a message whose circulation expands through a series of glances, the emphasis on the glances themselves suggest a reversal in priority. It is not so much that eyes are carriers of and thus subordinate to the message they carry but instead that the message and the vial function to reinforce the importance of the visual infrastructure that bears it. In this way, I would argue, the drive to make water visible and to abstract it, as well as the way this is put in the service of buttressing visuality itself, mimics the very processes that the movie attempts to problematize. The body of grandmother-water, on the other hand, neither contains nor makes water visible in the same way. Although we are sometimes given visual images of rain or foods onscreen in Abuela grillo, often we are also just given the body of the abuela herself, who stands in for water but where liquid water is not visible as such (Figure 4.2). She both is and is not water. The disjunction remains.

Figure 4.2 “Abuela Grillo and the Flood” (8:51) Source: Abuela Grillo. (12:42 minutes) Animation. Vimeo. Directed by Denis Chapon. Produced by Animation Workshop of Denmark. 2009.

62 Adriana Michéle Campos Johnson

Seeing Rivers If both of the flms I’ve just discussed depend on an optic that projects the hydrological cycle, perceived as the horizontal circulation of water through evaporation and precipitation, from rain to food, sweat and tears, the next two flms I want to focus on address river-bodies. Multimedia artist Carolina Caycedo’s short flm Land of Friends (2014) is explicitly framed by and pushes back against an extractive viewpoint, represented by the construction of the El Quimbo dam on the Magdalena River in Colombia. Insofar as the dam would generate electricity to be sold outside the country, its net effect, in the words of one interviewee, would be to export “water as raw material. . . . [I]t is the same logic as mining.” Not unlike Abuela Grillo, the flm turns on the contrast between a lively, living, and life-enabling fow of water and a controlled “deadened” fow. The dam doesn’t simply block the river but acts as a switching mechanism, abstracting the movement of the water, the current, into a carrier of kinetic-aquatic power that can then be translated into electrical (and fnancial) power. “Killing” the river as an entity has a deadening effect that stretches to the surrounding territory insofar as the river is shown to be entangled in a series of ecological and social relationships, sustaining, for example, a host of smallscale human activities that include subsistence fshing, traveling (by boat), growing food for sustenance and the market, religious practice, and simply swimming. Through a series of interviews, the flm collects and archives testimonies of the existing relationships that will be severed when the dam goes into effect. While the assorted voices we hear are sometimes superimposed on images of the river or surrounding region, when those speaking are shown it is often through a decentered perspective where either hands are shown instead of faces or where we see only the bottom half of the faces. Eyes, the exchange of looking that anchors face-to-face oral communication, are de-emphasized. As this decentering of eyes might suggest, Caycedo’s exploration of vernacular ways of relating to the river has a formal counterpoint in the flm’s play with multiple practices of not only seeing but, more broadly, experiencing the river. In flmic terms this includes aerial stills of the river as well as other high-angle shots, painted lines that evoke the river (an aspect I’ll return to), segments flmed at the river’s edge, a sequence in which the camera is turned upside down so that the river appears to fow at the top of the screen, and moments that are flmed in the water, below the river’s surface. It is these last shots that lead Macarena Gómez-Barris to argue that Caycedo’s flm stages nonnormative viewing practices that ultimately dissolve an “extractive view-point.” When the camera dips below the surface of the water, says Gómez-Barris, Caycedo conjures up a fsh-eye episteme: a “submerged perspective that one might imagine could emanate from the river”31 and that is “outside the range of the human eye and its capture.”32 For Gómez-Barris, the most salient characteristic of this fsh-eye episteme is the way our visual access is blocked either by the opaque, muddy water, pieces of leaves, or oxygen bubbles.33 As we are forced to see “into the muck of what has usually been rendered in linear and transparent visualities,”34 the logocentric perspective of the human is decentered, she says, and our visual mastery disabled (Figure 4.3). Nonetheless, it seems important to keep in view the full range of visual forms enacted by Caycedo throughout the flm: although the underwater perspective noted by Gómez-Barris is repeated several times throughout the flm, it exists in tandem with another visual leitmotif which reoccurs more frequently and is set off more markedly, namely the on-screen tracing of the course of the river as a single, drawn line with a

An Expanse of Water


Figure 4.3 “Tracing the River’s Course” (10:40). Source: Carolina Caycedo. Land of Friends (38.10 minutes). Vimeo. 2014.

paintbrush. Unlike the enveloped immersion in muddy water that is the fsh-eye episteme (accompanied by a matching watery soundscape), these images depend instead on a bird’s-eye view: the lines are at frst painted upon stills of satellite images of the dam, and they conjure up map-making practices. The drawings also puncture what is otherwise marked by a documentary poetics (including the submerged shots). Like the drawn body of the abuela grillo, they stand in for the river, at a certain remove, but don’t actually present a watery body on screen: they abstract water (echoing the abstraction of water as current implied by the dam) even as they interrupt a realist aesthetics. Finally, the line also—to follow Da Cunha’s lead—calls out the river as an entity, reinforcing the perception that it exists as such, a linear fow of water that might acquire various names along the way—Yuma (land of friends), Guacacayo (river of tombs), Arli (river of fsh), Caripuaña (great river)—but that is nonetheless connected. The motif of the painted line reinforces this unity, like a skin, stitching together the variegated shots of the river that we are otherwise shown on screen so that it becomes a thing to be seen and experienced through human eye and practice. While this motif thus depends on a simulated aerial viewpoint, on processes of abstraction and the codes through which we pin rivers to maps, the fact that the paintbrush is shown precisely in the process of tracing a wandering and unfnished line does interesting work. It suggests, frst, the river as an errant being that should be allowed to fow freely. Second, not only does it show the “what is there” of maps, but in the various, often incomplete wanderings, it shows either “what was” or “what could be.” Third, it shows the river as not only water but as infrastructural; if it is called an hilo dorado in the flm, it is not only because it can be traced as a “thread” but also to call attention to its role as a connector and structuring agent, an enabler of a series of relationships and activities. Thus, rather than a fow that can be poured into a form, Caycedo’s flm sets up the river as form-producing, as ground or infrastructure for multiple “informal” relations, a “land of friends” that includes human practices. Finally, the movement of the brush and the contrast it sets up to the stillness of the black and white satellite image of the dam also evoke a haptic rather than

64 Adriana Michéle Campos Johnson visual relationship to the river: in other words, the moving brush not only represents the river through an image (mimetically) but also retraces the fow of the river so that we relate to the river by reproducing its movement. Ultimately, the flm’s wager may be less about blocking visual access as a means of understanding the river and more about multiplying forms of access to the river where none of these in particular is suffcient. Of the two lines that call out river bodies, it is the edge that marks Paraguayan flmmaker Paz Encina’s river in her short flm Viento Sur rather than the line that traces a channel of fow. Unlike all the other flms considered here, the coordinates of Encina’s flm are not oriented by the economic logic of extractivism, so that her river—which is not threatened by damming—never stands to oppose water understood as resource, either as drinking water, water for agriculture, or water as translatable into other kinds of currents. Neither is the river, in a push-back to its reduction to determined forms of human use, animated as an entity with agential qualities. It takes shape instead as an open-ended expanse of water, drawing on older archives of waterembodiment like the River Oceanus that the Greeks imagined encircling habitable land and occupying the place of the horizon. As such it also associated with the absolute alterity that Jules Michelet attributed to the sea: “For all terrestrial animals, water is the non-respirable element, the ever heaving but inevitably asphyxiating enemy the fatal and eternal barrier between the two worlds.”35 Like other terrestrial animals, humans cannot dwell for any length of time in water, and it is only through prosthetics (scuba gear, diving bells, submarines, boats) that they can move within or on the surface of watery places.36 Associated with opacity and alterity, Encina’s visual work with the river offers a more fractious problematization of our access to water, away from thresholds of usefulness and intelligibility. The flm is called Viento Sur—where the title refers to a change in the weather that might allow two brothers to cross a large unnamed river—but it is the river rather than wind that occupies the horizon of the flm, looming as the threshold against which the brothers hover in indecision. They have been driven towards the river by the threat of being detained, tortured, and killed. The form of their opposition to the regime (it is set sometime during the long dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner (1954– 89) in Paraguay) isn’t clear or is purposely generic. One brother wants to cross the river and sees it as a line of fight to safety because the far bank of the river represents another country. The other one doesn’t and throws up different impediments to his brother’s exhortation to cross: sometimes he simply refuses to answer or delays his answer, but when he answers he will say that they need to wait for the weather to change, that he doesn’t want to steal a boat to cross (as a stain on his honor), that they may die on the river, that crossing and being far away is fnally a fate worse than death or imprisonment. Thus, while the river presents certain material diffculties to the brothers as a natural barrier, the fact that it doubles as a nation-state frontier means that it promises a change in social and political conditions once traversed. The waiting ends when one brother decides to cross the river. While the other brother does not follow, he accepts a becoming-other that involves changing their names so that each won’t betray the other under possible capture and torture. While the one who leaves takes the name of their father, the one who stays inscribes himself in a different genealogy, becoming “Ramón del Rio” and giving the river fnally the quality of a name. Through the name, the river also takes on the fgure of a ground: something against which and out of which his new identity emerges.

An Expanse of Water


The river’s capacity to act as ground is inseparable from its quality of alterity. Importantly, such alterity is not organized in stable fashion around a divide between the human and nature. Neither river nor wind are something that we might call “nature” properly speaking. When one brother declares that “El viento de agosto es traicionero. No nos va a ayudar,” the wind takes on a certain opaque agency, one that may be analogous to human agency but that is fgured as indifferent to or hostile to the needs of the brothers. And no friendship is possible with this expanse of water that is associated with death, with a loss of self or a radical form of becoming whether it is crossed horizontally, from side to side, or vertically, from the surface to the river bottom. Thus one brother says “it is one thing to die in the river but another to be buried there. . . . If I die I want to be found so women can mourn for me . . . not even God thinks about those who are at its bottom.” To die and be buried in the river is a more radical form of death: a falling out of the possibility of memory and mourning. The speaker’s association of river and death is matched by a blurry shot of a dead fsh foating in shallow water. The fsh is both alternately a possible stand in for them (an analogous representation of death in the river) as well as precisely not them insofar as one brother describes the fear of becoming-other through the image of becoming-fsh: we might become, he says, “peces de correntada,” borne by forces that outstrip them. Rather than constructing a fsh-eye epistemology, becoming fsh in Paz Encina’s flm means to cross a threshold one cannot—or doesn’t want to—cross. Still, like the muck of Caycedo’s riverine perspective, Encina’s flm also refuses linear and transparent visualities. In her case, however, this is partly done by backing away from the visual itself as a central means of transmission, since it is the sonic and not the visual track that drives the flm, unlike Caycedo’s flm, where the voices we hear largely accompany or support the visual work. What Encina’s flm allows us to see on screen bears a radically disjunctive relationship to the oral fow of words we follow. Like music, the principle thread is given by the cadence and rhythm of the voices in the contrapuntal exchange of words. It is not even clear whether or not we ever see the brothers. Instead, what we see are shots with a tenuous relationship to their situation: for example, a hut on the edge of the river that might serve as a hide-out, a boat on the river and images of boys playing with sticks on the edge of a river (Figure 4.4). These could be the two brothers at an earlier time of their life, so that we might imagine these images as bearing an indexical relationship to the words we hear. But we are also shown images whose relationship to what we hear is less clear: a woman washing clothes, two girls by the river, two spent shoes, a cut orange, a knife, a boy creating forms in mud and then wiping them out, a boy kicking water with his foot, two boys with buckets, two sticks on the edge of the river, drifting slightly. The images acquire a thickness and opacity in which meaning, coordination, and connection are not fully transferred but withheld and tethered to their own materiality. Or, put otherwise, the images themselves take on the character of voicings within a polyphonic temporal sequence that includes heterogeneous sounds: a woman’s voice on a loudspeaker, women praying, whispers. In the process, visuality takes on the quality of a material surface rather than a medium through which to access something else. The images in Viento Sur are grainy, and the screen is often dark or black. The flm is punctuated periodically by thunder rumbling and by lighting, setting up a certain rhythm along the back and forth of the brothers’ conversation. The lightning illuminates nothing, however; it is itself a light-event, spilling or sweeping across the surface of the screen. It evokes,

66 Adriana Michéle Campos Johnson

Figure 4.4 “On the River’s Edge” (7:47). Source: Paz Encina. Viento Sur. Short (23 minutes). Vimeo. 2011.

in this sense, Giuliana Bruno’s argument about the emergence of a new kind of haptic materiality at play in contemporary screens which can no longer be likened to windows or mirrors but are instead reconfgured as a new kind of surface, one with layers, tissues, strata, sediments and deposits.37 Almost all of Encina’s visual work takes on the screen precisely as a new kind of surface, as something closer to a sheet or drape. If, as Bruno suggests, this new screen-membrane functions as a kind of connective tissue, in the case of Encina’s flm we might say that visuality and water interface or touch through surface. The visual images, layered upon the running stream of voices in the flm, present themselves as analogous to the water that appears visually largely as a rippling sheet, lapping against rocks or against the edge. In other words, rather than seeing a river as a complete entity, rather than an abstraction of the river in a fowing line, we face the surfaces of a watery expanse. Of course, as a kind of epidermis, a surface is also constituted by the drawing of a line. Yet as a surface and not a fully constituted body, it is open-ended. It is also opaque: there is another side that is proximate but not fully accessible: we know it goes on but see, or touch, only this side, an “upper limit, outlining itself against the visible.”38 The opacity in Encina’s flm is therefore not a function of muck, not simply a refusal of the visual and the mastery it portends, as much as a borrowing from the surfaces of water. Rather than expanding and multiplying forms of seeing, her imagework establishes the visual as simply an “upper limit,” a membrane that both separates and brings together what is on the other side. We may interact with water at such a limit or edge but it stretches back and beyond, away from thresholds of usefulness and intelligibility so that we are forever in the shadow of the river that traces the very horizon of meaning-making.

An Expanse of Water


Coda I have situated my project here against the background of the extension of processes of extraction. The increased drive to shape water, to unsettle its forms and uses and generate proft from narrowed streams of access, and the resistance and pushback that have emerged have opened up water to new forms of contestation. Films I suggested—experimental, documentary, and fction—have partaken not only in exposing and narrating such conficts but in probing and even redistributing the changing contours of the sense and sense of water. Still, if Lefebvre is right in detecting a change in the weight of the visual that he characterized as an “onslaught of visualization,” then we might need to think more carefully about how visuality is made to carry sense in grappling with what is put into question—and what is not—in our relationship with water. Even as some flms, like Even the Rain, attempt to bring attention through such conficts through strategies of witnessing, I have argued that they may depend on a containment of water in visual forms that partake of the same logics of extraction being denounced and that, moreover, feed back into strengthening visual forms themselves as carriers. In a context where visual forms as carriers are attributed with qualities of transparency and immediacy, with delivering a suffciently full reality, the thinness of drawn lines that connote but cannot denote water in both Abuela Grillo and Land of Friends might abstract it differently by simultaneously presenting a disjunction between the line or body that both is and is not water, where water is shown to be clearly mediated. Finally, the differences posed by Paz Encina’s river brings me to the question of the limits of counter-narratives that push back on the abstraction and becoming-commodity of water. That is, might the problematization of water around its commodity status work to stabilize it on both sides of the disagreement so that the attempt to stage waterforms as something other than commodity can’t but be contaminated by the abstraction of an economic logic? Indeed, the opacity and immensity of Encina’s ocean-like river is located beyond problematization, or precedes it, suggesting that the contestation of the forms and senses of water might depend on an inescapable threshold of abstraction. In contrast, the tactility of Encina’s image-work and the weight she gives to the sonic set up an orientation to a more open-ended expanse of water that is partial and ordered by scales of proximity, in which seeing is as limited as touching.

Notes 1. Jacques Ranciere’s, “The Paradoxes of Political Art,” in Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics (London: Continuum, 2010), 144. 2. Laura Junka-Aikio and Catalina Cortes-Severino, “Cultural Studies of Extraction,” Cultural Studies 31, nos. 2–3 (2017): 180. 3. Jan Padios, “Mining the Mind: Emotional Extraction, Productivity, and Predictability in the Twenty-First Century,” Cultural Studies 31, nos. 2–3 (2017): 207, 444. 4. Adrienne Roberts, “Privatizing Social Reproduction: The Primitive Accumulation of Water in the Era of Neoliberalism,” Antipode 40, no. 4 (2008): 538. 5. This continues a line of argument I began in “Visuality as Infrastructure,” Social Text 136. 36, no. 3 (2018): 71–91. 6. Michel Foucault, “Polemics, Politics and Problematizations,” in Essential Works of Foucault, edited by Paul Rabinow, vol. 1 “Ethics” (New York: The New Press, 1998), 388. 7. Ranciere, “The Paradoxes of Political Art,” 144. 8. Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Cambridge: Blackwell, 1991), 286.

68 Adriana Michéle Campos Johnson 9. Ibid., 97. 10. Ranciere, “The Paradoxes of Political Art,” 140. 11. Randy Thom, “Designing a Film for Sound.” 1999, 12. Vandana Shiva, Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution and Proft (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2016), 71. 13. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, The Relative Native: Essays on Indigenous Conceptual Worlds (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 34. 14. Ibid., 37. 15. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, “Perspectival Anthropology and the Method of Controlled Equivocation,” Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America 2, no. 1 (2004): 11. 16. Ibid., 6. 17. Don McKay, “Pond,” in Thinking with Water, edited by Cecilia Chen, Janine MacLeod and Astrida Neimanis (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013), 254. 18. Cited in Veronica Strang, Water (London: Reaktion Books, 2015), 17. 19. Stefan Helmreich, “Nature/Culture/Seawater,” American Anthropologist 113, no. 1 (2011): 132. 20. Dilip da Cunha, The Invention of Rivers: Alexander’s Eye and Ganga’s Descent (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), 8. 21. Ibid., 3. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid., 2. 24. Ibid., 12. 25. Ibid., 73. 26. Ibid., 11. 27. Andrea Ballesteros, “The Underground as Infrastructure? Water, Figure/Ground Reversals and Dissolution in Sardinal,” in Infrastructure, Environment and Life in the Anthropocene (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019), 34. 28. Cecilia Chen, “Mapping Waters: Thinking with Watery Places,” in Thinking with Water, edited by Cecilia Chen, Janine MacLeod and Astrida Neimanis (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013), 276. 29. Ibid., 276–277. 30. Ibid., 277. 31. Macarena Gómez-Barris, “A Fish-Eye Episteme: Seeing Below the River’s Colonization,” Miruna Dragan: When Either But Not Both Are True, Carolina Caycedo: Those at the Great River-Mouth, Blackwood Gallery, September 2018, 23. 32. Ibid., 25. 33. Ibid., 27. 34. Ibid. 35. Jules Michelet, The Sea (New York: Rudd & Carlton, 1861), 11. 36. Chen, “Mapping Waters,” 281. 37. Giuliana Bruno, Surface: Matters of Aesthetics, Materiality and Media (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014). 38. Michel De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), 41.

Bibliography Ballesteros, Andrea. “The Underground as Infrastructure? Water, Figure/Ground Reversals and Dissolution in Sardinal.” In Infrastructure, Environment and Life in the Anthropocene, 17–44. Durham: Duke University Press, 2019. Bruno, Giuliana. Surface: Matters of Aesthetics, Materiality and Media. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. Chen, Cecilia. “Mapping Waters: Thinking with Watery Places.” In Thinking with Water. Edited by Cecilia Chen, Janine MacLeod and Astrida Neimanis, 274–298. Montreal: McGillQueen’s University Press, 2013.

An Expanse of Water


Da Cunha, Dilip. The Invention of Rivers: Alexander’s Eye and Ganga’s Descent. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019. De Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. Foucault, Michel, “Polemics, Politics and Problematizations.” In Essential Works of Foucault. Edited by Paul Rabinow. Vol. 1 (Ethics). New York: The New Press, 1998. Gómez-Barris, Macarena. “A Fish-Eye Episteme: Seeing Below the River’s Colonization.” In Miruna Dragan: When Either But Not Both Are True, Carolina Caycedo: Those at the Great River-Mouth. Toronto: Blackwood Gallery, September 2018. Helmreich, Stefan. “Nature/Culture/Seawater.” American Anthropologist, 113, no. 1 (2011): 132–144. Johnson, Adriana. “Visuality as Infrastructure.” Social Text 136 36, no. 3 (2018): 71–91. Junka-Aikio, Laura and Catalina Cortes-Severino. “Cultural Studies of Extraction.” Cultural Studies 31, nos. 2–3 (2017): 175–184. Lefebvre, Henri. The Production of Space. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1991. McKay, Don. “Pond.” In Thinking with Water. Edited by Cecilia Chen, Janine MacLeod and Astrida Neimanis. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2013. Michelet, Jules. The Sea. New York: Rudd & Carlton, 1861. Padios, Jan. “Mining the Mind: Emotional Extraction, Productivity, and Predictability in the Twenty-First Century.” Cultural Studies 31, nos. 2–3 (2017): 205–231. Ranciere, Jacques. Dissensus: On Politics and Aesthetics. London: Continuum, 2010. Roberts, Adrienne. “Privatizing Social Reproduction: The Primitive Accumulation of Water in the Era of Neoliberalism.” Antipode 40, no. 4 (2008): 535–560. Shiva, Vandana. Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution and Proft. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2016. Strang, Veronica. Water. London: Reaktion Books, 2015. Svampa, Maristella. “Commodities Consensus: Neoextractivism and Enclosure of the Commons in Latin America.” South Atlantic Quarterly 114, no. 1 (January 2015): 65–82. Thom, Randy. “Designing a Film for Sound.” 1999. sound.htm. Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. “Perspectival Anthropology and the Method of Controlled Equivocation.” Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America 2, no. 1 (2004): 3–22. Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. The Relative Native: Essays on Indigenous Conceptual Worlds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Part II

(De)Colonised Flows


Untangling the Mangrove Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor in the Colombian Caribbean Rory O’Bryen

Nestled between the mouth of the Magdalena River and the Sierra Nevada on Colombia’s Caribbean coastline lies La Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta, a 4,900 km2 area of estuarine swamp marsh. Its network of fuvial and maritime channels, wetland lagoons, and mangrove forests have made it the habitat and breeding ground for myriad species of birds and fsh, and its unique ecology has sustained a rich web of social interactions. Indeed, its status as a geographical “ecotone”, or zone of fertile interactions between adjacent biomes, is overlaid by a history of de-territorializations wherein autochthonous and diasporic, racially marginalized and landless populations have come together to produce a unique vernacular landscape. It was a space where Tayronas and Chimilas traded prior to 1525,1 the site for the founding of maroon communities in the colonial period,2 and since the privatization of adjacent common lands in the nineteenth century, the site chosen by landless peasants to establish palaftic fshing villages such as Nueva Venecia and Buenavista. These assemblages of human and non-human life situate La Ciénaga not only within the multiracial “amphibious culture” studied by Colombian sociologist Orlando Fals Borda in the 1970s (one that extends southwest into the San Jorge and middle Magdalena regions)3 but also within the expansive radius of what Antonio Benítez-Rojo once termed the “repeating islands” of the Caribbean.4 Today this landscape is under threat, and as an eco-social totality. The threat stems, frst, from fast-moving, direct forms of violence exercised by armed groups vying for control over the area in its strategic location as a route for drug traffcking.5 But this direct violence, manifest in two massacres and huge displacements of the local population in 2000,6 has been compounded by the less visible, “slower-moving” violence of climate change and habitat erosion. These stem from the reordering of the region’s amphibious geography by infrastructure projects (railroad construction and road building in particular), cattle ranching, and the cultivation of bananas and oil palm for export.7 Their effects on the region’s natural fabric have been catastrophic, turning La Ciénaga (in Fabio Silva and Dayana Carreño’s words) into the “drain for twelve of the nation’s departments” into which run-off water laden with silt, fungicides, and pesticides from neighbouring lands and heavy-metal deposits from further afeld now fows.8 In their decimation of the fora and fauna on which La Ciénaga’s inhabitants depend, these toxic fows have exacerbated the structural violence of profound poverty in which its communities fnd themselves and have produced high incidences of biomagnifcation and respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases among its inhabitants. Occurring “gradually and out of sight” and in a manner that is “dispersed across time and space”, this “slow violence” is, in Robert Nixon’s terms, “typically not viewed

74 Rory O’Bryen as violence at all”9 and poses a representational conundrum. For “in an age when the media venerate the spectacular, when public policy is shaped primarily around perceived immediate need”, he writes, the emergencies of slow violence require “stories dramatic enough to rouse public sentiment and warrant political intervention”.10 Yet such stories often compound forms of social inequality, calling for high-tech solutions that allow the military-state-corporate apparatuses that would furnish these solutions to disavow their own responsibility while also compounding the structural social inequalities that such emergencies generate.11 Arresting media images of mangrove mortality in the 1990s, for example, prompted the Colombian state to invest in scientifc and engineering initiatives to protect La Ciénaga—initiatives that led to its declaration as the nation’s frst Ramsar site in 199812 and as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2000. Yet as local activist and researcher Sandra Vilardy stresses, these initiatives have, in their narrow focus on the conservation of its non-human elements, conspired to further marginalise its already marginal population’s dependence on this fragile ecosystem.13 What follows is a modest contribution to a multi-disciplinary approach to this aquatic-terrestrial space as an assemblage of human and non-human relations. It explores how three literary and visual works situate the intersecting “slow” (environmental) and fast-acting (political) violences operative at La Ciénaga’s core within the wider purview of present and historic erosions of the social and natural fabric of the “amphibious” regional culture to which it pertains. The frst of these, Tomás González’s Manglares (2006), makes of the titular “mangrove swamp” a poetic “inbetween space” that straddles the erosive frontier between the solid and the liquid, as well as between registers geographical, ontological, and aesthetic. By pursuing the multiple fows that converge therein, it invites us to situate the dynamics of landscape erosion (and, by implication, conservation) in an expanded geography that exceeds sovereign terrestrial mappings. The second, Alfredo Molano and María Constanza Ramírez’s La tierra del caiman (The Land of the Caiman) (2006)—a collection of testimonies from the lower Magdalena region—reframes González’s poetic re-mapping of the manglar in more explicitly social terms, supplementing the former’s onto-poetics of water as fow and connectivity with a popular history of the social divisions occasioned by the reordering of its amphibious landscape by capital accumulation. The chapter asks, with Nixon and Vilardy, how these representations might support an “environmentalism of the poor”. While neither of the aforementioned writers could be placed within the compendious category of “the poor”, used by Nixon to refer to those “disposable” bodies upon which “slow violence” acts in its insidious, invisible ways, I trace in both their works an effort to visibilize the processes whereby the hidden injuries of class, race, gender, and generational differences shape and determine such “disposability”. Then, moving both beyond narration and further into the outer radius of my geographical point of departure, I offer a short analysis of Juan Manuel Echavarría’s video installation, Bocas de ceniza (Mouths of Ash) (2004). This haunting montage of mourning songs sung by the survivors of massacres perpetrated by FARC-EP guerrilla (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia— People’s Army) and AUC (United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia) combatants in northern Chocó in 2002 and La Ciénaga Grande in 2000, respectively, creatively brings together elements of both the aforementioned works. It suggestively reconfgures Manglares’ alluvial fows not only, following La tierra del caimán, as the matter into which cumulative histories of dispossession are dimly etched but also as the

Untangling the Mangrove


expressive medium in which the dehumanising effects of war are intoned and given testimony. The resonances that Bocas de ceniza thus establishes between its songs of mourning and its titular geographic referent furthermore demonstrate how artistic confgurations of aquatic fow also “speak” to the racializing dimensions of both slow and fast forms of violence.

Life on the Edge: Manglares Occupying a dispersive geography of “ecotones” that straddles land, river, and sea, Tomás González’s Manglares (2006) invokes the titular manglar (mangrove swamp) as a space of semantic erosions. From this space “in-between” it announces an intention to dissolve form into matter. Poem I, which takes the form of a single syntactically unresolved line, opens as follows: “Para que los árboles primero se dibujen/y después se desdibujen y se fundan/con el aire, el paisaje de atrás,/los lodazales” [So that the trees frst come into focus/and then become blurred and merge/with the air, the landscape beyond, /the quagmires].14 This opening performs a focal shift from fgure to ground that sets this dissolution in motion over the course of the collection. Poem VI connects these formal “dissolves” to the erosion of human subjectivity. As he looks out to sea, the poet asks: “¿Quién soy yo . . .?/¿Quiénes son todos?” [Who am I . . .? Who is anyone?]. His questions are answered in the vision of a ramshackle vessel drifting past with sails folded: “un tugurio fotante,/un producto del sopor, un desatino” [a foating shack, /a product of drowsiness, a nonsense].15 From this in-between space, where human selfhood beholds its incompletion and impermanence, González then advances a poetic ontology of the aquatic which foregrounds water’s anteriority to all forms. “El primer recuerdo es del agua” [The frst memory is of the water], opens poem III, before intimating that water precedes the shad and the maize and can be separated only “equivocadamente, de la tierra” [equivocally, from the earth].16 As it sloshes down drains, stagnates in pools, evaporates in bathhouses, and drips from gutters, the water that bathes the poems in the collection fows relentlessly elsewhere, dissolving along the way bounded understandings both of place and of the human. Rain and its cycles of precipitation and evaporation are central to these dissolutions, but in their fowing (always elsewhere), they connect dispersed locations and disparate bodies: croaking toads in Louisiana’s bayou, the bodies gathered in seedy bathhouses in Manhattan, the bends of the Magdalena River, and felds of wheat ripening in the Andes. As for Borges, in his poem “La lluvia” [The rain], they defy the fnality of death’s grip over life.17 Dwelling on his mortality in one of the fnal poems, González muses: “Los pulmones se hacen agua, tierra,/viento” [The lungs become water, earth, /wind]; but from these decompositions, he imagines, “libélulas, avispas, matorrales” [dragonfies, wasps, bushes] will swarm,18 disclosing the endless ferment of life along a continuum of human and non-human forms. Yet unlike in Borges, where rain reveals the eternal return of the same, Manglares’ aquatic cycles herald impermanence and deformation. They crack asphalt, seep up into cement, bring man-made structures to their knees,19 and send everything skidding and sliding into “lodazales” [quagmires].20 An inspection of the mud that oozes into these quagmires before settling around the roots of the manglar reveals any vestiges of poetic humanism to be held in check by the poet’s attention to the effuvia generated by a decidedly inhuman Anthropocene. In poem LIV, children cast dead pets into the mangroves under the fightpath to Tolú

76 Rory O’Bryen on the Caribbean coast. Where once “los pájaros chillaban,/y el sol reverberaba” [the birds screeched/and the sun reverberated], “moscas metálicas/abrumaban zumbando los espacios malditos/de aquel lugar hediondo y deslumbrante” [metallic fies/ flled the accursed spaces/of that marvellous, fetid place/with their buzzing and their humming].21 Here the sublime juxtaposition of fetor and amazement produces discordant “reverberations” between metal and organic matter, partly supporting Donna Haraway’s observation of “the amazing ability of slime to hold things in touch and lubricate passages for living species”.22 Like Haraway’s slime, González’s “limo” is also a viscous, connective medium, making the manglar, where it gathers, a “contact zone” in which Being unfolds as a “becoming-with” other species, and “becoming with” as a “becoming worldly”.23 Yet its location on the intersecting peripheries of nation and region illuminates the “asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination” that have shaped such “contact zones” since conquest24 and that will constrain its future “worlding”. Manglares’ location of the swamp within these uneven world-making relations advances along two lines. First, it reimagines the Caribbean region from the corrosive “edges” of its visual framing and capture within late capitalist image regimes. “Islote desde el Subway” [Little island from the Subway] begins: “No se ven gaviotas ni pelícanos./Sólo se ven en la arena un bote, mangles,/dos personas” [There are no seagulls or pelicans./All we see on the sand are a boat, mangroves,/two people],25 as if to invite the reader into the space of a desert island. The next line reframes the image as an advert for “un cigarrillo mentolado” [menthol cigarettes] plastered on the walls of the New York subway. The shore, the boat, the mangrove—elsewhere indices of diasporic uprootings and re-routings, and of entangled histories—26 have here been divested of their traumatic freight to become props in commoditized fantasies of freedom and escape. Yet, by holding together the image and what it scotomizes, the poem takes us to a surprising conclusion. As the carriage starts to move, the lights ficker, and in the momentary darkness the poet imagines the scene after the photographers have left: the sea becomes choppy, it starts to rain, and the sea disgorges “troncos, sargazos, plásticos rotos /y moradas aguamalas, ahora negras” [tree trunks, Sargasso gulfweed, broken plastic/and purple jellyfsh, now turned black].27 What surges from the edge of the image, though, is not some repressed or “authentic” Caribbean difference but a jumble of dead maritime life and broken plastic: indices of the global ubiquity of plastic, the cumulative substrata of an advanced petrochemical capitalism and of its resource-depleting, ecological devastation.28 From these “edges” of the region’s visual capture by touristic and marketing images, there emerges something like a photographic negative of the Caribbean, and one that relocates it as the centripetal point of convergence for the grey waters fowing in from the outer reaches of its centrifugal geography. The rain that ripens wheat in the Andes runs brown as it washes into the Magdalena and Cauca rivers: “envuelve la vida fetal, arrastra vacas/infadas por los deltas, causa hambrunas,/arrastra troncos, maizales, ambiciones” [envelops foetal life, drags infated/cows down deltas, causes famine,/washes away tree trunks, wheat-felds, ambitions].29 The River Bogotá (a tributary of the Magdalena) adds to this cargo, growing poisoned as it fows over the savannah, dissolving fsh and stones in its “espumas malsanas” [harmful spume], before tumbling “como una gigangesca bilis al vacío” [into the void like a giant spew of bile].30 Then, in “Parroquia de San Marcos, 1957” the poet recalls his frst sighting of death in the image of a body foating down the Cauca “Como una estela sin

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barco” [like a wake without a boat]— a reference to the disposal of the victims of political violence in the nation’s waterways, which has been common practice since the period known as la Violencia (1945–1958), when an estimated 300,000 mainly rural subjects died in conficts between the Liberal and Conservative parties.32 But in the cloacal sea where these human and non-human residues end up, other poems trace the trails of brown and black waters left by “fúnebres barcos cisterna/repletos de veneno” [funereal sewage tankers/replete with poison] chugging daily across the North Atlantic seaboard.33 The dating of many of these poems importantly adds a second, temporal dimension to Manglares’ reframing of the Caribbean. For Benítez-Rojo, the archipelagic space of “repeating islands” had constituted something like a polyrhythmic jam session of dispersed histories whose intersection gave the region a unique syncopated temporality. The temporalities that converge at the cloacal meeting point of González’s waterways, by contrast, more closely resemble what Rob Nixon calls the “long dyings” of “staggered and staggeringly discounted casualties, both human and ecological that result from war’s toxic aftermaths or climate change”.34 These are the deferred temporalities of life-worlds rendered obsolete, lives that linger on as absences—like the corpse in “Parroquia de San Marcos”, which leaves in its watery wake the stench of “un . . . también menguante,/reguero de anturios y azucenas” [an . . . also waning,/trail of lillies]—35 and of toxic fows whose build-up will only register its effects on bodies at a future date when their sources are diffcult to trace. Something of these temporal deferrals is captured in the collection’s back-and-forth between the landscapes of the poet’s childhood and what he now fnds in their place. In his “Segundo poema sobre animales muertos” [Second poem about dead animals] he recalls, in 1956, a turtle being hauled from the sea and hacked to pieces, its heart left “latiendo allí, solo y absurdo,/durante aquel atardecer en el Atlántico” [beating there on its own, absurdly,/ for the duration of that Atlantic sunset].36 Years later, registering the delayed effects of further human interventions, the same coastline has become a toxic “dead zone” in “Cangrejos en el Morrosquillo” [Crabs in the Morrosquillo Gulf]. Only crabs remain among the ruins of the former sea-side resort, which is now overshadowed by “los silos de Tolcementos/que afean tanto al Golfo” [the silos of Tolcementos/that make the Gulf so ugly].37 As a site where these temporally deferring, geographically dispersed fows converge, then, and as a “contact zone” where human and non-human life forms fnd themselves in a zone of ontological indistinction and shared disposability, González’s manglar reveals a close relation to the death-worlds of the post-colony theorized by Achille Mbembe.38 “Necropower”, for Mbembe, denotes the sovereign power not only to “make live and let die” (pace Foucault) but also actively to determine a subject’s disposability. It works according to a principle of “reciprocal exclusivity” that Frantz Fanon had perceived at the heart of colonial occupation.39 In its paradigmatic spaces—the refugee camp, the township, occupied Gaza: plantation slavery’s contemporary counterparts—this principle is materialized in sharply delineated infrastructural “zonings” that restrict the movement of bodies between inside and outside and constrain the liveability of all life therein. In all its radical openness to the world, González’s manglar may partly resist comparison with such a space. Yet in opening up the “worldliness” of various aquatic fows, it may confound land-based mappings of both water and sovereignty,40 disclosing their water’s production of life and death through often invisible “worlding” fows. 31

78 Rory O’Bryen

On Silt and Other Ruins: La tierra del caiman Notably absent from González’s poetic “worlding” of the manglar, nonetheless, are the voices of the racialized poor who occupy the much closer elsewheres of the Colombian Caribbean world, its apparent gravitational centre. Alfredo Molano and María Constanza Ramírez’s La tierra del caimán: historias orales del Bajo Magdalena (2006) restores this absent social polyphony to González’s poetic vision. It does so in compiling testimonies by subjects whose precarious occupancy of the margins is rendered all the more precarious by capital’s reordering of the Colombian Caribbean’s semi-aquatic topography. These are testimonies about lives lived in frontier spaces where the recodifying of nature as resource turns human and non-human life into waste. Their incorporation of trans-generational memories, furthermore, offers greater insight into the slow, structural violence of ecocide—ecocide generated by the felling of forests and the consequent silting up and desiccation of waterways as these are reclaimed as land for intensive cattle-ranching—particularly as it affects the liveability of life itself in the region. And by giving voice to the inhabitants of dispersed communities formerly connected by the region’s swamps and waterways—the villages along the old Canal del Dique, the fuvial port of Mompox on the Magdalena, and the municipality of San Basilio de Palenque, founded by runaway slaves in the seventeenth century—it also underscores how this structural violence has transformed the region’s racial geography. The frst is the story of an old fsherman, “El Cocuyo del Magdalena” [The Firefy of the Magdalena], who, after a nomadic life jobbing on the river—as a leñero [logger], as a stevedore, and then as a musician on the river’s last passenger steamboat, the David Arango—lives out his last days on a sandy shoal near Tacamocho. His life trajectory foregrounds the transformation of what the sociologist Orlando Fals Borda once called the multiracial “amphibious culture” of Colombia’s Caribbean coastal interior.41 This he had defned, in the jargon of the time, as a “superstructural” complex of beliefs expressing the region’s economic basis in a tropical ecology of “ríos, caños, barrancos, playones, ciénagas y selvas pluviales” [rivers, channels, gullies, shoals, swamps and rain forests].42 It would fnd its “mythological idealization” in the fgure of “el hombre-caimán” [the caiman-man] celebrated in popular regional dances, in which a syncretic mix of African and indigenous legends converge.43 The story of El Cocuyo’s displacement from his life on the river thus narrates the frst in a series “unworldings” of “el hombre caiman” whereby he ends up washed up on dry land and cut off from his aquatic-amphibious “base” as the latter is transformed into dry land. These alienating “unworldings” are attributed, in this and other testimonies, to processes closely aligned with what Marx calls “primitive accumulation”. In the frst volume of Capital, Marx had turned Classical political economy on its head to query its recourse to a “fairy tale” of primitive (or “original”) inequality in order to explain why it was that capitalism produced gross social inequality. “Long, long ago”, this fairy-tale had it, “there were two sorts of people; one, the diligent, intelligent and above all frugal élite; the other, lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living”.44 In place of this “fairy tale”, Marx advanced that “In actual history, it is a notorious fact that conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, in short, force, play the greatest part”.45 His argument thus reframed the fction of original inequality as an ideological “fx” for the contradiction arising out of capitalism’s formal pursuit of “freedom” and the colonial plunder and enslavement lying at the “dawn of the era of capitalist production”.46 Where Marx’s inversion of

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this “fairy tale” fell short, however, was in relegating this “originary” violence to a “pre-history”, after which time, he had assumed, the “silent compulsion of economic relations” took over.47 In “El Cocuyo’s” story, this originary violence is manifest in the arrival of foresters from the interior who, with the support of “cuadrillas de paisas armados” [gangs of armed paisas],48 fell the forests to create cattle-grazing pastures. El Cocuyo thus reframes the quagmires that ooze into González’s manglar as indices of a double set of displacements that binds the silting up of the region’s fuvial networks to forms of “primitive accumulation” by which a white paisa class, in the possession of circulating capital and the means of violence, also whitens its hybrid multiracial make up. When “la cantidad de tierra y de arena que invadió [los cauces del río] se fue haciendo mucha” [the earth and sand flling up the river’s channels got too much],49 El Cocuyo and other artisanal loggers are forced off its banks. “Cartas” [Letters] further illuminates the racial dimensions of these displacements. Its narrator, an elderly Rosalba, reads love letters written (but never sent) to a Cuban mulata by her Spanish grandfather, who had arrived in the region after the Spanish-American war of 1898. One of these, which describes his work as an overseer in an ingenio [sugar mill] in Sincerín,50 highlights a disparity between the fuidity of capital as it fows into the region and the rigid “zoning” of the labour force along racial lines. He notes that the technical experts are mainly white Cubans and that the manual labourers are black and mulato men, before cautioning that the latter have to be treated with caution lest they “cogen camino como hicieron sus abuelos cuando el amo los lastimaba con el látigo” [run off as their grandfathers did when the overseer turned the whip on them’].51 Perhaps unsurprisingly, he attributes the threat of entropy that such desertions represent not to slavery but to “negro savagery”, citing aspects of life in the maroon community of San Basilio de Palenque nearby as instances of this “savagery”. For the abuelo, the regional railroad between Calamar and Cartagena, completed in 1894, had embodied a civilizing, ordering potential, and with this, the triumph of order and progress over anarchy. “El tren es el gran invento del siglo” [The train is the great invention of the century], he begins one letter, linking its power to integrate region and nation into transatlantic markets with an increase in employment and knowledge. Another testimony, “El día que el tren pasó de largo” [The day the train passed us by], offers a very different perspective. For its narrator, a former fsherman now struggling to make a living selling fzzy drinks at the tollgate on a new road that has since replaced the railway, Malagana “se acabó de tanto progresar” [was fnished off by so much progress].52 With the arrival of the railway in 1894 (long touted as a panacea for regional isolation and the “backwardness” of regional populations),53 “se decía que el mundo llegaba a Malagana” [everyone said that the world was coming to Malagana].54 Instead it became “un lugar de paso” [a place to pass through], destroying the river commerce that once thrived thanks to town’s port on the Canal del Dique, forcing up land prices in the region, and fnally carrying off its young inhabitants. Here, more noticeably than in the previous stories, the “unworlding” of “el hombre caiman”, is framed as the effect of the simultaneously originary and ongoing dispossessions upon which capitalism rests, and which, according to Marx, have their origins in colonial plunder. When the railway arrived in the town, the narrator recalls, a wealthy family, the Vélez, who had got rich by selling off commercial riverboats, laid claim to the surrounding lands to plant sugar to be distilled as rum in a local distillery. It did so “con el cuento de que la tierra les pertenecía por un regalo que les había hecho la reina

80 Rory O’Bryen Isabel en no sé qué siglo” [with the story that the land belonged to them thanks to a concession from Queen Isabella I don’t know how many centuries ago].55 The irony of this appropriation is not lost on the locals, who point out its contradiction of the nation’s formal independence from Spain: “¿La reina Isabel?”, preguntaba la gente. “¿Acaso no peleó Bolívar para sacarla de aquí? La reina Isabel mandará en España, pero esto es nuestro”. Y la gente tenía razón. Las tierras eran heredadas de padres a hijos y los primeros que llegaron o, mejor, que ya estaban, eran los indios. Ellos andaban por todas estas ciénagas, que son eslabonadas unas con otras, como Pedro por su casa. [“Queen Isabella?”, they asked. “Didn’t Bolívar fght to get rid of her? She might well rule in Spain, but this is ours”. And they were right. The lands had been passed down from father to son and the frst to arrive, who were in fact already here, were the Indians. They’d roam freely about these swamps, which are all interconnected, like fsh in water].56 The people’s contestation of this appeal to colonial property rights signifcantly empties out these rights out as “un cuento” [a story] analogous to that “fairy tale” of originary inequality that Marx had turned on its head. And it underscores the perpetuation into the present day, of rapacious forms of racializing dispossession which have their roots in colonial plunder. What follows, however, testifes to a history of regional disruptions, both of colonial power and subsequent forms of capital accumulation, and one which complicates the unidirectionality of capital’s whitening of the region’s ecology. The narrator notably identifes a line of descent linking his own ancestors to the maroons who had fed the canal to found San Basilio de Palenque, allowing him to assert another kind of freedom that is antithetical to capitalism’s so-called emancipation of labour. This takes the form of an outright negation in his assertion “no somos ni de unos ni de otros” [we belong to nobody],57 and confrms Katherine McKittrick’s contention that the conditions of bondage emerging from the colonial matrix of the plantation in the Americas “did not foreclose black geographies . . . rather incited alternative mapping practices during and after transatlantic slavery, many of which were . . . produced outside the offcial tenets of cartography”.58 While showing how racialized colonial economies “continue to legalize black servitude [and sanction] black placelessness and constraint”, the “lines of fight” that position Palenque as a site of maroonage within these mappings denaturalize “the racist underpinnings of land exploitation as accumulation and emancipation”.59 In repeatedly conjuring up the spectres of the palenque, and of maroonage in general, these testimonies ensure that, as a landscape which is marked by multiple dispossessions, the lower Magdalena region—with its disused canal, its abandoned railroads and archipelago of ghostly “non-places”—is unsettled by alternative “fugitive” mappings of the sort to which McKittrick refers. Like the landscape of the Chaco studied by Gastón Gordillo, its ruined spaces open up, in these stories, “the ruptured multiplicity . . . constitutive of all geographies as they are produced, destroyed, and remade”, and disintegrate, in so doing, “the positivity of the given”.60 The rage felt by Malagana’s poor, who “maldecía de rabia” [cursed with rage] when the trainline falls into abandon,61 evidences, for example, how ruins generate unpredictable “affective dispositions”.62 Yet the narrator’s identifcation with a history of regional

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maroonage shows how these in turn have the power to “move” subjects in ways that confound capital’s segmentation and concentration of space, thereby opening up counter-histories congealed within the landscape’s ruinous material inscription, that also denaturalize the sanctioning of “black placelessness and constraint” in today’s spaces of the post-colony.63 Signifcantly this denaturalization comes across in his continued attachment to an “aquatic” imaginary of the region, that is, to an imagination of the region as one of dispersive human and natural fows that will ultimately overspill all efforts to channel difference into indissolubly striated territorializations. Yet how do we confgure these affective “mobilizations” with the emphasis, in all these stories, on the territorial immobilization of local populations, especially when in stories like “Mompox tierra de Dios” [Mompox, land of God] the landscape’s ruination resonates so powerfully with histories of extreme violence that it appears to naturalize its inhabitants’ suspension in a shadowy state of “injury”?64 Here an unnamed narrator again tells the familiar story of the alienation of “el hombre caiman”: the enclosure of the land and expulsion of the poor, the “pelea a muerte entre el ganado y el pescado [struggle to the death between cattle-ranching and fshing]65 and consequent silting up of its waterways with trash. But he reframes this story with a striking account of his disablement while performing military service in the 1950s, when he’d been shot in the hip in a skirmish with Dumar Aljure’s Liberal guerrillas and lost all mobility in his legs. Having been shipped home down the Magdalena, he struggles to rebuild his life and fnally turns to making fligree jewellery with his hands. From his sedentary position he witnesses the river’s transformation into a common grave in whose trash and silt-laden waters the corpses of successive waves of political violence are dumped. His story ends with Mompox overtaken by paramilitary troops, when “el pueblo se fue quedando solo, y [su] silla sin utilidad” [the town was emptied out, and [his] wheelchair lost its use].66 On the one hand, this account of disablement by war reinscribes the body in a landscape whose apparent “natural history” of destruction risks erasing the political destruction of human life. It does so by reframing this “natural destruction” within a history of political violence. During la Violencia, he tells us, Liberals and Conservatives would descend on Mompox and riverside towns to recruit people for their campaigns,67 just as Pablo Morillo, Simón Bolívar, and Uribe had done during the previous century’s wars of independence, when “Los soldados de unos salían por la noche, encerraban el pueblo y al otro día caían a llevarse, empujados o amarrados, a los hombres que eran capaces de servir en Guerra” [soldiers from one side would come at night, lock everyone up, and drag all those who were ft enough to fght off to war the next day].68 His capture by the guerrilla, re-capture by the army, injury and subsequent shipment home all resonate with this (by now) multifaceted history of bondage whose subjects are jettisoned once their productive capabilities are exhausted. When the paramilitary war-machine arrives in Mompox, he is left doubly paralyzed, both physically and by terror, and exposed once more to the possibility of being disposed of as trash. Framed, then, by histories of war and of war’s irreversible bodily after-effects, the ruination of this once amphibious vernacular landscape resists merging into mere “setting”. On the other hand, the narrator’s auto-invalidation as trash belies the colonization of his subjectivity by the same developmental “imaginary” which, in preceding testimonies, emerged as the source and origin of inequality. When he is shot, he says: “quedé inválido” [I was left (an) invalid], adding: “El doctor me disparó la noticia

82 Rory O’Bryen ahí mismo, sin compasión, como debe ser” [the doctor hit me with the news without showing any compassion, just as he should have].69 The exchange underscores both the violence of the diagnosis and the immediacy with which he accepts it as a truth-statement about his selfhood, and exemplifes the “symbolic violence” by which dominated populations internalize and reproduce dominant views of social, sexual, racial (and, we could add, bodily) difference.70 When he is lifted off the steamboat that takes him home, he asks himself, “cuál iría a ser la vida de un hombre que era sólo un tronco con manos?” [what would become of the life of a man who was just a torso with hands?].71 (Later he accepts that others have become “acostumbrados a saber que yo era sólo la mitad” [accustomed to knowing that I was only half a person] and sees an image of his own immobility in the river’s transformation into an “arenal” [sandpit]72—that is, in the accumulative stasis of the sand banks deposited by the river’s now reduced aquatic fow.) Like the inhabitants of Malagana who see the town’s abandonment as a curse, and like Rosalba in “Cartas” who seems to accept that it was her fate to become “una perdedora” [a loser],73 his fnal paralysis leaves him feeling “sin utilidad” [useless],74 as he is rooted in situ by terror. This image of territorial boundedness signifcantly contrasts with the identifcation of the narrator of “El día que el tren pasó de largo” with an erstwhile amphibious imaginary, showing how the bodily injuries occasioned by war also insidiously erode identifcation with this imaginary and with its promise of freedom from all bondage. In “Mompox, Tierra de Dios”, then, the unworlding of “el hombre-caimán” reaches its highest expression in the calcifying immobilization of a culture once imagined in terms of “amphibious” dynamism. It holds in check the earlier stories’ setting in motion of imaginative-affective “lines of fight” around maroonage, particularly as these sought to interrupt capital’s de-territorializing re-territorializations of dispersive aquatic fows and a nomadic labour-force. For as this story suggests, when accompanied by terror and by the exercise of direct violence, these de-territorializing re-territorializations also produce divisions between those who move and those who don’t, between those who initiate fows and those who fnd themselves on their receiving end.75 And as the short fnal testimony of the collection makes clear, in its account of the protracted dying of another self-identifed mulata—“La otra Margarita” [The other Margarita] for whom “el ofcio de morir es largo y cría penas” [the work of dying is a long one and creates suffering]—these divisions reinforce Nixon’s notional interface between the “slow violence” of ecological erosion and the delayed aftereffects of war while underscoring the crippling effects of both on the poor and the already symbolically dispossessed.

Silt in the Mouth . . .: Bocas de Ceniza Juan Manuel Echavarría’s Bocas de Ceniza [Mouths of Ash] (2003–2004) brings together elements of both these works, suggestively binding the alluvium that fows into González’s quagmires to the social erasures of La tierra del caimán in order to produce a haunting aural mapping of dispossession. It comprises seven short videoclips in which six men and one woman (four Afrodescendant and two mestizo), tightly framed in extreme close-up, sing of their survival of two massacres. The frst occurred in Bojayá, Chocó, on 2 May 2002, when, while attempting to seize the town from paramilitary forces from the AUC [Audodefensas Unidas de Colombia—Colombian United Self-Defence Forces] seeking control of the River Atrato, FARC combatants

Untangling the Mangrove


shelled the church where its population had sought refuge and killed an estimated 119 civilians. The second occurred on 10 November 2000 in Trojas de Aracataca on the eastern fank of La Ciénaga Grande, when members of the AUC’s Northern “Block” entered the stilt community and murdered a number of fshermen they accused of collaborating with the ELN [Ejército de Liberación Nación—National Liberation Army]. This produced a huge exodus of its inhabitants to the adjacent settlement of Nueva Venecia, where the same forces, later that month, murdered 70 more civilians whom it believed had admitted their complicity with the ELN by feeing from Trojas de Aracataca. What is striking about Bocas de Ceniza is the way in which it recodes González’s deadly alluvia as the fgurative medium through which its protagonists struggle to express their traumatic experiences of the massacres. They sing, as its title suggests, in a language freighted with loss—as if through “mouths of ash”. Indeed, the closeframing of each clip draws special attention to the mouth: to Rafael Moreno’s deep nasolabial folds and salt-and-pepper moustache, to Vicente Mosquera’s blistered photo-sensitive lips, and to Dorismel Hernández’s sideways-lilting lisp. These singularizing details contrast with the “ashen” fatness and impassiveness of their expressions. Their eyes are fxed and rarely blink, if at all; only a furrowing of the brow, a momentary fading of the voice, and a single tear accent their fatly intoned songs of suffering with the signs of inner emotion, as if the losses of which they sing have produced that impoverishment of the ego and of the external world which, for Freud, characterized melancholia.76 This inner emptiness also empties out the world outside, that of the viewer, whose interpellation by such blank stares places them in a space of limbo. Echavarría and the Uruguayan artist, Ana Tiscornia, both stress the performative dimension of the installation as an “act of mourning”. Yet they say little of its signifcation across registers psychic and geographic. Tiscornia notes its reference to Bocas de Ceniza [Mouths of Ash], the mouth of the Magdalena, so named in reference to the frst Spanish sighting of the river’s turbulent estuary on “a given Ash Wednesday” in 1501 by Rodrigo de Bastidas. She does so to assert that “Penitence and resurrection have forever marked this geographical point” and that the installation must thus be read as a symbolic resurrection of “Colombians who die and are never resurrected” as they are dumped in the river and washed out to sea.77 Echavarría similarly stresses that Bocas de Ceniza is the site where the corpses of a half-century of violence spill into the Caribbean and where, in his imagination, they are “reborn”.78 Indeed, he is, as Thomas Girst notes, “quick to point out the newfound joy of some of the singers depicted in Mouths of Ash”, whose “joyful” singing and resilient “makedo” demonstrate that “there is happiness, joy, dignity and a communal spirit to be found even in the slums of Cartagena” (where they now live).79 “More noteworthy than these psychic tropings, however, is the installation’s suggestive aural interfacing of histories of violence from two distinctly racialized geographies (the historically “black” Pacifc and its more mestizo Caribbean counterpart), particularly as it signals the fattening out of the differences between such geographies as ruinous “abstract “any-spaces-whatever”. The effect is underscored by the uniform white background against which they sing and by the reduction of markers of location to ghostly names and dates. Rafael Moreno underscores the dis-placement of voice and place as he sings of “penas y dolor” [suffering and pain] heard “allá en el bajo Atrato” [there on the Atrato River].

84 Rory O’Bryen Luzmila Palacio similarly evokes Juradó, Chocó, in absentia, as a presence that is slowly killing her: “Ay Juradó no me hagas más sufrir/que me muero de dolor y no puedo resistir más” (bis) [Oh Juradó don’t make me suffer any more/as I’m dying of pain and can’t take any more]. Noel Gutiérrez and Nácer Hernández locate Bojayá (Chocó) and Trojas de Aracataca (Magdalena), respectively, in a space hauntingly present and absent; and in all these songs geographical markers are replaced by past temporal references: “Eran las seis de la mañana/cuando en el pueblo disparos se escuchaban” [it was six in the morning/when shots rang out in the town] and “Eso fue un 10 de febrero/donde se encontraba mi hermano y yo” [My brother and I were/ there on that 10th of February]. The cumulative effect is an emptying of the substance of location as past referent, and a fattening sense of sameness between the singers’ stories. In this fattened sameness, I would like to suggest, we catch glimpses of what Achille Mbembe calls “le devenir negre du monde” [the becoming black of the world]. For Mbembe, who imagines the history of necropolitics “as a river with many tributaries”, and the present confguration of capitalism as a confuence of diverse historical processes, “Blackness” (never “fxed” but always a “fuid . . . slippery, serial, and plastic” signifer)80 has now become the name for a general condition, such that “The systematic risks experienced by Black slaves during early capitalism have now become the norm for, or at least the lot of, all of subaltern humanity”.81 Under today’s neoliberal conditions, when subaltern populations are subjected to distinctly neo-imperial practices of extractive “accumulation by dispossession” aimed at actively destroying indigenous, forms of production and consumption,82 those populations are reduced to “silt deposited at the confuence of half-worlds produced by the dual violence of race and capital”.83 For Glissant (cited by Mbembe), that “silt”, when “deposited along the banks of rivers, in the midst of archipelagos, in the depths of oceans, along valleys and at the feet of cliffs [might] through an unexpected reversal, give birth to new forms of life, labour and language”—to other “worldings” of life.84 For Tomás González, this “silt” retained a similar potential, yet only at the cost of a prior dissolution of the human. For Molano and Ramírez, by contrast, the silt clogging up the lower Magdalena’s swamps and waterways binds human and non-human processes in ways that are inseparable. Bocas de Ceniza follows Molano and Ramírez in its effort to make that silt speak, and to speak specifcally to the “unworlding” of the region’s racialized poor as so much “superfuous humanity”, as “trash”. It does so in its reclamation of Bocas de Ceniza, that point of geographic confuence between turbulent waters, as a point of symbolic convergence between multiple social erasures and as the point where the bodies of the racialized poor become undifferentiated alluvium left in the wake of homogenizing forms of dispossession. Echavarría’s appeal to song and to the artwork as the medium through which this human “silt” might be “resurrected”, restored to life, may not convincingly counter Molano and Ramírez’s emphasis on the way in which this silt always seems to “fertilize” the life-worlds generated by “white” practices of “accumulation-by-dispossession”. Yet what he does suggest is that an “environmentalism of the poor” must speak as much to the injuries occasioned by the “slow” violence of habitaterosion and by headline-grabbing moments of political violence, as from those injuries and in a language that registers their attritional somatic and psychic effects as these are sedimented at the hydrological and geological intersections of turbulent histories of dispossession which all too easily risk disappearing into the landscape. It must speak not only of the human and non-human silt that suffocates a once “liquid ecology” but

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also through that silt and in ways that register how these remainders clog and obstruct the ability to speak at all, especially among the poor and already dispossessed.

Notes 1. Carlos Angulo Valdés, Arqueología de la Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta (Bogotá: Fundación de Investigaciones Arqueológicas, 1978). 2. Aquiles Escalante, “Palenques in Colombia,” in Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas, edited by Richard Price (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), 74–81; Dolcey Romero Jaramillo, “Cimarrones y palenques en la provincial de Santa Marta,” Huellas 4 (1994): 33–43; María Cristina Navarrete P., San Basilio de Palenque: memoria y tradición. Surgimiento y avatares de las gestas cimarronas en el Caribe colombiano (Cali: Universidad del Valle, 2008). 3. Orlando Fals-Borda, Historia doble de la costa, 4 tomos (Bogotá: Carlos Valencia editores, 1979–1986). 4. Antonio Benítez-Rojo, “The Repeating Island,” trans. James Maraniss in New England Review 7, no. 4 (1985): 430–452. 5. Sandra Vilardy and José González (eds.), Repensando La Ciénaga (Santa Marta: Universidad del Magdalena, 2011), 45, 155–172. 6. Fabio Silva and Gladys Dayana Carreño, Ese día la violencia llegó en canoa (Bogotá: Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica, 2014), 23–65, 97–118 offer a detailed ethnographic account of the massacres carried out by the AUC in the palaftic communities of Trojas de Aracataca and Nueva Venecia in November 2000. 7. For a history of land use in the Colombian Caribbean see Posada Carbó, The Colombian Caribbean: A Regional History 1870–1950 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007). 8. See Silva and Carreño, Ese día, 94, 86–88 and Néstor Hernando Campos, “La contaminación por metales pesados en la Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta, Caribe colombiano,” Caldasia 16, no.77 (1990): 231–244. 9. Robert Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), 2. 10. Ibid., 3. 11. T.J. Demos, Against the Anthopocene (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2017), 19. 12. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the convention was signed in 1971. 13. Vilardy and González, Repensando, 16. 14. Tomás González, Manglares (Bogotá: Norma, 2006), 11. 15. Ibid., 21. 16. Ibid., 15. 17. Jorge Luis Borges, El hacedor (Madrid: Alianza, 1997 [1960]), 82. 18. González, Manglares, 185. 19. Ibid., 59. 20. Ibid., 45. 21. Ibid., 127. 22. Donna Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), 3. 23. Ibid., 3–4, 16–17, 32. 24. Mary-Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London: Routledge, 1992), 3. 25. González, Manglares, 115. 26. Éduoard Glissant’s, The Poetics of Relation, trans. Betsy Wing (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000) puts these fgures at the core a Caribbean poetics that re-centres Western modernity—like Paul Gilroy’s, The Black Atlantic (London: Verso, 1993)— around the history of trans-Atlantic slavery that was its condition of possibility. 27. González, Manglares, 115. 28. Heather Davis, “Life and Death in the Anthropocene: A Short History of Plastic,” in Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and

86 Rory O’Bryen

29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64.

65. 66. 67. 68. 69.

Epistemologies, edited by Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin (London: Open Humanities Press, 2015), 349–350. Ibid., 23. Ibid., 83. Ibid., 105. See María Victoria Uribe, “Liquid tombs for Colombia’s disappeared,” ReVista: The Harvard Review of Latin America 13, no. 1 (Fall 2013): 18–20. Ibid., 111. Nixon, Slow Violence, 2–3. González, Manglares, 105. Ibid., 125 Ibid., 177. Achille Mbembe, “Necropolitics,” trans. Libby Meintjes. Public Culture 15, no. 1 (2003): 11–40. Ibid., 26. Phil Steinberg, “Of Other Seas: Metaphors and Materialities in Maritime Regions,” Atlantic Studies 10, no. 2 (2013): 160. Orlando Fals-Borda, Historia doble de la costa, 1er tomo (Bogotá: Carlos Valencia editores, 1979), 16b–74b. Ibid., 21b. Ibid., 26b. Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, vol. 1 (London: Penguin Books, 1976), 873. Ibid., 874. Ibid., 915. David Harvey, “The New Imperialism: Accumulation by Dispossession,” Socialist Register 40 (2004): 74. Predominantly “white” inhabitants from the Andean region of Antioquia. Molano and Ramírez, Tierra, 16. Sincerín is located on the Canal del Dique that connects Cartagena de Indias with the river port of Calamar. Molano and Ramírez, Tierra, 39. Ibid., 71. Javier Ortiz Cassiani, Un diablo al que le llaman tren: El ferrocarril Cartagena-Calamar (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2018). Molano and Ramírez, Tierra, 71. Ibid., 74. Ibid., 74–75. Ibid., 76. Catherine McKittrick, “On Plantations, Prisons, and a Black Sense of Place,” Social and Cultural Geography 12, no. 8 (2011): 949. Ibid., 948–949. Gastón Gordillo, Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014), 2, 6. Molano and Ramírez, Tierra, 72. Gordillo, Rubble, 6. McKittrick, “On Plantations,” 949. For Mbembe, this state of injury characterises the “phantomlike” world of the slave who, in the context of the plantation, is subject to a triple privation of home, of rights over his/ her body, and of political status, and yet nonetheless kept alive as the site where value is created; see Mbembe, Necropolitics, 21. domination, natal alienation, and social death (expulsion from humanity altogether). Molano and Ramírez, Tierra, 110. Ibid., 120. Ibid., 96. Ibid., 96–97. Ibid., 95.

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70. Pierre Bourdieu and Loïc Wacquant defne “symbolic violence” as “the violence which is exercised upon a social agent with his or her complicity”. The reproduction of gender domination is its “paradigmatic form”. See An Invitation to Refexive Sociology (Chicago: University Press, 1992), 170–173. 71. Molano and Ramírez, Tierra, 99–100. 72. Ibid. 73. Ibid., 67. 74. Ibid., 120. 75. Doreen Massey, quoted in McKittrick, “On Plantations,” 951. 76. Sigmund Freud, “Mourning and Melancholia,” in On Metapsychology and Other Worlds (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1953), 246. 77. Juan Manuel Echavarría, Mouths of Ash/Bocas de Ceniza (Milano: Edizioni Charta, 2005), 69. 78. Ibid., 153. 79. Ibid., 157. 80. Achille Mbembe, Critique of Black Reason (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017), 1, 7. 81. Ibid., 6, 3. 82. Harvey, “Accumulation,” 74. 83. Ibid., 36. 84. Ibid., 180.

Bibliography Angulo Valdés, Carlos. Arqueología de la Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta. Bogotá: Fundación de Investigaciones Arqueológicas, 1978. Benítez-Rojo, Antonio. “The Repeating Island.” Trans. James Maraniss. New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly 7, no. 4 (Summer 1985): 430–452. Borges, Jorge Luis. El hacedor. Madrid: Alianza, 1997 [1960]. Bourdieu, Pierre and Loïc Wacquant. An Invitation to Refexive Sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992. Davis, Heather and Etienne Turpin (eds.). Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies. London: Open Humanities Press, 2015. Demos, T. J. Against the Anthropocene: Visual Culture and Environment Today. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2017. Echavarría, Juan Manuel. Bocas de ceniza. Video installation, 2003–2004. https://vimeo. com/31130555. Echavarría, Juan Manuel. Mouths of Ash/Bocas de Ceniza. Milan: Edizioni Charta, 2005. Escalante, Aquiles. “Palenques in Colombia.” In Maroon Societies: Rebel Slave Communities in the Americas. Edited by Richard Price, 74–81. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. Fals-Borda, Orlando. Historia doble de la costa. 4 tomos. Bogotá: Carlos Valencia, 1979–1986. Freud, Sigmund. On Metapsychology. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1953. Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic. London: Verso, 1993. González, Tomás. Manglares. Bogotá: Norma, 2006. Harvey, David. “The New Imperialism: Accumulation by Dispossession.” Socialist Register 40 (2004): 63–87. Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Vol. 1. London: Penguin Books, 1976. Mbembe, Achille. Critique of Black Reason. Translated by Laurent Dubois. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. Mbembe, Achille. “Necropolitics.” Trans. Libby Meintjes. Public Culture 15, no. 1 (2003): 11–40. McKittrick, Catherine. “On Plantations, Prisons, and a Black Sense of Place.” Social and Cultural Geography 12, no. 8 (2011): 947–963.

88 Rory O’Bryen Molano, Alfredo and María Constanza Ramírez. La tierra del caimán: Historias orales del Bajo Magdalena. Bogotá: El Áncora, 2006. Navarrete P., María Cristina. San Basilio de Palenque: memoria y tradición. Surgimiento y avatares de las gestas cimarronas en el Caribe colombiano. Cali: Universidad del Valle, 2008. Nixon, Robert. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011. Ortiz Cassiani, Javier. Un diablo al que le llaman tren: El ferrocarril Cartagena-Calamar. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2018. Posada-Carbó, Eduardo. The Colombian Caribbean: A Regional History 1870–1950. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007. Pratt, Mary. Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation. London: Routledge, 1992. Romero Jaramillo, Dolcey. “Cimarrones y palenques en la provincial de Santa Marta.” Huellas 4 (1994): 33–43. Silva, Fabio and Gladys Dayana Carreño. Ese día la violencia llegó en canoa. Bogotá: Centro Nacional de Memoria Histórica, 2014. Steinberg, Phil. “Of Other Seas: Metaphors and Materialities in Maritime Regions.” Atlantic Studies 10, no. 2 (2013): 156–169. Uribe, María Victoria. “Liquid Tombs for Colombia’s Disappeared.” ReVista: The Harvard Review of Latin America 13, no. 1 (Fall 2013): 18–20. Vilardy, Sandra and González, José (eds.). Repensando la Ciénaga: Nuevas miradas y estrategias para la sostenibilidad en la Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta. Santa Marta: Universidad del Magdalena y Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 2011.


“The Roar of the River Grows Ever Louder” Polluted Waters in Colombian Eco-Art, From Alicia Barney to Clemencia Echeverri Gina McDaniel Tarver

Many social, political, and economic stresses currently experienced worldwide and demanding immediate attention have to do with water as a vital resource for drinking and hygiene, agriculture, industry, and renewable energy. Climate change leads to rising sea levels and warming oceans, displacing people and depleting food sources; nations build hydroelectric dams, providing green energy but uprooting communities and destroying ecosystems; water sources dry up due to drought or become polluted due to urbanization and extractive industrialization. In Colombia, artists since the 1980s have been concerned with the ecological devastation of rivers and its impact on people and the environment.1 This chapter examines two artworks separated by thirty-fve years, one marking the emergence in Colombia of eco-art and the other a recent example. Both focus on the degradation of the River Cauca. Alicia Barney (b. 1952), the frst Colombian eco-artist, created Río Cauca (River Cauca) in 1981–1982 to highlight the problem of urban and industrial pollution. In 2016–2017, Clemencia Echeverri (b. 1950) exhibited Sin cielo (Without Sky), a video installation showing the contamination of waterways caused by gold mining. Both artworks expose capitalism’s polluting effects, but their approaches refect different historical moments calling for distinct strategies, revealing the kind of contextual diffculties that eco-artists must creatively navigate. Their work provides case studies to help think through the complexities of effective artistic response to environmental disaster. In creating these artworks, both artists harnessed techniques developed outside of art that have distinct nonart applications linked to totalizing knowledge and systems of social control, to capitalism, colonialism, and extractivism. Barney’s Río Cauca exhibits the trappings of scientifc investigation grounded in geographical study and tied to governance. Echeverri’s Sin cielo employs aerial videography, associated with surveillance and military action. The artists harness the history and impact of these techniques but also use them in ways that overfow, even turn against, their normal functions. Barney’s installation seems a promise of what has been and still could be, questioning Western notions of progress. Echeverri’s is apocalyptic, wherein humans are revealed as signifcantly impacting but not controlling natural processes. Where Barney’s work appeals to rationality, Echeverri’s channels affect. Not just opposite approaches, Barney’s corresponds to the slow death of an epistemology of scientifc progress, while Echeverri’s reveals a world in which capitalist extractivism appears to be unstoppable and its devastating environmental consequences beyond repair. Each challenges contemporary viewers to question what eco-art can achieve, and how, in this moment of climate catastrophe. In the course of contemporary eco-art charted by these two artworks, one sees a challenge to persistent notions of progress—scientifc, economic, and social—in the death of a river.

90 Gina McDaniel Tarver

Río Cauca The River Cauca fows 600 miles, south to north, from its Andean sources in southwestern Colombia near Popayán until it merges with the River Magdalena before pouring into the Caribbean. It runs through the nation’s most productive agricultural area, the Valle de Cauca (Cauca Valley),2 dominated by the sugar cane industry. In the Cauca Valley, it also skirts Cali, Colombia’s third largest city, and passes by Yumbo, an industrial center that produces construction materials, paper products, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. On its way to meet the Magdalena, the Cauca fows between the western and central Andes ranges, through areas known for coffee farming, gold mining, and coca production. Threats to the river’s health—and that of the plants, animals, and people who depend upon it—are multiple, including silt resulting from deforestation (caused by mining, logging, and agriculture); chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides) used in agro-business and in the war on drugs; sewage; contaminants leaching from urban garbage dumps; industrial wastes dumped directly into the river; toxins used in and wastes resulting from the mining of gold and other minerals; and corpses—the grim harvest of the country’s chronic violence—clandestinely “buried” in the turbulent waters. These contaminants seep, spill, and surge into the river all along its course. Alicia Barney Caldas was born near the River Cauca, in Cali. Growing up in the Cauca Valley on her family’s dairy farm, she spent hours under trees and next to streams, learning about the natural world through immersion in it. After attending university in New York, Barney returned to the valley.3 A conversation with her father, who reminisced about the great number and variety of animals that once roamed the valley, including tigrillos (small wild cats), bears, and herds of tapir, made her realize how quickly humans were destroying the local ecosystem, and feeling it was “urgent to raise the alarm about all the damage being done,” she produced “several ecological works denouncing what I thought were the problems at their very base.”4 Río Cauca was Barney’s second eco-artwork, the frst being Yumbo (1980), which dealt with air pollution. For Río Cauca, Barney collected water from the river, frst from its source above Popayán, where she flled fve large jugs with water. Barney recruited the biologist Roberto Díaz, from the Universidad Nacional in Palmira, to travel with her to fve river locations within the Department of the Valle de Cauca. With the scientist, Barney went to: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

La Balsa, where the river enters the department; Puerto Navarro, near a major sewage dump in south Cali; Puerto Isaacs, at Yumbo; Zambrano, downstream from a sugar processing plant; and Gutiérrez, where the river leaves the department.

At each site, they took water samples midstream, and she photographed the process.5 Díaz analyzed each sample and compared results to previous studies of the river. The analysis confrmed that several circumstances contributed to the river’s degradation. The water from Puerto Navarro contained alarming amounts of sewage. At Puerto Isaacs, near Yumbo, chemicals from industrial processes were highly concentrated. At Zambrano, a tributary feeding into the river brought large volumes of boiling water, regularly dumped by a sugar refnery upstream, causing further damage. These impacts were symptoms of rapid modernization in the valley after World War II, which itself refects nationwide trends that the government supported through import substitution industrialization programs from 1945 through the early 1970s.6

“The Roar of the River Grows Ever Louder”


The problem of sewage at Puerto Navarro refected the rapid urban population growth that accompanied industrialization: Cali’s population increased by a factor of 14 between 1938 and 1985, growing from 101,883 to 1,429,026.7 The chemicals in the river near Yumbo corresponded to the growth of new industries, mostly multinational. (For example, the Switzerland-based company Eternit established a factory in Yumbo in 1945 to create its trademarked fber cement, containing asbestos, widely used in modern construction and in increasing demand in the postwar period.)8 These pollutants refect what anthropologist Nancy Motta González and sociologist Aceneth Perafán Cabrera identify as the greatest threats to the river: “the lack of control by the authorities, in addition to the indifference of citizens and businesses in the face of the effects of degradation . . . of the Cauca.”9 The river’s degradation was an outcome of capitalism, an impact ignored within the offcial message of progress through industrialization and technological advancement to be fed by nature’s presumably endless bounty. Any solution, argue Motta and Perafán, must be symbolic as much as practical, since the problems are systemic and widespread and cannot be solved without drastic mindset changes on the part of the government, business owners, and citizens alike.10 Barney’s instinct to highlight the problem through art was both timely, being much needed, and ahead of its time within Colombian art.11 Her goal was to alter mindsets, effecting a symbolic change that might lead to action. To display her investigation results, she built three shallow acrylic tanks, one each for samples taken from the surface, middepth, and bottom of the river at each of the fve points (Plate 14). In the bottom of each tank a hydrological map of the river was etched. The river’s source water flled the tanks, and suspended above the points on the map corresponding to the sampling locations were the samples in test tubes (Figure 6.1). Photographs documenting the sampling process, clearly labelled, hung on the walls near the tanks along with the scientifc analyses,

Figure 6.1 Alicia Barney, detail of Río Cauca, 1981–1982, mixed media and variable dimensions. Source: Photograph by Guillermo Franco.

92 Gina McDaniel Tarver and the large containers used to collect the source water sat nearby. Taken altogether, the display reveals a process of investigation similar to those which activist academics increasingly were using to denounce ecological devastation with scientifc rigor.12 It also followed and alluded to a national history of natural science that is well-known, respected, and closely entwined with Colombia’s emergence as a nation-state.

Measurements, Maps, and Mirrors No one better exemplifes this entwined history than Barney’s own illustrious ancestor, Francisco José de Caldas (1768–1816). A criollo (American of European descent) born in Popayán in the Spanish Viceroyalty of New Granada, Caldas was a self-taught naturalist and inventor—he developed a pressure hypsometer, which measured altitude based on water’s boiling point. The famous Prussian scientist-explorer Alexander von Humboldt, whom Caldas met in Quito in 1801, thought highly of him. Caldas also worked closely with the Spanish botanist José Celestino Mutis, participating in his Royal Botanical Expedition of the New Kingdom of Granada, launched in 1783 specifcally to expand knowledge of the viceroyalty’s natural resources so as to better exploit them economically.13 The expedition exemplifed the use of science in colonizing nature. As T.J. Demos explains it, colonizing nature “entailed a multifarious, complex, and at times contradictory pattern of bureaucratic rationalization, scientifc and technological mastery, military domination, integration within the expanding capitalist economy, and legal systematization in order to manage and maximize the possibilities of resource exploitation.”14 Simultaneous to studying the territory’s bounty, Caldas and other expedition members spread Enlightenment ideas through the publication of the newspaper El Seminario, which Caldas directed. These ideas are credited with fomenting the independence movement. Shortly after the independence movement began, Caldas joined the independence army, serving until royalists captured and executed him. The American struggle to be free from Spanish colonialism’s yoke eventually succeeded, while the criollo elite’s colonization of nature, in the interest of developing strong economies, continued apace. Caldas’s greatest contribution, according to historian José Eduardo Rueda Enciso, was his emphasis on the importance of geographical study in the formation of a successful state.15 Indeed, having achieved independence, the newly formed Republic of New Granada launched the Corographic Commission in 1850, its own exploratory mission for mapping its territory and taking stock of its resources.16 The anthropologist Michael Taussig asserts that the true importance of the commission lay in the symbolic act of mapping: The map was preeminently an emblem of statehood; to make the map was to make the state—in an act that appeared to be one of domesticating the chaos of nature and obtaining some leverage over the dense inwardness of local knowledges concerning geography, topography, chorography, fora and fauna. No map or associated survey actually achieves these things. It appears to. That’s all. And it does so by the crudest magic, transposing the unruliness of the experience of nature onto a piece of paper marked north and south, east and west. . . . Was any abracadabra as crude as this? What seems crucial here is what this tells us about the state; how it needs this theater with its magic but needs it disguised as science, and how important the domination of nature is to such theater.17

“The Roar of the River Grows Ever Louder”


Science, specifcally fgured through Caldas as an early local scientist and key fgure of nation-formation, continued to hold an important place in the national imaginary and, furthermore, in the symbolism of the economy, as evidenced by the portrait of Caldas that appeared on the 20 peso banknote from 1966 to 1983. Based on a nineteenth-century portrait by an unknown artist, this image shows him holding a compass over a celestial globe, as if fxing the nation’s place within the universe through scientifc measurement. In adopting a scientifc approach to the problem of ecological devastation, utilizing measurement and maps, Barney tapped into this powerful theater of the state, taking advantage of the importance of the idea that the government has control of nature. If the government must be seen to be in control, perhaps it could be persuaded to tackle the problem of pollution, if only to preserve its own façade of order and prosperity. The display tanks with their test tubes, maps, and accompanying scientifc documentation allude to the rich history of the nation and its promises of progress. In a sense, they demand that the state keep these promises. Yet they also overfow a scientifc approach in their aesthetic impact, especially through transparent and refective materials. With Río Cauca, Barney’s strategy was to make corruption visible, not by overwhelming the viewer with the river’s abject state but by contrasting the contaminants with the beauty of source water within an immaculate and orderly display in order to prompt rational refection and action. The pollution is carefully contained in the test tubes, held in suspension within the source water. Río Cauca seems to be a promise that the problem can be controlled. Barney stills the ongoing process in order to hold the various elements in tension, as at a crucial moment of potentiality and refection. The three tanks, identical at frst glance, each with its fve tubes in the same spots, create a visual repetition that emphasizes systematic study and also draws attention to the display as an abstraction of the river, an analysis. Repetition emphasizes the character of a map, that magical quality of any map but particularly a hydrological one: that it appears to fx, in a manageable scale, a vast area, making it, presumably, knowable.18 A river map is a practical absurdity—it charts a liquid that is in constant fux, never the same twice, as Heraclitus wrote. In Barney’s installation, there is the map, the same three times, but the river, she simultaneously reveals, is not consistently the same and has hidden depths: we can only know it partially, in bits, as an abstraction, through the magic of the map. The etched maps demand closer looking, drawing the viewer in. From certain angles the tanks’ lower surfaces refect the light, becoming mirrors. The viewer might gaze upon her refection through the still water and refect upon her relationship with water. Perhaps the citizen’s individual self-interest might serve to activate a solution: we all need clean water. Yet a mirror, considered as metaphor, goes beyond narcissism. Mirrors are also associated with visions; they are mysterious material that beings might travel through from one world to another, à la Alice (Alicia) through the looking glass. While the map is science-as-magic, the mirror is material-as-magic. The mirroring surfaces of Río Cauca, like the water itself, correspond to lakes high on the páramo, the river’s source in the lands above 3,000 metres. In rare and wondrous moments when the clouds break, the sun shines, the mist lifts, the wind calms, and the water stills, these lakes become perfect images of the sky. At such moments, the earth seems to disappear. Distinctions dissolve into a sense of infnity and unity in being. In Andean mythology, such lakes are the origin of the gods, of life itself. The gods break

94 Gina McDaniel Tarver the mirror’s surface from another world to emerge into this one, bringing divinity to earth. Thus, the artwork contains within it both the potential of European empiricism and something different, less rational and less individualistic. Río Cauca is a presentation in which science is privileged while sensibility subtly reinforces science’s almost mystical powers but also hints at its limits. The potential effcacy of Barney’s early eco-artworks relied on the idea that the main problem was one of visibility: once brought to light, nature’s corruption could be dealt with using the same tools of knowledge often used to exploit it. There were governmental reactions to pollution problems around the time that Barney made Río Cauca, such as a new Sanitary Code (Law 9 of 1979) intended to protect the natural environment by granting regulatory powers to the Health Department,19 put into effect in January 1982. Potentially, the government could have curbed pollution, but instead it tended to give concessions or remain silent on violations, so that the new code’s enactment proved woefully inadequate. Reports twenty-fve years after Río Cauca debuted revealed that 500 tons of waste entered the River Cauca daily; that despite large monetary investments, water treatment plants in Cali could not process the great volume of wastewater; that the river did not contain enough oxygen to dissolve contaminants, with the oxygen level at zero at Yumbo.20 Recently Barney wrote that when she worked on Río Cauca, “I still had hopes that people would react in time.”21 Now she sees Río Cauca as utopian, in the sense of being impossibly idealistic, leading to no-place. T.J. Demos points out that while contemporary projects that bring public attention to ecological degradation are salutary, they have a problem: “The danger here involves deferring responsibility to scientifc expertise and government authority in determining our collective response to environmental change, which makes us vulnerable to solutions forged by exclusive social, scientifc, and political interests.”22 Individuals need to share responsibility, increasing their knowledge and leveraging science as a tool of power rather than leaving potential solutions entirely to experts and authority. As Demos argues, we can only affrm the need for a critical realism that both refuses to relinquish the validity of science and remains dedicated to a guarded analysis of ecological discourse as a representational system forged at the intersection of power and knowledge.23 The questions of how to change the representational system, how to make scientifc knowledge useful outside of or despite power systems, remain diffcult and vital. In the early 1980s, Barney faced problems in creating eco-artwork that went beyond the quandary of how to affect a symbolic shift, beyond the conundrum of reliance on government accountability, in ways specifc to the Colombian political situation. “I had lots of trouble getting a hydrological map of the river from a government institution,” she writes, “because of the guerrilla, anyone who asked for a map was suspicious.”24 Because maps are crucial in military, economic, and administrative control, they were tools to be guarded in the 1980s and 1990s as the state faced the growth of an armed leftist insurgency and the drug trade. During this period, the state was particularly vulnerable, leading authorities to distrust and harass critics such as Barney (and sometimes to do worse). Barney states, When I showed Yumbo in 1980 at the museum La Tertulia in Cali, I was approached by three of the so-called intelligence police. These police dress as

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civilians, spy on citizens, make unlawful arrests, and disappear people, but all the same, you can recognize them. I was asked to explain the work.25 This environment was extremely hostile to activism, which might partially explain why eco-art did not thrive in Colombia as it did elsewhere at the time. Thirty-fve years after Río Cauca’s creation, when Echeverri created Sin cielo, the country and its ecological well-being still faced extreme diffculties linked to government weakness and violent struggles for wealth and power within the systems of late capitalism.

Without Sky Clemencia Echeverri was born in Salamina, a town located in the Department of Caldas on a tributary of the River Cauca. She studied visual communication and fne arts in Medellín, established herself as a successful painter and sculptor in the 1980s, then studied abroad in the mid-1990s.26 As art historian Sol Astrid Giraldo Escobar notes, upon Echeverri’s return to Colombia, “the overwhelming reality of the late 1990s claimed her full attention.”27 Colombia was in the midst of one of its worst periods of violence as non-state armed actors (NSAA)—including leftist guerrilla organizations, right-wing paramilitaries, drug cartels, and other illegal gangs linked to these groups28—terrorized the country, fueled by the lucrative cocaine trade and vying with the government for power. In response, since 1997 Echeverri has explored the nature of Colombian violence through a variety of media, notably video installation.29 Commissioned in 2016 to create a video installation for the Museo de Arte Banco de la República for exhibition at the bank’s cultural centre in Manizales, Caldas,30 Echeverri turned her attention to the ecological violence of gold mining, a theme of current political and environmental relevance and apropos to the venue. Gold has been, since pre-Columbian times, an important resource in the lands that make up Colombia, and with the global gold price steadily rising between 2002 and 2012 and remaining high since, gold mining’s national economic importance has grown. In recent decades, especially, it has played a major part nationally not only in ecological devastation but also in violent confict.31 The Banco de la República, as Colombia’s central bank, manages the country’s fnancial policies. The bank has important connections to wealth, generally, and to gold: until 1997, the bank had a monopoly on the gold trade. The bank also owns Colombia’s famous Museo de Oro (Gold Museum). The video installation Echeverri made for this commission, Sin cielo,32 evokes these links as it constitutes a critique of gold mining, specifcally in Caldas. The video focuses on gold production around Marmato, Caldas. Marmato is a small town (population around 10,000) on a mountainside above the River Cauca. It looms large in Colombian history due to its ancient and modern abundance of gold and its crucial role in the nation’s foundation: Simón Bolívar, the Liberator, leased Marmato’s gold mines to the British in order to fund the War of Independence.33 The area’s importance stretches back much further than that, though. Before the Spanish conquest, the Quimbaya, celebrated for their stunning, advanced metalwork, dominated the area, exploiting its minerals. Marmato is one of Colombia’s oldest towns, founded by the Spanish in the 1530s to take advantage of the area’s mineral wealth. To work the gold mines throughout its conquered territories, Spain brought slaves from Africa, and the majority of Marmato’s population still are Afro-Colombian, while indigenous groups have a strong presence, too.34 Most of the population,

96 Gina McDaniel Tarver whose livelihood depends on mining, are poor. These are the people most negatively impacted by the problems of gold mining in Marmato and elsewhere in the country— the impoverished, and especially ethnic minorities. The many problems related to gold mining are extremely complex. Most of the gold mined in the country comes from small-to-medium-scale, informal undertakings, that is, from traditional artisanal mining utilizing methods that are centuries old.35 This situation contributes to diffculties of regulation.36 Despite a Mining Code in 2001 that instituted the requirement of a government-issued mining title and included environmental directives, in 2011, no more than 15% of gold producers surveyed reported having a mining title or following environmental standards.37 Mining processes, both large scale and artisanal, frequently use mercury and cyanide to extract ore, and these dangerous substances contaminate local rivers. In addition, gold mining is currently the nation’s top cause of deforestation, leading to massive erosion, especially in mountainous areas, and mining itself deposits large quantities of earth into rivers and even destabilizes mountainsides, resulting in landslides. “It leaves behind the death of the landscape,” writes Echeverri; it constitutes a “moral ruin” with profound political, social, and ideological effects on the territory.38 In Marmato, as Sin cielo shows, the extreme impact on the ecosystem is highly visible—in fact, impossible to escape. Sin cielo consists of video projected through nine display screens on one wall, with stereo sound flling the gallery.39 The screens sometimes show one gridded image, sometimes nine different images at once, or any number in between. It begins with a menacing, unnatural note, droning in the background and sustained throughout much of the video, now loud, now quiet. The river appears, the water running steady and black, with the sound of its rushing fow. Then sludge takes over, gray mud, dripping, pouring, splashing, gurgling, surging into the water, and a new sound begins: the metallic susurration of coins, which seem to fall in an endless stream, sometimes slow, sometimes fast. The images steadily shift, from extreme close-ups to far away shots, always without a hint of sky.40 With no sky, it seems impossible to breath. Like suffocating. Opaque, viscous substances stream downhill, over barren land (Plate 15). Then there is a person, then three people, but only appearing as rubber-booted feet, hints of dirty blue jeans and dark skin, with mineral-coated hands. Each dumps gray liquid from a bucket. More sound: winches turning, the hollow resonance of metal, water cascading, birds singing, cables creaking, insects buzzing, distorted voices, the ominous note fading in and out. A machine mixes water and sludge. Barrels turn on mechanical spits. Booted men, small like insects, labor at the edge of a precipitous slope, a gash on the mountain, under corrugated metal roofs. Water and dirt swirl around a washing pan, joined by another, and another, and another, each a small vortex (Figure 6.2).41 A glint of gold fashes. Hands coax it forth. Seen from above are buildings, more buildings, a crazy patchwork on a steep hill. Nine aerial views of the town slide off in nine directions, then coalesce into one scene (Figure 6.3). The entire area looks like it will skid off the sharp incline. Indeed, the mountain itself seems likely to erode away. Words cannot capture the sickening, dizzying, slipping sensation the video wall produces. Like falling. Rocks. So many rocks. Ant-like men passing rocks from hand to hand, making a wasteland, a burial mound for the earth itself. Moving away from the town, the thick gray stream runs on and on, between green trees that stand apart, drawn back from the edges of the persistent runnel to reveal dead banks of stone, of rubble. Destruction. It spreads onward. The sludge pulses into the river. The river takes over again,

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Figure 6.2 Clemencia Echeverri, still from Sin cielo, 2016–2017, video wall with nine monitors and stereo sound, 11:20 minutes.

Figure 6.3 Clemencia Echeverri, still from Sin cielo, 2016–2017, video wall with nine monitors and stereo sound, 11:20 minutes.

gulping the sludge, unabated. Darkness seeps slowly across the screen. Everything goes black. Like drowning. Echeverri’s use of montage, whereby jump cuts juxtapose close with distant views from multiple angles while also moving from river to mountain and back, along with her use of nine gridded screens, in and out of sync, creates a powerful kinesthetic

98 Gina McDaniel Tarver experience. These techniques also emphasize the problem’s scope, showing it on both a micro and macro level, revealing how the problem multiplies through the seemingly endless repetition of individual actions. The use of aerial views within the montage, recorded with a drone camera, is particularly effective in conveying scope. Aerial recording is also signifcant for its character as an optic of control, due to its original military application. In Colombia, aerial surveillance is closely linked to the “war on drugs.” With aid from the United States, the Colombian military has long used helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to fnd coca crops.42 Increasingly, they use these techniques to crack down on illegal mining, which now equals or even exceeds cocaine as a revenue source for NSAA.43 As visual culture scholar Jennifer Stob points out, the aerial view is not just tied to governmental control, it also creates a myth of an infnitely expandable, omniscient perspective: “The shared utopia of all aerial views is infnite scale, an ever-increasing distance from what they portray and the ever-increasing dominion this distance suggests.”44 While Echeverri’s use of aerial perspective creates a sense of infnite scale—it seems the devastation will continue to expand beyond the camera’s reach—at the same time it counters any sense of mastery that would normally be associated with such a perspective. Instead, presented in a bewildering array and interspersed with details of a no-man’s-land that even seen up close loses all connection to a sense of place, aerial perspective presents a nightmare of human manufacture that has spun completely out of control. Thus, the “normal function” of aerial surveillance is stymied, and the ability of humans, with all their advanced technology, to stem the tide of destruction is called into question.

Without Heaven Echeverri’s Sin cielo constitutes a condemnation of the ecological damage gold mining causes, but two aspects of the artwork call for deeper consideration, as they may inhibit responsible and effective political and social ecological action in the face of the crisis. First is the artwork’s tendency toward abstraction. The photographic aerial view, as Stob points out, is “the paradigmatic abstraction of social and economic life”;45 it is precisely through abstraction that aerial perspective acts as an optic of dominion. In Sin cielo, even when the camera moves in close, the picture is cropped in such a way that faces are not seen; therefore, it is not the miner’s plight but mining’s environmental effect that is emphasized. Keeping the focus on ecological devastation, the problem becomes one that, while recorded in one locality, may easily be imagined as it occurs simultaneously elsewhere. Indeed, abstraction of the problem of erosion and pollution could be an intentional strategy for reaching a broad audience. Such abstraction may contribute to a unity of purpose nationwide or even globally, but it also runs the risk of fattening the problems of gold mining, that is, overlooking the specifcity of the complex circumstances of gold mining in particular locations, such as Marmato. Viewers in Manizales, viewing the original installation, may have been familiar with Marmato’s history—the troubled town is not far from Manizales and was frequently in the news—so its story likely provided a background to their experience of the artwork. Subsequent viewers outside Colombia, and even some within, are unlikely to know specifc details of the Marmato crisis,46 which has to do with changes in mining regulations, multinational investments, the criminalization of longstanding small-scale informal mines, and an infux of illegal miners that combined

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to accelerate exploitation of the mountain, creating chaos in the local community.47 Problems began in 2005 when a multinational corporation began buying up local mines and processing mills in an effort to establish a large-scale, open-pit mining venture. The government backed this foreign investment, aiming for more effcient use of national resources and greater regulation of the industry.48 Local miners formed groups to protest the development. Then, in 2006, two landslides damaged buildings in Marmato. The government proposed relocating the entire town to a lower, fatter location. Many in Marmato and the surrounding area took it as an attempt to make room for the open-pit mine.49 Resistance to the relocation was successful, but by purchasing and closing down mills, the corporation made it extremely diffcult for smallscale miners to make a living, affecting the entire town’s economy. The company, now called Gran Colombia Gold Corporation, also closed mines it had purchased while awaiting permits for the new operation. It seemed the town might be starved out for lack of work. In 2008, local miners took matters into their own hands. The mining code states that if a mine is abandoned for six months, the title owner loses the right to work it. Therefore, the miners invaded and began to work the closed mines. After a brief period of great success, word got out to other parts of the country, and an illegal gold rush began, with thousands coming, lured by the ever-increasing value of gold. The government, in response, criminalized small-scale mining in Marmato and initiated measures to shut down the invaded mines. But the situation was beyond control and worsened by the fact that many outsiders brought with them drugs, prostitution, and crime. And the new mining spurt caused increased environmental destruction,50 the subject of Sin cielo. Local miners fought the company and government at every step, and fnally, in February 2017, the Constitutional Court made pronouncements favoring the miners, reasserting the traditional rights of small miners throughout the country.51 Since then, the Gran Colombia Gold Corporation fled a massive lawsuit against Colombia52 but also announced plans to downscale their project.53 Although these developments represent a relative victory for local small miners, and townspeople, Marmato still suffers the social and ecological problems brought on by the surge.54 Yet the traditional miners and other townspeople have shown great resilience and strength in fghting for their rights and preserving their culture, and they deserve neither demonization for destroying the environment nor to be seen as passive victims of neoliberalism.55 In fact, although their activism has not been focused on ecological issues, their relative success against powerful corporate and governmental opponents points to the potential and importance of grassroots movements and makes their group a possible organizational model for ecocritical action. This complicated reality lurks, unseen, behind Sin cielo. The second problematic aspect of the artwork is in its affective impact. The video installation, with its swooping, slipping aerial views and stereo soundtrack, creates a powerful visceral experience; it impacts the viewer in a deep, preverbal manner. Affect can be a potent motivator when rationality fails and perhaps is necessary to convince people of the reality and urgency of ecological destruction, since reasoned presentations have foundered. Yet affect also runs the risk of becoming overwhelming, leaving the viewing subject inert.56 The title Sin cielo can mean “without heaven,” which might be taken as lack of hope for a better future existence. Without hope, who will bother to act? Apocalyptic scenarios are benefcial to neoliberal interests, comprising,

100 Gina McDaniel Tarver in Demos’s words, “enforced narratives of disaster capitalism” that foster despondency since “they make it seem as though environmental catastrophe is our ineluctable fate.”57 The emphasis on catastrophe in Sin cielo approaches the apocalyptic, offering a vision of disaster without leaving much room for possible solutions, overlooking the citizens of Marmato’s own determination and effort to improve the situation.

Muddying the Waters (Some Conclusions) These two works, revealing the River Cauca’s degradation since 1981, stand as examples of critical eco-art that are in many ways opposite in their approach. Together they offer insights into such art’s potency and effcacy as a catalyst for political ecological action embedded within and responding to specifc local realities. These works mark not only a particular problem and its intensifcation, but also a diminishing of hope for change. In 1981 at the south end of the Cuaca, Barney displayed a living river in danger from pollution but crystalized in a moment of tension and possibility. Her idea was that a rational revelation of the problem might stimulate a solution. Thirtyfve years later, downstream, the River Cauca in Echeverri’s Sin cielo is, in the words of one curator, “a dead body, continuously bringing destruction downriver with its inexorable fow.”58 Echeverri’s work, like Barney’s, raises awareness, but in a manner that overwhelms the senses and mind, risking the viewer’s paralysis. Humans are lost within her work, overwhelmed by the disastrous environment they created, suggesting that the anthropocentric approach to the world itself is a failure. Their histories in context reveal diffculties involved in crafting effective ecological art and in instigating activism, especially in a country plagued by violence where the government is weak. As they are in other parts of the world, the grave ecological challenges in Colombia are closely intertwined with economic, political, and social struggles. In particular, insuffcient resources allocated for environmental protection, the continuing threat of NSAA, who are deeply invested in the gold mining trade, and tensions between proposed neoliberal solutions and traditional ways of life are some of the problems in Colombia. The government continues to see foreign investment in high-tech, economic development (such as in new large-scale mining ventures) as a solution, trusting that multinational companies will bear the responsibility of environmental sustainability, but Marmato is an example of a community that largely, with reason, distrusts both government and corporations and sees their way of living—which is also based on exploitation of nature, though on a smaller scale—as threatened by these outside interests. Any effective solution needs to respect the culture and desires of local populations, and in the case of mining, perhaps the solution is to return to and regulate, but from a grass-roots level, small-scale mining, setting aside the government’s desire for more thorough exploitation of natural resources. In Colombia, Sin cielo is representative of current environmentally aware art but should not be seen as marking an ending point, since many other artists seek solutions through artistic practice.59 So how best to continue? In the face of such obstacles, it is reasonable to ask, what can artists do? How can eco-art be effective? Both Barney’s and Echeverri’s artworks have certain strengths that might point to possible courses of continuance and weaknesses that serve as cautions. Barney’s meticulous installation draws from science and science’s links to governance within the “theater of the state” in a way that suggests its usefulness in revealing problems, searching for solutions, and demanding accountability when

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it comes to urban and industrial pollution, yet at the same time the work subtly refects other, nonrational ways of thinking of water, potentially opening space for alternate worldviews, for ways of valuing nature that go beyond the exploitation of its resources for human beneft. It also, like most eco-artwork, hinges on a will and power, external to the work, a trust that observers will take on the problem, be willing and able to act. Echeverri’s kinesthetic video work, on the other hand, has an undeniable affective impact that strongly conveys some of the problems of mining, that sticks in the viewer’s mind and body so that its content is not easily shed; it is an impact that threatens hope, however, and the work fattens, through abstraction, ecological problems. Small-scale miners are seen only as contributing to an environmental disaster. The role of neoliberalism—and that of a complicit state—is unseen, as is the miners’ continuing work against those powers. A critical approach to both works reveals the challenges of stimulating action, and the story behind the recent tensions around mining in Marmato points to the potential of local, grassroots activism as a force that eco-artists might collaborate with and support.60 Since many nations face complex and violent realities, thinking through these two works, how they function, and both where they succeed and fail is not just an exercise for fostering Colombian eco-art but might stimulate critical feedback generally. Whereas eco-artists and those who support them can perhaps share a clarity of purpose—mitigating the effect of anthropogenic climate change—the answers of how best to do so are never clear, which is why artists, with their creative, often nonlinear approaches to the world, are so important. Artists, with a capacity for visualizing problems, and art, with its visual potency that can appeal in a wide range of ways, from rationally to affectively, could be key to fnding solutions and helping implement them. Artists can take various approaches, try a wide range of strategies, garner attention, and continually provoke thought and hopefully action. Scholarship, in turn, can help to support their work, continually providing critical feedback, although not necessarily providing clarity of thought. When dealing with water pollution, clear water is a goal, but conversely, for art and art criticism to be effective, sometimes the waters need muddying, metaphorically speaking, to promote the greatest possible care in approaching complex problems and to constantly remind of and make room for local actors, alternative worldviews, and spaces of otherness.

Notes 1. The quotation in the title comes from “Último poema sobre las formas del agua” (“Last Poem about the Shapes of Water”) by Tomás González, from his book Manglares (2013), translated by David Auerbach, reprinted in José Roca and Alejandro Martín (eds.), Waterweavers: A Chronicle of Rivers (New York: Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, 2014), 328. Several curators recently have plunged into water both as vital theme and organizational concept for Colombian art, promoting contemporary examples of ecological art— eco-art—that have grown out of local realities to address global problems. The exhibition Waterweavers, with its accompanying catalog, is one excellent example. Such projects lay a groundwork for an art historical assessment of Colombian eco-art, yet its beginnings are not well known and its historiography has yet to be developed. This chapter is only a beginning. 2. Valle de Cauca is a geological and political name, designating both a river valley and a department (subnational division for administrative, geographical, and political demarcation). Colombia comprises thirty-two departments, and the River Cauca fows through six.

102 Gina McDaniel Tarver 3. Barney earned a bachelor of fne arts degree at the College of New Rochelle (1969–1974) and a master of fne arts degree at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn (1974–1977). 4. Alicia Barney Caldas, untitled text, in Art and Psychedelia: A Critical Reader, edited by Lars Bang Larsen and Caroline Woodley (London: Afterall and Koenig Books, forthcoming). 5. These, along with extensive documentation of all her artworks, are accessible online: Alicia Barney Caldas, “Obra,” artist’s website, n.d., 6. James D. Henderson, “Economic Progress and Social Change: From Ospina Pérez to the National Front: The False Paradox of Economic Progress amid Violence,” in Modernization in Colombia: The Laureano Gómez Years, 1889–1965 (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2001), 325–345. 7. Population fgures come from national census data. For 1938: Edgar Vásquez, “Historia del desarrollo económica y ubrano en Cali,” Boletín Socioeconómico no. 20 (April 1990): 20; for 1985: Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadística Colombia, “Muestras Censales 1964–2005,” DANE Información Estratégica, estadisticas-por-tema/demografa-y-poblacion/muestras-censales. The most recent census in 1981 was that of 1973, at which point Cali’s population was 991, 549. 8. Vásquez, “Historia del desarrollo económica y urbano en Cali,” 14. Eternit is infamous for asbestos use, continuing well after its danger was recognized, especially in underdeveloped countries with little or no government regulation. In recent decades, Eternit’s CEO, Stephan Schmidheiny, has been seen as a prime example of neoliberal greenwashing and art-washing (the use of “sustainable economic projects” and art to create a positive image for capitalism). See Guillermo Villamizar, “Daros Latinoamérica: Memorias de un legado peligroso,” esferapública, December 3, 2012,, and Guillermo Villamizar, “Informe Daros: Arte y dinero,” esferapública, May 11, 2013, informe-daros-arte-y-dinero/. 9. Nancy Motta González and Aceneth Perafán Cabrera, Historia ambiental del Valle de Cauca: Geoespacialidad, cultura, y género (Cali, Colombia: Universidad de Valle, 2010), 79. Translations from Spanish are the author’s unless otherwise noted. 10. Ibid., 21–24. 11. Historical academic studies of human environmental impact in the Valle de Cauca were beginning to be done in the 1970s, although many of the results were not published until the 1990s. Ibid., 24–30. 12. Isaías Tobasura Acuña, “El movimiento ambiental colombiano: Una aproximación a su historia reciente,” Ecología Política no. 26 (2003): 111. 13. Santiago Díaz Pedrahíta, “La Expedición Botánica,” documents of the Sociedad Geográfca de Colombia, n.d., 14. T.J. Demos, Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2016), 14. 15. José Eduardo Rueda Enciso, “Francisco José de Caldas,” in La Gran Enciclopedia de Colombia del Círculo de Lectores, tomo de biografías, http://enciclopedia.banrepcultural. org/index.php/Francisco_Jos%C3%A9_de_Caldas. 16. See Efraín Sánchez, Gobierno y geografía: Agustín Codazzi y la Comisión Corográfca de la Nueva Granada (Bogotá: Banco de la República, 1999). 17. Michael Taussig, My Cocaine Museum (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 198. 18. Taussig notes that in the early nineteenth century, Caldas had in mind a map of the nation, a map that would be magical since it would allow each component of the state to know its place. Ibid., 211. 19. El Congreso de Colombia, “Ley 9 de 1979 Nivel Nacional,” Régimen Legal de Bogotá D.C., Secretaría Jurídica Distrital de la Alcaldía Mayor de Bogotá D.C., January 24, 1979, 20. Editorial staff, “Al río Cauca lo están matando las 500 toneladas de contaminantes que le caen cada día,” El Tiempo, November 17, 2007, CMS-3819669 21. Barney, untitled. 22. Demos, Decolonizing Nature, 34. 23. Ibid.

“The Roar of the River Grows Ever Louder”


24. Barney, untitled. Her gender, too, caused a problem in a highly conservative country dominated by the Catholic Church, which fostered traditional gender roles; she adds, “besides, [they thought that] a woman artist should paint, not ask for maps.” 25. Ibid. 26. Sol Astrid Giraldo Escober, La imagen ardiente: Clemencia Echeverri (Bogotá: Ministerio de Cultura, República de Colombia, 2017). She earned graduate degrees in sculpture and contemporary art theory and history at Chelsea College of Arts, London. 27. Giraldo, La imagen ardiente, 208; English translation by Caroline Peña Bray. 28. I borrow the terminology “non-state armed actors” (actores armados no estatales) from Juan Felipe Ortíz-Riomalo and Angelika Rettberg, “Minería de oro, conficto y criminalidad en los albores del siglo XXI en Colombia: Perspectivas para el posconficto colombiano,” Colombia Internacional 93 (2018): 17–63. 29. Echeverri’s earlier video installation Treno (Threnody, 2007) deals with the River Cauca’s most disturbing pollution: corpses. The Cauca continues to be a dumping place for bodies that the NSAA disappear and kill. See Giraldo, La imagen ardiente, 247–248; José Roca, “Restless Water,” in Clemencia Echeverri, Sin cielo [Skyless], exhibition brochure (Houston: Sicardi Gallery, 2017), n.p. 30. The Banco de la República owns one of the most complete collections of Colombian art, along with a substantial collection of Latin American art and European modern art. It has museums in central Bogotá, with cultural centers and branches of its Gold Museum in various Colombian cities. 31. Ortíz-Riomalo and Rettberg, “Minería de oro,” provides an overview of the situation. 32. Echeverri conceives of and directs her video projects, collaborating with others on design, flming, sound, and editing. For Sin cielo, Camilo Echeverri contributed to camera and photography, Juan Forero to sound design and editing, and Victor Gárces to video design and editing. 33. Elizabeth Ferry and Stephen Ferry, La Batea (Brooklyn, NY: Red Hook Editions, 2017), 7. 34. In 2011, the municipality’s population was 16.7% indigenous and 56.5% Afro-Colombian; Agencias de Notícias Universidad Nacional, “Marmato: ¿reubicación o ambición minera?,” UN Periódico, April 7, 2011, On the history of slaves and gold in Colombia, see Taussig, My Cocaine Museum. 35. Anthropologist Elizabeth Ferry and photographer Stephen Ferry’s La Batea documents this kind of traditional mining in Colombia. My thanks to Elizabeth Ferry for commenting on a draft of this chapter. 36. Ortiz-Riomalo and Rettberg, “Minería de oro,” 37. 37. Ibid. 38. Clemencia Echeverri, “Sin Cielo (2017),” ClemenciaEcheverriEstudio, 39. The video is online: Echeverri, “Sin Cielo (2017).” 40. Sin cielo has been translated as “Skyless,” but it can also mean “without heaven.” 41. La batea (the washing pan) is an ancient vessel used in and symbolically closely associated with small-scale or artisanal mining. 42. Colombia is the frst Latin American nation to develop its own drone, the Iris, in 2015; see Alejandro Sánchez, “From Surveillance to Smuggling: Drones in the War on Drugs,” Oxford Research Group Sustainable Security Programme, February 15, 2016, In addition, the Colombian air force uses drones purchased from Israel, and the US Pentagon has provided contractors for aerial surveillance to Colombia. Erich Saumeth Cadavid, “Los Hermes 900 y 450 de la Fuerza Aérea Colombiana,” Tecnología Militar 40, no. 1 (March 2018): 58–59; “FARC Warns US against Hostage Rescue: PentagonContracted Civilians Maryland Aerial-Surveillance Firm,” The Washington Post, February 28, 2003. 43. Jim Wyss, “Dirty Gold Is the New Cocaine in Colombia: And It’s Just as Bloody,” Miami Herald, January 16, 2018, colombia/article194188034.html. 44. Jennifer Stob, “Détournement as Optic: Debord, Derisory Documents and the Aerial View,” Philosophy of Photography 5, no. 1 (2014): 19. 45. Ibid., 29.

104 Gina McDaniel Tarver 46. For example, when I saw Sin cielo at the Sicardi Gallery (Houston, March 2017), I had only cursory knowledge of Colombian gold mining. 47. My account here draws from a version of the story that focuses on the impact on the local community: Equipo Colombia Plural, “Marmato, después de la avalancha,” ColombiaPlural, January 16, 2018, 48. On the government’s efforts to stimulate foreign investment in gold mining and tighten mining regulations nationwide, see Ortíz-Riomalo and Rettberg, “Minería de oro.” 49. Agencias de Notícias Universidad Nacional, “Marmato.” 50. Equipo Colombia Plural reported that by the beginning of 2018, approximately 4,000– 5,000 miners were working informally, without permits, in more than 500 small mines and 100 new facilities with mills and separation tanks using cyanide, in addition to mines in operation legally. Equipo Colombia Plural, “Marmato, después de la avalancha.” In terms of dangerous pollutants, Elizabeth Ferry notes that small-scale miners in Marmato, unlike in other areas, have never used mercury. She adds, They also, to be fair, have been petitioning the government for some years for funds to help clean up and mitigate the effects of mining, but these have not been forthcoming (skeptics in the town say this is because the environmental contamination fortifes the company’s arguments). Elizabeth Ferry, correspondence with the author, May 27, 2018 51. Equipo Colombia Plural, “Marmato, después de la avalancha.” 52. “Canada’s Gran Colombia Gold Files $700 Million Lawsuit against Colombia over Marmato Project,” Financial Post, April 10, 2017, commodities/mining/canadas-gran-colombia-gold-files-700-million-lawsuit-againstcolombia-over-marmato-project. 53. Cecilia Jamasmie, “Gran Colombia Gold to Switch Marmato Project from Open Pit to Underground,”, October 4, 2017, 54. Equipo Colombia Plural, “Marmato, después de la avalancha.” 55. Elizabeth Ferry emphasized this point to me, correspondence with the author. 56. Teresa Brennan, The Transmission of Affect (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004), 97. 57. Demos, Decolonizing Nature, 13. 58. Roca, “Restless Water,” n.p. 59. Flora ars + natura, a contemporary art space and residency program headquartered in Bogotá and directed by José Roca, is exemplary in its support of such artists. 60. Compelling examples of Colombian eco-artists who do so include Carolina Caycedo, who works with activists and communities affected by hydroelectrical dams, such as Hidroituango in on the River Cauca. See Lisa Blackmore’s chapter in this volume.

Bibliography Barney Caldas, Alicia. “Untitled text.” In Art and Psychedelia: A Critical Reader. Edited by Lars Bang Larsen and Caroline Woodley. London: Afterall and Koenig Books, forthcoming. Brennan, Teresa. The Transmission of Affect. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004. Demos, T. J. Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2016. Díaz Pedrahíta, Santiago. “La Expedición Botánica.” Documents of the Sociedad Geográfca de Colombia, n.d. Ferry, Elizabeth and Stephen Ferry. La Batea. Brooklyn, NY: Red Hook Editions, 2017. Giraldo Escobar, Sol Astrid. La imagen ardiente: Clemencia Echeverri. Bogotá: Ministerio de Cultura, República de Colombia, 2017. Henderson, James D. “Economic Progress and Social Change: From Ospina Pérez to the National Front: The False Paradox of Economic Progress amid Violence.” In Modernization in Colombia: The Laureano Gómez Years, 1889–1965, 325–345. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2001.

“The Roar of the River Grows Ever Louder”


Motta González, Nancy and Aceneth Perafán Cabrera. Historia ambiental del Valle de Cauca: Geoespacialidad, cultura, y género. Cali, Colombia: Universidad de Valle, 2010. Ortíz-Riomalo, Juan Felipe and Angelika Rettberg. “Minería de oro, conficto y criminalidad en los albores del siglo XXI en Colombia: Perspectivas para el posconficto colombiano.” Colombia Internacional 93 (2018): 17–63. Roca, José. “Restless Waters.” In Clemencia Echeverri: Sin Cielo [Skyless]. Exhibition brochure. Houston: Sicardi Gallery, 2017. Roca, José and Alejandro Martín (eds.). Waterweavers: A Chronicle of Rivers. New York: Bard Graduate Center: Decorative Arts, Design History, Material Culture, 2014. Rueda Enciso, José Eduardo. “Francisco José de Caldas.” In La Gran Enciclopedia de Colombia del Círculo de Lectores, tomo de biografías. n.d. Published online at http://enciclopedia. Sánchez, Efraín. Gobierno y geografía: Agustín Codazzi y la Comisión Corográfca de la Nueva Granada. Bogotá: Banco de la República, 1999. Saumeth Cadavid, Erich. “Los Hermes 900 y 450 de la Fuerza Aérea Colombiana.” Tecnología Militar 40, no. 1 (March 2018): 58–59. Stob, Jennifer. “Détournement as Optic: Debord, Derisory Documents and the Aerial View.” Philosophy of Photography 5, no. 1 (2014): 19–34. Taussig, Michael. My Cocaine Museum. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2004. Tobasura Acuña, Isaías. “El movimiento ambiental colombiano: Una aproximación a su historia reciente.” Ecología Política 26 (2003): 107–119. Vásquez, Edgar. “Historia del desarrollo económica y ubrano en Cali.” Boletín Socioeconómico 20 (April 1990): 1–28.


Amazonian Waterway, Amazonian Water-Worlds Rivers in Government Projects and Indigenous Art Giuliana Borea and Rember Yahuarcani1

As we write this chapter, the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical forest, is burning. Fires are frequent in the Amazon in the dry season and are extinguished by the rains. However, according to Brazil’s Space Agency, the volume and magnitude of these fres in 2019 have so far increased by more than 85% over 2018, and this corresponds to deforestation.2 The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and other agencies point out that the magnitude of the fre is the consequence of human activity specifcally for the expansion of the agricultural-livestock frontier.3 This expansion closely correlates to the right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro’s dismantling of environmental regulations since assuming the presidency in 2019, with serious impacts on the lives of the plants and animals that make up this forest and on the lives of the Amazonian indigenous peoples whose selves, belongings and resources are in mutual relationship with the forest. Thus, the fres not only are contributing to the global climate crisis but also endangering the continuity of the indigenous people’s lives, memory and worlds. While we write this chapter, on the Peruvian side of the Amazon the Peruvian government is promoting the Proyecto Hidrovia Amazónica (Amazonian Hydrovia/Waterway Project).4 This project adds to other waterways projects promoted globally and particularly in this region, such as the Tapajos-Teles Piles Hydrovia in the Brazilian Amazon and the Parana-Paraguay Hydrovia promoted by Mercosur.5 According to the Peruvian authorities the Amazonian Hydrovia will improve the navigability of the Amazon’s river and tributaries: the Huallaga, the Marañón and the Ucayali. The water fow in the rivers fuctuates with the seasons of rain and drought, determining the loading level of vessels used both for commercial products and people, with certain sectors sometimes so shallow that boats can run aground. According to the government, this creates unsafe conditions and delays, and thus the project intends to make the rivers navigable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring “good, safe, effcient conditions for the transport of cargo and passengers” (Ministry of Transportation and Communication).6 For this, the project includes dredging thirteen shallow sections, which the project calls “bad steps,” clearing the logs and tree debris from the river and monitoring the water level to determine the amount of cargo that vessels can carry. The Amazonian Hydrovia Project’s promotional material reads as follows:7 Amazonian Hydrovia: The great route to the integration of our Amazon. Iquitos, Pucallpa and Yurimaguas are three important cities in our forest. They are linked by the Huallaga, Marañón, Ucayali and Amazonas rivers. All three have river ports with great development potential. These rivers are the main means of communication for these cities and all the surrounding Amazonian communities.

Amazonian Waterway, Amazonian Water-Worlds


In the months in which the rivers are less deep because their fow drops, vessels are only able to travel at 30 percent of their capacity to avoid running aground. This increases the cost of transporting both passengers and products. In light off this, for a safer, orderly and economic navigation, Pro-Investment, commissioned by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, is promoting the Amazon Hydrovia Project. Pro-Investment is a public-private partnership, PPP, that aims to ensure a year-round unobstructed navigation channel. A concessionaire will be in charge of maintaining a channel 56 m wide along the majority of its lengths and will allow ships of 1.8 m draught to travel safely along the 2,687 km that extends along the entire waterway route. The concessionaire will also carry out work to facilitate access to Iquitos City’s river port. The boats will be equipped with GPS, providing digital information about the navigation channel and its depth to ensure a safe navigation. This improvement will promote the integration and development of all Amazonian peoples living along the waterway. It will provide them with easier access to public services including education, health and social programs. The Hydrovia will enhance the development of the Amazon by ensuring vessels’ orderly and safe transit day and night, with shorter travel time, which will be refected in lower passenger and freight transport costs. Amazonian Hydrovia. The great route to the integration of our Amazon. ProInversion. Government of Peru, Working for all Peruvians. (our translation) This chapter analyses the tensions between the Peruvian government’s notion of, relationship with, management of and making of the river through its Amazonian Hydrovia Project and Amazonian indigenous peoples’ conception of, feelings about, relationship with and management of river-making. We highlight how this governmental project endangers what the river means to Amazonian indigenous people—to our very lives. We argue that an analysis of the Hydrovia (waterway) and Waterworlds allows for the exploration of the ontological distinctions and the relations of power of who determine what the river is and how it is managed, and to whose knowledges and realities the notion of “diverse perceptions” is attributed. Following anthropologist Mario Blaser,8 this chapter emphasises not the diverse conceptions about the river that maintain the existence of the river per se, but its very diverse existence, which is reinforced by different practices of relationality and management. We argue that contemporary indigenous art, with its national and international circulation, has become a key practice that provides visibility and reinforcement of Amazonian indigenous people’s realities and worlds, with the possibility to expand its viewers’ comprehension of Amazonian ontologies and to allow exploration, explanation and activism for the artists. The artists’ engagement in mutual tactical collaborations with curators, anthropologists, environmentalist and cultural producers to mobilise their work show that co-designing an exhibition with an academic article and to larger projects is possible. While much of this work is frequently carried out as “cultural diversity” in both the artworld and cultural policy, today many Amazonian artists are key political actors seeking to transform the structures of power, knowledge and reality so that indigenous peoples’ worlds are respected and valued beyond extractivism and cultural exploitation. This chapter focuses on the ways in which the works of Shipibo artists

108 Giuliana Borea and Rember Yahuarcani Harry Pinedo (Inin Metsa) and Roldán Pinedo (Shoyan Sheca) and of the Uitoto artist Rember Yahuarcani approach and inform about the river. The works we analyse here put forward the Amazonian indigenous Water-worlds—one of the realities of the rivers, amongst others, although this reality is immersed in networks of power that determine the real. Through their work we explore how the Amazonian Hydrovia Project (waterway project) and Amazonian Water-worlds are based on different densities, spatialities and times of water, and more broadly on distinctive notions of solidity and liquidity. We argue that while the artists’ work can be read as ecocritical art, it is a more precisely an ontocritical art within which ecological issues are immersed in complex interrelations of conceiving-being the world/s and structures of power. This co-authored article is part of a set of artistic-ethnographic collaborations and conversations starting in 2009 between a Peruvian Uitoto indigenous artist and writer, Rember Yahuarcani, and a Peruvian Italian mestizo anthropologist, Giuliana Borea. This is the frst text we have written together, and one of the frst questions that arose was: who is the “we” that we are speaking from? Does it need to be a “we”? The “we” in this text is sometimes an indigenous voice and sometimes an academicWestern “us,” and other times the division between the two is shown. We, with our diverse contributions and starting points, have conversed and written together, but we have tried to avoid our voices merging into a neutral “us.”9 In addition to our voice, this chapter includes refections from Harry Pinedo, the Uitoto artist and leader Santiago Yahuarcani and the Kukuma radio director Leonardo Tello Imaina10—highlighting also the specifcities of Amazonian peoples’ worlds. Finally, we draw attention to various key exhibitions of Amazonian art which have included references to and metaphors for the river, which we quote as subtitles in this text.

Figure 7.1 Harry Pinedo/Inin Metsa, El Protector II (The Protector II), 2020. Source: Image courtesy of the artist.

Amazonian Waterway, Amazonian Water-Worlds


Figure 7.2 Harry Pinedo-Inin Metsa, El Rugir del Yana Puma (crítica hacia la destrucción y la contaminación de la Amazonía), (The Guardian and The Black Puma’s Roar); critique against the destruction and contamination of the Amazon, 2017. Source: Image courtesy of the artist.

“From Its Long Crying the Amazon Was Formed”: Waterway11 The Cambridge English Dictionary defnes a waterway as “a narrow area of water, such as a river or canal, that ships or boats can sail along.”12 It is a navigable body of water and is expected to have a fow. The current use of the concept of “waterway” in relation to a management project implies modifcation of such rivers or canals, usually for commercial and economic purposes, based on arguments of safety, effciency, effectiveness and development. In his study of the Amazonian and Paraná-Paraguay waterway projects, José Enrique Reátegui defnes a waterway as “the professional, technological and permanent management of a navigation channel. For its effcient management it is necessary to provide security and predictability for channel navigation.”13 This succinct description provides a clear image of the ideas and rhetoric that guide the conception and promotion of these Hydrovia projects. The aim of the Amazonian Hydrovia Project was clearly announced on the website of the project’s concessionary company, the Chinese-Peruvian association COHIDRO (text originally in English): The Hidrovia Amazonica focuses its strategic aspect on the possibility of integrating the Amazon to the so-called Amazonas Norte Multimodal Hub, which

110 Giuliana Borea and Rember Yahuarcani brings together the departments from Piura [on the coast] to Loreto [on the Amazon] and allows integration with neighboring countries Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. This information was published on the website until August 2019 and then removed.14 The Amazonian Hydrovia will connect Loreto to Piura and to neighbouring countries and, specifcally, will connect Loreto to Piura’s port of Paita in the Pacifc Ocean and thus to the Asian-Pacifc and particularly the Chinese market; it will provide a faster exit to the Atlantic via the Amazon river and connect with the European market. Thus, through government policy different bodies of water will be connected and managed in order to facilitate and speed the fow of goods, not in all directions and for everyone but to global markets controlled by certain corporations and agents. The Amazonian Hydrovia Project would speed the transportation and commercialization of wood, gold, oil and palm hearts—Peru’s main Amazonian products with global export growth. It is important to note that in 2014 and 2015 Peru’s Ministry of Culture undertook prior consultation in 14 indigenous communities that will be affected by the Amazonian Hydrovia. However, the information given to the communities about the potential impacts was limited, as the government was not aware and still ignores most of these impacts. The Director of Ucamara Radio, the Kukama Leonardo Tello Imaina,15 has questioned the instrumental use of indigenous practices in the consultation process: offerings (pagos) to the river were promised as part of the mechanisms for the acceptance of the project, which Tello affrms will have an immense impact on the lives of these populations. Further multi-sectorial projects were requested by the communities. The University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC)’s Water Research and Technology Centre of the Wildlife Conservation Society warned in a video released on Facebook on 24 May 2018 that nobody knows the effects that this project will have on the rivers, the local communities and biodiversity.16 On 6 July 2017 the concession was granted to the PeruvianChinese consortium for twenty years, despite the lack of certainty about its social and environmental impacts. In general this project has scarcely been disseminated or publicly debated in the media as it passed through the proposal, consultation, public tendering and impact study phases. On 19 May 2019 the Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP), which groups Amazonian indigenous associations, released a frm statement: “AIDESEP and the indigenous peoples of Loreto and Ucayali demand that the Amazonian Hydrovia be declared unviable and we denounce the continuous violation of indigenous and environmental rights.”17 The National Environmental Certifcation Service (SENACE) is currently evaluating the Project’s Environmental Impact Study, and it is important to say that it is in this context that COHIDRO’s information referring to the fact that the project’s strategic aim is the integration to the Amazonas Multimodal North Hub has been deleted. The Amazonian Hydrovia Project sees the river as a means of communication and transportation that must be managed with effciency. This is the existence that the Peruvian government allows the river. The river is not mentioned as a constituent part of a complex ecosystem, and still less is it approached in the terms of the indigenous peoples, as we explain here.

Amazonian Waterway, Amazonian Water-Worlds


“Water Serpent”: Water-World


Many of us—indistinctively if we have been in the Amazon—have in mind the image of the undulant, long, brown rivers that extend across the exuberant rainforest. “Water Serpent” is a powerful metaphor that has been used to name exhibitions, catalogues and books that draw attention to these Amazonian bodies of water and to the Amazon itself. Beyond this image, this section explores further associations of the river, the serpent and the water beings, analysing the river as a Water-world through the work and voices of three indigenous contemporary artists: the Shipibos Roldán Pinedo and Harry Pinedo and the Uitoto Rember Yahuarcani. These artists are actively exploring their world, their history and their contexts. Through their aesthetic choices and political decisions, they express and provide visuality to Amazonian peoples’ knowledges, realities and political-social agendas as they participate in the local and international artworld and public sphere. Roldán Pinedo (Shoyan Sheca is his Shipibo name) was born in the Shipibo Amazonian community of San Francisco (Ucayali, 1971) and migrated to Lima in the 1990s, where he learned to paint with his cousin Robert Rengifo (Chonomëni) at the Rural Studies Seminars’ art workshops promoted by the historian Pablo Macera. His work focuses on Shipibo cosmology and ontology and explores the diversity of the Shipibo area fora and fauna, with emphasis on water beings. His works, along with those of Elena Valera (Bahuan Jisbë), circulate widely in the Peruvian contemporary artworld, and they have also participated in international exhibitions. Roldan Pinedo is a political leader of the Shipibo community of Cantagallo in Lima.19 Harry Pinedo (Inin Metsa) was also born in the Shipibo community of San Francisco (Ucayali, 1988), and his family migrated to Lima with him when he was a child. He learned to paint in Lima with his parents, the renowned Shipibo artists Elena Valera and Roldan Pinedo. His work, on medium-sized canvases using acrylics, provides a political view of the Shipibo people’s current situation, addressing issues such as the impact of hydrocarbon exploitation and the problems and possibilities of migration and place-making of the Cantagallo Shipibo community in Lima. Currently his work circulates nationally. Harry Pinedo is completing his university degree in Intercultural Bilingual Education at Cayetano Heredia University and is an active agent in the discussion of Peru’s intercultural education. Rember Yahuarcani is a renowned Uitoto artist with a transnational artistic career. He was born in the community of La Colonia (Loreto, 1985). He learned to paint from his father, the artist Santiago Yahuarcani, and was introduced to Uitoto mythology by his grandmother, Martha López. Using llanchama (a tree bark), canvases, natural and acrylic dyes, his medium- and large-format paintings focus on Uitoto mythology and beings, capturing the various connections in the Amazonian ontologies. Yahuarcani’s work has been shown at exhibitions and biennials in Latin America, the US, Europe and Asia. Yahuarcani is also a writer; his books include El sueño de Buinaima (Buinaima’s Dream, Alfaguara, 2010), Fidoma y el bosque de estrellas (Fidoma and the Star Forest, Arsam, 2012), Las Aves sus colores (The Colours of Birds, Déjalo ser, 2015) and El verano y la lluvia (Summer and Rain, Casilit, 2017); and he contributes to an opinion column in El Comercio paper. In general, rivers, to the indigenous Amazonian people, are integral parts of our world, our being. They are the principal source of water to drink, wash and clean, and of food: fsh is the daily source of protein. The river is the main means of communication that

112 Giuliana Borea and Rember Yahuarcani makes social relations between members of the same group and between groups and foreigners possible in both peace and confict; the river offers a sense of belonging among the different communities of the same group that live along its banks. It is a means of transport and of exchanging products and knowledge; it is the place where fsh and other beings live and the protective spirits of the water beings are. When the river grows, its water brings nutrients to the plants and animals. The rivers and the forest are bonded together; human ancestors with other bodies live on the rivers and are in communication: “the river is the life itself” (Leonardo Tello);20 “the river, like the forest, is an extension of our body, of our life” (Rember Yahuarcani). What this means, and how contemporary artistic practice explores, discusses, and re-makes the river, is discussed later. For the Shipibos, who live along the Ucayali River and its tributaries in Peru’s Central Amazon, there are four interconnected worlds.21 The Water-world that takes place in and through the river is the home of various types of fsh, red dolphins, anacondas and water plants, and in its depths live the owners of these animals and beings. The Forestworld is where human people, houses, communal houses, animals, plants and their spirit owners are. The Yellow-world is the world of diseases and is where the spirits of bad people end up when they die. The Celestial-world is where the stars (wishmabo), Father sun and Mother moon are. Good people become wishmabo when they die. These worlds are connected by the travels of the most specialized ancient shamans, meraya, who, aided by long special diets and sexual abstinence, disappear deep into the forest for days and nights and master the use of powerful plants to transform themselves into jaguars, birds and dolphins with the help of the plants and the spirits and circulate through the different worlds. They link the worlds, transmitting their knowledge to the older people. Today the shamans (onanya), via the consumption of powerful plants such as ayahuasca and toe, communicate with various spirits in different worlds to help them see their patients’ disarrangement and cure them. In 1998 Giuliana Borea collected a series of icaros, healing songs, from the renowned shaman Lucio Muñoz in San Francisco. A fragment of one of these songs describes the different worlds and regions that the shaman visits and locates to connect with the spirits and heal the patient:22 Deep in the water, I’m standing Deep in the water, the people (twice) standing in a town (twice) Deep in the day, I’m standing standing in the depths of the virgin forest, standing in the depths of the sky doing it or acting unleashing it in the path of a large bad luck. “Deep in the water,” as the shaman Lucio Muñoz sang, the protectors of the water beings live. In Dueño de las Cochas (Guardian of the River Ponds) (Figure 7.3), Harry Pinedo offers an insight into these protectors, who are beings such as mermaids, red dolphins and anacondas. They are responsible for producing and caring for fsh—the riverside people’s food—and protecting the waters. In this work Pinedo features the anacondas’ bodies covered with the Shipibo designs, the kené. The artist tells us: The anaconda is a path who lives in the river and has several of the designs seen in the visions on it. The anaconda is one of the guardians of the river and gives

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food to those who inhabit it. It is said that the anaconda throws fsh into the river by its mouth. Their bodies are covered with various Shipibo designs, and it is from the anaconda that the aesthetics and creativity of the jonikonbo people originate.23 Researchers have studied associations between the anaconda, the designs, ayahuasca and forms of synaesthesia. For instance Carolyn Heath24 affrms that the anaconda “combines all imaginable designs on her skin,” and Bruno Illius’s25 ground-breaking early study explains that all designs can be designated as a whole as ronin kené: “anaconda designs.” Studies have pointed out that according to some ShipiboKonibo shamanic songs, the universe itself originated when the anaconda sang the designs it has on its skin, “insuffating their existence as a fundamental graphicmusical power.”26 These invisible designs, which surround and create paths between the different worlds and the elements of each world, can be seen and traced using powerful plants. Consuming ayahuasca, toe and other plants, shamans communicate with various spirits in order to be able to see and straighten the entangled patient’s body designs; by dropping piri into their eyes, women artists can see the designs and transfer these invisible patterns into tangible, visible designs on fabrics, ceramics and other bases.27 The contemporary artists Roldán and Harry Pinedo also draw attention to these associations explored by scholars between the serpent, designs and the use of powerful plants, and they highlight their link with the river. In their paintings they are taking formal decisions but also researching their world: while there is a wide use of the kené for the contemporary market,28 many of these artists are also researching in the feld, at home, and expanding previous academic studies. The anaconda is the mother of the waters, the mother of the river, the mother of all the Shipibo designs and is seen as a path covered with designs, kené. Roldán Pinedo reinforces this association in his work Río de Kené (River of Kené) (Figure 7.4). This apparently abstract work refers to a set of anacondas with their designs laying one over the other and forming a path, a river of Shipibo design, of identity. We argue that the relationship between the anaconda, designs and understanding of the river itself requires more attention and further analysis.

Figure 7.3 Harry Pinedo/Inin Metsa, Dueño de las Cochas 2, (Guardians of the River Ponds 2), 2013, acrylic on canvas. Source: Image courtesy of the artist.

114 Giuliana Borea and Rember Yahuarcani

Figure 7.4 Roldán Pinedo/Shoyan Sheca, Río de Kené (River of Kené), 2018, acrylic on canvas. Source: Image courtesy of the artist.

Figure 7.5 Roldán Pinedo/Shoyan Sheca, Doncella (Barred Catfsh), 2018, acrylic on canvas. Source: Image courtesy of the artist.

Roldán Pinedo also registers the Water-world with a focus on the rich fauna of the Shipibo Ucayali area. As a man knowledgeable in fshery, he has detailed knowledge of the characteristics of fsh and is producing a series of paintings that feature a fsh in rich detail at the centre, surrounded by other types of river animals. Part of this inventory is his Doncella (Barred Catfsh) (Figure 7.5), in which the main fsh is accompanied by the gamitana, paña, boquichico, carachama, eel and stingray, showing the rich and varied population of the water. For the Uitotos, who live on the banks of the Putumayu River and its tributaries, there are three interconnected worlds that cannot be understood separately: the Sky-world, Ground-world and Water-world.29 From the perspective of the White Heron Clan, to which one of the authors belongs, the Water-world is divided into seven semi-aquatic worlds, each of which is populated by spirits, gods, animals and other beings. The Aima or shaman, who has achieved superior knowledge of plants compared to other healers, uses tobacco and coca to travel to these other spaces, taking the forms of different animals or water creatures, often becoming an anaconda, dolphin, jaguar or bird. Unlike the Christian beliefs in which God or the Creator is located above, in heaven, in the Uitoto world the Creator is below, and to be precise, in the seventh and fnal circle of the Water-world. The Water-world is governed by two important gods of

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their/our cosmology: Buinama and Buiñaiño. The Uitoto elders say that after creating the world, Móó Buinaima, the father creator, travelled through the water and settled in the place he occupies today, and from there he sees us, looks after us, watches over us and guides us. It is important to highlight that for the Uitoto people the frst three primal elements are water, wind and darkness, and the world is created of these three elements. Rember Yahuarcani’s La Creación del Mundo (The Creation of the World) (Plate 7) is a study and a visual assemblage of one of the oral myths about the creation of the world. In this version Móó Buinaima sits on nothing and moves from one place to another across the universe, traveling the same paths as his ancestors. Much fatigued after a lot of walking, he goes to sleep on his seat. When he wakes he discovers water moving at his feet. Buinaima tries to catch the water in his hands, but it manages to slip away. With a very powerful icaro (shamanic song), the water is immobilized, but it changes shape and breaks free again. Buinaima chases the water for a long time and fnally manages to control it. The darkness is thick, the sound of the wind is the only sound. Buinaima tries to stand up but fails; he spits, and his saliva rumbles in the dark. It is a white spot in the middle of the night. With his fngers, he caresses his saliva, making slow circles, and it becomes solid; when he puts his right foot on it he discovers he can hold himself up and slowly leaves his seat. Standing on his saliva, Buinaima walks in circles over it as it widens more and more, becoming a great fountain. He thinks he has done a good job and falls asleep. In his dreams his ancestors speak to him, advising him and guiding him to create new things and beings. In one of the dreams they tell him that he must create a tree and icarar (sing shamanic songs to) its seeds. This tree is the achiote. The Uitotos say that they themselves were created from achiote seeds. After the creation of the world and the Uitoto people, Móó Buinaima went down to where the river runs, and from there he looks at his children. Buiñaiño is Buinaima’s partner. She manifests herself in the three Uitoto worlds (Figure 7.6) by taking different bodies and forms: in the sky she is the rainbow, in the forest she is the aguaje (a type of Amazonian palm fruit) and in the water she is the anaconda (Plate 8). When they see that a rainbow originates from the river, many Uitotos say that an anaconda lives there in the depths of the water. In relation to herself as aguaje, the large areas of land where many aguaje plants grow—aguajales—are abundant in fsh but are very diffcult to navigate due to the thickness of the water. It is also the favourite habitat of anacondas and leeches. It is said that there is a very close relationship between the aguaje plant and the anaconda, in their cylindrical bodies, textures, designs and length and slender presence. When the high trunk of the aguaje dies, it serves as a nesting place for a group of very precious birds: the red and blue macaws. Its height makes it diffcult for predators to reach their nests. Beneath Buiñaiño’s domain are all the aquatic animals we know, and she is responsible for distributing the fsh to all people to eat. Buiñaiño is transparent, her scales shine in midday light and moonlight, and she speaks all languages. Unlike Buinaima, Buinaiño does not have a fxed place in any of the three worlds: she lives in them all, moving, camoufaged, seeing everything. The other circles or Water sub-worlds are inhabited and protected by other spirits. The only human person who manages to explore, to go and return, is the Aima (healer). These trips do not seem strange to the indigenous world. In the community there are many experiences where it is narrated that the healer travelled to the bottom of the river to ask how to cure a patient or what ailments affict him. When lightning

116 Giuliana Borea and Rember Yahuarcani

Figure 7.6 Rember Yahuarcani, Buiñaiño, esposa del Creador (Buiñaiño, the Creator’s Wife), 2009, acrylic and natural dyes on tree bark. Source: Image courtesy of the artist.

strikes the water or hits a certain kind of tree, or when there is a night of torrential rain, it is said that the healer is traveling to the bottom of the river. In that sense, water is not only another of the planet’s elements but also a path to heal and learn. To understand what the river is for the Kukama, who live in the lower banks of the Marañon, Huallaga and Ucayali rivers, we quote from an article by the Director of Radio Ucamara, the Kukuma Leonardo Tello Imaina, which is based on a series of six YouTube videos entitled El Río que Camina (The River that Walks) and produced by the radio station in response to the Amazonian Hydrovia Project:30 The Kukama people depend on fshing for their physical survival and on the rivers for their spiritual and cultural survival. The bottom of the river is very important for the spirits that live in the water, such as the purawa (the snake) or the karuara, who are the people who live in the depths of the river when carried there by the water spirits. Those who have gone to live in the Water-world communicate with their families that live in the Ground-world through dreams. The river pools that form on the banks of the rivers and allow the water to keep spinning is where our ancestors live. In this sense the Kukama have a deep personal relationship with the rivers.

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The bottom of the river is very complex for other life systems. Many fsh live, reproduce and feed on the riverbed. In its depths there are high and low places, like the dunes in a desert. They infuence the current in the river, sometimes forming backwaters and swirls, associating different species of fora and fauna with the river’s dynamics. The river or “great snake” cannot be seen as a fxed path: it is constantly changing and exchanging with the forest and its many life systems. The river has a time of food and a time of drought. In times of fooding, water, with its sediment, enters the forest, shaping the wetlands, where water is the main controlling factor of life. Floods leave sediment that produces specifc habitats and brings nutrients that fertilize the land. The foods also help to connect the various water creeks that feed the forest, helping the plants, shrubs and fruit trees necessary to sustain life in the forest along the rivers to develop. The fruits of some trees deworm the fsh so that they remain healthy during the summer. The fertilized lands are also used by the Kukama people at different times of the year for their crops. Even the trunks of trees that fall into the river, whether by erosion or collapse, are an important element of the rivers. For example, when a quiruma [piece of tree trunk] falls in the centre of the river where the fow is highest, it slows the water, creating a backwater where the big fsh rest, fulflling a very important function. Similarly, the branches that remain on the riverbanks create breeding grounds for many fsh. The rivers and the forest are one: everything is united, nothing is separated. Thinking about rivers and protecting them is thinking about our lives and defending them. The rivers speak, feel and express themselves. The Kukamas, however, must face the skepticism of the Hydrovia Project engineers and concessionary agents and of the government. Rusbel Casternoque, apu or head of the Kukama community of Tarapacá on the Amazon River, said: “When Westerners talk about bad steps [malos pasos], we just keep seeing what we already know: that can be the tail or the head of the purawa; when a beach comes out into the middle of the river, there is the raya mama. As usual, they lie down somewhere, and there the sand or mud piles up and the beach emerges. That is why, for us, the indigenous peoples, dredging the river is a threat that carries the risk that over time, these beings will leave the rivers.”31

“The Skin of the River”: Water Textures32 From the names themselves of these large water management projects, hydrovia (waterway) and hydropower plants, the water element is addressed as “hydro,” H2O, as an inorganic chemical component, stripping it of its relationship as water with organic forms, suggesting a more scientifc, objective, real, controllable and neutral connotation and thus facilitating its management and exploitation. Talking about “hydro,” or even water, separates the projects from being rivers (like talking about ice or snow instead of high mountains).33 “River”, even in Western thought, is charged with more organicity and location than “hydro.” Furthermore, the project’s name prefxes “hydro” with “via,” which implies mobility from one point to another point. In other words the river is not the place itself but the way to reach a site.

118 Giuliana Borea and Rember Yahuarcani The Peruvian government’s Amazonian Hydrovia Project sees the river as a waterway whose modifcation is justifable if it improves and speeds up the transport of goods. Specifcally, for a distant state governed by business interests, the river is a transport route for merchandise extracted from the Amazon towards international markets for the beneft of the extractive and commercial agents. The aim is to standardize and “discipline” the river: fattening the relief in its depths and clearing it of trunks and palisades, increasing the speed of its fow. This standardization of the river includes technological control of its water. This river management strips it of its textures, modifes its fuids, conditions its fuctuations and erodes its lives in order to accelerate and make the commercial fow secure. The Amazonian peoples do not merely have a different conception of the river: the “reality” of the river differs. As Mario Blaser points out,34 it is not a question of different conceptions about a reality, “the river”, defned by Western thought and neoliberal logic. In the lines recorded earlier and from the work of Amazonian artists we have shown that the river, the forest and the lives of human and non-human populations (Figure 7.1 and 7.2) are articulated through worlds that are interconnected by designs, stories and the circulation of beings. Following Blaser’s discussion of lifeprojects,35 the Amazonian peoples not only oppose the Hydrovia Project, but they also have their projects for the river and its future—this completion of the phrase is important in the narratives and understanding of what indigenous people are claiming. The work of the artists shown in this chapter and of other Amazonian artists rises, then, as an expression of indigenous river projects: projects of river-making. There is where its strength and agency reside, especially if these art practices and artists fnd resonance on local and global platforms of enunciative and economic power.36 The meanings/beings of the river are not only “hydro” and “waterway” but also “world” and “path.” The Amazonian Water-world distances itself from the characteristics of constant fow and lightness.37 The water/the river has density, is inhabited and, for the Shipibo, it is also related to a source of kené design; far from the defnition of liquids “as close together particles with no regular arrangement”:38 in these waters there is an invisible, real, arrangement connecting to other worlds. Amazonian artists rise, we rise, as agents who claim other realities and national policies that collect the plurality of knowledge, the plurality of realities. The coloniality of reality implies thinking that there is “one reality” out there and any others are mere conceptions. As scholars have pointed out,39 the problem of locating indigenous ontologies as “culture” is that this extracts them from their design of reality, and this is how Peru’s Ministry of Culture—and those of many other countries—operates. “Government of Peru, Working for all Peruvians,” as the slogan for public projects including Amazonian Hydrovia declares, does not consider or respect the realities built by all Peruvians, and even less those of indigenous Peruvians which are based on coordinates other than Western-neoliberal ones. As Burman says, ontological conficts—in this case water conficts—must be understood in the asymmetries of power at large.40 The river-making projects and life projects at large by the artists in this chapter provide visibility to the Amazonian worlds, but these are projects embedded not only in local histories41 but in transnational strategies and various set of appropriation.42 Indigenous art practices are arenas in which ontologies and strategies (e.g. appropriations, networking and activism) work together, showing the possibility of concrete negotiations for co-designing major projects when indigenous people, their agency

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and their intellectuality are taken seriously. In co-writing this paper and through other collaborations, we argue that the diversity of ontologies is not a barrier for mutual understanding and negotiation (from any starting point, whether Western, Amazonian, or other), but discrimination, greed and necropolitics are, bringing us back to the lack of ethics at the level of rhetoric—“Government of Peru, working for all Peruvians”—and the level of politics—“the Amazonian Hydrovia Project.”43

“The River That Walks”: Fluidity and Metaphors44 Finally, we want to add a note on fuidity, metaphors and positionality. Many authors have already pointed out that modernity is based on the construction of dualities: nature/culture; body and matter/thought; object/subject; science/culture, etc. This modern Western ontology has been located as the reality from which man operates and dominates and consumes the world. However, these dualities and the positionality of man over the world and other beings do not extend to other ontologies such as the Amazonian, a subject that has been widely developed by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro and Philippe Descola.45 Within Amazonian cosmology and practice the bodies of people, animals and plants have the potential for mutual transformation into other bodies, as shown by the myths, the abilities of shamans, and the arts. The body is not fxed: it can transform, the corporeal fuidity is possible; and bodies—the human person and the animal person—have had humanity as their starting point. When “persons” transform into other bodies they assume the physical and sensory capabilities of the entities which they have become, which modifes—and in some cases amplifes— their perspective. In this sense, Viveiros de Castro calls for an understanding of the Amazon in terms of multinaturalism rather than multiculturalism: many natures, one culture.46 Besides its dualities, modernity is built on unstoppable human exploitation of the world and the assessment of constant change through capitalism. Responding to the notion of “postmodernism” as overcoming modernity, Zygmunt Bauman proposes understanding current times as a late modernity in which constant change has amplifed. Bauman opens Liquid Modernity by pointing out that “‘Fluidity’ is the quality of liquids and gases”; explaining that what distinguishes them from solids is their continuous change in shape under stress, while “the solid undergoes no fow.”47 The author affrms that “we”—the West—associate this mobility of fuids with the idea of lightness, and thus, “fuidity” and “liquidity” help Bauman as metaphors to explain this time of fast fowing identities, space and capital. But we/scholars are using the metaphor of “fuidity” to approach two very different ontologies: the Western and the Amazonian. One of these is characterised today by constant change marked by the fow of capital on a global scale, with the consequent dominion of man (a group of men) over nature and other men, and the fuid changes in social position and individual identities (maintaining the same body and on the same space level); the other is characterised by a human–non-human mutual relationship in which there is a fuidity of bodies across different worlds and different levels of space. This latter “fuidity” is linked to socio-cultural ascriptions and group identities—here the solids have not melted into air, to borrow a powerful phrase from Marx and Engels.48 Here the bodies are not so solid, nor are the liquids so liquid; or, as Tim Ingold asks, discussing Philippe Descola’s arguments, what if the starting point is not naturalism but animism?49 What if the starting point is not the defned body or is not

120 Giuliana Borea and Rember Yahuarcani liquid as fuids? The metaphor of “fuidity” makes sense from a comparative perspective, when comparing an earlier time with late modernity, or Western with Amazonian conceptions-realities.50 In any case, “fuidity” is a metaphor that serves to explain from the “Western I,” and therefore understanding its construction and positionality is crucial to understanding its possibilities and limitations. We conclude by introducing a metaphor from indigenous intellectuality to the discussion—not of liquidity per se, because as we have explained this “state of matter” is entangled with bodies and rivers, but of rivers. This is a metaphor that brings together the river, identity, memory and the future of the indigenous people. In the words of the intellectual and artist Santiago Yahuarcani “Myths are the rivers of our memory. They are life. They are the origin. They are our past, present and our precious future. Myths are the rivers where our grandparents’ memory navigates, and there we must catch the wise words of resistance against forgetting, discrimination and exclusion.”51

Notes 1. We want to express our gratitude to Harry Pinedo, Santiago Yahuarcani, Leonardo Tello Imaina, Guillermo Salas and Gabriel Arriarán for sharing their knowledge and comments on this chapter with us. Thanks to Lisa Blackmore and Liliana Gómez-Popescu for their invitation to collaborate on this volume and for their feedback. Giuliana Borea is supported by the Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (844895). 2. See Programa Queimadas do Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais: http://queimadas. (accessed in August 2019). 3. Roberto Troya, “WWF Vice-President for Latin America and Caribe,” CNN, August 22, 2019. 4. The Hydrovia Project is an initiative of the Peruvian Government via the Ministry of Transportation and Communications and promoted by the Private Investment Promotion Agency (Pro-Inversion) of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. 5. See Jonathan Watts, “Brazil’s Mega Hydro Plan Foreshadows China’s Growing Impact on the Amazon,” October 5, 2017, (accessed in July 2019). 6. In Ministry of Culture’s Video: (accessed in July 2019). 7. Source: Video Proinversion: (accessed 22 August 2019). See the Project’s promotional image in: 8. Mario Blaser, “Ontological Conficts and the Stories of Peoples in Spite of Europe,” Current Anthropology 54, no. 5 (2013): 547–568. 9. This article was written based on multiple set of translations, face to face interactions and online conversations while Rember was on an art residency at China and Giuliana was in the UK. 10. To address an issue: it is important to note that we are aware that our selection of artists for this text does not include the work of indigenous Amazonian women artists, who play an important role in the arts. 11. De su Largo Llanto se formó el Amazonas (From its Long Crying the Amazon was Formed: Native narratives not represented in the Peruvian history, Sala Porras Barnechea, 2014) was an exhibition curated by Giuliana Vidarte and Christian Bendayán that questioned how Peruvian history of the Amazon has not included the memories, versions and stories of the Amazonian people but rather those of outsiders, whether missionaries, rubber exploiters or the government. Using the work of various artists, the exhibition sought to retell the stories from those silenced voices. 12. In the Cambridge English Dictionary, waterway

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13. José Enrique Reátegui Ríos, Propuesta de Gestión de Hidrovías en el Perú (Master Thesis in Public Management, Universidad del Pacífco, Lima, 2018), iv. 14. See (accessed 22 August 2019. I searched this website again on 26 September 2019, and the page was not working). However, a COINDRO document uploaded by the Peruvian government and still on the Internet says: “Amazon Waterway is Peru’s anchor project that will allow the connection of waterways and roads to the ports of Manaus, Iquitos, Yurimaguas-Nueva Reforma and Paita. The main objective is to maintain commercial navigation in safe and economic conditions 365 days a year with a minimum water depth of 8 feet along approximately 2,687 km of river” (translation and italics are ours). In: PDN2018_COHIDRO.pdf (accessed 22 October 2019). 15. Leonardo Tello Imaina, “La Hidrovía Amazónica en Perú contra los ríos que caminan,” Rainforest Movement, 2019, la-hidrovia-amazonica-en-peru-contra-los-rios-que-caminan/ 16. Universidad de Ingeniería y Tecnología and Wildlife Conservation Society, www.facebook. com/watch/?v=1164388420370709 17. See (accessed in August 2019). 18. Serpiente de Agua: La Vida Indígena en la Amazonia (Water Serpent) was the name given to one of the frst key exhibitions on the Amazon, held in Lima in 2003 and curated by Gredna Landolt and Alexandre Surrallés with the support of AIDESEP and frst lady Eliane Karp. This exhibition featured the different ways in which Amazonian peoples give value and meaning to their material and immaterial worlds, through objects, music and art works. 19. For a detailed explanation of Pinedo’s artistic trajectory see Daniel Castillo, “Las pinturas y los artistas amazónicos que viven en Cantagallo: el caso de Roldan Pinedo,” in Arte y Antropología (Lima: Fondo Editorial PUCP, 2017). 20. Leonardo Tello Imaina, “La Hidrovía Amazónica en Perú contra los ríos que caminan,” 2019. 21. This distribution of worlds derives from diverse myths and oral knowledge, and thus certain variations can be found. This distribution is based on the explanation given by Harry Pinedo. Also see, for example, Clara Cardenas, Los Unaya y su Mundo: Aproximación al sistema médico de los Shibibo-Conibo del Río Ucayali (Lima: IIP, CAAP, 1989), 115–116. 22. The songs were translated into Spanish in situ by Ronal Roque Agustín, and the English translation is by G. Borea. Carolyn Heath has collected shamanic songs similar to that mentioned above: “I am travelling through the lands and the waters. I am fying through the air and through the mountains. I am looking for the cause of the disease at the bottom of the river” (2002: 50, our translation). 23. The frst section is a quote from an interview with Harry Pinedo. The second is a quote from Pinedo’s written answer to “Who is the pond’s guardian?” (both in August 2019). 24. Carolyn Heath, “Una Ventana hacia el Infnito: El simbolismo de los diseños ShipiboConibo,” in Una Ventana hacia el Infnito (Lima: ICPNA, 2002), 46. 25. Bruno Illius, “La ‘Gran boa’: Arte y cosmología de los Shipibo-Conibo,” Amazonía Peruana 12, no. 24 (1994): 185–212. 26. Luisa Elvira Belaunde, “Diseños materiales e inmateriales: la patrimonialización del kené shipibo-konibo y de la ayahuasca en el Perú,” Mundo Amazónico 3 (2012): 128 (our translation). 27. See Luisa Elvira Belaunde, “Diseños materiales e inmateriales,” in Quimeras em dialogo. Grafsmo e fguracao na arte indígena, edited by Carlo Severi and Els Lagrou (Rio de Janeiro: 7 letras, 2013). 28. Luisa Elvira Belaunde, “Diseños materiales e inmateriales,” 126. 29. We want to thank Santiago Yahuarcani for contributing his knowledge to this section. 30. Our gratitude to Leonardo Tello Imaina for allowing us to reproduce an entire section of his text. The full text is in: (accessed in August 2019; our translation omits the original highlights of the text). 31. In the city of Nauta, PURAHUA, the Kukuma School of Art, directed by artist Casilda Pinche Sánchez, has produced murals that explore the Kukuma Water-world. These and

122 Giuliana Borea and Rember Yahuarcani



34. 35. 36.

37. 38. 39.

40. 41. 42.


44. 45. 46. 47.

other murals are allowing to provide visibility and voice to other narratives of memory— such as those of the rubber boom era—and worlds in the public space of this mestizo city. La Piel de un Río. La Amazonía en el Arte Contemporáneo (The River’s Skin, The Amazon in Contemporary Art, San Marcos Art Museum, 2008) was an exhibition curated by Christian Bendayán that included indigenous and mestizo artists expressly addressing contemporary art. For a study of hydropower plants, water conficts and local life projects in Peru’s Andes and Coast, see Astrid B. Stensrud, “Water as Resource and Being: Water Extractivism and Life Projects in Peru,” in Indigenous Life, Projects and Extractivism, edited by C. Vindal and J. J. Rivera (Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 143–164. For a study of climate change, named Andean mountains, and local life projects see Guillermo Salas Carreño, “Cambio climático, meteorología moral y medidas locales en la peregrinación de Qoyllurit’i,” in Montañas y paisajes sagrados: Mundos religiosos, cambio climático e implicancias del retiro de los glaciares (Lima: Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya & American University, 2019), 64–100. Blaser, “Ontological Conficts and the Stories of Peoples in Spite of Europe,” 547–568. Mario Blaser, “Life Projects: Indigenous People’s Agency and Development,” in In the Way of Development: Indigenous Peoples, Life Projects, and Globalization, edited M. Blaser, H.A. Feit and G. McRae (London & New York: Zed Books, 2004). See Giuliana Borea, “Personal Cartographies of a Huitoto Mythology: Rember Yahuarcani and the Enlarging of the Peruvian Contemporary Art Scene,” Revista de Antropologia Social do PPGAS-UFSCar 2, no. 2 (2010): 67–87, and Confguring the New Lima Art Scene (London: Bloomsbury, 2020). See Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000), 1–2. In Gases, Liquids, and Solids, See Marisol de la Cadena, “Indigenous Cosmopolitics in the Andes: Conceptual Refections Beyond Politics,” Cultural Anthropology 25, no. 2 (2010): 334–370; Anders Burman, “The Political Ontology of Climate Change: Moral Meteorology, Climate Justice, and the Coloniality of Reality in the Bolivian Andes,” Journal of Political Ecology 24 (2017): 921–938; Marisol de la Cadena and Mario Blaser, A World of Many Worlds (London: Duke University Press, 2018), 1–22. Anders Burman, “The Political Ontology of Climate Change: Moral Meteorology, Climate Justice, and the Coloniality of Reality in the Bolivian Andes,” Journal of Political Ecology 24 (2017): 931. Blaser, “Life Projects.” About Amazonian artists’ appropriations see Giuliana Borea, “Personal Cartographies of a Huitoto Mythology.” Arnd Schneider discusses appropriation and ontology in his presentation “Apropiación, arte, antropología, y alteridad: algunas consideraciones. Seminario Internacional Antropologías Visuales en Latino América at the Pontifcia Universidad Catolica del Peru, Nov. 8, 2019. While on the one hand Peru’s government and the fnancial elites fostering contemporary art at the museum and market level are fnally promoting Amazonian contemporary art internationally—e.g. the participation of Amazonian art at the 2019 ARCO Madrid and the Pan American Olympic Games ceremonies—, on the other, the government and powerful fnancial groups seek to implement projects that directly affect the life of the indigenous Amazonian peoples, revealing the paradoxes in how the artworld operates. In addition, artists mobilise Amazonian ontologies and agendas through one of the spheres most determined by neoliberal logics: that of the contemporary art circuit. Giuliana Borea’s Confguring the New Lima Art Scene (in press) and her new research project explore these issues. El Río que Camina, (The River that Walks) is a series of six YouTube videos produced by Kukuma Radio Ucamara in response to the Amazonian Hydrovia Project. Eduardo Vivieros de Castro, “Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism,” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 4, no. 3 (1998): 460–488; Philippe Descola, Par-delà nature et culture (Paris: Gallimard, 2005). Ibid., 478. Bauman, Liquid Modernity, 1.

Amazonian Waterway, Amazonian Water-Worlds


48. See Marshall Berman, All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity (New York: Penguin, 1982), 87–129. 49. Tim Ingold, “A Naturalist Abroad in the Museum of Ontology: Philippe Descola’s Beyond Nature and Culture,” Anthropological Forum 26, no. 3 (2016): 1, 25. 50. In a discussion where the time variable requires further attention to avoid essentialisms. 51. Quoted by Rember Yahuarcani, “Sobre el concepto de arte en los uitotos aimenu,” in Arte y Antropología (Lima: Fondo Editorial PUCP, 2017), 164.

References Bauman, Zygmunt. Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000. Belaunde, Luisa Elvira. “Diseños materiales e inmateriales: la patrimonialización del kené shipibo-konibo y de la ayahuasca en el Perú.” Mundo Amazónico 3 (2012): 123–146. Berman, Marshall. All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity. New York: Penguin, 1982. Blaser, Mario. “Life Projects: Indigenous People’s Agency and Development.” In In the Way of Development: Indigenous Peoples, Life Projects, and Globalization. Edited by M. Blaser, H. A. Feit, and G. McRae. London & New York: Zed Books, 2004. Blaser, Mario. “Ontological Conficts and the Stories of Peoples in Spite of Europe: Toward a Conversation on Political Ontology.” Current Anthropology 54, no. 5 (2013): 547–568. Borea, Giuliana. Confguring the New Lima Art Scene: An Anthropological Analysis of Contemporary Art in Latin America. London: Routledge, 2020 (in press). Borea, Giuliana. “Personal Cartographies of a Huitoto Mythology: Rember Yahuarcani and the Enlarging of the Peruvian Contemporary Art Scene.” Revista de Antropologia Social do PPGAS-UFSCar 2, no. 2 (2010): 67–87. Burman, Anders. “The Political Ontology of Climate Change: Moral Meteorology, Climate Justice, and the Coloniality of Reality in the Bolivian Andes.” Journal of Political Ecology 24 (2017): 921–938. Cambridge English Dictionary. Cardenas, Clara. Los Unaya y su Mundo: Aproximación al sistema médico de los ShibiboConibo del Río Ucayali. Lima: IIP, CAAP, 1989. Castillo, Daniel. “Las pinturas y los artistas amazónicos que viven en Cantagallo: el caso de Roldan Pinedo.” In Arte y Antropología. Estudios, Encuentros y Nuevos Horizontes. Edited by G. Borea. Lima: Fondo Editorial PUCP, 2017. De la Cadena, Marisol. 2010. “Indigenous Cosmopolitics in the Andes: Conceptual Refections Beyond Politics.” Cultural Anthropology 25, no. 2: 334–370. De la Cadena, Marisol and Mario Blaser (eds.). A World of Many Worlds. London: Duke University Press, 2018. Descola, P. Par-delà nature et culture. Paris: Gallimard, 2005. Heath, Carolyn. “Una Ventana hacia el Infnito: El simbolismo de los diseños Shipibo-Conibo.” In Una Ventana hacia el Infnito: Arte Shipibo-Conibo Catalogue. Lima: ICPNA, 2002. Illius, Bruno. “La ‘Gran boa’: Arte y cosmología de los Shipibo-Conibo.” Amazonía Peruana 12, no. 24 (1994): 185–212. Ingold, Tim. “A Naturalist Abroad in the Museum of Ontology: Philippe Descola’s Beyond Nature and Culture.” Anthropological Forum 26, no. 3 (2016): 1–20. Reátegui Ríos, José Enrique. 2018. Propuesta de Gestión de Hidrovías en el Perú. Master Thesis in Public Management, Universidad del Pacífco. Salas Carreño, Guillermo. “Cambio climático, meteorología moral y medidas locales en la peregrinación de Qoyllurit’i.” In Montañas y paisajes sagrados: Mundos religiosos, cambio climático e implicancias del retiro de los glaciares. Comp. Robert Albro, 64–100. Lima: Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya; American University, 2019.

124 Giuliana Borea and Rember Yahuarcani Severi, Carlo and Els Lagrou (eds.). Quimeras em dialogo. Grafsmo e fguracao na arte indígena. Rio de Janeiro: 7 letras, 2013. Stensrud, Astrid B. “Water as Resource and Being: Water Extractivism and Life Projects in Peru.” In Indigenous Life, Projects and Extractivism. Edited by C. Vindal and J. J. Rivera. Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. Tello Imaina, Leonardo. “La Hidrovía Amazónica en Perú contra los ríos que caminan.” Rainforest Movement, 2019. la-hidrovia-amazonica-en-peru-contra-los-rios-que-caminan/. Vivieros de Castro, Eduardo. “Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism.” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 4, no. 3 (1998): 460–488. Yahuarcani, Rember. “Los Ríos de Nuestra Memoria.” Mundo Amazónico 5 (2004): 197–209. Yahuarcani, Rember. “Sobre el concepto de arte en los uitotos aimenu.” In Arte y Antropología. Estudios, Encuentros y Nuevos Horizontes. Edited by G. Borea. Lima: Fondo Editorial PUCP, 2017.

Plate 1 Tony Capellán, Mar invadido, 2015, detail. Found objects from the Caribbean Sea, 360 × 228 in. Installation view at Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Plate 2 Jean-Ulrick Désert, The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya, 2017, detail. Mixed media on vellum, 108 × 72 in.

Plate 3 Carlos Cruz Diez, Ambientación cromática (Chromatic Environment, 1977–1986). Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Station, Engine Room No. 1, Guri, Venezuela. 28 × 300 × 26 m (92 × 984 × 85 ft.). Engineers: H. Roo, A. Gamboa, E. Carrera, G. Chavarri.

Plate 4 Carolina Caycedo with Marina Magalhaes, Isis Avalos and Samad Guerra, River of Everyone River of No One, 2017.

Plate 5 Cecilia Vicuña, Kon Kon, 2010.

Plate 6 Cecilia Vicuña, Kuntur Ko en el Mapocho, 2015.

Plate 7 Rember Yahuarcani, La creación del mundo (The Creation of the World), 2007, acrylic and natural dyes on tree bark.

Plate 8 Rember Yahuarcani, Buiñaiño, 2009, acrylic on tree bark.

Plate 9 Claudia Müller, Nadíe puede empujar el río, 2016. Installation view. Dimensions variable.

Plate 10 Francisca Montes, Mar interior, 2009. Photographic prints. Installation view.

Plate 11 Yeni y Nan, Simbolismo de la cristalización—Araya (1984–1986/2013). C-print from ektachrome slide, 13¼ × 19½ in / 33.7 × 49.5 cm.

Plate 12 Clemencia Echeverri; Treno, canto fúnebre, video installation, exhibition Actos del Habla; Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogota, 2009.

Plate 13 María Magdalena Campos-Pons; Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits, 2015, blown glass, cast glass, steel, cast resin, silicone, acrylic, polyvinyl chloride tubing, water, and rum essence, dimensions variable; Peabody Essex Museum Salem. Photograph by Peter Vanderwarker.

Plate 14 Alicia Barney, Río Cauca (1981–1982). Mixed media and variable dimensions. Photograph by Mauricio Zumaran.

Plate 15 Clemencia Echeverri, still from Sin cielo (2016–2017). Video wall with nine monitors and stereo sound, 11:20 minutes.

Part III

Fluid Memories


Water, Women and Action Art in Latin America Materializing Ecofeminist Epistemologies Esther Moñivas

The role of women in the art of the twentieth and twenty-frst centuries has been and is unquestionably transcendental. Precisely because their conceptual positions are not homogeneous, they have contributed to destabilizing fxed stereotypes. Nevertheless, the erasure of the stories of women artists of Latin America during the era of dictatorships is still a dramatic situation. Cecilia Fajardo-Hill and Andrea Giunta among others have demonstrated that these women not only faced the very real risk of disappearing because of their dissident political positions but also had to live with the invisibility in which the art system, the public and their own colleagues subsumed them.1 Latin America and the Caribbean involve a specifc context of social, political and environmental issues, but above all the region constitutes a feld still often considered “eccentric” with respect to the hegemony of Western culture, whose centres gravitate around western Europe and the United States. If we talk about women, environmental issues and Action Art, this eccentricity becomes “radicalism,” a label that covers gestures from the most subtle to the most dramatic, as shown by the paradigmatic exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985 (2017) at the Hammer Museum.2 The emergence of women in Latin American conceptual artistic practices since the 1960s entails in itself a disruptive process, as the curator Deborah Cullen also examined in the ground-breaking exhibition Arte (no es) Vida: Actions by Artists of the Americas 1960–2000, held at New York’s Museo del Barrio in 2008.3 This process has not yet been addressed in adequate depth in academic analysis, and efforts such as the exhibitions mentioned earlier or the archive and exhibition project re.act.feminism #2 (2014)4—which increased public knowledge of the performative practices in diverse countries related to feminism, gender and queer criticism—need to be reinforced. In Ecofeminism from Latin America (Women from the Margins), Mary Judith Ress has exposed how ecofeminism has led Latin American women to take a new look at themselves.5 Within the framework of ecofeminism, cultural, historical and biological considerations about the relationship of women and nature have spurred a rich debate. Coined by Françoise d’Eaubonne in 1974, the use of the term écoféminisme was originally extended in the United States by a coalition of academic and professional women during the late 1970s and early 1980s. This branch of feminism investigated the long historical precedents that associated men with rationality, order and direction, as well as women and nature with chaos and irrationality. Ecofeminists understood that this dichotomy had served to justify a hierarchical structure that grants power to men and allows for control, oppression and exploitation.

128 Esther Moñivas Signifcantly also in the late 1970s the Belgian-born French feminist, philosopher, psychoanalyst, linguist, psycholinguist and cultural theorist Luce Irigaray contributed decisively to problematizing the connection between the embodied experience of femininity and fuidity. Her essay “The Mechanics of Fluids,” published in 1977 in the book This Sex Which Is Not One, situated the concept of fuidity in an ambiguous and indeterminate position in contemporary critical theory, considering it as a productive framework for understanding the exclusion of femininity from the “proper order,” the conservative and the normative identifed with the regime of the solid. Irigaray recognized the importance for women of asserting fuidity as a site for appropriation and resistance to phallocentric culture but at the same time called attention to the risks of considering it an unproblematically positive term related to the progressive, arguing that this is also the category by which the exclusion and silence is effected. The fuid, understood in its opposition to the regime of the solid and as a source of difference, would perpetuate division and exclusion.6 Irigaray’s essay was criticized several times as essentialist but, as Elisabeth Stephens has recently argued, the terms of the question she opened are debated by feminist new materialists and poststructuralist-inspired feminisms to this day, proving the critical urgency of the role of matter in the framework of an epistemological change.7 In my opinion Irigaray’s arguments also makes sense when we think of the infuential contribution of Gaston Bachelard, whose psychoanalytical study of the material imagination of water published in 1942 contributed to spread the archetypes of the “Maternal Water and Feminine Water,” represented by the Ophelia complex, the nutritious link between water and milk, the woman-water-moon interconnection, and the immersion rites of virgins, among others.8 A decade after Irigaray’s essay, ecofeminism began to divide into different branches, in this case following the argumentation of the problematic relationship between women and nature. Ynestra King’s article “What Is Ecofeminism?” published in The Nation in 1987, marked the transition from the development of a theoretical basis to a period of expansion both in the number of adherents to ecofeminism and in their scopes. The “cultural” branch encouraged the intimate relationship between women and the environment, while the “radical” one considered that this association reinforced stereotypes and sustained patriarchal domination. To these divergences were added the voices of women from developing countries, who denounced the appropriation of indigenous cultures by Western colonization and the inequity of race, class, sexuality and ethnicity, also within ecofenimism. “White ecofeminists” were accused of being partially responsible for sustaining exploitation in developing countries, contributing to the dramatic effects of capitalism on other societies and environments. Despite divergences and contradictions, contemporary feminists concerned about ecological destruction have begun to embrace the term ecofeminism once more, redefning it through manifold perspectives. Although female Latin American artists emancipated from the logic of capitalism still constitute a minority within the whole of society, their proposals for an ethical interrelation with the environment, along with their way of rethinking the ontological, epistemological and symbolical dimensions of bodies and substances, constitute absolutely necessary questions. In order to reconsider the footprint that the slightest, ephemeral or socially silenced gestures can leave in physical-symbolic space, this chapter explores the positions that some Latin American women have maintained in the feld of contemporary art in

Water, Women and Action Art


relation to the ontology, epistemology, ethics and symbolism of water. As I have tried to demonstrate in recent years, the increasing presence of water in contemporary art and the symbolic updating that this has undergone in recent decades stimulate broadranging cultural refections directly related to the way in which semantics and matter, culture and nature are intimately woven.9 This chapter does not seek to offer a genealogy of feminist art practices that involve the materiality of women’s bodies and water in Latin America. Rather, inspired by rheology, the systemic and the neomaterialist perspectives of Luce Irigaray, Jane Bennet and Karen Barad, the text gathers political, social and ecocritical micro-gestures that matter, taking into account the paradoxes that they pose as material-discursive practices. It aspires to agglutinate around a problematic conception of the fuid, a non-linear sequence of interrelations between bodies, memories, imaginations and “vibrant” materialities that occurred between 1966 and 1986 in different places in Mesoamerica and South America. For this aim I have selected fve artists with different degrees of international recognition: Lygia Clark from Brazil, the Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta, the duo Yeni y Nan from Venezuela, and María Evelia Marmolejo from Colombia. They all coincided with the initial development of ecofeminism as a response to the problems inherent in patriarchal and hierarchical systems, as well as in their advocacy for subjectivity and intuition. They contributed to materializing ecofeminist epistemologies before this movement became popular and received attention out of the academic environment. All of them converged also in working intuitively with performativity, the physiological and biological dimension of their bodies, the recovery of naturebased forms of spirituality, the exploration of non-linear and relational structures based in the use of water and other fuids, and women’s gender roles. Although the symbolic connections between the concepts of women and water may be glimpsed in their artworks (through symbolic presences of amniotic waters, source of life, fertility and death), a full analysis of these is beyond the scope of this chapter. Instead, the discussion that follows starts with the most essential interactions—direct contact with fuids, the perception of the interior and the exterior, and the extended body—and then moves towards the integration of bodies with liquid water and the experience of certain forms of fusion with nature before concluding with an exploration of other complex rituals of transfer and healing. All the works selected emphasize the subjectivity and the materiality of the body-environment, offering rich and paradoxical interpretations that we have intentionally wanted to leave open.

The Skin of Water In his well-known study Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter, Gaston Bachelard argued that our frst material images are born of our own fesh and organs. The skin and the organs would thus constitute not only the point of departure in perception, but the interfaces of a permanent communicative process.10 It is no coincidence that almost three decades later, with the beginning of Body Art and Action Art in the late 1960s, water began to have an important place as an active agent in artists’ physical-psychological processes. In the conceptual rethinking of the artist’s role and the relationship between artwork and the environment, this material—which crosses into the body, transports biotic information and connects interior with exterior in a constant transfer of substances and memories—received

130 Esther Moñivas particular attention as an artistic means. On many occasions the human body is part of the work, but in other cases it is recreated through metaphorical objects that amplify the experience of the internal fows and that experiment with the threshold or “skin.” Working under a military dictatorship and the censorship and limitation of rights that went with it between 1964 and 1985, the Brazilian artist Lygia Clark (Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 1920–Rio de Janeiro, 1988) was a key participant in the conceptual renewal in Latin American art.11 Her fascination with phenomenology and psychoanalysis led her to conceive of artistic practice as a form of therapy to explore mind and body. Infuenced by Freud and Merleau-Ponty, Clark’s work revolved around the complexity of perception and questioned the body/mind and subject/object dichotomies. As Christine Macel has pointed out, the artist proposed “a way of being in the world that was part of the overall rhythm of things, wordlessly, in what she called a ‘mute thought.’”12 With her Objetos sensoriais (Sensory objects) series, conceived to be manipulated by the public, she proposed new forms of interrelation between subject and (artistic) object. In order to demonstrate the dynamic and interconnected dimensions of the artwork, she introduced fuid water into sealed plastic bags in a similar way to what Hans Haacke, infuenced by systems theory, was doing at the same time in his Condensation Cube (1963–1965). Clark’s Livro sensorial (Sensory book) (1966) combined sounds, tactile sensations and emotions, as well as movements of the nervous system and fuid movements of the material components: Each page contains bubbles of water inside, and other materials such as an aluminum scourer, shells, stones, plastic, and on the last page—and this seems very important in dialectical terms—there is a mirror where man fnds his reality and that of the world, after having touched everything, in a sensory and tactile way.13 Even more elemental is the sensory object Desenhe com o dedo (Draw with your fnger) (1966), consisting of a small amount of water and air contained within a double sheet of plastic material which invited viewers to create footprints and ephemeral traces. With this seemingly simple gesture, Clark substituted the pre-eminence of visuality in art for a more haptic and multisensorial approach, while ontologically the body of the participant became part of the work and the work could be conceived of as an extension of the body. Respective skins could thus be perceived more as connective membranes than as dividing boundaries, feeding a certain form of osmotic imagination. Lygia Clark’s relational objects pose a poetic, epistemological and ethical exploration of the human relationship with the environment, both living and inert. As an answer to the torture and oppression that defned the Brazilian military dictatorship and that led her to remain abroad between 1964 and 1976, her artistic strategy was in itself a way to redefne the human being, expanding its limits and reconsidering the importance of interaction, participation and reciprocity within a system. Direct contact with diverse materialities is probably the most immediate medium for destabilizing the perception of the limits of the self. Her relational art thus opened an important path of exploration not only for other artists who followed her steps but also for the public, bridging physical distances and valuing sensorial and emotional experiences as part of the artwork.

Water, Women and Action Art


Rituals of Dilution The recovery of ancestral symbolism and the sacred sense of water throughout the twentieth century constituted a cultural process that has been highlighted by authors such as Carl Gustav Jung and Gernot and Harmut Böhme. They posed that with the end of the disarticulation of the numinous symbols that rationalism established in Western culture (and with this, the loss of an important part of spiritual values), the return of the symbolic signifcance of the four elements revealed human beings’ psychic need to reunite with nature. As Gernot and Harmut Böhme have pointed out, “one could say that, today, [the natural elements] come out of marginality.”14 This thesis would partially explain the retrieval of the purifying and cathartic essence of water in artistic practices (among other cultural areas), taking on its full meaning within the social and moral disintegration of developed societies but also within the framework of other cultures affected or devastated by Western imperialism. In both cases this partial restoration of ancestral familiarity with water has been possible because, ultimately, its essence has never ceased to be ingrained in everyday life. But the ritual and mythological updating of water also has converged with other important processes. The alteration of the natural water cycle and its serious consequences opened the frst social debates at the end of the 1960s. As Luigi Settembrini said in relation to water: the deep disturbance of its natural cycle today conditions its availability—a condition that we naively thought that as “natural” was therefore “unlimited”—, the axis of the territory and the global climate of the planet, and this situation makes us fear today for its destiny and, therefore, for ours. Thus, the mythologies related to water change as a direct consequence of this fact, and together with the more ludic characteristics of water, linked to the body and movement, the ideas of symbol of purifcation and total rebirth are also reinforced.15 Concerns over survival have undoubtedly been another driver for water’s symbolic renewal. Artistic creation has played an important role in this renewal, offering since the 1970s a range of possibilities of aesthetic and emotional reidentifcation with water through the creation of new myths and modern rites, often based in personal catharsis exercises derived from experience in an unbalanced society. The symbolic projection of art as a cultural nucleus in which dreams, intuition and the manifestation of the unconscious are fostered has served as an excellent catalyst for ancestral archetypes. It has also favoured the confuence of a ritually impoverished West and other cultural traditions that have maintained the cult of water and ceremonies related to it, as is the case in certain Mesoamerican and South American cultures. The sense of reintegration in nature—and intrinsically of rebirth—is exemplifed by the extensive Serie Siluetas (Silhouettes series) by Ana Mendieta (Havana, 1948–New York, 1985). After being exiled from Cuba at a young age in 1961, Mendieta went to the United States. Between 1973 and 1980 the Cuban-American artist developed numerous performances midway between Earth Art and Body Art in natural spaces of Iowa and Mexico. They were private rituals of healing and purifcation carried out in public spaces through the connection of the female archetypal body with the natural elements. Mendieta thus expanded her previous work around the body by transferring it to a natural space, a place to leave the mark of her own politicized sexual and

132 Esther Moñivas cultural identity, claiming a territory for women in art and questioning the structures of power from her condition as a Cuban exile. Her search for her Afro-Cuban roots came together with a specifc interest in the myths and religious practices of preColumbian and Antillian cultures as condensers of an essence and cultural knowledge that the artist considered to be the most profound: It was perhaps during my childhood in Cuba that I was fascinated by art and primitive cultures for the frst time. It seems as if these cultures have an internal knowledge, a closeness to natural resources. And it is this knowledge that gives reality to the images that I have created.16 In this series, her personal celebration of femininity and the cyclic sense of life and death in nature resulted in a visual language which, though seemingly simple, was full of spiritual and symbolic resonances, in which Mendieta carefully selected materials and locations based on their energetic and metaphorical properties. In addition to documenting these actions with slides, the artist made previous sketches and descriptions in her diary, such as: “To make a hollow silhouette . . . to add blood, or water that looks like blood, to fll it up, to drain it into the sea, to refll it again. The red water/blood will mix with the sea.”17 In this period, Mendieta dug and modelled numerous representations of her body with water and mud. In 1976, for example, she dug her fgure on the shore of the Mexican beach of La Ventosa (in the state of Oaxaca) and flled it with red tempera in such a way that this metaphorical blood was slowly washed by the waves of the Pacifc Ocean. Mendieta worked at times in Cuba and Mexico, but her primary residence was in New York from 1978 until 1985, when her life ended dramatically. One remarkable work from this period was a silhouette that she modeled on the beach of Ochún in 1981 (Untitled), and documented on video. It consisted of only a schematic and empty profle: two undulating sand lines that emerged from the shallow water and that seemed to allude simultaneously to the movements of the water, the body of the artist and her native island. The location that Mendieta chose for this artwork—in Key Biscayne, the southernmost point of Miami—undoubtedly intended to reactivate the symbolic meaning of the name of Ochún, the Orisha deity that represents fresh water, sexuality, fertility, beauty and love. This intervention also repeated an undocumented silhouette that the artist had previously made in one of the northernmost points of Cuba, as if reactivating a latent memory.18 It can perhaps be understood as a metaphorical return to the original earth through the connection that water establishes with all its shores. Along with her frst silhouettes, Ana Mendieta also did two performances documented in Super 8 in which she left her body to the movement of water currents, in tribute to Vito Acconci’s Drifts (1970), coinciding with a visit he made to the artist in February of 1974.19 Untitled (Ocean Bird Washup) (1974), also made on the beach of La Ventosa in the Gulf of Tehuantepec in Mexico, was documented in a recording of four and a half minutes. The body of the artist, self-transformed into an anthropomorphic animal or a mythical creature covered with feathers, foated among the waves until the current eventually deposited her on the shore. In Untitled (Creek) (1974), the three and a half minute-long recording shows the naked body of the artist being carried away by the current of a river in San Felipe, Mexico. On this occasion Mendieta looked towards the riverbed and turned her head just to breathe, suggesting

Water, Women and Action Art


more clearly the image of an extinct life, exposed to natural rhythms through its direct union with water. Mendieta knew how to combine in her work the primordial image of the immersion in water with an aestheticization of the body’s movement charged with emotional tension, but above all she developed a particular ability to merge the concepts of nature and culture and to suggest the dissolution of ontological limits between water and her body. Her therapeutic rituals addressed the pain of uprooting and disappearance, specifcally in the Silhouettes series, where the body is primarily noted through its absence. The transformation and cultural displacement developed in what she called “earth-body works” transgressed the bounds of autobiography to convey a universal dimension which highlighted the active role of women. Mendieta was deeply immersed in the feminist art practices of the late 1970s and early 1980s led by Myriam Shapiro, Judy Chicago and the Mexican collective Polvo de Gallina (PDG), and her work was developed at the height of ecofeminism. Her spiritual and healing actions highlighted the connection between the environment, historical erasure, bodily injury and violence against women. More specifcally, her interest in drifts, fuids and water can be seen as intuitive research into the ancestral symbolic connections between the body of women and water. Nevertheless, Irigaray and the “radical” branch of ecofeminism could also have seen her proposals as a way of updating or reinforcing dichotomic epistemologies in relation to the men-solid-mind conceptual connection.

Integrations in Water Similar in its ritualistic facets, the work of the Venezuelan duo Yeni y Nan, formed by Jenniffer Hackshaw (Caracas, Venezuela, 1948-) and Nan González (Caracas, Venezuela, 1956-) in the early 1980s, included a cycle of public performances dedicated to water. They were, together with Antonieta Sosa, the frst women who participated in the Action Art of Venezuela with their own bodies and constitute a key reference point in the feld of Venezuelan conceptual art.20 Their Integraciones en el agua (Integrations in Water) (1981–1982), staged during the XVI Biennial of Sao Paulo, alluded to the cycles of life and nature and specifcally investigated the psycho-physical dimensions of birth and transformation. Using as a stage a large transparent sheet of polyethylene held by its four corners at an approximate height of 1 meter and flled with water up to a hand’s breadth, Yeni y Nan dressed in black, submerged themselves and initiated a choreography of slow movements. Coming from a martial arts, yoga and theatre background, they displayed a kind of spiritual union through the synchronicity of their bodies in “amniotic liquid.” They fnally “broke the waters” and re-emerged (or were reborn) wearing white elastic fabrics representing the transformation experienced. With this artifcial uterus, they symbolically integrated the spaces of culture and nature, and corporal and psychic transformations.21 Even though this performance had an urban location, their entire oeuvre suggests that the water they used in fact represented a wider concept of the ocean as a source of life. In this context their body was reaffrmed from a double condition: “capable of giving and receiving life, simultaneously mothers and newborns.”22 The importance of the multisensorial, relational and therapeutic dimension— and even the plastic sheet used as container—suggests that they probably knew both Lygia Clark’s artworks and Mendieta’s performances. This duo also understood the

134 Esther Moñivas potentialities of using water as a semantic laboratory to explore intimate women– nature relationships and to explore physical and mental transformations, mainly using material changes of state and physical-chemical reactions as catalysts. Yeni y Nan worked together in Venezuela from 1977 to 1986 in a political context free from dictatorship but not from the tensions present throughout Latin America. Although their work constituted a violent break from the artistic tradition of the country—rooted in Geometric Abstraction and Kinetic Art—recent exhibitions have tended to highlight its harmonious, soft, meditative, elegant and balanced character. Their poetic intensity is seen as related to intimate and psychophysical transformations but not so evidently to the social and political context. Nevertheless, as Marcela Guerrero has pointed out, they were deeply concerned with ecological issues and environmental awareness,23 orienting their work to the exploration of natural cycles and archaic symbols of the four elements through the direct contact with water, earth and air. The duo experimented with mutual destabilizations and restabilizations in the interrelation of their bodies with these materials as a way to explore the fragility of humankind and the planet, suggesting processes of drought, barrenness and exhaustion as well as rebirth. For example, in Transfguración elemento tierra (Transfguration element earth) (1983) they documented in video the process of evaporation of water, drying and cracking of the layer of white clay that covered their faces. Their wet hands refreshing and bringing elasticity periodically to this surface was in this case a symbolic materialization of the eternal cycles of life and death (Figure 8.1).

Figure 8.1 Yeni y Nan, Transfguración elemento tierra, 1983/2013 (detail). Digital prints from original negatives, 13 × 13 in / 33 × 33 cm. Source: © Yeni y Nan. Courtesy of the artists and Henrique Faria, Nueva York.

Water, Women and Action Art


In words of María Elena Ramos, “They produced moving conceptual and aesthetic works based on humanity-as-nature: one’s body as a body of the world (and the wellbeing or tragedy of the world as one’s own wellbeing or tragedy).”24 Autológica del Agua/Autológica del aire (Autologic of Water/Autologic of Air) (1980), Integraciones en el Agua (Integrations in Water) (1981–1982), Autológica: Agua + aire (Autologic: Water + Air) (1982) and Transfguración elemento Tierra (Earth Element Transfguration) (1983) are other examples of their performances related with these issues. Later they got closer to Land Art and Mendieta’s oeuvre. The pair extended their sensorial, symbolic and phenomenological inquiry around water with performances such as Simbolismo de la cristalización—Araya (Symbolism of Crystallization—Araya) (1984–1986), in which the relationship between the liquid and the solid showed fuctuating boundaries (Plate 11). The Araya region, a peninsula on Venezuela’s Caribbean coast, remained unknown even after Margot Benacerraf’s eponymous documentary flm about the archaic life of the salt miners won an award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1959. This happened just before the defnitive disappearance of this lifestyle and trade, after fve hundred years of exploitation since Spanish conquerors arrived in Araya. Integrating their naked bodies in the almost hallucinatory landscape of pink water and white formations of Araya’s salt fats, the postures of both artists documented in photographs suggest a substantial union with the fows and movements of the surrounding materiality. Yeni y Nan also submerged buckets in the water to explore salt crystallization processes. Beyond the salt fats’ obvious aesthetic and geological attributes, the location of the action also invites a political interpretation related to history. The beginning of the massive exploitation of this region dates from the early days of Spanish colonization, when salt was in fact a key to entry for the conquerors by providing them with a food preservative. With the arrival of industrial exploitation and the disappearance of the salineros (salt miners), Yeni y Nan’s performance seems to be a healing ritual where the subtle traces left by both women in the environment are placed in opposition to the historical violence of colonialism.

Contamination and Transfers In the art of the second half of the twentieth century, one of the most recurrent aspects of water semantics was the metaphor of pure/natural water versus contaminated/ cultural water. The chemical dimension of water symbolism went beyond an ideal of material purity and has its origin in this element’s intrinsic relationship with life. Therefore, purity is a fundamental ontological category of water, just as water is itself one of the most archaic symbols of purity in all cultures. The geographical reconfguration and the chemical footprint that water acquires as it passes through urban territories constitutes in contemporary societies a fuctuating but also very precise memory of the way in which the relationship between social constructions and nature is currently understood. As a result of the progressive disengagement of citizens from the natural environment and thanks to networks of underground pipes, fows of sewage and discharges of other substances are invisible in cities. Such sanitation infrastructure allows contaminated fuids, which are distasteful to modern sensibilities, to be avoided, as noted by the controversial Austrian thinker Ivan Illich, known for his criticisms of the key institutions of progress in modern culture.25 The vestiges of urban culture, with millions of annual tons of uncontrolled waste dumping in waters, will undoubtedly give rise to a geological stratum that will be clearly differentiated from all previous geological deposits.

136 Esther Moñivas From the visibility of the uncontrolled pollutants discharged in all types of water bodies to the development of purifcation treatments, manifold artists have developed ethical, aesthetic, scientifc and spiritual perspectives to recover the creative and curative experience of water, as well as its enjoyment and biological effciency. The investigation of currents, temporal rhythms and complex systems of mass movements in hydrological cycles provide patterns and cadences that offer insights into other non-linear systems, such as biological ones. The correspondences between the body and social structures with the distribution and fuid dynamics of water are thus a way of exploring, both scientifcally and intuitively, the concept of life and the relationship of the human being with the environment. Within the multiple dimensions associated with the concept of fow in contemporary culture—of ideas, capital, objects, resources—water embodies the image of the most effcient global communication system on the planet. Its permanent transformation articulates cycles of life and death, and its interconnectedness with everything in the biosphere represents the most powerful model of physical and information transfer. However, we experience these transfer processes in our lives on the most intuitive and sensory level. Like animals, we rely more on our senses than on the policies and institutions of water management when we bring a glass to our mouths, and we feel strong impulses of repulsion and disgust when we experience the close presence of sewage, water mixed with blood or water laden with the remains of bodies that are nothing but the detritus of our own lives. María Evelia Marmolejo (Pradera, Colombia, 1958-) has worked repeatedly with the disappearance of (human) traces as well as with matter such as water, blood and the body in three spheres: the ritual, the political and the ecological. Aware of the work of Lygia Clark and Yeni y Nan as well as the Viennese Actionism, during the 1980s she used her own bodily fuids to articulate a critique of oppression, violence and political persecution during the regime of President Julio César Turbay Ayala (1978–1982), while also extending this criticism to the turbulence that was affecting other countries in Latin America. Her use of biological fows is the most direct way to make them visible and confront the public with their physical existence. For example, Marmolejo used menstruation blood to celebrate the female body and the importance of women in the origin of life in her work 11 de marzo—ritual a la menstruación (March 11—ritual in honour of menstruation) (1981). After identifying the paradox that the blood she used for writing in her artistic actions impressed the public more than the blood spilled daily in Colombia as a result of violence, her artworks became characterized by selfmutilation and extreme psychological experiments involving organic fuids, biological tissues and earth that the artist conceived of as “arte corporal”—Body Art.26 Emilio Tarazona contends that, as a fgure, fow relates to the dilution of taxonomic processes for classifying identities based on race, sex, gender and class and can reimagine their functions, limits and metaphors. Suggesting a connection with Irigaray’s conceptualization of fuids, he has analysed the politically disruptive function that the use of bodily fuids by many artists had in the particular context of the 1980s in Latin America, noting that As a fow, bodily fuids are also a sign of attitudes against proposed models of life, and their very names—trash, refuse, vomit, metabolic waste—became an emotional and political effect against the supposed stability of a system they tried to disturb.27

Water, Women and Action Art


Marmolejo’s strikingly defant attitude and feminist emancipated vision challenged the bases of colonialism and gender inequality in an eminently sexist society by using materials loaded with memory and social meanings. As highlighted by Cecilia FajardoHill and Andrea Giunta, Marmolejo called for the reappropriation of the female body as a subjective experience, biological phenomenon and place from which to interact with the world, including in resistance to dictatorships.28 At the beginning of the 1980s, before her self-exile in Madrid, the artist did two private performances in the environment of the Cauca River. The second most important source of surface water in Colombia, the Cauca directly provides 4.5 million people with water and supports the production of sugar cane. Its course crosses a territory of exceptional beauty which is rich in resources such as coal, limestone, marble, gold, silver, platinum, iron and asbestos, but the health of this great artery has deteriorated severely due to misgovernment and lack of urban planning.29 It not only has become the most polluted river in the country, but according to recent news, the environmental impact of the hydroelectric project Hidroituango is now irreversibly destroying the whole system of this artery.30 As it passes through the city of Cali, huge mountains of solid and organic waste fank the waters, uncontrolled residual spills pour into it, and an excess of industries populate its deforested banks. In 1982, under the title of Anónimo 3 (Anonymous 3), Marmolejo did a 15-minute ecocritical video performance at the meeting point between the city and the river (Figure 8.2). The artist herself described the performance as “A ritual to the Mother

Figure 8.2 María Evelia Marmolejo, Anónimo 3, 1982, documentary photograph, 11.42 × 8.07 in / 29.5 × 20.5 cm., Río Cauca, Colombia. Source: Photo: Nelson Villegas. © María Evelia Marmolejo. Courtesy of the artist and Instituto de Visión, Bogotá.

138 Esther Moñivas Earth [that] was produced as an act of forgiveness for the pollution and destruction of the fora and fauna.”31 Marmolejo used tape and gauze to cover both her body and the earth, suggesting with these elements the ritual character of healing. In the center of a spiral drawn with lime, a toilet with water (a symbol of intimate space, cleaning and a waste hole) enabled the artist to perform a vaginal wash and transfer her fuids to the earth with the intention of fertilizing the contaminated space. In Anónimo 4 (Cuestiono que venir al mundo donde no hay benefcios ni tranquilidad para el recién nacido en una sociedad donde cada año, mueren 11 mil niños por hambre en América Latina) (Anonymous 4 (I question coming into a world where there are no benefts or peace for newborns in a society where eleven thousand children starve to death in Latin America every year)) (1982) the artist documented on photo and video a much more dramatic action of memory exchange, on this occasion featuring human placentas collected by the artist the same day in the hospitals of Cali (Figure 8.3). After digging a one-and-a-half-meter wide triangle on the banks of the Cauca River and flling it with the placentas, the artist wrapped her body with plastic holding pieces of the same biological material and lay in the interior. This structure was surrounded by three smaller triangles that had been flled with drainage water. The smell of putrefaction and her meditation on “the fear of coming into the world in a society in which survival is not guaranteed,” caused the artist to vomit and cry compulsively.32 These

Figure 8.3 María Evelia Marmolejo. Anónimo 4, 1982, documentary photograph, 11.42 × 8.07 in / 29.5 × 20.5 cm. Río Cauca, Colombia. Source: Photo: Nelson Villegas. © María Evelia Marmolejo. Courtesy of the artist and Instituto de Visión, Bogotá.

Water, Women and Action Art


new bodily fuids, mixed with the other materials, acted as a form of symbolic purge and healing. In her last known artistic action, which took place in 2004 at the Wilmer Jenning Gallery in New York with the collaboration of the Latino Artists Round Table, Marmolejo again did an ecocritical and environmental performance under the title Amazons, Fusarium, Oxysporum, Glyphosate. In it she wrote the word Amazonas on a wall with blood from her fngers, while the name of the toxic products sent by the United States to fumigate coca plantations was projected. This type of self-inficted artistic wound continues to this day to shock audiences more than the irreparable degradation of living systems.

Fluid Memories The unclassifable Uruguayan writer Felisberto Hernández (1902–1964) described a fertile image of the dissolution of identities between woman, water and memory in his 1960 short story La casa inundada (The Flooded House). In this story, water is the space where the characters move as well as the leitmotif that connects affections, memories, daydreams and frayed conversations. Events “foat” in the liquid, diluting and materializing in unpredictable ways. At the end of this suggestive story, Hernández condensed a conception of the relationship between matter and memory that is reminiscent of his favourite writers, Proust and Bergson: I will die with the idea that water carries within itself something that it has picked up elsewhere and I do not know in what way it will give me thoughts that are not mine and that are for me. . . . No one will be able to forbid me to keep my memories in water.33 The “liquid element” evidences through its energetic confguration in the biosphere (solid, liquid, gaseous, forming pastes and tissues) that none of its states is ever closed or stable. It is an infnitely variable structure that responds to the slightest alteration in environmental conditions, connecting the micro and the macroscopic. The fow of water constitutes a material continuum in which it is not possible to identify truly isolated elements, only variations or nuances. Thus, its quality is diversity, the capacity to receive everything and connect it, constituting a chaos (or an order that is imperceptible to the human mind) formed by infnite singularities that are here temporarily deposited in more or less transitory forms, there retained in containers or viscous states, further fowing again. In contemporary art, the creative interrelation with water has reinforced epistemological approaches in terms of phenomenon and system rather than object, posing alterations in the categorical and traditional classifcation systems. The tendency to incorporate fuids in artistic practices has not only coincided productively with the currents of ecofeminism, de-mercantilization and de-objectifcation of art. Above all, it directs attention towards the deepest dimension of memory: the complementarity of the solid and the fuid; of what is deposited and crystallizes (kristallos) and what fows and changes (fux); of what can be retained momentarily and that which remains ungraspable. Even though water undoubtedly carries the memories of the artists presented in this chapter, the fact is that art as impressive as that of María Evelia Marmolejo or

140 Esther Moñivas Yeni y Nan is still today an example of amnesia in most archives and museums. The stories of women artists of Latin America during the era of dictatorships seem to be just fowing, scarcely crystallized. This should lead us to reconsider the responsibility to narrate the latent and the mutable; to restore what is missing and to bring to the present silenced “foating” stories. The worrying rise in the pollution of surface waters in Latin America, Asia and Africa, threatens to damage vital sources of food and harm these continents’ economies. Population growth, increased economic activity, massive deforestation, the intensifcation of agriculture and an increase in the amount of untreated sewage discharged into rivers and lakes are the main reasons of the troubling rise in surface water pollution.34 Cauca river is just an example of a dramatic situation that is breeding in this region further inequality and that hits the most vulnerable (women, children and the poor). I consider—and this book confrms it—that this plight is also the opportunity to rediscover and boost the role of ecocritical artists in our society. They have powerful communicative strategies not only for combating the lack of awareness but also for guiding the necessary re-education of our epistemology and relationship with the environment.

Notes 1. Cecilia Fajardo-Hill and Andrea Giunta, Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985 (Cat.) (Los Angeles, Munich, & New York: Hammer Museum, DelMonico Books & Prestel, 2017). 2. Fajardo-Hill and Giunta, Radical Women. 3. Deborah Cullen (ed.), Arte ≠ Vida: Actions by Artists of the Americas, 1960–2000 (New York: El Museo del Barrio, 2008). 4. Bettina Knaup and Ellen Stammer, Re.Act.Feminism #2 (Nürnberg: Verl. für Moderne Kunst, 2014). 5. Mary Judith Ress, Ecofeminism in Latin America (Women from the Margins) (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2006). 6. Luce Irigaray, “The Mechanics of Fluids,” in This Sex Which Is Not One (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985 [1977]), 106–118. 7. Elisabeth Stephens, “Feminism and New Materialism: The Matter of Fluidity,” Inter/Alia: A Journal of Queer Studies 9 (2014): 186–202. 8. Gaston Bachelard, El agua y los sueños. Ensayo sobre la imaginación de la materia (Madrid: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2002 [1942]), 175–202. 9. Esther Moñivas, Presencias hídricas en el arte contemporáneo. Una perspectiva desde la semántica material (PhD diss, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 2011), 10. Bachelard, El agua y los sueños. 11. Lygia Clark Foundation, n.d. Accessed May 1, 2018, 12. Christine Macel, “Lygia Clark: At the Border of Art,” in Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1948–1988, edited by Cornelia H. Butler and Luis Pérez Oramas (New York: MoMA, 2014). Accessed May 20, 2018, 13. All translations by the author unless otherwise stated. Lygia Clark, Sylvie Amar and María Ramos, Lygia Clark (Barcelona: Fundació Antoni Tàpies, 1998), 206. 14. Gernot Böhme and Hartmut Böhme, Fuego, agua, tierra, aire. Una historia cultural de los elementos (Barcelona: Herder, 1998), 365. 15. Luigi Settembrini, “Agua (sin ti no soy),” in Agua (sin ti no soy): III Bienal de Valencia (Cat.) (Valencia: Fundación Bienal de las artes, 2005), 17–22. 16. María Ruido, Ana Mendieta (Guipuzcoa: Nerea, 2002), 98. 17. Ibid., 95–96. 18. Fundació Antoni Tàpies, “Ana Mendieta,” 1997. Accessed May 2, 2018,

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19. Olga M. Viso, Ana Mendieta: Earth Body: Sculpture and Performance, 1972–1985 (Washington, DC: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, 2004), 163–165. 20. Susana Benko, “Yeni y Nan (Sólo Show),” ArtNexus 78—Arte en Colombia 124 (2010). Accessed May 3, 2018, 21. María Elena Ramos, “Una aproximación al cuerpo de la performance en Venezuela,” Performance Ceeipc (blog), May 28, 2007. Accessed May 3, 2018, http://performanceceeipc. 22. Re.act.feminism. A performing archive. n.d. “Yeni & Nan. Integrations in Water.” Accessed March 1, 2019, 23. Marcela Guerrero, “Yeni y Nan,” Digital Archive Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985, n.d. Accessed March 15, 2019, artists/yeni-y-nan/ 24. María Elena Ramos, “Yeni and Nan: One’s Body as a Body of the World,” 2013. Accessed March 20, 2019, 25. Ivan Illich, H2O y las aguas del olvido. Refexiones sobre la historicidad de la materia (Madrid: Cátedra, 1989). 26. “Arte corporal” is the term that the artist used instead “Body art.” 27. Emilio Tarazona, “Cuerpos y fujos: Una línea de lectura para los años ochenta en América Latina,” in Perder la forma humana: Una imagen sísmica de los años ochenta en América Latina (Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2012), 85–91. Editors’ note: The original text, whose construction is somewhat complex, was as follows: “Como fujo, el fuido corporal es también un signo de esas actitudes contra aquellos modelos de formas de vida propuestos, y sus propias posturas nominales—ya la basura, el residuo; el vómito o el desecho metabólico—se convertían en una afectación emocional y política contra la supuesta estabilidad de un sistema que se intenta perturbar”. 28. Cecilia Fajardo-Hill and Andrea Giunta, Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985 (Cat.) (Los Angeles, Munich, & New York: Hammer Museum, DelMonico Books & Prestel, 2017). 29. Redacción El País, “Salud del río Cauca sigue deteriorándose a su paso por Cali,” El País, August 23, 2017. Accessed September 18, 2019, 30. W Radio, “Desastre ambiental en el río Cauca: denuncian la muerte de 50 mil peces y anuncian protestas,” Nodal. Noticias de América Latina y El Caribe, February 8, 2019. Accessed September 18, 2019, 31. Artist written statement from 1982 and edited in 2010–2011. Source: Cecilia FajardoHill, “María Evelia Marmolejo’s Political Body,” ArtNexus #85—Arte en Colombia 131 (June–August 2012). Accessed May 5, 2018, DocumentID=24747 32. “María Evelia Marmolejo, Anónimo 4,” Digital Archive Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985, n.d. Accessed March 15, 2019, 33. Note that in the original text, the gender of water is feminine: “Es posible, me decía, que ella no quiera otra cosa que correr y dejar sugerencias a su paso; pero yo me moriré con la idea de que el agua lleva dentro de sí algo que ha recogido en otro lado y no sé de qué manera me entregará pensamientos que no son los míos y que son para mí. De cualquier manera yo soy feliz con ella, trato de comprenderla y nadie me podrá prohibir en que conserve mis recuerdos en el agua.” Felisberto Hernández, “La casa inundada,” in Las hortensias y otros cuentos (Doral: Stockcero, 2011 [1960]). 34. United Nations Environment Programme, “A Snapshot of the World’s Water Quality: Towards a Global Assessment,” 2016. Accessed September 18, 2019, unep/document/snapshot-world%E2%80%99s-water-quality-towards-global-assessment

Bibliography Bachelard, Gaston. El agua y los sueños. Ensayo sobre la imaginación de la materia. Madrid: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2002 [1942].

142 Esther Moñivas Benko, Susana. “Yeni y Nan (Sólo Show).” ArtNexus 78—Arte en Colombia 124 (2010). Accessed May 3, 2018. Böhme, Gernot and Hartmut Böhme. Fuego, agua, tierra, aire. Una historia cultural de los elementos. Barcelona: Herder, 1998. Cullen, Deborah (ed.). Arte ≠ Vida: Actions by Artists of the Americas, 1960–2000. New York: El Museo del Barrio, 2008. Fajardo-Hill, Cecilia. “María Evelia Marmolejo’s Political Body.” ArtNexus 85—Arte en Colombia 131 (2012). Accessed May 5, 2018. aspx?DocumentID=24747. Fajardo-Hill, Cecilia and Andrea Giunta. Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985. [Cat.]. Los Angeles, Munich, & New York: Hammer Museum, DelMonico Books & Prestel, 2017. Fundació Antoni Tàpies. Ana Mendieta, 1997. Accessed May 2, 2018. www.fundaciotapies. org/site/spip.php?rubrique214. Guerrero, Marcela. “Yeni y Nan.” Digital Archive Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960– 1985, n.d. Accessed March 15, 2019. yeni-y-nan/. Hernández, Felisberto. “La casa inundada.” In Las hortensias y otros cuentos. Doral: Stockcero, 2011 [1960]. Illich, Ivan. H2O y las aguas del olvido. Refexiones sobre la historicidad de la materia. Madrid: Cátedra, 1989. Irigaray, Luce. “The Mechanics of Fluids.” In This Sex Which Is Not One, 106–118. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1985 [1977]. Knaup, Bettina and Ellen Stammer. Re.Act.Feminism #2. Nürnberg: Verl. für Moderne Kunst, 2014. Lygia Clark, Sylvie Amar and María Ramos. Lygia Clark. Barcelona: Fundación Antoni Tàpies, 1998. Lygia Clark Foundation. n.d. Accessed May 1, 2018. Macel, Christine. “Lygia Clark: At the Border of Art.” In Lygia Clark: The Abandonment Of Art, 1948–1988. Edited by Cornelia H. Butler and Luis Pérez Oramas. New York: MoMA, 2014. Accessed May 20, 2018. “María Evelia Marmolejo, Anónimo 4.” Digital Archive Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985, n.d. Accessed March 15, 2019. Moñivas, Esther. Presencias hídricas en el arte contemporáneo. Una perspectiva desde la semántica material. PhD diss. Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 2011. work/1102288597018. Ramos, María Elena. “Una aproximación al cuerpo de la performance en Venezuela.” Performance Ceeipc (blog), mayo 28, 2007. Accessed May 3, 2018. http://performanceceeipc. Ramos, María Elena. Yeni and Nan: One’s Body as a Body of the World, 2013. Accessed March 20, 2019. Re.act.feminism: A performing archive. Yeni & Nan: Integrations in Water, n.d. Accessed March 1, 2019. Redacción El País. “Salud del río Cauca sigue deteriorándose a su paso por Cali.” El País, August 23, 2017. Accessed September 18, 2019. Ress, Mary Judith. Ecofeminism in Latin America (Women from the Margins). Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2006. Ruido, María. Ana Mendieta. Guipuzcoa: Nerea, 2002. Schwenk, Theodor. El caos sensible. Creación de las formas por los movimientos del agua y el aire. Madrid: Rudolf Steiner, 1988 [1962].

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Settembrini, Luigi. “Agua (sin ti no soy).” In Agua (sin ti no soy): III Bienal de Valencia. [Cat.]. Valencia: Fundación Bienal de las artes, 2005. Stephens, Elisabeth. “Feminism and New Materialism: The Matter of Fluidity.” Inter/Alia: A Journal of Queer Studies 9 (2014): 186–202. Tarazona, Emilio. “Cuerpos y fujos: Una línea de lectura para los años ochenta en América Latina.” In Perder la forma humana: Una imagen sísmica de los años ochenta en América Latina, 85–91. Madrid: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2012. United Nations Environment Programme. A Snapshot of the World’s Water Quality: Towards a Global Assessment, 2016. Accessed September 18, 2019. unep/document/snapshot-world%E2%80%99s-water-quality-towards-global-assessment. Viso, Olga M. Ana Mendieta: Earth Body: Sculpture and Performance, 1972–1985. Washington, DC: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, 2004. W Radio. “Desastre ambiental en el río Cauca: denuncian la muerte de 50 mil peces y anuncian protestas.” Nodal. Noticias de América Latina y El Caribe, February 8, 2019. Accessed September 18, 2019.


Memories in the Present Affect and Spectrality in Contemporary Aquatic Imaginaries1 Irene Depetris Chauvin Translated by Kate Wilson

Over the past decade, a number of studies of post-dictatorship in Argentina and Chile have highlighted the creation of memorial sites and territorial marks in recognition of the victims, as part of the struggle against forgetting and as expressions of the will to transmit memory to future generations.2 However, compared to other commemorative practices, open spaces and landscapes have received little attention in studies of the politics of memory in the countries of the Southern Cone. The academics who analyze the “inscriptions of memory on space” concentrate principally on artefacts, perhaps because memory is conceptualized as representation. As Owen Jones suggests, when we consider expressions of material culture as “repositories” we treat objects as forms of representation, and not as dynamic elements in the performative and active production of memory and emotions.3 On the other hand, Jens Andermann proposes returning to the landscape and seeing, in its different modulations, a critical rupture with the placing of monuments, fnding openings and itinerant logics that have the potential to take us beyond the temporal logic of trauma in order to think politically in the present.4 Thus, through the confguration of landscape, the audiovisual arts offer other ways to explore the cultural constructions of space, place and nature, at the same time as they bring material and emotional dimensions into play through which discourses of memory can be created in relation to political catastrophes. Considering this interplay between nature and culture, it is suggestive that aquatic spaces are even less considered in analyses that deal with histories of landscape and their connection with social memory, even when water seems an appropriate motif to open both utopian and dystopian settings. In their cultural history of the natural elements, Böhme and Böhme write about the utopian and dystopian dimensions of different bodies of water: whereas “an archaic fear of mankind is concentrated in the untamed sea”, a space that itself is a deterritory, a chaos diffcult to control, rivers are conceived both as streams of life and as the location of a second paradise.5 On the basis of this cultural ambivalence towards water, it is interesting to consider how recent audiovisual works utilise liquids—such as rivers and oceans—that identify submerged gestures and evanescent memories, and in so doing foreground situations of political violence that are inscribed in the very surface of landscape. At a crossroads between space and politics, calling on recent contributions on affective geographies and the links between memory, materiality and spectrality, this chapter examines the ways in which Jonathan Perel’s Las aguas del olvido (2013), Patricio Guzman’s El botón de nácar (2015) and Enrique Ramírez’s Los durmientes (2015) tell of the so-called “death fights” and the terrible uses that were made of the rivers and seas by the last dictatorships in Argentina and Chile to “dispose” of dissidents and

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“drown” the truth. These flms, videos and installations subvert stabilizing cartographies and appeal to anachronism to offer an account of the contradictory senses of water as the source of life and the epicentre of culture but also as a cemetery, both for the victims of the dictatorship and for indigenous groups. As well as transgressing conventional geographic and historic demarcations, these works offer ways of understanding loss through a “process of mourning” that insists on both the materiality and spectrality of space. According to Maria Blanco and Esther Peeren, studies of trauma have revived Derrida’s refections on spectrality and, in particular, his proposal for learning to “live with spectres”, an insistence on conceiving of history as spectral, which supposes a conception of both the presence and the absence of the past in the present, while at the same time considering how the past can open new possibilities for the future.6 If time is “out of joint” and events continue to reverberate in spaces long after they took place, a “spectro-geographic” approach can revive a previously inanimate world with new affective intensity. Through spectral geography, the hidden politics that stalk these spaces in intimate and complex ways can perpetuate forgotten voices and histories. The interest taken in water by Guzmán, Perel and Ramírez in their works allows an alternative understanding of how spaces disrupt conventional ideas of presence and absence and installs a tension that speaks of the potential of images to affect us and of aesthetic practices to articulate ways of “being together” after loss. The attention paid by Enrique Ramírez and Patricio Guzmán to the sinister character of the Pacifc Ocean and Perel’s recoding of the spectral sounds and mists of the La Plata River tell of the ways in which these bodies of water mobilize images that move us, shaping affective geographies that create a sense of loss. Their itineraries of both still and moving images act on us because they produce ways of seeing, feeling, understanding and remembering which use dimensions of materiality that escape from both sensationalism and monumentalization. Thus these works insist on an “aesthetic of affects” making it possible to “touch” forgotten or excluded events, spaces or subjects and to build bridges between distant memories and geographies in the present.

Hydrarchies in Patricio Guzman’s El botón de nácar (2015) The works of the Chilean flmmaker Patricio Guzman are a constant return to the past and to particular events in the history of his country: the coup d’etat of 1973, which brought an end to Salvador Allende’s socialist experiment, and the systematic violation of human rights perpetrated by the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Nostalgia de la luz (2010) also deals with the atrocities of the dictatorship, albeit indirectly. As with other artistic expressions in recent years, Guzman’s documentary proposes a “spacialization of memory”, a relocalization of its feld of action, and a metaphoric detour that strengthens the reach of this discourse because it is able to expand the community affected by the loss. The flm relates three forms of search for knowledge: that of the astronomers who seek to trap distant stars, that of the archaeologists studying past civilizations and that of the women who seek to recover the remains of their families, kidnapped and disappeared by the Pinochet dictatorship. The three stories coincide in the Atacama desert, where physical conditions conserve the traces of the past—the remains of native civilizations and the bones of the disappeared— while its clear skies lead to the installation of observatories focused on the galaxy’s past, clearly revealed, through its delayed arrival on planet Earth with the light.

146 Irene Depetris Chauvin In the flm, the feeting nature of a present that is always past, the landscape of the desert and calcium as a common element shared by bones and stars, they speak of memory as obstinate material remains but also as a result of a reading that seeks to free space from its silent superfciality and convert it into a nucleus, traversed by the most diverse temporal connections: the politics of returning to write stories and histories on the spatial texture of the desert and of rescaling the crimes of the dictatorship to rewrite them as a tale of cosmic proportions. In this sense, Nostalgia de la luz is also an exercise in laborious reconstruction: material communities become affective communities because they tie landscapes to life stories, land and sky, memory, history and cosmos. It is also the frst in a trilogy of great metaphors about Chile, anchored in its geography. That series continues with El botón de nácar (2015) and is completed with La cordillera de los sueños, a flm about the Andean mountains that had premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. El botón de nácar also starts in Atacama. A close up of a piece of quartz found in this desert holds a drop of water in its interior. Like the shots of lights and shadows on the surfaces of the Earth and the Moon in Nostalgia de la luz, the dilatory attention paid to this drop of water, which speaks, and even roars, from its prison, tells us that El botón de nácar will deal with time and its inscriptions, its marks on surfaces and on matter. From the piece of quartz we move to telescopes sweeping the skies, images that appear to have been taken from Nostalgia de la luz. Nevertheless, the voice of the flmmaker explains that this time the astronomers are searching for water. Once again, Guzman’s voice provides the narrative thread of a story that is thought of in terms of totalities—the cosmos as a system of invisible and interconnected energies—and his voice will turn to what science, poetry or historical discourse have to say about water in order to establish, at the heart of the flm, a powerful—although sometimes forced—connection between the extermination of the indigenous population and the disappeared during the Pinochet dictatorship. The sound of a river, the childhood memory of rain hitting a zinc roof, the extraordinary beauty of the glaciers of Western Patagonia: the opening scenes of El botón de nácar inform us that the subject matter now is not calcium but water in all its forms, expanses, volumes and levels of density. Water is material too, because Guzman will seek to capitalize on its quality as energy: it condenses, it disperses, it transforms and separates. As the epigraph to the documentary, taken from a text by the Chilean Raúl Zurita, foretells “we are all streams from the same water”. However, the uniqueness of the material is not simply poetic play or elemental physics: water is more than two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen, or three-quarters of the human body; it is historical territory, a resource and a signifer in dispute. El botón de nácar begins by making water the central element in a cartographic operation. A satellite image pans across the landscape, carefully reconstructed by computer; it invites us to vicariously travel across a territory. The movement of the shot, from North to South, crosses Patagonia and sinks into an infnite archipelago of ice, rain and steam, a reconstruction “from above” that makes it evident that Chile is, in some sense, an aquatic territory (see Figure 9.1). For a long time in Western culture, the sea indicated the limits of the known world, what could be mapped and thus controlled—the oceans were the terrae incognitae a hic sunt dracones. The oceans have constituted, since time immemorial, territories of exceptional and fascinating space. Their waters have been populated by creatures of the human imagination, and they were a space of purifcation for

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Figure 9.1 “Chile, an aquatic territory”. Source: Satellite shot from El botón de nácar © Copyright Renate Sasche, producer.

medieval Catholic European culture, ploughed by ships flled with lunatics or other undesirable collectives that society wished to dispose of. In La hidra de la revolución: marineros, esclavos, comunes y la historia desconocida del Atlántico, Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker use the term “hydrarchy” to designate “two related developments at the end of the 17th Century: the organization of the maritime state from above and the self-organization of sailors from below”.7 Thus, the oceans became the battlefelds of history through which empires, global trade systems or cultural hegemonies have been imposed but also from which networks of grassroots resistance have grown, alliances of pirates and maroons or mutinies that ignited ports to revolution. This approach suggests that the sea has been and continues to be a space where structures and legal, moral and social codes are suspended. In terms of the collective imagination, the seas are also sacred spaces associated with life—but also cemeteries for the slaves of the past and the migrants from Africa who today try to cross the Mediterranean by boat. These utopian and dystopian visions of the aquatic imagination, contained within the concept of “hydrarchy”, can be extended to the different images and uses of the sea presented in El botón de nácar. In this documentary, Patricio Guzmán speaks to us of a country that, despite having the longest coastline in the Pacifc, remains enigmatically divorced from the sea. Guzmán appeals to his own childhood imagination and extrapolates this to all Chileans, who both fear and admire the ocean. This generalization forms part of another operation in “affective cartography”, emerging from the search for another “hydrarchy”: a different way of understanding and inhabiting the sea. Before the conquest, the remote South of Chile was populated by

148 Irene Depetris Chauvin fve ethnic groups (the kawashkar, the selk’nam, the aonikenk, the chonos and the yámanas) whose ways of life were intimately linked to the sea. El botón de nácar uses an impressive ethnographic archive of these ancient “water civilizations” who lived in harmony with nature and the cosmos (see Figure 9.2). The photographs of these maritime nomads, these clans organised around canoes and bonfres, have an almost supernatural beauty, and the voice-over confrms what we already imagined: towards the end of the nineteenth century, the missionaries and colonists arrived to eclipse this world. Driven back to the remote Dawson Island, these original peoples were decimated by illness or exterminated by the “Indian hunters”. From the images in the archive Guzmán fnds some of the twenty survivors, now ancient, and puts them before the cameras as a living testimony to the extermination of a maritime culture with the knowledge to build canoes that the Chilean naval authorities no longer permit them to use. Guzmán’s camera pauses on these survivors, capturing their image again, this time not as paintings or photographs but as “living portraits”. At some moments the interviews, where they are made to repeat in their native tongue what the director wants them to say, demonstrate an almost paternalistic attitude, but at others, El botón de nácar establishes an affectionate link with this culture which “touches” and illuminates the spectator. In one sequence, Guzmán returns to the cartographic operation: he asks the visual artist Emma Malig to create something he had never before seen: the whole image of the country, in its elongated form, that school maps only represent as divided into three parts. Malig covers almost the entire surface of her studio with white paper, and from a box marked “fragile”, she takes a roll of card, carefully spreads it on the foor and begins to work, highlighting the reliefs with delicate brush strokes. It is not a body she is caressing but a map—a Chile in brown card,

Figure 9.2 Strange constellations painted on their bodies. Source: Photos of indigenous peoples taken from El botón de nácar © Copyright Renate Sasche, producer.

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which now, separated from Argentina and relocated on a white background, becomes an archipelago surrounded by an immense sea on which, Guzmán reminds us again through the voice-over, its inhabitants continuously “turn their backs”. The camera begins to slowly trace the 4,200 km of coastline. The cardboard map is joined, at some point, by Gabriela’s voice-over narration. A survivor, she says she feels not Chilean but Kawesqar, and she recalls, in her mother tongue, a voyage she made as a child by canoe over 600 miles between the islands to the South of Chile. This is a genuine affective mapping that exorcises today’s supposed Chilean distrust of the immensity of the ocean, making it part of an almost intimate voyage through its geography. In the documentary, the cartographic operation becomes historiographic as it refers to the history of two buttons. Mother of pearl is an organic-inorganic substance, a biomineral substance that also comes from the sea. However, the button that the title of the documentary refers to again takes us to culture and to colonial maritime history. A mother of pearl button was the currency with which the English mariner FitzRoy, captain of the Beagle, paid an adolescent Yámana to go with him to Great Britain in 1830. Known as Orundellico until his capture, the youth was rebaptized Jemmy Button, and after some years in Europe, where he was subjected to a “process of Westernization”, he was returned to his home land, speaking both two languages and none. This young man’s voyage is a primary narrative in the disappearance of a culture, represented in the signifcance of a button exchanged for the theft of a name and the loss of an identity. His story, popularized in the novel Jemmy Button (1950) by Benjamin Subercaseaux, came to represent exile in the feld of Chilean art. In the early 1980s, the conceptual artist Eugenio Dittborn used the printed image of Jemmy in some of his famous Pinturas Aeropostales—a series of works on paper, somewhere between paintings and photographs, which were folded, placed in envelopes and sent by post to different countries. The image came from a drawing done by Captain FitzRoy himself, to which Dittborn added the inscription “Exiled Fuegian Jemmy Button”. At the height of the dictatorship, Dittborn invented a new Jemmy, surrounding the face of the Fuegian with other unknown faces, appropriating an anecdotal fragment of Darwin’s diary and relocating it at the centre of a new fragmented narrative of suppression and resistance, part of a postal work that travelled through space but also through time, producing a banishment that builds communities with the past as it recovers and reinvents faces—ghosts, almost—that prefgure and dominate the present. El botón de nácar also returns to the fgure of Jemmy Button, subjecting it to an operation of temporal hybridization. The reproduction of the indigenous fgure wearing an English frock coat is a prime indication of the burying of his identity and the destruction of difference that the flm links to later historical events. The same pen that drew these indigenous people, says Guzmán in the voice over, also drew the maps that opened the way for the colonists. The gesture of plundering his language, customs and name concatenates with the later abuses and violence, which led to a silent genocide of the original peoples of the extreme South of Chile. However, the thread of the story makes another leap in time, to where the anthropological investigation blends with recent history, and the narrator tells us that Dawson Island, where the indigenous peoples were imprisoned, also became the Punta Arenas concentration camp, where Allende’s ministers and other Chileans became victims of torture, death, disappearance and exile after the coup d’etat. The turning point in El botón de nácar comes when Guzmán states that during the Pinochet dictatorship, between 1,200 and 1,400 people were thrown into the ocean

150 Irene Depetris Chauvin from helicopters, among them Marta Ugarte, whose body was carried back to the coast by the Humboldt Current. The director shows a photograph and details of the autopsy. “That was when the Chileans began to suspect that the sea was a cemetery”, Guzmán tells us. In his graphic reconstruction of the way dissidents were thrown into the sea, the flmmaker shows, with a mannequin, how they bagged up the bodies and tied them to iron rails. In a helicopter, he carries out the performance of throwing the body into the sea, reproducing how the dictatorship sank the bodies of disappeared prisoners into the depths. Four decades later, a Chilean diver searched for the bodies and found rails and, attached to one of them, a button, mute and moving proof of the crime and all that remains of an anonymous victim. Appealing to a discourse that is more poetic than scientifc, Guzmán holds that “water has memory”, absence and presence, foating, or sleeping in the depths, waiting to be discovered, they fower and bear witness to what they were supposed to conceal. The water and the creatures that live in it “recorded their messages”: the rusted rails, encrusted on the ocean foor, anchors destined to drown a truth that foated to the surface in the form of a fragment of mother of pearl. In El botón de nácar, that button, now exhibited in the Villa Grimaldi Museum alongside the button used by FitzRoy to buy the exile of the indigenous man from its own lands, tells “a single story of extermination”.

Enrique Ramirez’s Los durmientes (2014) and the Sepulchral Pact Objets pour voyager, Métaphores d’un horizon, De latitudes en portrait, Océan, Cartografías para navegantes de tierra and Los durmientes: the ocean is an element that Enrique Ramírez, an audiovisual artist born in Santiago de Chile in 1978, repeats throughout his work. The sea, in these installations involving flm, objects, drawings and photographs, creates a real and mental journey which plays with time, memory and personal transformation. Displacements are part of the artist’s own life practices, as an inhabitant and traveller living between Santiago and Paris, but they also shape the subject matter and form of his work, as demonstrated by Océan, a flm made up of a three week sequence shot from a cargo ship crossing the Atlantic from Latin America to Europe. The work of Enrique Ramírez on these different geographies are poetic refections that seek to humanize dystopic situations. His flm and photographic installations deal with exodus and exile and the discontinuity of memory. The vast landscapes that usually appear in his work are conceived of as geopoetic spaces, open territories to look upon and wander through. Working in a register that appeals to contemplative spirituality, minimalist elements such as the breeze, the water, and the sand are combined to create a subjective viewpoint. The installations incorporate these media to create a conceptual experience in a specifc environment: a geography of intimate displacements that translates from the artwork to the actual experience of the spectators, who are invited to create their own routes through the museum or the gallery. In a number of Enrique Ramírez’s works, the sea also reveals very specifc historical preoccupations: geography appears as a place of political and poetic memory for Chile. The ocean, an emphatic abyss where a body can disappear forever, is the perfect geography for impunity, as testifed to by the “death fights” of the Pinochet dictatorship. The omnipresence of the maritime landscape, its calm and tumultuous beauty, suggests that this ocean or these oceans are at the same time always different and always the same; in the photographic series Métaphores d’un horizon, the individuals

Memories in the Present


all look towards the same vanishing point, and in the installation Así . . . como la geografía se deshace (2016), a foor-level video shows the image of a water spout in the ocean which slowly disappears, creating a sense of radical instability. This unpredictable sea, which leaves no trace, is at the same time both a utopian and a dystopian space in which to refect upon memories of the dictatorship, responding to both the materiality and the spectrality of the scene. One of the works that permits this refection is Los Durmientes (2014), a video triptych presented at three slightly different exhibitions in Paris (2014), Santiago (2015) and Buenos Aires (2016). On each occasion, the spectator experiences the video as part of a route that includes other drawings, photographs or installations that refer to the particular context of each country while at the same time appealing to the anachronism at the crossroads between different geographies. Los Durmientes is composed of three synchronized projections that show different moments of what could be a person being thrown into the sea (see Figure 9.3). The title (“The Sleepers”) refers to various things: on the railways, sleepers keep the rails together; the disappeared were tied to rails and thrown into the ocean; in Ramírez’s videos the sleepers are a metaphor for the silence of the sea. On the left you see a helicopter taking off, and there are subjective shots of its fight over the immensity of the sea. On the right, a group of wooden crosses foat like buoys in the mist. In the centre the action takes place: an old man walks towards the coast, carrying a fsh in both hands as though it were an offering. The voice-over, in a very refective and poetic voice, creates another imaginary space. Thoughts are

Figure 9.3 View of the Enrique Ramírez’s exhibition Los durmientes, Palais de Tokyo (20.10.14–23.11.15). Source: Courtesy of the artist, Michel Rein, Paris/Brussels and Dieecke Gallery, Santiago. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

152 Irene Depetris Chauvin repeated over and over again repeating the same words: “Look . . . Look . . . Look at the depths . . . See how everything dissolves . . . See how I disappear . . . Look . . . Seek . . . Search for something that can’t be seen . . . Forgetfulness . . . Silence”—a list that shows words have become skeletons, ghosts. In the triptych, the man continues walking along the beach and disappears for a moment behind a beached boat where we can see black bags, like garbage bags or body bags. From behind this wreck, a younger man emerges, carrying one of these empty bags. At the same time, on the other panels, we see the helicopter fying over the ocean, and on the left-hand panel an ephemeral cemetery of crosses foating on buoys moves with the waves. The flm ends with the voice of the man entering the sea: “Make the return . . . Make the search . . . Make life . . . silence, fear, the search. Make time . . . Make a language”. Faced with the evil and the silence this imposes, the individual is driven to affrmation, armed with words. When he enters the sea, the older man is waiting. They exchange the dead fsh for the body bag and, as they embrace, on the left-hand panel, the camera abruptly falls from the helicopter into the sea. The screens go dark. The triptych explores loss and a raising of awareness to the crisis of the “sepulchral pact” that seems to be vicariously sealed in the exchange and the fnal embrace. According to Gabriel Giorgi, the biopolitics of the dictatorship sought to erase the body as legal and historical evidence, at the same time and above all, it seeks to destroy the links between this body and the community: to make it impossible to inscribe this body into the life of the community, in its languages, memories and stories.8 Faced with this production of “cadavers without communities, bodies with which the community cannot establish links”,9 the performance of the exchange of the empty body bag for the fsh is a gesture of resistance, making the animal material a sign of the absence of a human body. The embrace is also a way of responding to the rupture of the “sepulchral pact” that made those disappeared people “non-persons”, lives that deserved no symbolic inscription—an exchange of animal and human bodies, a twist that not only connects the human and the natural but also, and above all, insists on the materiality and the spectrality of memory.

Jonathan Perel’s Las aguas del olvido (2013) or on the Community of Spectres If maritime imaginary runs throughout the works of Enrique Ramírez, in Perel’s trajectory, this representation of the river is an exception in a body of work that has centred more on the materiality of processes of memory through constructed space. Born in 1976, this Argentinian flmmaker has dedicated all his audiovisual work to the impacts of the last military dictatorship, looking at it from a predominantly spatial perspective. Adrián Gorelik proposes the study of the memory of the dictatorship through institutions, monuments and other architectural forms. El predio (2010), 17 monumentos (2012), Los murales (2013) or Tabula rasa (2013) carry out “an examination from within of the materials that make up the practices of memory”. In these feature-length and short flms, the reading of memory is closely linked to the way in which he chooses to flm these materials through long, silent shots that obsessively record the passing of time.10

Memories in the Present


Las aguas del olvido (2012) is a turning point in his cinematography centred on interrogating materiality and processes of memory through constructed space, because this short does not record an existing site or memorial but rather proposes its own. The short flm starts with a quotation in homage to Horst Hoheisel that speaks of the problem of representation and making present the absent: “Everything that artists do to recall the crimes of the past is wrong, including my work. We can only get it more or less wrong. We can never trace the true image of the real story”. The quoted German artist, who has created and refected on the politics of memory of the Holocaust, says that the great works dedicated to commemoration destroy the memory of the victims rather than conserving it. When he visited Argentina he debated the destiny of the ESMA11 and the Parque de la Memoria,12 which seemed to him to be a “cemetery of sculptures”, and he proposed leaving the land free and projecting light from the bank onto the waters of the river. The constantly changing form of the water, that water into which so many bodies were thrown, will thus become a place of memory and refection, a negative or “anti-monument”; a new and radical art of memory that seeks to create frameworks that do not fx thought, but rather enable thinking and experiencing the loss over and over again. Through the “silent” observation of space, Perel proposes a form of remembering that breaks with traditional forms of making memories in Argentina, fossilized models that centre on the exercise of memory through direct testimony and blood affliations. In his own refections on “Cinema as counter monument”, Perel recalls the work of Hoheisel and his concept of the negative form or counter monument, the challenge of breaking away from the didactic logic of the monument that condemns the spectator to passive observation. Thus, instead of an exercise in monumentalization, Perel’s flms opt for a negative memory that refuses to remain fxed or stable and seeks to confront each generation with the task of remembering. This negative memory requires a commitment to a way of seeing that insists on duration because it is “silence—a certain kind of silence that is not a silence, a veiled one, perhaps—that can construct a representation of the unimaginable”.13 Thus, Perel’s work does not centre on the representational value or physical properties of material remains so much as on their capacity to generate an emotional response. It could be said that his works show a preoccupation for the sensorial and phenomenological aspects of time written on space. There is a will to create cinema with a formal precision that acts as a “counter monument”, giving new meaning to the processes of memory linked to the last dictatorship. To do that requires not only accounting for the complexity of the task of remembering but also for the role of cinema within that: it looks to cinema as a “spatial practice”, a practice that produces space, or images of space that act— through increasing complexity or alienation—on the confguration of our ways of understanding and experiencing the different spatial and temporal categories. According to Sebastián Russo, the citing of Hoheisel at the beginning of a flm dedicated to a portrait of the La Plata River, by a flmmaker who in his earlier works had, through theme and form, interrogated the remains left by the dictatorship and what was or was not done with them, makes us think that the aim of the short is to tell of how “the river becomes a counter monument to the disappeared”. By painting the river as a mute incarnation of memory, as the realization of the tragedy and the need for collective implication in remembering it,14 Perel unceasingly increases the complexity of the critical links between memory and cinema. As in his other flms, the long, static shots attempt to work on point of view and the experience of time,

154 Irene Depetris Chauvin involving the spectator in a refection on the meaning of its passing, of what is forgotten and what is remembered, an ethic and an aesthetic of memory that holds it to be irreducibly open. So how is the river presented in Las aguas del olvido? After the quote, the screen goes black and we hear the sound of water. Later, the image settles on this naked river stripped of life. Nine minutes of looking at the river: static shots, and the sound of water and wind, shots directly onto the water, others in which the water appears between twisted trees and sharp rocks, brownish grey and turbulent, breakwaters in the mist, water towers emerging as human and urban marks made on nature. By avoiding words in the form of a voice-over narration or dialogues and interviews, Las aguas del olvido confronts us with the power of image (see Figure 9.4). The long shots speak of the river and extract a strange dynamic from its materiality, of remains, presence and haunting absences, situating it in an uncertain temporal labyrinth. In accordance with Wylie, it is possible to glimpse traces of the immaterial in the materiality of Perel’s images, not as something defned in opposition to the material, but as that which breathes “in excess” of its representational form.15 In other words, by insisting on these long empty shots, the flm suggests a new form of emotion of space, because it links objects with emotional modalities and a haunting sense of loss16—one way of considering the unstable ontology of the material which indicates the “more than representational” nature of memory as incarnated in the spectral, a sensorial and unstable nature of the landscape and of memory that is also accentuated by the soundtrack to the work. At one point in Las aguas del olvido another quote appears, this time from Claudio Martyniuk: Poems about death are a deception. Death is death. The river is flled. Ghostly extensions. It dug a grave in the air, in the bed of the wide river, there where there are no narrows. Everything sank into the deepest shadows. A river as a tomb. What colour is this water? How can we bathe or navigate on the darkness of our history? Hair still runs through the waters, they remain under a poisonous sky.

Figure 9.4 Ruins. A shot from Las aguas del olvido. Director: Jonathan Perel, 9 minutes, 2013, Argentina.

Memories in the Present


Skin makes up the sand of the riverbed. A vein in which the bodies collect, day after day. We drink the waters of forgetfulness. The mist. During the military dictatorship, systematic repression, through the practice of kidnappings and clandestine assassinations, followed a logic that sought to exterminate not only the political enemy but the very possibility of imagining this process and these victims. Faced with the breaking of the “sepulchral pact”, a portrait of the river is a portrait of an impossible cemetery because identities cannot be defned and tombs cannot be marked, and with this lack of limits the work of grieving becomes infnite. The river hides and dissolves the crimes, and nevertheless, at the same time, it is there and it relentlessly pursues us with the sedimentary remains of a traumatic past. Perel’s short flm ends with a long, underwater shot of remains moving in the water, converting the river into a “utopia of the monument”: a monument that has everyday meaning. How can we bathe or navigate on the darkness of our history? How can we continue living? Russo’s dedicated reading of Perel’s flm asks these questions and proposes a need to accept the ghosts in the mist. It requires going deeper into the ghostly logic to deal with the spectres of the past, which supposes restoring the truth of time with the truth of the image: visualizing dead time, causing discomfort to the spectator, is nothing less than a true phenomenology of memory from its materials. What is seen, the river, seems to express itself without mediation, a lived experience of seeing, of time passing before our eyes.17 In his study of spectrality, Derrida suggests that spectres can be evoked but that their singularity comes from the way they burst in unexpectedly without being called, and often without even being consciously recognized; they unsettle us and they have no fxed abode in time or space. They prowl and lurk in the storyline of the past, present and future.18 In a similar way, there is something unearthly in Perel’s images, something affective, a rupture in the linear discourse of history. Water is anachronistic, causing us to experience this traumatic past in real time as it passes before our eyes—a memory experienced in present time, recognizing the existence of a community of and with the spectres.

Affective Cartographies and Spectral Geographies Water as the universal element of life, as the nucleus of culture of the indigenous tribes, depositing a coastline on which Chilean geography and history appear to have turned their back; the sea as a cemetery of the disappeared: in El botón de nácar, water covers an enormous arch of history and space through a tale that seeks to link, through an emotional matrix, the extermination of the original peoples from the South of the country, who lived in harmony with the ocean, with the “death fights”, showing how the sea was used by the Pinochet dictatorship. The flm also links various geographical imaginaries, constantly redrawing personal childhood maps with those forged by later political militant experiences, superimposing the cartography of different cultures in the cinematic mapping of a lived environment. It turns to a cartographic performance that subtly links affective and spatial dimensions through an intimate itinerary across the geography of a remote zone of the country. This same agency of mapping, which does not seek to mirror reality so much as reformulate the world, also appears in Los durmientes and Las aguas del olvido. As James Corner proposes, mapping uncovers new worlds between the present and the past because it reformulates not only the physical characteristics of a terrain but also its hidden forces and its historic events.19

156 Irene Depetris Chauvin Jonathan Flatley speaks of affective maps in a metaphorical sense when he proposed that certain aesthetic practices can be thought of in terms of an “affective mapping” because they make the affective life of the reader or spectator evident in a way that redirects it to the historical world and the affective lives of others who inhabited the same landscapes. Some works establish these links through an “alienation” that transforms emotional life—the range of moods, structures of senses and affective ties—into something strange, surprising, unusual and therefore capable of generating a new type of recognition, interest and analysis.20 Thus, Flatley proposes a reading of history that opts for an anachronism in which affect is never experienced for the frst time but rather forms part of an archive of prior objects. It would be the works of art themselves that open space for the meeting of these objects and affects. In this sense, an affective reading of history is mobilized on a path that rejects the linearity of historicism and moves us to think about the ways in which the past leaves an impression on the present.21 El botón de nácar calls upon and mobilizes affects situated within an archive of prior objects. The emotional valence of water and of a button are changed through the process of rearticulation and recontextualization proposed by Guzmán’s flm. Nonetheless, the metaphorical comparison of these different events from Chilean history as being linked through the relationship the country and its inhabitants have with the sea does not take full advantage of the potential of anachronism to reconnect us affectively to the past. If, in Nostalgia de la luz, the synchronicity between history, geography and the physical universe was reinforced through a circulation of affects that feed back into the particular histories of each of those interviewed, in El botón de nácar the thread of the story and its affective modulations emanate from a single centre: the slow and excessively didactic voice of Guzmán, who, on occasion, appeals to “authority fgures” such as the poet Raúl Zurita and the social historian Gabriel Salazar. Yes, the documentary proposes an affective cartography, but it is an affective map that closes to become fxed and stable. Will the water remember those exterminated? Will the souls of the indigenous peoples and the disappeared fnd a watery peace in that space? Even in his forced lyricism, Guzmán articulates an “affective mapping” not so much because he makes the water—and the two mother of pearl buttons—traces of the past but because he fnds a potency in the aquatic imaginary of the indigenous peoples. The archive photographs from the beginnings of the century show the bodies of the selk’nam painted with enigmatic symbols, perhaps drops of water or constellations (see Figure 9.2). We intuitively know that water, because of its movements, receives a direct impulse from space that is transmitted to all living creatures. Like astronomers, the Patagonian tribes made of the relation between the cosmos and water an inseparable instance of life, but their mythology also said that their dead ancestors became stars. By imagining “peoples of water” in the cosmos, El botón de nácar recovers, or perhaps reinvents, an earlier desire: the utopia of a cosmic hydrarchy. The works by Perel and Ramírez do not reconstruct the death fights because they do not seek to narrate or reconstruct historic events in the conventional sense. Perel’s flms and Ramírez’s video installations work with point of view and the experience of time to present cinematic poems that create an affective and contemplative climate, involving the spectator in refections on the passage of time and what is forgotten and what is remembered. Following their own logic of affective geographies, these works don’t insist so much on the representational value or physical properties of material

Memories in the Present


remains as on their capacity to provoke an affective response. The power of the images is more than representational; they deal in blocks of sensation and affective intensity: the images build meaning not because it takes time to understand what they mean but because their pre-signifcative affective materiality is felt in the body. Although these works do not refer to different maritime imaginaries, in Guzmán’s documentary, the spectator will encounter them, and it is the play between pre-existing ideas about specifc geographies and our own fantasies and fears that create the potential these works have to affect us, to move us and to trace or propose a new cartography. The affective geographies of Perel and Ramírez bring wider concepts of materiality into play as they analyze the links between spaces and memories dealing with the presence of objects, places or people but also with loss and the absences that haunt us.22 Proposals interlinking landscapes, sounds and memories in which, in the case of Ramírez, the presence of the body is important, located in the work or the spectator, generating an intimate relationship with whoever observes them in some dark passage to later wander through objects, installations, photographs, texts and drawings that complement the topic at each exhibition. There are other ways in which presence destabilizes through its haunting absence, as in the case of Perel. Sound, in this solitary space, is important as it indicates the relationship between being and space, which supposes both inhabiting and the sensations of the phantasmagorical. The works of Perel and Ramírez encode a new affective geography in water as disputed historical territory and a contested signifer and in doing so create “sensations of memory” that question society as a whole. Far from being closed discourses, these audiovisual works propose a way of linking ourselves to this past that accepts the disruptions of time, the anachronistic and irresolvable dynamic between presence and absence.

Notes 1. A version of this essay appeared in Spanish: Irene Depetris Chauvin, “Memorias en el presente: Afecto y espectralidad en imaginarios acuáticos contemporáneos,” Aniki: Revista Portuguesa da Imagem em Movimento 4, no.1 (2017): 170–190. 2. Estela Schindel and Pamela Colombo (eds.), Space and the Memories of Violence: Landscapes of Erasure, Disappearance and Exception (New York: Palgrave, 2014), 1–17. 3. Owen Jones, “An Emotional Ecology of Memory, Self and Landscape,” in Emotional Geographies, edited by Joyce Davidson, Liz Bondi and Mick Smith (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), 210. 4. Jens Andermann, “Expanded Fields: Postdictatorship and the Landscape,” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 21, no. 2 (2012): 177–181. 5. Gernot Böhme and Hartmut Böhme, Feuer, Wasser, Erde, Luft (Munich: Beck, 1996), 60. 6. María Blanco and Esther Peeren (eds.), The Spectralities Reader: Ghosts and Haunting in Contemporary Cultural Theory (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), 16. 7. Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, La hidra de la revolución: marineros, esclavos, comunes y la historia desconocida del Atlántico (Crítica: Barcelona, 2005), 15. 8. Gabriel Giorgi, “Lo que queda de una vida: comunidad y cadáver,” in Formas comunes: animalidad, cultura, biopolítica (Buenos Aires: Eterna Cadencia, 2014), 198. 9. Ibid., 200–204. 10. Adrían Gorelik. “Materiales de la memoria,” Informe Escaleno 29, no. 3 (2014), www. 11. Editor’s note: the ESMA was a naval school in Buenos Aires famously used as an extrajudicial detention center where thousands were killed or “disappeared”. 12. Editor’s note: The Remembrance Park is a memorial to the victims of the 1976–83 dictatorship, situated on the banks of the La Plata River. 13. Jonathan Perel, “El cine como contramonumento,” Toponimia Press Kit (2015): 6.

158 Irene Depetris Chauvin 14. Sebastián Russo, “Fantasmas pese a todo Memoria, (des)apariciones y (teorías de la) representación en Las aguas del olvido (2013), de Jonathan Perel,” Toma Uno 3 (2014): 191. 15. John Wylie, “Landscape, Absence and the Geographies of Love,” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 34 (2009): 275–289. 16. Tim Edensor, “The Ghosts of Industrial Ruins: Ordering and Disordering Memory in Excessive Space,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23 no. 6 (2005): 829–849. 17. Russo, “Fantasmas,” 94–95. 18. Jaques Derrida, Los espectros de Marx (Madrid: Editora Nacional, 2002). 19. James Corner, “The Agency of Mapping. Speculation, Critique and Invention,” in Mappings, edited by Denis Cosgrove (London: Reaktion Books, 1999), 214–215. 20. Jonathan Flatley, Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 13–14. 21. Ibid., 15. 22. The opposition between objects as tangible, real, concrete things and the intangible and immaterial world of emotions becomes problematic when we think of artistic manifestations. Katrina Schlunke argues that memory is a kind of “effect” produced through and with the order of the material rather than a mere product of a conscience centred on the human. These works explore what is and is not there, the effects of the past on the present, using image as a way to affect us, playing with different ideas of temporality. Katrina Schlunke, “Memory and Materiality,” Memory Studies 6, no. 3 (July 2013): 253–254.

Bibliography Andermann, Jens. “Expanded Fields: Postdictatorship and the Landscape.” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies 21, no. 2 (2012): 165–187. Baer, Ulrich. “To Give Memory a Place: Holocaust Photography and the Landscape Tradition.” Representations 69 (Winter 2000): 38–62. Blanco, María and Esther Peeren (eds.). The Spectralities Reader: Ghosts and Haunting in Contemporary Cultural Theory. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. Böhme, Gernot and Hartmut Böhme. Feuer, Wasser, Erde, Luft. Munich: Beck, 1996. Corner, James. “The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention.” In Mappings. Edited by Denis Cosgrove, 214–252. London: Reaktion Books, 1999. Derrida, Jacques. Los espectros de Marx. Madrid: Editora Nacional, 2002. Edensor, Tim. “The Ghosts of Industrial Ruins: Ordering and Disordering Memory in Excessive Space.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23, no. 6 (2005): 829–849. Flatley, Jonathan. Affective Mapping: Melancholia and the Politics of Modernism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008. Giorgi, Gabriel. “Lo que queda de una vida: comunidad y cadáver.” In Formas comunes: animalidad, cultura, biopolítica, 197–236. Buenos Aires: Eterna Cadencia, 2014. Gorelik, Adrián. “Materiales de la memoria.” Informe Escaleno 29, no. 3 (2014). Jones, Owen. “An Emotional Ecology of Memory, Self and Landscape.” In Emotional Geographies. Edited by Joyce Davidson, Liz Bondi, and Mick Smith, 205–218. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005. Linebaugh, Peter and Marcus Rediker. La hidra de la revolución: marineros, esclavos, comunes y la historia desconocida del Atlántico. Crítica: Barcelona, 2005. Maddern, Jo Frances and Peter Adey. “Editorial: Spectro-Geographies.” Cultural Geographies 15 no. 3 (2008): 291–295. Perel, Jonathan. “El cine como contramonumento.” Toponimia Press Kit (2015): 6. Russo, Sebastián. “Fantasmas pese a todo Memoria, (des)apariciones y (teorías de la) representación en Las aguas del olvido (2013), de Jonathan Perel.” Toma Uno 3 (2014): 189–195. Schindel, Estela and Pamela Colombo (eds.). Space and the Memories of Violence: Landscapes of Erasure, Disappearance and Exception. New York: Palgrave, 2014.

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Schlunke, Katrina. “Memory and Materiality.” Memory Studies 6, no. 3 (July 2013): 253–261. Wylie, John. “Landscape, Absence and the Geographies of Love.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 34 (2009): 275–289.

Filmography El botón de nácar [flm] Dir. Patricio Guzmán. Production: Renate Sasche. Chile/France, 2015. 1h22min. Las aguas del olvido [flm] Dir. Jonathan Perel, Production: Jonathan Perel. Argentina, 2013. 9min. Los durmientes [videotryptic HD, sound, stereo] Dir. Enrique Ramírez. Galería Michel Rein. Chile-France, 2014. 15min. Nostalgia de la luz [flm] Dir. Patricio Guzmán. Production: Antonino Ballextrazzi, Jutta Krug, Meike Martens et al. Chile-France, 2011, 1h30min.

Part IV

Bodies of Water

10 Submerged Bodies The Tidalectics of Representability and the Sea in Caribbean Art Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores Dedicated to Tony Capellán (1955–2017)

The environmental humanities—with its interdisciplinary, multispecies, feminist, and materialist currents—has generated a lively new body of work theorizing the ocean not as blank space or aqua nullius for human agents to cross but as a viscous, ontological, and deeply material place, a dynamic force, and an unfathomable more-thanhuman world. This spatial turn has been given various names, including the blue or “oceanic humanities” and “critical ocean studies,”1 and ranges across such disciplines as anthropology, geography, literature, and feminist/queer studies. The majority of the last century’s maritime scholarship focused on the mobility of (male) transoceanic agents across often-feminized fuid space. Twenty-frst-century work has turned to the sea itself, sounding the depths of “blue-green capitalism” (Helmreich), “wet ontologies” (Peters and Steinberg), “sea ontologies” (DeLoughrey), and the “aqueous posthumanism” (Alaimo) of the “more-than-human hydrocommons” (Neimanis).2 In these circles at least, the ocean is no longer “the forgotten space”—to borrow from Allan Sekula—of global capitalism and modernity; it is a fgure and a material to fathom and to descend beneath. There has now developed a rich, cross-disciplinary maritime grammar to describe the ocean as a space of transnational exchange, of plastic waste and regimes of disposability, and as a visible marker of climate-change-driven environmental crises from sealevel rise, tsunamis, and hurricanes to coral bleaching and ocean acidifcation. As we wrote this chapter, scientists announced that the oceans have warmed 40% more than predicted by a 2014 United Nations report and that 2018 registered the hottest average ocean temperatures on record (as did each of the last ten years).3 More recently, Hurricane Dorian ravaged Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands, an unprecedented catastrophe that has become an all-too-common occurrence in the region. Thus the oceanic turn has much to do with the Anthropocene crisis of the world ocean, and is interwoven with narratives of extinction, apocalypse, alterity, and precarity. The ocean is often represented as a nonhuman, uninhabitable place that is paradoxically domesticated, militarized, touristed, exoticized, and rendered anthropomorphic. Turning to charismatic megafauna such as cetaceans (Bryld and Lykke; Huggan), the phenomenology and materiality of submerged bodies (Alaimo, Neimanis), the haptic “fngeryeyes” of nonhuman others (Hayward), and the visuality and materiality of seawater (Jue),4 this body of work argues specifcally for oceanic submergence as an ethical engagement with our nonhuman others. As Stacy Alaimo has written,

164 Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores Submersing ourselves, descending rather than transcending, is essential lest our tendencies toward Human exceptionalism prevent us from recognizing that, like our hermaphroditic, aquatic evolutionary ancestor, we dwell within and as part of a dynamic, intra-active, emergent, material world that demands new forms of ethical thought and practice.5 Although the perpetual circulation of seawater means that, in many ways, the ocean itself is not localized, we place this critical literature in conversation with Caribbean visual art, particularly because it acknowledges that bodies of water are marked by material and cultural histories as well as by human and nonhuman bodies.6 We bring these conversations in relation to Caribbean poet/historian Kamau Brathwaite’s theory of “tidalectics,” an analytical method based on what he describes as “the movement of the water backwards and forwards as a kind of cyclic . . . motion, rather than linear.”7 Importantly, Brathwaite’s theory foregrounds the diverse temporalities of oceanic space as well as the “submerged mothers” that must be recuperated in regional history. This (sub)oceanic turn was anticipated in the art of Tony Capellán, whose sculptural work features plastic objects washed ashore in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. With these objects, Capellán constructed installations that invoke the sea, its ecosystems, and the people that encountered it: a deeply humanized ocean constituted by plastic waste. Capellán’s Invaded Sea (2015, Plate 1) visualizes a seascape of gradient blues from the detritus of the ocean and the fooded tenements along the Ozama River. Installed on the foor, the accumulated plastic objects overwhelm the viewer with their material presence; made in the 1990s, Capellán’s work marks the advent of the Plasticene well before the term Anthropocene had even been coined.8 Although the image they create is of the sea’s surface, Capellán’s installations probe the humanproduced debris permeating the world ocean and its estuaries. Thus, waste—supposed to be “fushed” away and rendered invisible to bourgeois consumers of art—suddenly “invades” museum space. Immersion in this piece becomes invasion, an excess of the waste of capitalist consumption that challenges any notion of the sea as wilderness or “pure nature,” just as it contests gallery space as “pure culture.” Inspired by Capellán, our inquiry considers the animacy and materiality of the ocean’s depths. This is vital in the Caribbean context, in which the tourism industry advertises a visual imaginary of “seascapes” where turquoise waters and white sands appear as interchangeable blank canvases. In submerging, we recognize that the sea is a site of historical and contemporary trauma and drives the work of recuperating the lost bodies of history.9 In 2017, the exhibition Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago opened at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) in Long Beach, California.10 Curated by Tatiana Flores, Relational Undercurrents challenged the continental bias that tends to frame the discourse on Latin America and argued against the narrative of fragmentation and heterogeneity that characterizes much critical commentary on the Caribbean. The exhibition located spaces of continuity and thematics of correspondence in the art of the Caribbean and, as such, was framed in terms of archipelagoes, building on a vital body of work in island studies and archipelagic thinking.11 Through this exhibition, we noticed that engagement with the ocean abounded in different media: video, sculpture, painting, and photography. This tendency in art is

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not surprising, given that Caribbean literature and cultural practices have long engaged with the ocean as both dystopian origin and aquatopian future: a space of origins of the transatlantic Middle Passage or in crossing Kala Pani (black waters) rendering, to paraphrase Derek Walcott, “the sea (a)s history.” To Brathwaite, Caribbean “unity is submarine” and offers a more holistic mapping than the balkanization caused by European colonial empires, leading Cuban author Antonio Benítez-Rojo to envision “peoples of the sea.”12 These oceanic imaginaries of unifcation must also be placed in dialogue with how migration crises position the Caribbean Sea as space of loss and fragmentation for Cuban and Dominican balseros and Haitian botpippel. Caribbean, African, and Indian diasporic work has an established intellectual genealogy engaging the histories of transoceanic terror, while blue humanities scholarship—thus far— has not really engaged with how the oceanic also produces racialized violence.13 Our work builds on postcolonial and Caribbean studies scholarship and connects it to ecomaterialist and environmental humanities work to raise questions about how human bodies merge with more-than-human nature—a tidalectic method engaging a wide range of experiences and representations of the submerged body at multiple scales, recognizing that the ocean can be understood as simultaneously planetary and deeply local. This is in keeping with Anthropocene work, which understands the ocean, like the planet, as a site of intimate phenomenological encounter (ontology) as well as an incommensurate “planetarity.”14 We shift the focus from the surface to the depths of the Caribbean Sea, engaging with artists working in an aesthetic of immersion, diffraction, and submergence. Our engagement with these concepts melds the universalist metaphors of fuidity and fow that characterize the blue humanities and critical ocean studies while calling attention to the critical disjunctures and tensions that distinguish a Caribbean experience of the sea arising from traumatic histories of crossing, state violence against migrants at sea, and the tourism-driven alienation of local people from their coasts. We are thinking through Caribbean artists’ representations of not just the immersion of universalized “bodies at sea” but racialized and gendered ones. Thus, a current of our work follows Christina Sharpe’s examination of how bodies navigate space “in the wake” of slavery and state regimes of racialized terror.15 The term submersion is a complex, ontological, and historical concept illuminated by these artists’ different uses of visual media, engaging traditional formats as well as light, sound, and performance.16 The artworks discussed here engage with the ocean in multiple ways—recognizing it as a site of trauma but also as a space of play, of the maternal and alterity, and a site for the dissolution of the gendered self into nonhuman nature. These are coastal rather than deep sea waters, pierced by light and movement, which provide unstable and often diffracted visions of the underwater world. This, we note, is quite different from landborne Caribbean representational practices, which seem more tethered to anthropocentric depictions of a racialized and gendered body rooted in a national human subject.17 The medium of seawater, made more accessible by digital technologies like GoPro cameras, is changing the visual grammar of Caribbean art. This enables an intimacy with the Caribbean Sea that is both part of a world ocean and a locally experienced place. This telescoping between a local sea and a broader oceanic imaginary is vital for theorizing the representability of seawater. While much of the work in the blue humanities speaks of a shared oceanic experience, the artists engaged here draw too from a specifcally historical vision, highlighting the ontological importance of site-specifc

166 Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores art even as they invoke a universal or maternal ocean origin. Given the diversity of the artists discussed here, we embrace Brathwaite’s tidalectic approach, acknowledging both the universal and the particular and recognizing the multiplicity of knowledges and experiences without producing an easy synthesis.

Tidalectic Diffractions We defne tidalectics as submarine immersion and oceanic intimacy constituted by an “entangled ontology” of diffraction.18 Building on the work of Donna Haraway and others, we engage a “diffracted ethics” of the visual logics of oceanic representation that bring the artist, the artwork, and the viewer into relation.19 Knowledge making is often based on a visual logic: “to see” and “to perceive” connect visuality with epistemology. In an attempt to move beyond the simple representational logic of refection (a mirroring between subject and object), these scholars call attention to a different, less “transparent” approach to meaning making that incorporates alterity and the limits of knowledge. To Haraway, “Diffraction, the production of difference patterns, might be a more useful metaphor” than refection or refexivity because it denotes the bending of a line of sight, the way an object in the water, when viewed from above or below, is distorted.20 Literally and metaphorically, it is a turning “away from a straight line or regular path.”21 “Diffraction patterns record the history of interaction, interference, reinforcement, difference. [They are] about heterogeneous history, not about originals.”22 To Karen Barad, “diffraction may serve as a productive model for thinking about nonrepresentationalist methodological approaches.”23 Nonrepresentationalist methods consider the world from within rather than “refecting on the world from outside.”24 Importantly, they insist on an immersive participation-engagement that demands accountability and praxis rather than distanced, neutral observation. We begin with the tidalectic methods and diffractive ethics of Jean-Ulrick Désert’s The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya (2017, Plate 2), a hand-painted map of the Caribbean spread over nine folios of calfskin-vellum. Kiskeya/Quisqueya, the Taíno name for the island of Hispaniola, today comprises Haiti (the artist’s home country) and the Dominican Republic. The piece recalls an early modern mappa mundi with its leather support, gold leaf accents, Latin inscription, fnely painted surface, and detailed renderings of landmasses, fora, and fauna. Its naturalist rendering of the ocean includes sea creatures—real and fantastic—such as a kraken (giant octopus) submerging an eighteenth-century ship and detailed, often-taxonomic illustrations of fsh and birds derived from the colonial archive.25 The animated submarine representations invoke the advent of a transatlantic empire in which European cartographies of the ocean began to empty the space of life and replace it with the gridlines of longitude and latitude.26 Désert’s Caribbean Sea teems with nonhuman life. This work must be seen in relation to the threat of a rising Anthropocene ocean and the history of representing the Atlantic as a space of wonder and terror. Désert, a Berlin-based Haitian-American, conceived of the map while on a residency in Venice, Italy, surrounded by rising waters, medieval illuminated manuscripts, and early modern maps of Venice and the Atlantic world.27 Unlike the blue seas in the maps he consulted, The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya depicts an opalescent, white Caribbean Sea with fora, fauna, and marine vessels sketched or xenographed onto the surface. The islands and continental territories are lightly outlined in green, and blue water only appears in the representations of the Atlantic and Pacifc Oceans. The sea here is

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not a placid backdrop; the piece presents a terraqueous view that brings land and sea into tidalectic relation. The whiteness of Désert’s Caribbean Sea captures and refects light; its iridescence partakes in the “unsettled, refective and bright surfaces” that Krista Thompson pinpoints as characteristic of African diasporic practices.28 Rather than employing what Haraway calls the “god trick” of the aerial view that characterized colonial Caribbean mapping,29 The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya demands that the viewer take in multiple, often diffracted perspectives at once through three horizontal spatial registers: the undersea, the land and sea surface, and the air. In the depths are black-and-white sketches of coral and fsh, many of them rendered taxonomically. A seaplane, birds, and a fsh fy in the air. A cruise ship and yacht on the water replace the caravels of the past, signaling the condition of neocolonialism; historical vessels, including a sunken galleon, are also visible. As Stefan Helmreich points out, contemporary mapping technologies like Google Ocean visualize the ocean as bereft of all sea life;30 Désert instead includes fying fsh, enormous deep-sea oar fsh, tiger sharks, squid, octopi, nautilus, and various types of coral. While transatlantic Renaissance cartography rendered foreign spaces as transparent and accessible to European viewers, Désert’s map plays with legibility, demonstrating how cartography itself is bound up in spectral laws of light, often resulting in diffracted imagery. The map’s surface, covered in mother-of-pearl pigment on animal-skin vellum, refects light back at the viewer and even resists photographic representation. The refracted lines drawn between images imparts the sense that we are viewing this map partially underwater. This demands an immersive spectatorship, an ontological entanglement with the history of representing the Caribbean. Désert’s work suggests that visually representing the Caribbean Sea necessitates the interplay of oceanic waves and waves of light that enable perception. According to Barad, both types of waves result in diffraction patterns that, from the perspective of physics and metaphor, are “the fundamental constituents that make up the world” (72). In other words, the ocean’s movement and our perception of it through light are determined by waves of diffraction.31 Feminist theorist Astrida Neimanis has argued that “water extends embodiment in time—body, to body, to body. Water in this sense is facilitative and directed towards the becoming of other bodies.”32 But the bodies in Désert’s map are diffracted and fragmented—the red lines that crisscross the sea represent the borders of each country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and are drawn in “blood red,” as Désert describes.33 In a medium that prioritizes an orderly, “objective,” and “neutral” aerial gaze, the employment of a diffractive aesthetic disrupts the authority of the map. As Désert notes, “the seas are fractured and like broken glass [or] broken mirrors, there are refractions and distortions.”34 Accordingly, the bodies of the fsh drawn between these maritime borders are diffracted. This trope characterizes much of the critical discourse on the Caribbean about the violent “irruption into modernity,” in Édouard Glissant’s words, created by colonization, diaspora, slavery, and indenture. The minimal use of vibrant color in the cartography of a tropical region known for its exoticized representations is deliberate. The sea that falls into the region separated by borders is rendered pearlescent white instead of blue; the blood red lines that partition the sea suggest the violence of state territorialism, the history of mapping and the mastering aerial view, and the ongoing diffculties of determining EEZ borders in a region that shares a common sea.

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Maternal Seas In this work one can fnd a tidalectic imperative to recuperate what Brathwaite refers to as “submerged mothers,” who cross the seas, “coming from one continent/ continuum, touching another, and then receding . . . from the island(s) into the perhaps creative chaos of the(ir) future.”35 Désert’s (re)mapping of the Caribbean feminizes space, evident in the enigmatic legend within the cartouche that reads “Tabula Nova Insulae e Maria de Caribaeum” (a New Map of the Islands and Mary of the Caribbean). The name Maria replaces mare (sea), playing with the semantic syllogism between mer, mère, and Maria. We might also consider that the Taíno name Kiskeya, in the work’s title, feminizes the earth as a “mother land.” The opalescence of the vellum might be understood in French philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s terms as “milky water,” refecting “enveloping matter . . . that takes air, water, sky, and earth and unites them (into) a cosmic image”36—suggesting an animated “becoming of other bodies,” a generative trope of the maternal. The map brings together Western scientifc and naturalist inscriptions of air and sea creatures—a history and knowledge system made possible by the colonization of the Caribbean—with sacred/religious representations of the maternal. This gendering of land and sea is visible particularly in the representation of sacred maternal fgures from African and European traditions, such as the syncretic images of the Virgin Mary and Yemayá. In the center panel (Figure 10.1), Désert represents the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic with a well-known image by the early

Figure 10.1 Jean-Ulrick Désert, The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya, 2017. Mixed media on vellum, 108 × 72 in. Source: Photo by Luis Zavala. Courtesy of the artist.

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Renaissance painter Giotto depicting the kiss between St. Joachim and St. Anna, signifying the immaculate conception of their daughter, the Virgin Mary.37 This complex and diffractive rendering of maternal seas and virginal reproduction submerges African, European, and Indigenous legends and merges them with the bodies of nonhuman others. In the right center panel, Désert depicts the Virgin of Charity, Cuba’s patron saint. Désert’s image is drawn from the famous statue which, according to legend, was found bobbing in the sea in 1610. Désert’s Virgin carries the Christ child in her left arm, her head illuminated by a halo. Désert omits both the crucifx in her right hand, and, strikingly, the sphere and crescent supporting the Virgin, replacing them with two large tentacles that emerge from the bottom of the Virgin’s dress. He describes the Virgin as a “hybrid mermaid,” her tentacles suggesting to him “a large vaginal force.”38 The fantasy of women’s sexless reproduction invoked by the Virgin Mother is disrupted by the nonhuman, perhaps monstrous emergence of a tentacled, explorative, grasping vagina. Indeed, octopus reproduction is apparently characterized by a “lack of ardour;” the female takes total responsibility for the offspring, without further assistance by the inseminating male.39 Désert’s invigorates women’s agency by embracing nonhuman nature as history (origin) and space (the sea). These “submerged mothers” refect the sea (mer/mère) and the hybrid creatures of the Caribbean. For instance, on the side of the map directly opposing the Virgin of Charity is a drawing of a woman wearing a long, fowing gown with an octopus seeming to swim out of her sleeves (Figure 10.2). She represents the transplanted Yoruba

Figure 10.2 Jean-Ulrick Désert, The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya, 2017, detail. Mixed media on vellum, 108 × 72 in. Photo by Luis Zavala. Source: Courtesy of the artist.

170 Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores deity of the ocean, the orisha (spirit in human form) Yemayá, worshipped throughout the Caribbean and Brazil, calling attention to a regional imaginary that exists alongside colonial and national maps. As a maternal, caretaking fgure, Yemayá is also associated with the Virgin Mary and suggests not just a syncretic culture but a creolized sea. She is also widely represented as a mermaid, bringing together the female form with its nonhuman others in the submarine world. Scholarship on diffraction emphasizes entanglement, intra-action, and a shift from representational homologies toward complexity and even paradox,40 yet Désert shows how the process of mapmaking itself leads to diffractions in representation and vision made possible by the feminized triumvirate of mer, mère, and Maria. This is particularly evident in the fantastic hybrid Virgin Octopus, described by Désert as a feminized “nature spirit force.”41 It seems that these supernatural maternal fgures “came from the sea and inhabit the marine, fuvial, and vaginal tides” in a far more active and agential way than imagined by Benítez-Rojo.42 Désert presents not the vagina dentata or devouring vagina of lore (a barrier and threat to male penetration) but an outright appropriation of the phallus, rendered as tentacle. Octopus tentacles, the animal’s extremely powerful sense organs, have long represented the phallus in many cultures.43 Désert’s drawing of the Virgin Octopus with phallic tentacles is a visual play on “octopussy,” which would challenge a view of the Virgin as receptacle rather than agent. This queer merger between Virgin Mary and giant octopus would also complicate Neimanis’s view that “watery embodiment . . . presents a challenge to three humanist understandings of corporeality: discrete individualism, anthropocentrism, and phallogocentrism.”44 The most vibrant—and textual—element of The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya is the brightly painted rainbow that emanates from the bottom center panel. Forcing the viewer to read sideways and in three of the region’s languages (French, Spanish, and English), the handwritten text contains quotations from the Caribbean’s major writers concerning transoceanic migration. One quotation is taken from a poem by the Haitian author René Depestre entitled “Mère Caraïbe” (Caribbean Mother), a pun on “Mer Caraïbe” or Caribbean Sea: Dès la plus lointaine enfance la mer te met en accord cosmique avec les êtres, les lieux, les plantes, les animaux, les pierres, les pluies et les fables enchantées du monde. Translated into English, Depestre writes that the sea teaches the child the “cosmic agreement” with “the beings, the places, the plants, the animals, the stones, the rains and the magic fables of the world.” This highlights a different kind of epistemic order than the ones depicted in colonial maps even as it speaks to the power of poetry and art to reinvigorate this contract between the human and nonhuman world. The play between mère and mer genders the poem and the spiritual realm of the art, seen in the (re)generative fgure of the octopus/Virgin Mary and in the fuidity and fow of waters. Building on the work of French feminist Luce Irigaray, who has theorized metaphors of feminine fuidity, Neimanis has argued for an “onto-logic of amniotics” that

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takes into account the gestational materialities of metaphors like mère/mer, which are deepened in Depestre’s poem in his description of the “frst uterus” that embodies an “amniotic past.”45 We will return to this point later in our discussion of the infuence of Bachelard, who claimed that “‘Nature is an . . . immensely enlarged, eternal mother, projected into infnity.’”46 Building on the work of Bachelard and his feminist critics, Helmreich has argued that: Seeing the sea as a feminine force and fux has a storied history in the crosscurrents of Judeo-Christian thought, Enlightenment philosophy, and natural scientifc epistemology. The ocean has been motherly amnion, fuid matrix, seductive siren, and unruly tide, with these castings opposing such heteromasculine principles as monogenetic procreative power, ordering rationality, self-securing independence, and dominion over the biophysical world.47 Certainly Désert’s work participates in this gendered corporeal history, while calling attention to its representational traditions and complexities. Importantly, Alaimo has warned against falling into universalist metaphors of fuidity that collapse boundaries between the human and (mother) ocean: “such origin stories, . . . revel in a prelapsarian innocence, as they skip over a wide swath of human history in which humans slaughtered ocean creatures and destroyed ocean ecologies.”48 Yet visually and in its textual references, The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya suggests that one can draw upon universalizing maternal “amniotics” as well as represent the ongoing destruction of Caribbean species, human and nonhuman. While the artist uses a “milky sea” as his canvas, its animal-skin materiality calls attention to the violence of both history and representation. This violence of maternal seas is visually signifed by the largest image on the map, an enormous fsh skeleton. The colorless renderings of coral and a white sea may also suggest colonial and climate changedriven extinctions. While early modern mapping emphasized the wonder of “new world” fora and fauna, Désert’s more-than-human Caribbean Sea is populated with signs of “death and decay and contamination,”49—oil rigs, an enormous cruise ship wreathed in chains, and skeletons.50 Désert fgures the ocean as archive and space of both the wonder and the violence of Caribbean modernity. In fact, as Richard Grove has detailed, the concept of species extinction itself arose from the colonization of the Caribbean islands; more fauna have disappeared from the region in the last century than in any other place on earth.51 Extinction is an important theme of The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya; the Indigenous presence referenced by the work’s title signals the human devastation of colonialism and modernity. As Désert explains, “the seas also contain death in many ways, death from the oil platforms,” referenced in the lower-right corner, that recall the region’s regularly occurring oil spills, including the disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico. This is not a maternal sea of “prelapsarian innocence,” an impossibility in a region saturated by colonial and neocolonial violence. Just as Depestre writes of an amniotic ocean that can generate new possibilities out of histories of colonialism, Désert’s mixed-media work brings together multiple narratives or visual planes—a tidalectic engagement with the maternal ocean and the Caribbean’s cartographic representation.

172 Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores

Intimacies of Submersion Feminist theorists of submersion suggest that the element of liquid itself enables bodies to be merged with other bodies. But claiming the ocean as origin does not necessarily suspend or “unmoor” the history of racialized and gendered bodies. We explore this tidalectic through the medium of photography in the work of two female artists who use self-portraiture as a kind of “unmooring” of gendered binaries. They partake in a Caribbean feminist conversation, as noted by Annalee Davis, Joscelyn Gardner, Erica Moiah James, and Jerry Philogene, regarding how “the body can become a marker within a set of critical frameworks, which at its core yields emancipatory spaces.”52 In María Magdalena Campos-Pons’s composite photograph Elevata (2005), we see the ocean as abstracted cosmic space, where the artist’s body, pictured from behind, hangs suspended as her long braids traverse the depths, tracing a path across a pictorial expanse that would be otherwise unfathomable. Campos-Pons, a Cuban artist who moved to the United States in the early 1990s, temporally condenses the traumatic voyage of the Middle Passage and more recent experiences of Caribbean migration northward. Elevata is composed of a grid of sixteen individually framed large-scale Polaroids that engulf the viewer, for whom the act of looking is akin to submergence. As in Désert’s map, the component pieces create the whole, but the compositional fragmentation inherently evokes diffraction, suggesting interrupted trajectories and unresolved histories. Interestingly, Campos-Pons’ images were not created underwater; rather, she photographs gestural watercolors superimposed with sculptural spherical elements resembling planets—representing the ocean’s vastness as a universal space even as it is frmly and tidalectically located in Caribbean bodies. “Elevata,” suggesting ascension, belies the downward orientation of the artist’s head and hair, as though she is diving headfrst into the water—a movement that invokes the Middle Passage and more recent migrant deaths by drowning. The artist genders the oceanic body as female, as though her long, intertwined braids were in the process of becoming roots from which to grow and fourish. In fact, her braids call to mind the octopus tentacles of The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya, a shared gendering of subject and place that merges the human with more-than-human others. Similarly, the Vincentian photographer Nadia Huggins queers the Caribbean Sea by destabilizing masculine and feminine binaries. Her photographic series Circa No Future (2014), which depicts local boys swimming near a rock in Indian Bay, establishes “a link between an under-explored aspect of Caribbean adolescent masculinity and the freedom of bodies in the ocean.”53 For Huggins, the ocean is a place of intimacy and play where, as Angelique V. Nixon points out, gender binaries are “troubled” and made fuid54—especially crucial in the context of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where due to colonial laws homosexuality is not only illegal but confated with bestiality. Thus we can read this collapse of gendered and sexed bodies in relation to M. Jacqui Alexander’s important claim that “not just (any) body can be a citizen” in national contexts that proscribe heteropatriarchy.55 The ocean then becomes a space in which the land-based binaries of heteropatriarchy, and the relationship between artist and subject, are challenged. In these underwater and half-submerged photographs, Huggins herself is one of the swimmers. She uses an unobtrusive point-and-shoot rather than a camera with sophisticated technology so as not to create distance between herself and the boys she photographs.

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Huggins builds a relationship to her subjects over time, and that sense of intimacy pervades the series. In some photographs, she is so close as to make the viewer feel like part of the inner circle, collapsing our distance and creating a tidalectic immersion that insists—drawing again from Barad—that we engage from within rather than “refecting on the world from outside.”56 The frst time Huggins swam toward the boys, they assumed that she was also male and so behaved in an unconstrained manner; when they noticed she was female, they began “posturing.”57 Indeed, in a dramatic view captured from below, a boy poses in midair, one hand on his head with a bent elbow, the other arm stretched outward, his legs rotated and knees bent in the form of a plié (Figure 10.3). His feminine pose

Figure 10.3 Nadia Huggins, Untitled, from the series Circa No Future. Digital photograph, variable dimensions. Source: Courtesy of the artist.

174 Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores confrms the artist’s observations that the boys are “a lot less guarded” in the ocean than they would be on land.58 Other images capture scenes of the boys swimming around the rock, fragments of their bodies, and bubbles generated as they hit the ocean. Says Huggins, “it’s a place so far removed from everything else going on in shore that they feel comfortable and safe with each other there, and . . . nobody’s judging them.”59 Huggins probes the underwater world for unmapped Caribbean masculinities, invoking Brathwaite’s “submerged mothers.” On the one hand, the title of the series, Circa No Future (the text printed on one of the boys’ shirts) evokes the challenges facing Caribbean men; on the other, her work suggests that water allows for a kind of merger with nonhuman others that is rendered maternal and comforting rather than terrifying. Huggins explains: The ocean itself takes on a personality—that of the embracing mother providing a safe space for being—which is both archetypal and poignant. I am as much a subject as the boys for whom I provide solace. The boys become submerged in a moment of innocent unawareness. They emerge having proven themselves. The relationship between myself and the subject is also explored within this paradigm. The subjects are aware of me while posturing, but lose this cognizance when they sink into the water.60 Despite themselves, the boys’ performance of masculinity dissolves in oceanic water. Huggins is particularly interested in their vulnerability as their bodies hit the water, and many of the photographs focus on the moment of submersion; air bubbles in some images obscure the boys’ features and in others frame them.61 Although the sea through Huggins’ lens is nurturing, there is also a sense of uncertainty. Some images are cropped so that the boys appear decapitated. In one, where a swimmer’s body is mostly submerged apart from his head, Huggins captures the effect of diffraction (Figure 10.4). The elongated underwater torso contrasts with the disproportionately smaller head peeking out against the rocks, a bodily diffraction seen in Désert’s map and perhaps part of an ongoing conversation in Caribbean studies about masculinity in crisis. Per Haraway, diffraction “does not map where differences appear, but rather maps where the effects of differences appear.”62 An abstract amorphous plane that runs through the center of the photograph compounds the “effect of difference” as it separates water from air. The solid rock and the human body both disappear, replaced by a grayish-blue blur that spreads horizontally from edge to edge of the composition—the water that, given sea-level rise, will one day immerse us all. This rising of the Anthropocene ocean provides a new angle from which to interpret the phrase “Circa No Future.” Refraction, for Eva Hayward, “shares the same etymology as refractory . . . stubborn.”63 It “defnes behaviors and materials that are obstinate, unresponsive, and resistant. Evoking these terms simultaneously refocuses matter’s stubborn, even blunt, capacity for demarcating thresholds.”64 In Huggins’ photograph, the blunt matter is the rock looming ominously along the vertical plane, visible underneath the water and walling the space above. Its dense materiality renders the swimmers all the more vulnerable. The boy is at the mercy of the elements: a strong wind or high tide would

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Figure 10.4 Nadia Huggins, Untitled, from the series Circa No Future. Digital photograph, variable dimensions. Source: Courtesy of the artist.

imperil his life. He exemplifes the confict between matter and light described by Hayward: light reveals its physical status as radiant substance at the surface boundary of other objects. . . . [M]atter owes a debt to its own means of revelation, light. . . . [O]bject and light do not confate but meet, “intra-act,” in the sharing of the world. Refracted light, then, makes literal sense through grounded encounter, making sense sensible.65 The statement could be taken as a metaphor for the medium of photography itself; the boy becomes the vehicle for the occurrence of this phenomenon. Much like the camera capturing the light and the particularities of space, so the boy’s submerged back refracts the light, which forms delicate and irregular lacelike patterns that describe

176 Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores the undulations of the sea’s surface on his skin. The rock embodies “obdurate and opaque” matter, but the boy, himself mostly composed of water, is an unknowing participant in this encounter of forces infnitely greater than himself. Water, light, and earth “intra-act” tidalectically, but Huggins compels us to view the boy not as an Anthropocenic agent but as subject to conditions beyond his control.

“Genderqueering” Transformations While Circa No Future highlights the gender fuidity of the photographer and her young subjects, Huggins’ self-portrait series Transformations (2015) reconfgures the ocean as a dissolving space of union between human and nonhuman. The diptychs, in which fragments of the artist’s upper body merge with a more-than-human other, represent uncanny “sea ontologies” where different fgures of life are juxtaposed to create a multispecies being.66 In eight of the eleven photographs of the series, her face becomes continuous with sea creatures such as coral, urchins, and plants. In one image, the bright blue water, pierced by rays of sunshine, is not so much refected as diffracted in the spines of the sea urchin positioned as an extension of her face on the right. This ontological destabilization is evident in Huggins’ commentary of her experience underwater: In the sea, as a woman who identifes as other, my body becomes displaced from my everyday experiences. Gender, race, and class are dissolved because there are no social and political constructs to restrain and dictate my identity. These constructs have no place or value in that environment. This idea creates the foundation for these portraits.67 Huggins echoes the language of Romaine Rolland, writing to Freud, of an “oceanic feeling” in which the self dissolves into a placental state.68 But Huggins’ work does not regress to one species’ embryonic origin; it instead retains the organic structures of the shape of her shoulders and bare head as they merge into a multispecies being. Moreover, as Nixon has demonstrated in her examination of this series, Huggins troubles gender binaries and demonstrates a “genderqueerness that is uniquely Caribbean.”69 Huggins’ emphasis on the transformation of her own face recalls the work of Deborah Bird Rose, who writes of a “generational time” of multispecies sequences. In the transformation of Huggins’ face into creatures with centuries-long lifespans, like coral, we see the extension of this generational time and “we discern not [the] ‘face,’ but ‘interface.’”70 Huggins creates a visual legacy of submarine extinctions, rendering an Anthropocene ocean into localized, ontologically experienced place. Transformations originated as she witnessed “the deterioration of coral reefs that were once alive” in her local waters.71 She sought “to investigate the changes occurring both within and without . . . [herself], as well as how our own actions affect our immediate environment over time.”72 Huggins photographs from multiple vantage points and at various degrees of magnifcation or distance from her subjects, rotating the photograph of the marine life form so as to be perpendicular to the one of her body, compounding the diffraction effect. The process recalls the words of Hayward, that: there is an embedded conceptual tension in refraction between lucidity and degradation, acting as a condition of possibility for focused visions, yet refracted light is always bent or broken. The implication of this fracturing is that the object envisioned is always troubled.73

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The predominance of the color blue in Transformations, as in the photographs of Campos-Pons, creates an immersive aesthetic and a recapturing of the tropical seas rendered so vividly in tourist representations of the region and explored in depth by Thompson.74 This bodily experience of color is something Michael Taussig has described as a type of consciousness in itself: As our bodies change in a dangerous world now subject to global warming, color sense like heat sense detaches the senses from the complacent view of the body as a fortress with peepholes and antennae, sensing externalities, and instead encourages us to take a world-centered and not a self-centered view of viewing such that the self becomes part of that which is seen, not a sovereign transcendent. To thus see ourselves in the midst of the world is to enter into ourselves as image, to exchange standing above the fray, the God position, for some quite other position that is not really a position at all but something more like swimming, more like nomads adrift in the sea, mother of all metaphor, that sea I call the bodily unconscious.75 This “color sense” is the bright blue color of seawater illuminated by tropical light; Huggins reconfgures an immersive representation of the tropics that challenges dominant imagery of azure, empty seas. In her coral-portrait (Figure 10.5), Huggins’ peach-toned, bald, round head blends into the golden, grooved creature. Here, tonal and formal resemblance establishes kinship. The manifold tiny bubbles around Huggins’ head, evidence of her breath, starkly contrast the razor-sharp lines of the coral, but the blues, yellows, and rounded forms tie the images together.

Figure 10.5 Nadia Huggins, Fighting the Currents, from the Transformations series, 2015. Digital photographs, variable dimensions. Source: Courtesy of the artist.

178 Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores Huggins adopts a diffractional ethic that considers her impact on her subjects’ behavior and their “interface.” In merging her face with a sea urchin or hydrozoan, Huggins suggests that “what often appear as separate entities (or separate sets of concerns) are actually constitutive.”76 This marks diffraction in her work as both aesthetic (light illuminates the two subjects) and praxis. “They exist in a state of ongoing, differential becoming.”77 Haraway “urges us to consider how experience is made through enduring and different histories of encounter with these interchanges interfering with one another, producing altered and indefnite arrangements of knowledge, perception, and experience.”78 Indeed, Huggins underscores that these threatened life forms have already undergone alterations that inform their representation. While she establishes a diffracted visual merger between self and other, she knows herself to be an inevitable agent of their deterioration. The blank space left between the photographs “represents the transient moment where I am regaining buoyancy and separating from the underwater environment to resurface. . . . It is in this moment that the viewer makes the decision if both worlds are to separate or merge.”79 This void is the space where refraction is most evident. Huggins’ practice is similar to Hayward’s description of the process of observation between the human and the marine life form: “the magnifed objects’ being-seen-ness is enfolded into the contiguity that composes the refractive apparatus. Magnifcation, through refraction, is a constitutive process; observation and the modalities of observation are actively enmeshed.”80 Following Haraway, Barad refers to this phenomenon as “agential intra-acting” where “phenomena are the ontological inseparability of agentially intra-acting components.”81 These diptychs, constituted by inseparable elements, reveal that “what is happening below the surface” is deeply relevant to those “oblivious” people (i.e., most of us) who “experience the sea at eye level with the horizon.”82 Bringing this submerged vision to galleries or digital platforms enables a kind of submersive, genderqueer aesthetic that insists on the transformation of bodies and knowledges.

Visualizing the Undersea Huggins’ photographs highlight the transparency of underwater tropical light, the azure blue that represents to Taussig a “bodily unconscious,” an amniotic, prehuman place of fantastic bodily mergers with a m/other. But in these images, which recall the work of Jason deCaires Taylor, the medium of seawater itself is not visible. In fact, these underwater photographs adopt a terrestrial vision: one looks through air to visually apprehend an object. But as any snorkeler knows, seawater is anything but transparent—it is flled with salt and sand, and its absorption of red and yellow, highfrequency colors, means that lower-frequency blues and greens predominate. Water is thus an agent in our perception, as are our eyes, which refract light differently underwater than they do above the surface. Thus Huggins produces highly visible objects in the water with the luminous palette of the tropical-blue Caribbean Sea. This kind of visibility would not be possible in deeper or more turbulent waters, raising the question as to how submarine light becomes anthropocentrized for consumption by a human audience. The question of the submarine visibility of Black bodies is an interesting one to place in conversation with Thompson’s argument that African diasporic practices often emphasize hypervisibility (bling, shine) to counter the violence of social and

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Figure 10.6 David Gumbs, still from Water and Dreams, 2014. Digital video, 6:14 min. Source: Courtesy of the artist.

historical erasure. She pinpoints the “right to consume as a crucial aspect of contemporary belonging” in this artistic corpus,83 but her study does not encompass art about human relations with nonhuman kin. The suspended bodies in Huggins’ photographs, both human and nonhuman, claim a certain underwater visibility that renders seawater itself a powerful backdrop but not necessarily a voluminous participant. Finally, we turn to new media artist David Gumbs, whose short digital video Water and Dreams (2014) evokes an opaque, sonorous, and constantly moving Caribbean Sea in which the submerged body is almost invisible. The piece’s tidalectic approach refects the amniotic and specifcally localized Caribbean practice of representation. Water and Dreams presents a series of clips of seawater superimposed with moving images of aboveground nature (grass, fowering trees) in a stream-of-consciousness manner (Figure 10.6). The images—captured primarily in St. Martin, the artist’s home island, and Martinique, where he currently lives84—unfold against a soundtrack of breaking waves, bird calls, and insect chirps intermingled with atonal electronic sounds, including a droning buzz, bell tinkles, and high-pitched frequencies. The video elicits a state of reverie drawn specifcally from the artist’s engagement with Bachelard’s foundational text Water and Dreams. The viewer has the impression of being underwater, where sights and sounds are constantly fuctuating and cannot be fxed. Moving from still photography to video, we encounter an ocean that is sonorous, shifting, and amorphous. The feeting images nearly hide a brown body whose skin is painted with white abstract patterns that match the shifting of light. This body becomes visible for seconds here and there and only after repeated viewings. This suggests a kind of “visual fugitivity,” or retreat from visual consumption by the viewer that Thompson locates

180 Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores in diasporic practices. Or in Vanessa Agard-Jones’ terms, “the body (is) something to be read as both palimpsest and as a thing in becoming.”85 While previously discussed artists use forms of realism to represent submerged bodies, this video leverages visual and aural abstraction. Representation takes a back seat to sensation and affect, evoking not only the methods of the Impressionists, for whom light was the primary compositional element, but recent work in sea ontologies and materialism. Drawing from a French modernist pictorial tradition, Gumbs’s use of light also correlates to Thompson’s observations that light in Africa diasporic practice “generates distinct aesthetic, synaesthetic, physiological, and phenomenological effects, creating or denying types of viewership.”86 Although Thompson’s primary example is the Jamaican dancehall, her remarks resonate with Gumbs’s tidalectic techniques: Video light and some of the other photographic practices inhabit the representational edge of hypervisibility and invisibility, optical saturation and blindness, presence and absence, blackness and white light. They produce a form of excess, a visual superfuity, that points precisely to the limits of vision or what lies beyond photographic and visual capture.87 Gumbs envelops the viewer in sensation constituted by opacity, evoking a tactile sense of oceanic submergence. On diffraction as methodology, Barad writes that she “aim[s] to disrupt the widespread reliance on metaphors like refection that produce “homologies and analogies between separate entities.” In contrast, turning to diffraction “attends to specifc material entanglements.”88 In a similar spirit, Gumbs refuses to allow water to refect—using the medium of flm, it never stops moving—and instead underscores its diffractive qualities. Entangled with aboveground nature, the moving images and sounds of Water and Dreams signal the complexity of life itself, articulating a world that cannot be understood by representation. The only way for the viewer to make sense of the images is by experiencing them through sight and sound. This brings us back to Barad’s argument that “the point is not simply to put the observer or knower back in the world . . . but to understand and take account of the fact that we too are part of the world’s differential becoming.”89 This tidalectic becoming necessarily shifts representational practices across multiple media—painting, photography, and flm. Given the relative dearth of environmental engagement in Caribbean studies, it remains to be seen how the infuence of new generations of visual artists, imagining multiple representations of submergence, will encourage, as Alaimo has envisioned, “new forms of ethical thought and practice.”90

Acknowledgements The authors would like to acknowledge the helpful feedback given on a draft of this essay by Judith Bettelheim, Robin Derby, and Kathy Smith.

Notes 1. John R. Gillis, “The Blue Humanities: In Studying the Sea, We Are Returning to Our Beginnings,” Humanities 34, no. 3 (2013); Steve Mentz, Shipwreck Modernity: Ecologies of Globalization, 1550–1719 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015);

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3. 4.

5. 6. 7.



10. 11.


13. 14.


Elizabeth DeLoughrey, “Submarine Futures of the Anthropocene,” Comparative Literature 69 (2017): 32–44. Philip Steinberg and Kimberley Peters, “Wet Ontologies, Fluid Spaces: Giving Depth to Volume through Oceanic Thinking,” in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, April 2015), abs/10.1068/d14148p Lijing Cheng, et al., “2018 Continues Record Global Ocean Warming,” Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 36, no. 3 (March 2019): 249–252. Mette Bryld and Nina Lykke, Cosmodolphins: Feminist Cultural Studies of Technology, Animals, and the Sacred (London: Zed Books, 2000); Stacy Alaimo, Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016); Astrida Neimanis, Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminine Phenomenology (London: Bloomsbury, 2017); Melody Jue, “Proteus and the Digital: Scalar Transformations of Seawater’s Materiality in Ocean Animations,” Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9, no. 2 (2014): 1–16; Eva Hayward, “Fingeryeyes: Impressions of Cup Corals,” Cultural Anthropology 29, no. 4, special issue on Multispecies Ethnography (November 2010): 577–599. Stacy Alaimo, “New Materialisms, Old Humanisms, or, Following the Submersible,” NORA: Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 19, no. 4 (2011): 280–284, 283. This oceanic analysis and engagement with tidalectics is argued in Elizabeth M. DeLoughrey, Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacifc Islands (Honolulu: University of Hawa`i Press, 2007). Kamau Brathwaite in Nathaniel Mackey, “An Interview with Edward Kamau Brathwaite,” Hambone 9 (Winter 1991): 44; Edward Kamau Brathwaite, “Submerged Mothers,” Jamaica Journal 9, nos. 2–3 (1975): 48–49. Recent work has returned to his theory—see Tidalectics: Imagining an Oceanic Worldview through Art and Science, edited by Stefanie Hessler (Boston: MIT Press, 2018). His frst work with plastics, collected from the mouth of the Ozama River in Santo Domingo, began in the mid-1990s. The term Anthropocene was frst published in Paul J. Crutzen and Eugene F. Stoermer, “The ‘Anthropocene’,” Global Change Newsletter 41 (2000): 17–18. On the Plasticene, see Christina Reed, “Dawn of the Plasticene Age,” New Scientist 225, no. 3006 (January 2015): 28–32. DeLoughrey explores Capellán’s work in more depth in Allegories of the Anthropocene (2019). Thus, representational art foregrounding the human body is by far the most common theme taken by up contemporary artists in the Caribbean, in spite of the challenge posed by the environmental humanities to reconsider the anthropocentrism of both epistemology and fguration. There are complex reasons for this, often tied to the long colonial history, continued in the tourism industry, of misrepresenting the region. See Christopher Cozier, “Notes on Wrestling with the Image,” in Wrestling with the Image: Caribbean Interventions, edited by Christopher Cozier and Tatiana Flores (Washington, DC: Art Museum of the Americas, 2011), 6–15. Exhibition catalogue. Accessed March 23, 2019, Relational Undercurrents was on view at MOLAA from September 16, 2017, to March 3, 2018. A version of the exhibition traveled to several venues along the East Coast of the United States, ending its run in September 2019. Rutgers University’s Center for Cultural Analysis held a yearlong seminar on archipelagoes, codirected by Yolanda Martínez-San Miguel and Michelle A. Stephens, in 2015. See, accessed March 23, 2019. To Benítez-Rojo, “the culture of the Caribbean . . . is not terrestrial but aquatic . . . [it] is the natural and indispensable realm of marine currents, of waves, of folds and double folds, of fuidity and sinuosity” (11). Benítez-Rojo, The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective Translated by James E. Maraniss (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997). DeLoughrey explores this aquatic discourse in Routes and Roots. We note here a difference between the “blue humanities” as it is inscribed by literary scholars and a more interdisciplinary body of work in critical ocean studies. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Death of a Discipline (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003). Dipesh Chakrabarty troubles the universalist narratives of the Anthropocene and

182 Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores



17. 18.

19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31.

makes a compelling claim for a species-based universalism that is not ontological; see Chakrabarty, “The Climate of History: Four Theses,” Critical Inquiry 35 (2009): 197– 222. DeLoughrey’s Allegories of the Anthropocene builds upon this to argue for the necessity of allegory to telescope between scales. Christina Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016). This point is powerfully made by the Cuban performance artist Carlos Martiel in Mediterraneo (2017), featured at the 57th Venice Biennale. There he submerged himself, naked, into a clear glass box that flled up with Mediterranean water that threatened to drown him: an embodied performance of the thousands of African and Syrian refugees lost at sea while migrating to Europe in search of asylum in recent years. See Many of the oceanic representations in Relational Undercurrents depicted turbulent, dark waters, not the placid azure seascapes of the tropics familiar in tourism advertising. From the perspective of a sea-crossing refugee, submersion is not a desirable encounter with a nonhuman other. Indeed, because of their political circumstances, Cuban artists in particular frame the sea as barrier rather than a place of merger, evident in the works of artist Yoan Capote, who depicts an impenetrable ocean made out of fshhooks in reference to closed borders, the Iron Curtain, and the danger of migrants crossing the water. See www. See “Representational Acts” in Tatiana Flores, “Inscribing into Consciousness: The Work of Caribbean Art,” in Flores and Stephens, eds., Relational Undercurrents, 72–85. Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 89. See also Karen Barad, “Diffracting Diffraction: Cutting Together-Apart,” Parallax 20, no. 3, special issue on Diffracted Worlds, Diffractive Reading: Onto-Epistemologies and the Critical Humanities (2014): 168–187. Eva Hayward, “Sensational Jellyfsh: Aquarium Affects and the Matter of Immersion,” Differences 23, no. 3 (2012): 161–196, 181. Donna J. Haraway, [email protected]_Millennium: FemaleMan©_ Meets_OncoMouse™: Feminism and Technoscience (New York: Routledge, 1997), 34. Hayward, “Sensational Jellyfsh,” 182. Haraway, [email protected]_Millennium, 273. Barad, Meeting, 88. Ibid. Some of the sketches are drawn from early naturalist renderings of the Bermuda “sea serpent” (oarfsh); one ship is reproduced from the work of French naturalist Pierre Denys de Montfort. For the history of ecology and empire, see Antonello Gerbi, Nature in the New World (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986), and Richard Grove, Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens, and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600–1860 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). See Philip E. Steinberg, The Social Construction of the Ocean (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 107. Email correspondence with artist, November 14, 2016. Krista Thompson, Shine: The Visual Economy of Light in African Diasporic Aesthetic Practice (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015), 9. Donna J. Haraway, “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective,” Feminist Studies 14, no. 3 (Autumn 1988): 575–559. Stefan Helmreich, “From Spaceship Earth to Google Ocean: Planetary Icons, Indexes, and Infrastructures,” Social Research 78, no. 4 (Winter 2011): 1212–1242, 1226. The Waters of Kiskeya/Quisqueya problematizes both representation and immersion even as it engages the ocean as visual and material archive. The artist created this oversized map for a region deemed marginal to world history because its large dimensions permit the viewer “to enter into it” (email correspondence from Jean-Ulrick Désert, September 16, 2017), but in so doing, the whole becomes diffcult to discern, mirroring the narratives of fragmentation and heterogeneity that have characterized critical discourse on the region. National histories immersed in their particularities have hindered the formation of a strong sense of regional consciousness and solidarity. Thus, visualizing the part and the whole

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32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52.


54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61.


through a tidalectic aesthetic of diffraction is tied to specifc representational histories of European colonialism and its enduring legacies. Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 3. Email correspondence from Jean-Ulrick Désert, September 16, 2017. Ibid. Kamau Brathwaite, ConVERSations with Nathaniel Mackey (Staten Island, NY: We Press, 1999), 34. Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter (Dallas: Pegasus Foundation, 1942), 120. This is from his cycle of frescoes on the Life of the Virgin at the Arena Chapel in Padua (ca. 1305). Email correspondence from Jean-Ulrick Désert, January 16, 2019. Richard Schweid, Octopus (London: Reaktion Books, 2014), 23. See Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway, 88. Email correspondence from Jean-Ulrick Désert, January 16, 2019. Benítez-Rojo, The Repeating Island, 15. Schweid, Octopus, 126. Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 3. René Depestre, Anthologie Personnelle: Poesie (Arles: Actes Sud, 1993), 15. Bachelard, Water and Dreams, 115. He is quoting Marie Bonaparte. Stefan Helmreich, “The Genders of Waves,” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 45, nos. 1–2 (2017): 29–51, 29. Stacy Alaimo, “Oceanic Origins, Plastic Activism, and New Materialism at Sea,” in Material Ecocriticism, edited by Serenella Iovino and Serpil Oppermann (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014), 186–203, 192. Email correspondence from Jean-Ulrick Désert, January 16, 2019. This may also suggest coral bleaching, a theme taken up by one of the other artists in the exhibition, Lynn Parotti. See Grove, Green Imperialism; David Watts, The West Indies: Patterns of Development, Culture, and Environmental Change since 1492 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987). Annalee Davis, Joscelyn Gardner, Erica Moiah James and Jerry Philogene, “Introduction: Art as Caribbean Feminist Practice,” Small Axe Project 1 (March 2017): 34–42, 35. This article chronicles a vital feminist history of Caribbean art and includes some of the works of Nadia Huggins discussed here. Within the region, the island of St. Vincent itself is not heavily touristed; most travelers move on to the luxury resorts on Bequia, which ensures that the local community has access to the sea for recreation, resulting in a different aesthetic of submergence than in more heavily traffcked islands. Angelique V. Nixon, “Troubling Queer Caribbeanness: Embodiment, Gender, and Sexuality in Nadia Huggins’s Visual Art,” Small Axe Project: Caribbean Queer Visualities (2017): 102–113. M. Jacqui Alexander, “Not Just (Any)Body Can Be a Citizen: The Politics of Law, Sexuality and Postcoloniality in Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas,” Feminist Review 48 (Fall 1994): 5–23, 6. Barad. Meeting, 88. Conversation between Tatiana Flores and Nadia Huggins, January 12, 2019. See also a similar conversation in Nixon, “Troubling Queer Caribbeanness.” Ibid. Ibid. See The representation of Caribbean male subjects at play in the sea has a long history, as Krista Thompson has documented, and must be seen in relation to the visual culture of the tropics. In the early twentieth century, the British-born photographer John Ernest Williamson developed an underwater photography device in the Bahamas that was the frst to record the more-than-human world beneath the Caribbean Sea. See Thompson, An Eye for the Tropics: Tourism, Photography, and Framing the Caribbean Picturesque (Durham:

184 Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores

62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. 89. 90.

Duke University Press, 2007), 159. Unlike the voyeurs in the photosphere, watching from behind glass, as though they were in an aquarium, Huggins positions herself as one of the swimmers. Haraway quoted in Hayward, “Sensational Jellyfsh,” 162. Ibid., 175. Ibid. Ibid. See DeLoughrey, “Submarine Futures of the Anthropocene.” See Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents, translated by James Strachey (New York: W. W. Norton, 1961), 11. Nixon, “Troubling Queer Caribbeanness,” 110. Deborah Bird Rose, “Multispecies Knots of Ethical Time,” Environmental Philosophy 9, no. 1 (2012): 127–140. Ibid. Hayward, “Sensational Jellyfsh,” 192, fn.10. See Thompson, An Eye for the Tropics. Michael Taussig, “What Color Is the Sacred?,” Critical Inquiry 33, no. 1 (2006): 28–51, 31. Hayward, “Sensational Jellyfsh,” 182. Ibid. Ibid. Nadia Huggins, “Transformations,” Hayward, “Sensational Jellyfsh,” 192, fn.10. Quoted in ibid. Nadia Huggins, “Transformations,” Thompson, Shine, 30. Conversation between Tatiana Flores and David Gumbs, January 20, 2019. Vanessa Agard-Jones, “Bodies in the System,” Small Axe 17, no. 3 (42) (November 1, 2013): 182–192, 187. Thompson, Shine, 14. Ibid. Barad, Meeting, 88. Ibid., 91. Alaimo, “New Materialisms,” 283.

Bibliography Agard-Jones, Vanessa. “Bodies in the System.” Small Axe 17, no. 3 (42) (1 November 2013): 182–192. Alaimo, Stacy. Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016. Alaimo, Stacy. “New Materialisms, Old Humanisms, or, Following the Submersible.” NORA: Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 19, no. 4 (2011): 280–284. Alaimo, Stacy. “Oceanic Origins, Plastic Activism, and New Materialism at Sea.” In Material Ecocriticism. Edited by Serenella Iovino and Serpil Oppermann, 186–203. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014. Alexander, M. Jacqui. “Not Just (Any) Body Can Be a Citizen: The Politics of Law, Sexuality and Postcoloniality in Trinidad and Tobago and the Bahamas.” Feminist Review 48 (Fall 1994): 5–23. Bachelard, Gaston. Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter, 1942. Barad, Karen. “Diffracting Diffraction: Cutting Together-Apart.” Parallax 20, no. 3, special issue on Diffracted Worlds, Diffractive Reading: Onto-Epistemologies and the Critical Humanities (2014): 168–187.

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Barad, Karen. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007. Benítez-Rojo, Antonio. The Repeating Island: The Caribbean and the Postmodern Perspective. Translated by James E. Maraniss Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997. Brathwaite, Edward K. Conversations with Nathaniel Mackey. Staten Island, NY: We Press, 1999. Brathwaite, Edward K. “Submerged Mothers.” Jamaica Journal 9, nos. 2–3 (1975): 48–49. Bryld, Mette and Nina Lykke. Cosmodolphins: Feminist Cultural Studies of Technology, Animals, and the Sacred. London: Zed Books, 2000. Chakrabarty, Dipesh. “The Climate of History: Four Theses.” Critical Inquiry 35 (2009): 197–222. Cozier, Christopher and Tatiana Flores (eds.). Wrestling with the Image: Caribbean Interventions, 6–15. Washington, DC: Art Museum of the Americas, 2011. Exhibition catalogue. Accessed March 23, 2019. Crutzen, Paul J. and Stoermer, Eugene F. “The ‘Anthropocene’.” Global Change Newsletter 41 (May 2000): 17–18. Davis, Annalee, et al. “Introduction: Art as Caribbean Feminist Practice.” Small Axe Project 1 (March 2017): 34–42. DeLoughrey, Elizabeth M. Allegories of the Anthropocene. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019. DeLoughrey, Elizabeth M. Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacifc Islands Literatures. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007. DeLoughrey, Elizabeth. “Submarine Futures of the Anthropocene.” Comparative Literature 69 (2017): 32–44. Depestre, René. Anthologie Personnelle: Poesie. Arles: Actes Sud, 1993. Flores, Tatiana. “Inscribing into Consciousness: The Work of Caribbean Art.” In Relational Undercurrents, Edited by Tatiana Flores and Michelle Ann Stephens, 72–85. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017. Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents, translated by James Strachey (New York: W. W. Norton, 1961), 1930. Gerbi, Antonello. Nature in the New World: From Christopher Columbus to Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1986. Gillis, John R. “The Blue Humanities: In Studying the Sea, We Are Returning to Our Beginnings.” Humanities 34, no. 3 (2013). Grove, Richard. Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens, and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600–1860. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Haraway, Donna J. [email protected]_Millennium: FemaleMan©_ Meets_OncoMouse™: Feminism and Technoscience. New York: Routledge, 1997. Haraway, Donna J. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies 14, no. 3 (Autumn 1988): 575–59. Hayward, Eva. “Fingeryeyes: Impressions of Cup Corals.” Cultural Anthropology 29, no. 4, special issue on Multispecies Ethnography (2010): 577–599. Hayward, Eva. “Sensational Jellyfsh: Aquarium Affects and the Matter of Immersion.” Differences 23, no. 3 (2012): 161–196. Helmreich, Stefan. “From Spaceship Earth to Google Ocean: Planetary Icons, Indexes, and Infrastructures.” Social Research 78, no. 4 (Winter 2011): 1212–1242. Helmreich, Stefan. “The Genders of Waves.” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly 45, nos. 1–2 (2017): 29–51. Hessler, Stefanie. Tidalectics: Imagining an Oceanic Worldview through Art and Science. Boston: MIT Press, 2018. Jue, Melody. “Proteus and the Digital: Scalar Transformations of Seawater’s Materiality in Ocean Animations.” Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal 9, no. 2 (2014): 1–16.

186 Elizabeth DeLoughrey and Tatiana Flores Lijing, Cheng, et al. “2018 Continues Record Global Ocean Warming.” Advances in Atmospheric Sciences 36, no. 3 (March 2019): 249–252. Mackey, Nathaniel. “An Interview with Edward Kamau Brathwaite.” Hambone 9 (Winter 1991): 44. Mentz, Steve. Shipwreck Modernity: Ecologies of Globalization, 1550–1719. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015. Neimanis, Astrida. Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminine Phenomenology. London: Bloomsbury, 2017. Nixon, Angelique V. “Troubling Queer Caribbeanness: Embodiment, Gender, and Sexuality in Nadia Huggins’s Visual Art.” Small Axe Project: Caribbean Queer Visualities (2017): 102–113. Reed, Christina. “Dawn of the Plasticene Age.” New Scientist 225, no. 3006 (January 2015): 28–32. Rose, Deborah Bird. “Multispecies Knots of Ethical Time.” Environmental Philosophy 9, no. 1 (2012): 127–140. Schweid, Richard. Octopus. London: Reaktion Books, 2014. Sharpe, Christina. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016. Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. Death of a Discipline. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. Steinberg, Philip E. The Social Construction of the Ocean. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. Steinberg, Philip E. and Kimberley Peters. “Wet Ontologies, Fluid Spaces: Giving Depth to Volume through Oceanic Thinking.” In Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, April 2015. d14148p. Taussig, Michael. “What Color Is the Sacred?” Critical Inquiry 33, no. 1 (2006): 28–51. Thompson, Krista. An Eye for the Tropics: Tourism, Photography, and Framing the Caribbean Picturesque. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007. Thompson, Krista. Shine: The Visual Economy of Light in African Diasporic Aesthetic Practice. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015. Watts, David. The West Indies: Patterns of Development, Culture, and Environmental Change since 1492. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

11 Cecilia Vicuña’s Liquid Indigeneity Paul Merchant

The short online video Mar tejido, produced by the Chilean poet, performance and installation artist and flmmaker Cecilia Vicuña, is an idiosyncratic piece that nonetheless condenses many of the concerns in Vicuña’s recent work. The three-minute flm consists of a series of close-up submerged shots of the water’s moving surface, which as they fade into each other are accompanied by Vicuña’s voice intoning a wordless, staccato tune and by animal sounds that may well be whale song. The montage of the piece is such that the shots of water periodically fade into close-up panning shots of fabric woven in geometric Andean patterns (Figure 11.1). A slight slow-motion effect in these moments induces a blurring of the video, such that the texture of the fabric is both intensely, haptically visible and somewhat obscured. This tension between clarity and distortion is also apparent in the specks of matter that foat against the blue backdrop of the ocean in the underwater sequences.1 What, though, does this work offer the viewer, beyond a faint sense that indigenous Andean weaving practices are somehow connected to the underwater world and that Vicuña’s own sonic presence plays a part in this linking? This chapter will argue that the conceptual and material nexus formed between indigeneity and water in Mar tejido is echoed throughout much of Vicuña’s recent work. My contention is that her installations, video art and the ‘documentary poem’ Kon Kon (2010) articulate a fuid appeal to indigenous identity as a mechanism for ensuring future sustainability in the face of the ecological devastation wrought by Chile’s neoliberal extractivism. This appeal, particularly when viewed in the context of Vicuña’s status as an internationally renowned artist, encourages a rethinking of the models of ecological subjectivity offered by infuential North American and European scholars in the environmental humanities. For Vicuña, both indigeneity and the associated ideas of mestizaje and cultural hybridity appear to be more closely related to orality and performance than to any essentialised ideas of race or ethnicity (this is seen, for instance, in the multilingual nature of her poetry, which shifts between English, Spanish and Mapudungun, among other languages). She has argued that ‘all Latin Americans are cultural mestizos’, identifying mestizo poetics with the encounter between coloniser and colonised, and with an oral tradition.2 Indeed, as told to Lucy Lippard, Vicuña’s sense of her own mestizaje stems as much from a childhood encounter with an Inca mummy in Santiago de Chile’s Museum of Natural History as from her possible ancestral link to the Diaguita, an indigenous people from northern Chile, as well as Basque and Irish groups.3 In insisting that indigenous or mestizo identity stems from a sense of ancestral connection to place that is performed and mutable rather than essential, Vicuña complicates long-standing tropes that identify indigenousness with the natural environment in

188 Paul Merchant

Figure 11.1 Still from Cecilia Vicuña, Mar tejido (2012).

Chile and embraces the instability of the notion of mestizaje identifed by Marisol de la Cadena and others.4 In contrast to previous work on Vicuña, I will suggest here that there is in her practice a fundamental and productive tension between this conceptual fuidity and her curation of her own identity as an international artist, a practice which imposes certain limits and stoppages to the discourse of fow privileged by some scholars of her work. It is for this reason that my account of Vicuña’s art is somewhat more circumspect about its decolonial political potential than that of, for instance, Macarena Gómez-Barris.5 I will nonetheless make the case that the stoppages I identify might provoke signifcant refections on the place and meaning of ‘indigeneity’ in contemporary Latin American culture. Vicuña occupies an unusual and perhaps unique position among contemporary Latin American artists. Though she spends much of her time in New York, she is recognised as one of Chile’s most prominent creative minds and in 2018 received a lifetime achievement award from the Fundación Pablo Neruda.6 This recognition in her home country marked something of a shift in Vicuña’s reception. Both her involuntary exile from Chile after the military coup of September 1973 and the prominence of indigenous concerns in her work served to distance her from the very infuential Colectivo de Acciones de Arte (CADA), the group formed by Diamela Eltit, Raúl Zurita and others that has received a remarkable amount of scholarly attention, both within Chile and beyond it. While there is now a signifcant body of scholarship on Vicuña, she has attracted more attention from the felds of international art history and criticism than from scholars working within Latin American cultural studies.7 This fact is pertinent to my argument insofar as I will suggest that Vicuña’s astute management of identity labels, particularly in the digital realm, raises productive questions about the viability of a regionalist approach to necessarily global topics such as overfshing,

Cecilia Vicuña’s Liquid Indigeneity


pollution and marine sustainability. Indeed, the principal theoretical frameworks on which I will draw in this chapter—Astrida Neimanis’ posthuman ecofeminist conception of ‘bodies of water’ and Sean Cubitt’s call to ‘decolonize ecomedia’—are not explicitly articulated in relation to Latin America.8 Moreover, Neimanis’ work in particular rests on a Deleuzian conception of rhizomatic becoming and a notion of distributed agency that are common to many ecological approaches in the humanities.9 In what follows, I will however insist, if only in provisional terms, on the value of temporary local places and on individual, named identity in constructing a cultural response to ecological devastation. This argument, as will become clear, is implicit in Vicuña’s works themselves, which both suggest and contest the identifcation of marine and digital spaces with global capitalism’s facile ideologies of fow. In doing so, they offer a vision of indigeneity that is liquid yet viscous.

Water’s Gendered Bodies In Kon Kon, the hour-long ‘documentary poem’ created from twelve shorter works and released in 2010, Vicuña presents the ocean around the fshing village of Concón on Chile’s central coast as a living being, one that participates in the enactment of her art and that is wounded, perhaps mortally, by the massifcation of industrial trawler fshing in the early twenty-frst century, as the neoliberal policies of Augusto Pinochet’s regime were continued by the governments of the ‘Transition’ after the end of the dictatorship in 1990.10 One of the principal creative strategies Vicuña employs in constructing this vision centres on her precarios, small land art installations that are washed away by the waves. This apparent destruction, Vicuña’s voiceover informs the spectator, is in fact the completion of the work (Figure 11.2). The Pacifc Ocean, then, is endowed with creative agency. It is also, at points in the flm, presented as an explicitly feminine being—Vicuña refers to it repeatedly as la mar, echoing the language of

Figure 11.2 Still from Cecilia Vicuña, Kon Kon (2010).

190 Paul Merchant the local chino fshermen whose musical and cultural traditions she documents, while describing them in the flm as ‘disappearing’. Nonetheless, in construing this disappearance as the death of the sea as a cultural agent, Vicuña appeals to a notable poetic precedent that complicates an identifcation of the ocean as exclusively feminine. One of Kon Kon’s periodic intertitle screens reads simply ‘con cón perdió sus bailes chinos y el mar se murió’.11 This phrasing recalls a poem by the Chilean Nobel laureate Gabriela Mistral, ‘Muerte del mar’, in which the poet uses the masculine article throughout and in which the sea is depicted as the object of maternal care: Y aunque el mar nunca fue nuestro como cordera tundida, las mujeres cada noche por hijo se lo mecían.12 It is striking to note that the sea is here masculine (el mar) and a son rather than a daughter, and yet Mistral still includes the image of a female shorn lamb, albeit to describe what the sea is not. In this stanza alone, the boundaries between genders and indeed between human and animal realms are blurred by poetic form. Indeed, to the recent articulation of Mistral’s writing as a mestizo ecopoetics,13 one might add that Mistral queers nature throughout her work—she uses the feminine article for the sea elsewhere. Vicuña’s Kon Kon does something of the same work, not only through the interchangeable pronouns used in Vicuña’s voiceover but also through its frequent use of close-up shots of the meeting point between the human body and the ocean. These intimate encounters are frequently inscribed with gendered connotations, perhaps most explicitly in the sequence where Vicuña releases red dye into Concón’s coastal waters, aiding the sea’s movements with her hands and then daubing the title of her flm on white card with the result of her co-production with the ocean (Plate 5). It is easy, and possibly too easy, to read this moment as a fguration of the sea’s (menstrual) bleeding after its wounding by industrialised fshing practices. The decontextualising function of these and other similar close-ups, I argue, in fact challenges or at least nuances such an interpretation. What is at stake here is the extent to which the liquid space of the ocean, as it meets the land and the human body, can act as an alternative space of identifcation. Such close-ups certainly emphasise the fow of water against the solidity of the human form (and, via montage, against the rigidity of the property developments on Concón’s shoreline). The sea is thus, as it is for Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, a paradigm of smooth, nomadic space that resists identitarian strictures.14 It is for this reason that the embodiment privileged by Vicuña recalls the Deleuzian, posthuman embodied thinking advanced by Neimanis: For us humans, the fow and fush of waters sustain our bodies, but also connect them to other bodies, to worlds beyond our human selves. Indeed, bodies of water undo the idea that bodies are necessarily or only human. The bodies from which we siphon and into which we pour ourselves are certainly other human bodies (a kissable lover, a blood transfused stranger, a nursing infant), but they are just as likely a sea, a cistern, an underground reservoir of once-was-rain.15

Cecilia Vicuña’s Liquid Indigeneity


For Vicuña, as for Neimanis, the feminine appears to act as a capacious name for the marginalised or abject in culture. In this sense it is unsurprising that she frequently identifes it with indigenous culture and experience. One might think here of the quipu menstrual that Vicuña created to protest against the impact of mining on Chile’s glaciers in 2006. This was a series of thick strands of red wool laid out near the Glaciar del Plomo, and subsequently in front of the presidential Palacio de la Moneda in Santiago, in order to draw attention to the damage to glaciers that would be caused by Barrick Gold’s proposed Pascua-Lama mining project. The title ‘Quipu Menstrual’ links the ice and water of the glaciers to menstrual blood and to indigenous practices of signifcation (quipus were assemblages of knotted string or rope used to record and transmit information in the pre-Columbian Andes). Moreover, in an accompanying letter to the then incoming President Michelle Bachelet, Vicuña wrote: ‘[l]a vida es el agua, y el agua es la memoria. Por el agua vivieron y murieron nuestros ancestros. Por el agua vivirán los que vienen’. The artist then went on to evoke Bachelet’s status as the frst female president of Chile: ‘[t]ú tienes la posibilidad de volver a conectar la sangre y el agua. Una oportunidad única en la historia de Chile: liberarnos para siempre de la vergüenza colonial!’.16 This strikingly optimistic, even utopian exhortation ties care for natural resources to maternal qualities and to pre-Columbian cultures. It also calls, in terms similar to Neimanis’, for water to be thought of as embodied and material, as a necessary conceptual step towards the decolonisation of politics and thought. Scholarship in the emergent feld of oceanic studies has already made a persuasive case that movements of capital draw substantially on imagery of transparency and fow— Christopher Connery memorably posited that the ocean was capitalism’s favoured ‘myth element’,17 and with reference to Latin America we might extend this thought to colonial power—thinking, for instance, of the evocations of the sea in the opening stanzas in Alonso de Ercilla’s epic poem of the colonisation of Chile, La Araucana.18 Neimanis suggests that against the modern persistence of the colonial imagining of immaterial water (which she also terms ‘Anthropocene water’ due to its facilitation of our ever-increasing ecological impact), ‘anticolonial waters’, bodies of water as viewed by indigenous groups (she refers to the First Nations of Canada), can help to bridge the nature/culture divide, identifying water as an actor and a being. In her words: Bodies of water, as fguration, invite us to amplify a relational aqueous embodiment that we already incorporate, and trans-corporate. Bodies of water ask us to imagine these corporeal waters as part of a hydrocommons that we make, and that makes us in turn.19 In making this case, Neimanis draws explicitly on Stacey Alaimo’s theorisation of ‘transcorporeality’,20 a concept that relates to Alaimo’s desire for a mode of ecofeminism that avoids re-essentialising woman as nature or landscape.21 Neimanis’ claim is that bodies of water, as the shifting constructive elements of a ‘hydrocommons’, are especially well-placed to develop this posthuman ecofeminist thought. Can it be said, however, that this is the claim made by Vicuña? The autobiographical aspect of much of her work—not least of Kon Kon, which is predicated on a return to the coastline and to the house where the artist produced some of her earliest pieces—might be said to present an obstacle to this argument. In many cases, the connections that Vicuña makes between body and environment are deeply

192 Paul Merchant personal—it is often her body that she brings into contact with liquids, as her recent short flm Kuntur Ko en el Mapocho makes clear (Plate 6).22 There is a (literal) tension between body and fow, between the local and the deterritorialized here. This tension is evident at the level of form, too—as will already be clear, many of Vicuña’s works are installations or forms of land art, highly contingent on their location. She nonetheless provides photographic and flmic records of practically all of them, freely available via her extensive and meticulously organised website, which incarnates her digital identity as a globally recognised artist.23 Vicuña’s work, then, might be taken as a paradoxical defence of location and of local tradition via the fows of digital media. Yet perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Vicuña’s recent cultural production is its refusal to oppose concepts of local space and global fow. Indeed, she insists in Kon Kon that the dissonant fute music of the bailes chinos, the traditions disappearing from Chile’s central coast, acts as an opening to the world.24 The local and the indigenous do not oppose the global but rather facilitate an alternative sense of the world, one that Candice Amich identifes with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s notion of ‘planetarity’.25 The analogy Vicuña draws between water and weaving in Mar tejido, Kon Kon and elsewhere also serves to posit an idea of connection that does not elide difference or dissonance: in one sequence of Kon Kon, Vicuña emphasises the fact that the strands that combine to make her red threads are wound in opposite directions. It is striking that Neimanis, too, appeals to a metaphor of weaving in arguing that here/ there, local/global distinctions cannot hold: ‘Time, place, and bodies are all caught in the warp and woof of planetary colonialities that are naturalcultural and diffracted, but still racialized and gendered, all the same’.26 In what remains of this chapter, I will suggest that this it is in particular by associating indigenous identity with negative space (both physical and virtual) that Vicuña maintains this precarious metaphorical construction. That she does so provides the grounds for new understandings both of intermedial artistic practice—as an inherently ecological process—and of the ‘politics of location’ in contemporary Latin American culture.

Indigeneity as Interval The importance that Vicuña gives weaving, as practice and as concept, frequently remits the viewer of her artworks to a pre-Columbian era, as her frequent titling of her works as quipus and the Andean patterns in Figure 11.1 show.27 Indeed, the quipu becomes a remarkably productive fgure for Vicuña’s ecological thought. In a flmed conversation between Vicuña and the Chilean scholar and activist José de Nordenfycht about the port city of Valparaíso, which is built in a bay of steep, sharp hills that run down to the sea, the network of now subterranean streams between the hills, covered over by the city, is referred to as ‘un quipu de humedades . . . del agua’. Vicuña and Nordenfycht argue that the value placed on the convergence of water sources among the bay’s many hills by its indigenous inhabitants (of the Chango civilization) has been lost. They suggest that the uncontrolled construction of the city has taken no account of the many streams and springs that lie beneath it, leading to frequent problems with fooding and pollution. Vicuña conceptualises the Valparaíso bay as a space sculpted by its water fows (‘las aguas son las creadoras del espacio’), such that the waters themselves are intervals, negative spaces that she explicitly links to the dissonance of the chino music, and moreover describes as sacred.28

Cecilia Vicuña’s Liquid Indigeneity


Indigenous culture is allied with the natural environment, then, but just as the sea appears only intermittently or strategically feminine in Kon Kon, so too indigenous identity is presented by Vicuña as a transient and invisible (though nonetheless potentially constructive) force. It is telling, in this respect, that when Nordenfycht states that what matters is ‘el espíritu del lugar’, Vicuña responds that ‘el espíritu del lugar es la relación’. In the case of Valparaíso’s subterranean watercourses, indigeneity is implicitly fgured as abject fow. To what extent, though, can this fuidity be differentiated from the fows of (digital) information that are fundamental to the global capitalism whose extractive tentacles Vicuña elsewhere denounces? The video Valparaíso itself, after all, relies on its hosting on YouTube for dissemination (though at the time of writing it registered a little over 1,000 views). The frst step towards unpicking this knot is to attempt to establish what is meant by indigeneity in Vicuña’s terms. Her invocation of pre-Columbian cultures, both in Kon Kon and elsewhere, frequently tends towards the non-specifc (as does the wordless nature of her singing in Mar tejido and during several of Kon Kon’s ritual performances). Vicuña’s indigenous referents range from the Inca and the Mapuche and the chino culture of the local fshermen, as well as the ancient Aconcagua culture of Chile’s central coast. In Kon Kon, distinctions between these groups are not always clearly made, and the title of the short flm touched on earlier, Kuntur Ko en el Mapocho, also reveals something of this elision. It could be argued that this indistinction, coupled with Vicuña’s focus on ‘disappearing’ traditions and pre-Columbian cultures, leads her work to downplay the present-day agency of indigenous groups and limits its decolonial potential. One possible response to this charge comes from the ludic nature of Vicuña’s production. As the artist notes on her website, wordplay is at the heart of the connections she seeks to make in a related collection of poems: The word ‘qon’, (also spelled kon, or con) in Quechua is water/ocean/chaos/the source of life. In Mapuche, ‘con’ or ‘co’ is water and the whole cycle of water from glacier to ocean. I play as well with the Quechua word ‘kuntur’ (‘condor’), turning it into the Spanish ‘cordón’ (‘thread’).29 This is but one example of the wordplay that is one of Vicuña’s favoured aesthetic strategies: in the video Valparaíso, she and Nordenfycht freely associate humedad, humildad and humano, while in Kon Kon the orthographic change in the name of the town in question, usually written as Concón, is clearly posited as a return to an older, indigenous identity for the place. Yet the fact that Vicuña inscribes the flm’s title in the sand of the beach, a liminal and littoral space where it will be washed away by the sea, suggests a recognition of the ultimate instability of this gesture. Indeed, Lucy Lippard has argued that Vicuña’s art ‘balances on the littoral or liminal edge, where land and water meet’, going on to suggest that this precarity is itself a characteristic of the modern indigenous condition: ‘If we are all indigenous, we are also all immigrants. Displacement from original lands is an integral part of modern indigeneity.’30 In a similar vein, Amich argues that Vicuña ‘identifes generic and semantic instability as survival strategies of indigenous cultures.’31 The Oysi project, which grew out of the production of Kon Kon, cleaves to this vision in forgoing explicit references to place or to racial identity in its presentation of indigeneity. The project, which is run by Vicuña and James O’Hern and seeks to promote indigenous oral knowledge through books, flms and live events, makes the

194 Paul Merchant bold claim that ‘we are all indigenous’.32 According to the project’s website, notions of orality and reciprocal exchange, rather than any sense of racial identity, lie at the heart of its understanding of indigeneity. Indeed, the name Oysi ‘is a wordplay that can be read in different ways. In Spanish it could mean “Do you hear? Yes!” It could also mean “Today? Yes!” Soundwise it recalls Oisín, the legendary poet of Ireland’. Emphasis is placed on openness, potential, on ‘the encounter between the creative forces emerging from indigenous cultures and the felds of art and science’, and indeed on dissonance, with explicit reference to the dissonant music of the bailes chinos.33 From the website it is possible to download a number of open-access books as PDF fles and to stream many short videos associated with the project. Vicuña’s artistic production adopts the deterritorialising force of digital media, then, to present a complex, fuid relationship to place and identity as constitutive of contemporary indigeneity. The ritual character of many of Vicuña’s performances in Kon Kon gestures towards an understanding of place as an open site of potential connection, of a relation that exceeds the logics of extraction and exploitation. One might think of the dance, for instance, which she performs with others at the shoreline in honour of shellfsh (la minga de la macha invisible), or the offerings of red wool at the top of the Cerro Mauco, a hill above Concón. Yet the formal logic of Kon Kon as a flm arguably rests as much on disconnection, for instance through its use of black intertitle screens and its juxtaposition of archive and contemporary footage, as on the fuid connections it establishes through techniques such as fade cuts. Perhaps, however, it is a mistake to view these two strategies as directly opposed. In one of the short flms designated as ‘extras’ to Kon Kon (I will return to the work’s intriguing formal structure later), Vicuña explores the relation between the quipu and the ceque, a network of ritual pathways that connected the city of Cusco to the rest of the Inca empire. She describes the quipu as the ‘sistema nervioso del mundo inca’ and the ceque as its ‘contrapartida virtual’, a terrestrial image of the dark patterns in between stars that the Inca mapped in the way that Europeans did constellations.34 The ceque, Vicuña explains, linked sacred huacas (temples) to water sources—and indeed some of the images that compose the montage of this flm show small assemblages of red thread, photographs and bodies of water (Figure 11.3). The allusion to water-courses and the Inca ‘dark constellations’ is far from casual: both of these images reinforce the notion of interval as connection and as creative force, present also in Vicuña’s discussion of the hidden streams in Valparaíso. The implication, then, is that indigeneity in the present, rather than being a concept endowed with identitarian content, is instead a productive gap, an opening that might produce an alternative relation to the world (we come back here again to Amich’s ‘planetarity’). It is no coincidence, then, that as Vicuña draws a provisional and soon-to-be-erased map of Chile on the beach in the opening sequence of Kon Kon, she declaims ‘acá nace el mundo’. This adoption of the beach itself as a medium of representation suggests that Vicuña’s work can be thought of as an instance of ecomedia. Her precarious map in the sand, moreover, chimes with Cubitt’s manifesto for the decolonisation of ecomedia, which proposes a fuid and provisional understanding of place as a means of resisting the colonisation of indigenous knowledge: a green, self-sustaining lifestyle is simply not an option for the majority; the local itself is permeated by global trade and traffc; and the very means of perception and imagination with which we try to reconnect with our immediate locality

Cecilia Vicuña’s Liquid Indigeneity


Figure 11.3 Still from Cecilia Vicuña, Quipu/Ceque (2010).

are shaped by mediated comparisons and experiences of travel. It is in these circumstances that the nostalgia for place becomes a nostalgia for indigeneity, an indigeneity that not only have we Westerners never experienced but is, in any case, a Western imaginary. The ethnographic attempt to arrive at the truth of indigenous culture is only a way of structuring indigenous experience as Western knowledge.35 The dangers of this ‘nostalgia for place’ notwithstanding, Cubitt recognises that ‘The political task of building a new ecocosmopolitanism based on a new form of common wealth . . . needs its temporary autonomous zones of utopian fantasy, including the fantasy of reterritorialized locality. There is, however, no innocent way to do this.’36 Vicuña’s flm never claims that the ‘fantasy of reterritorialized locality’ identifed by Cubitt can be more than a performance: emphasis is placed on the temporary, precarious and composite nature of the artwork being done, and it is through water that this provisionality is noted. Water, in particular seawater, moreover comes to signify an alternative mode in which the global can permeate the local: a potentially decolonial fow. We are nonetheless returned here to the troubling question of the extent to which such fows can be separated from the circulation of technology and capital that, inevitably, sustains Vicuña’s work. In the fnal section of this chapter, I will suggest that it is through careful attention to Vicuña’s intermedial practice and her refexive approach to audiovisual form that this tension can be at least partially unwound.

196 Paul Merchant

Ecological Intermediality Vicuña’s distinctive understanding of intermediality is perhaps best exemplifed by a sequence in Kon Kon in which her laptop, which is playing a video recording of one of the bailes chinos, is placed on a rock on the mountainside of the Cerro Mauco. Amich describes this moment as a ‘new form of postmodern ritual . . ., in which the past is technologically integrated into the present through the offering of the recorded dance.’37 She moreover astutely observes that ‘[t]he flm itself extends and transmits the chino ritual globally, retooling the technology of the present to make visible the disappearing past, and in doing so, promoting an alternative vision of the future.’38 Kon Kon is, she claims, postmodern in the sense proposed by Néstor García Canclini; it reveals that which is suppressed by dominant understandings of modernity: ‘marginalized histories and subjectivities’.39 What Amich’s analysis neglects is the extent to which this moment assigns to flm, as converted into digital video, a function that elsewhere Vicuña ascribes to fowing bodies of water and to indigenous practices of weaving: a kind of fuid signifcation that connects the past and the present, the individual and the collective, though without eliminating difference and dissonance. The ritual character of this moment, echoed in many other of Vicuña’s performances, suggests an understanding of intermedial play as a process of identitarian exchange between the human and the nonhuman. If we think back to the precarios on the beach at Concón which are ‘completed’ by the sea, it becomes clear that the nonhuman environment, and in particular bodies of water, are mobilised by Vicuña as artistic media. They are as much components of her as the fotsam, the red dye and red wool, or the digital video placed in mise-en-abyme within the digital video of Kon Kon. One might think here of the work done on ‘Amerindian perspectivism’ by the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, who argues that the cosmology of many indigenous societies in the Americas ‘imagines a universe peopled by different types of subjective agencies, human as well as nonhuman, each endowed with the same generic type of soul, that is, the same set of cognitive and volitional capacities.’40 As Gómez-Barris has noted, Vicuña’s assertion in the opening sequence of Kon Kon that she felt the sea ‘sense [her]’ when playing on the beach as a child presents the ocean ‘as a protagonist, possessive of its own autonomous and interactional vitality’;41 in other words, as an instance of the variable subjective agency that Viveiros de Castro outlines. We might say, then, that Vicuña’s practice constitutes a kind of ecological intermediality: since land and sea are, for the artist, essential vectors through which human identity is mediated, her intermedial practice is necessarily a modelling of an alternative set of relations between humans and their environment. It is, moreover, a practice that, just as it tests the limits of gender identifcation, also places artistic agency at the threshold between human and nonhuman worlds: Vicuña frequently places photographs and, other forms of visual representation into contact with the landscapes around Concón. It is at this point, however, that certain qualifcations become important. First, it is crucial to recognise that certain intermedial effects are, in fact, an inextricable characteristic of the cinematic medium and therefore the result of human agency in the editing suite. I am thinking here of the recurrent juxtaposition through montage of still photographs, archive flm footage and contemporary digital video in Kon Kon and its associated short flms. Moreover, when thinking in ecological terms, instances of contact and fow do not automatically lead to sustainable practices or political liberation. Neimanis draws

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on Alaimo to note that ‘transits of toxins do not necessarily recognize the divisions of bodies according to race, class, or gender’ and to argue that this is ‘a challenging insight that sometimes leads to critiques of posthumanism as apolitical’.42 Neimanis uses the example of the contamination of breast milk in North American indigenous communities due to the dumping of industrial waste to insist on the recognition of specifc, located human bodies as porous and vulnerable enclosures.43 This privileging of porous location chimes with Vicuña’s integration of local ecological entanglements into her intermedial performances: prominent among these in Kon Kon is the oil refnery at the mouth of the Aconcagua river, built over the site of an indigenous burial ground. Gómez-Barris notes that in the flm ‘Aconcagua simultaneously refers to the Aconcagua indigenous people, the River, and the Con cón oil refnery that is owned by the transnational Chilean oil company, Aconcagua.’44 Vicuña’s strategy of thinking indigeneity as semantic multiplicity is not so much free and fuid textual play, then, as a located practice of opening that reveals the operations of extractive capitalism.45 Indeed, in one of Kon Kon’s closing sequences, Vicuña constructs a ‘quipu de lo desaparecido’ on a shoreline across the water from the refnery, documenting what has been lost from Concón. One of the images she lays on the sand in her network of red thread makes reference to the Amereida movement, an avant-garde architecture group that built a ‘Ciudad Abierta’ at Ritoque, on the coast to the north of the Aconcagua river. This site played with dynamics of openness and closure in designing human dwellings, just as Vicuña here plays with her association with and distance from Chilean avant-garde artistic movements. Moreover, as she draws the threads of the quipu and its images to her body on the beach (Figure 11.4), she reminds the spectator of the centrality of her own corporeal identity as artist to this intermedial construction.

Figure 11.4 Still from Cecilia Vicuña, Kon Kon (2010).

198 Paul Merchant In moving towards a conclusion, I will note one further potential critique of the digital video as free, liquid fow of identity: the energy required to produce and sustain Vicuña’s work, perhaps especially in its online, mobile form, has a necessarily detrimental ecological impact. Nadia Bozak’s seminal book The Cinematic Footprint urges us to remember the ways in which cinema is bound up in networks of extraction and the burning of fossil fuels, and moreover that Cinema is not ‘pure’; it now involves engagement with the Internet, for example, and other communications technology. . . . . Separating out digital media, new media, communications, and moving-image technology is a slippery, if hazardous task, itself indicative of the twenty-frst-century life of what is still, insistently, cinema. . . . Ecology, by its very nature, is unrestricted; it is impossible to say where nature stops or culture begins, or vice versa.46 This is to say, in other words, that the worlds created by cinema and digital media are inextricably related to the world from which they are drawn, as Adrian J. Ivakhiv has memorably argued.47 This is perhaps especially important to remember when dealing with works from or about the global South. As Cubitt writes: The dissociation of consumption from environmental impact repeats the central structure of coloniality. . . . Decolonizing ecocriticism therefore requires frst a recognition of the skewed environmental impact of consumption in the global North on conditions in the global South.48 This being the case, one should perhaps be wary of immediately identifying digital video of Vicuña’s art and performances as an entirely fuid, universal indigeneity, in the way that Vicuña herself sometimes seems to encourage. In this respect, it is telling that the full documentary poem Kon Kon is not freely available online—but must be purchased as a DVD (a material object that is dependent on the hydrocarbon industry for its production). It is telling, too that Vicuña describes the relationship between Kon Kon and its numerous related shorter videos, many of which are freely available online, not as one of pure fow, but as a digital quipu—a mode of connection that is tied to a past suppressed by colonisation and one that, with its knots, suggests a degree of diffculty or hesitation.49 The opening moments of the short video Quipu/Ceque, which was discussed earlier, show how Vicuña transfers this diffculty to audiovisual form itself. The close-up images of red thread in this sequence are highly pixelated and played at a very slow frame rate that is punctuated with freeze frames. The intermedial encounter, the conversion of material practice into digital information, is not presented as an entirely fuid process; temporal and spatial intervals become apparent. Vicuña’s work thus engages in what can be termed a decolonial mode of perception, described by Emma Pérez as ‘a shadow in the dark. The fgure between the subject and the object on which it is cast.’50 Gómez-Barris develops this idea to propose a ‘decolonial queer femme’ methodology that seeks to identify ‘micro and submerged entry points into spaces saturated in coloniality.’ Such ‘submerged perspectives’, she argues, refuse totalising modes of vision and ‘pierce through the entanglements of power to differently organize the meanings of social and political life.’51 My approach to Vicuña’s work is aligned with Gómez-Barris’s methodology insofar as I have suggested that water is presented more as a material and political agent than as a transparent

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medium of vision (think back to the specks of foating matter in Mar tejido) and that Vicuña’s intermedial practice complicates and disrupts metaphors of fuidity: if anything, indigeneity appears as the connecting interval between media. There is, nonetheless, a potentially troubling aspect to Gómez-Barris’s approach when applied to Vicuña’s production. If we accept the critic’s proposal that ‘extraction operates through material and immaterial forms of converting Indigeneity into exchange value, where intellectual and spiritual resources are taken to produce new forms of colonial currency’,52 how can Vicuña’s work be differentiated from a logic of extraction? In concluding, I will suggest an answer that challenges the emergent critical consensus around the decolonial potential of ecological artistic production.

The Artist as Fluid Location In the arguments outlined thus far, it has been suggested that the semantic instability and ecological intermediality of Vicuña’s work might block the dematerialising fows of information that accompany the extractive capitalism the artist herself denounces. This is what allows critics such as Lippard, for instance, to claim optimistically that ‘As rivers join the sea, so Cecilia Vicuña and her peers hope to reunite society and nature on an indigenous model, joining Native peoples all over the world’.53 This position appears less than solid, however, if we consider that semantic instability and intermedial practices are now to a large extent the ‘currency’ of the global contemporary art market (and a glance at the website for Documenta 14, in which Vicuña participated, gives ample evidence for this view).54 Vicuña’s practice might therefore be viewed as just another way of converting indigeneity into exchange value, in GómezBarris’s terms. Under this lens, the ease with which Vicuña was able to adapt her coastal installations of quipus to a beach in Greece for documenta 14 in 2017 might (cynically, perhaps) be viewed as an astute strategy of self-curation as much as a comment on the global displacement of people.55 When surveying Vicuña’s recent work and her social media interventions, one is certainly struck by the artist’s capacity to connect her production to global ecological concerns: as public awareness of the damaging effects of plastics in the oceans has increased in recent months, Vicuña has juxtaposed the unspun wool she frequently uses with plastic elements,56 and on her (very active) Twitter account she has engaged with the popularity of David Attenborough’s television series Blue Planet II in order to promote her book About to Happen (@vicunacec, 5 December 2017). Such observations are not intended to lessen the signifcance of Vicuña’s work but rather to highlight the ways in which, as Amich writes, ‘Indigenous struggle for survival, as presented in Kon Kon [and elsewhere in Vicuña’s work], is not outside the circuits of capital, but rather, poses a different historicity from within the inescapable space of the world market.’57 Adapting Amich’s notion to the global circuits of contemporary conceptual art, one might reasonably ask whether, in the face of such apparent harmony between Vicuña’s own account of her art and critical approaches to it, the artist is doing more than preaching to the converted. How, then, might her work’s disruptive, decolonial potential be actualised? A return to Neimanis and Viveiros de Castro can assist in formulating a response to this question. As we have already seen, Neimanis’ work rests on the principle that attention to bodies as porous sites of fow, storage and redistribution can amplify a ‘politics of location’; Neimanis argues that feminist posthuman orientations,

200 Paul Merchant ‘instead of only particularizing the body through a closer materialist investigation, . . . also multiply and expand it.’58 In other words, if, in a world where ‘colonialism is carried by currents . . . we cannot calculate a politics of location according to stable cartographies or geometries’,59 then the body, and in this case Vicuña’s body as artist and performer, remains as perhaps the only viable point of reference. The fantasy of totally free and fuid circulation, just like that of ‘reterritorialized locality’ discussed by Cubitt, is neither achievable nor, in all probability, desirable. The emphasis Vicuña places on temporary liminal territories that are marked out by the body, and the manner in which the camera of Kon Kon insists on the meeting points between body and water, go some way towards describing an intermediate space between these two extremes. More than that, however, I would suggest that it is Vicuña’s refection on her identity as global artist, her historicisation of her own practice and the way in which her presence suffuses Kon Kon, not simply as bodily image but also as poetic voiceover and wordless song, which removes her work from extractive logics. Lippard notes that in her early paintings and poetry, Vicuña plays with the possible meanings of her surname in the linguistic communities with which her family is associated (e.g. Basque and Quechua). Lippard further suggests that the fact that Vicuña’s animal namesakes are said to be born at the sources of springs and are themselves sources of wool means that ‘the artist’s family name, her very identity, evokes weaving and water—two of her major themes.’60 This refexive attitude, both in Kon Kon and elsewhere, helps Vicuña avoid the conversion of indigeneity into a pseudo-universal decolonial exchange value that is a hazard for any work that seeks to identify a new ecological paradigm in a vanished indigenous culture. There is, in this sense, an important counterpoint for Vicuña’s work in contemporary Chilean culture: Patricio Guzmán’s feted documentary El botón de nácar.61 Guzmán’s flm presents the experience of the (white, male) flmmaker as diametrically opposed to that of the surviving members of the seafaring indigenous communities of Chile’s far south and can only conceive of a future for such groups in the imagined far reaches of the cosmos, while Vicuña makes explicit the local (if globally transmitted) nature of her practice, which might be called mestiza both in terms of its content and its intermedial form. Where Guzmán’s documentary I is a voice-of-God narration, and an unseen face, Vicuña’s flmic and performed subjectivity, as we have seen, is both fuid and intervallic, visible and sonorous. In this regard, my reading of Vicuña’s cultural production diverges signifcantly from previous approaches, and indeed from the emphasis on multiplicity and rhizomatic subjectivity that characterises both Neimanis’ work and a wide range of critical writing in the environmental humanities and oceanic studies.62 The difference is this: Vicuña’s subjectivity is named and singular, however fuid, playful and interrupted it may be. The manner in which indigenous and ecological concerns are grouped, performed, advertised and, yes, sold under the name ‘Cecilia Vicuña’ might thus be thought of as one of the most radical aspects of her work, in that it resists the categorisation of such topics as minor or abject. Though a powerful current in Latin American cultural studies has expressed deep (and often well-founded) suspicion of identity as a paradigm for creative expression or analysis, an insistence on some form of individual subjectivity is not in fact at odds with the perspectivism that, according to Viveiros de Castro, underlies Amerindian conceptions of the world as fundamentally cultural rather than natural, as ‘a representative or phenomenological unity that is purely

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pronominal in kind applied to a real radical diversity.’ Indeed, Viveiros de Castro goes on to suggest that ‘Any species of subject perceives itself and its world in the same way we perceive ourselves and our world. “Culture” is what one sees of oneself when one says “I.”’63 Vicuña’s articulation of an ‘I’ that is in constant contact with Chile’s bodies of water allows the latter to be perceived as cultural agents. While ‘indigeneity’ per se may appear so fuid as to be devoid of symbolic content in her work, Vicuña’s insistently personal ecological art nonetheless marks out a new littoral space in which labels such as indigenous and mestizo are defned anew by each ‘I’ that adopts them. Insofar as it provides a vision of the ecological that cannot be subsumed into a new transparent universal, the resistant value of this work is far from negligible.

Notes 1. Cecilia Vicuña, Mar tejido, 2012. Accessed June 20, 2018, 2. Cecilia Vicuña, “An Introduction to Mestizo Poetics,” in The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry, edited by Cecilia Vicuña and Ernesto Livon-Grosman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), xix–xxvi. 3. Lucy Lippard, “Floating Between Past and Future: The Indigenisation of Environmental Politics,” Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry no. 43 (2017): 33, doi:10.1086/692551 4. Marisol de la Cadena, Indigenous Mestizos: The Politics of Race and Culture in Cuzco, Peru, 1919–1991 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000). On the shifting tropes of indigeneity in Chile, see Joanna Crow, The Mapuche in Modern Chile: A Cultural History (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida). 5. Macarena Gómez-Barris, “I Felt the Sea Sense Me: Ecologies and Dystopias in Cecilia Vicuña’s Kon Kón,” in About to Happen, edited by Cecilia Vicuña (Catskill, NY: Siglio Press, 2016), 141. 6. “Festival de Poesía La Chascona 2018: Homenaje a Cecilia Vicuña,” Fundación Pablo Neruda, May 2018. Accessed June 20, 2018, festival-poesia-la-chascona-2018-homenaje-cecilia-vicuna/ 7. On this point, see Candice Amich, “From Precarity to Planetarity: Cecilia Vicuña’s Kon Kon,” The Global South 7, no. 2 (2013): 136, doi:10.2979/globalsouth.7.2.134 8. Neimanis, Bodies of Water; Sean Cubitt, “Decolonizing Ecomedia,” Cultural Politics 10, no. 4 (2014), doi:10.1215/17432197-2795669 9. See, for instance, Philip E. Steinberg, “Of Other Seas: Metaphors and Materialities in Maritime Regions,” Atlantic Studies 10, no. 2 (2013), doi:10.1080/14788810.2013.78592 10. On the effects of neoliberalism on water management in Chile more broadly, see Jessica Budds, “Power, Nature and Neoliberalism: The Political Ecology of Water in Chile,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 25, no. 3 (2004), doi:10.1111/j.0129-7619.2004.00189.x 11. Kon Kon, directed by Cecilia Vicuña (2010; Santiago de Chile: Tiago Corp, 2010), DVD. 12. Gabriela Mistral, “Muerte del mar,” in Poesías completas (Santiago de Chile: Editorial Andrés Bello, 2001), 504. 13. Andrea Casals, “Environmental (In)justice and Mestizo Writing,” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 23, no. 1 (2016), doi:10.1093/isle/isw019 14. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, trans. Brian Massumi (London: Continuum, 2004), 528–530. 15. Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 2. 16. Cecilia Vicuña, “Carta a Bachelet,” Quipu Menstrual, May 20, 2006. Accessed June 20, 2018, 17. Christopher Connery, “The Oceanic Feeling and the Regional Imaginary,” in Global/ Local: Cultural Production and the Transnational Imaginary, edited by Wimal Dissanayake and Rob Wilson (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996), 289, doi:10.215/9780822381990-012 18. Alonso de Ercilla, La Araucana (Biblioteca Virtual Universal, 2003). Accessed June 22, 2018,

202 Paul Merchant 19. Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 169–171. 20. Stacey Alaimo, Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010). 21. Stacey Alaimo, “Ecofeminism without Nature?,” International Feminist Journal of Politics 10, no. 3 (2008), doi:10.1080/14616740802185551 22. Cecilia Vicuña, Kuntur Ko en el Mapocho, 2015. Accessed June 20, 2018, 23. Ibid. 24. For a thorough study of the cultural signifcance of the sounds of the bailes chinos, see José Pérez de Arce, “Bailes chinos y su identidad invisible,” Chungará (Arica) 49, no. 3 (2017), doi:10.4067/S0717-73562017005000021 25. Candice Amich, “From Precarity to Planetarity: Cecilia Vicuña’s Kon Kon,” The Global South 7, no. 2 (2013), doi:10.2979/globalsouth.7.2.134 26. Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 37. My emphasis. 27. César Paternosto aligns the stepped patterns of Andean textiles with the fuidity of water, as well as with the vertical geographies of the Andean landscape. César Paternosto, The Stone and the Thread: Andean Roots of Abstract Art, trans. by Esther Allen (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996), 111. Cited in José Felipe Alvergue, “The Material Etymologies of Cecilia Vicuña: Art, Sculpture, and Poetic Communities,” Minnesota Review no. 82 (2014): 69, Project MUSE. 28. Cecilia Vicuña, Valparaíso, 2007. Accessed June 20, 2018, 29. Cecilia Vicuña, “Kuntur Ko (2012),” Cecilia Vicuña. Accessed June 20, 2018, 30. Lippard, “Floating Between Past and Future,” 37. 31. Amich, “From Precarity to Planetarity,” 135–136. 32. Oysi. Accessed June 20, 2018, 33. “About,” Oysi. Accessed June 20, 2018, 34. Quipu / Ceque, in Kon Kon. 35. Cubitt, “Decolonizing Ecomedia,” 283. 36. Ibid., 284. 37. Amich, “From Precarity to Planetarity,” 144. 38. Ibid. 39. Ibid., 145. 40. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, “Perspectival Anthropology and the Method of Controlled Equivocation,” Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America 2, no. 1 (2004): 6. Accessed June 21, 2018, tipiti/vol2/iss1/1/ 41. Gómez-Barris, “I Felt the Sea Sense Me,” 140. 42. Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 34. 43. Ibid., 35. 44. Gómez-Barris, “I Felt the Sea Sense Me,” 143. 45. One might think here of Elizabeth DeLoughrey’s assertion that ‘the Pacifc is not simply the planet’s originary ocean; for its frst peoples, its generative fuidity is essential to the grammar of indigenous ontology.’ This perspective similarly allies semantic play to specifc material circumstances. Elizabeth DeLoughrey, Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacifc Island Literatures (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007), 125. 46. Nadia Bozak, The Cinematic Footprint: Lights, Camera, Natural Resources (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2012), 15. 47. Adrian J. Ivakhiv, Ecologies of the Moving Image: Cinema, Affect, Nature (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013), 22. 48. Cubitt, “Decolonizing Ecomedia,” 276. 49. Amich, “From Precarity to Planetarity,” 146. 50. Emma Pérez, Decolonial Imaginary: Writing Chicanas into History (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999). Cited in Macarena Gómez-Barris, The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), 10. 51. Gómez-Barris, The Extractive Zone, 11. Original emphasis. 52. Ibid., 10. 53. Lippard, “Floating Between Past and Future,” 37.

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54. One might also think here of the 2018 intervention ‘Love is in the Bin’ by British artist Banksy, who partially shredded one of his own paintings at the moment of auction, only to see speculation over a potential increase in its value. 55. “Beach Ritual by Cecilia Vicuña,” documenta 14. Accessed June 22, 2018, 56. “Interview with Cecilia Vicuña—documenta 14,” YouTube. Accessed June 22, 2018, 57. Amich, “From Precarity to Planetarity,” 145. 58. Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 36. 59. Ibid. 60. Lippard, “Floating Between Past and Future,” 33. 61. El botón de nácar, directed by Patricio Guzmán (2015; London: New Wave Films, 2016), DVD. 62. I am thinking not only of Alaimo’s ‘transcorporeality’ here but also of the variety of poststructuralist and nonhuman approaches to the ocean neatly summarised in Steinberg, “Of other seas.” 63. Viveiros de Castro, “Perspectival Anthropology,” 4.

Bibliography Alaimo, Stacey. Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010. Alaimo, Stacey. “Ecofeminism without Nature?” International Feminist Journal of Politics 10, no. 3 (2008): 299–304. doi:10.1080/14616740802185551. Alvergue, José Felipe. “The Material Etymologies of Cecilia Vicuña: Art, Sculpture, and Poetic Communities.” Minnesota Review no. 82 (2014): 59–96. Project MUSE. Amich, Candice. “From Precarity to Planetarity: Cecilia Vicuña’s Kon Kon.” The Global South 7, no. 2 (2013): 134–152. doi:10.2979/globalsouth.7.2.134. Bozak, Nadia. The Cinematic Footprint: Lights, Camera, Natural Resources. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2012. Budds, Jessica. “Power, Nature and Neoliberalism: The Political Ecology of Water in Chile.” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 25, no. 3 (2004): 322–342. doi:10.1111/ j.0129-7619.2004.00189.x. Casals, Andrea. “Environmental (In)justice and Mestizo Writing.” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 23, no. 1 (2016): 162–174. doi:10.1093/isle/isw019. Connery, Christopher. “The Oceanic Feeling and the Regional Imaginary.” In Global/Local: Cultural Production and the Transnational Imaginary. Edited by Wimal Dissanayake and Rob Wilson, 284–311. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996. doi:10.215/9780822381990-012. Crow, Joanna. The Mapuche in Modern Chile: A Cultural History. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida. Cubitt, Sean. “Decolonizing Ecomedia.” Cultural Politics 10, no. 4 (2014): 275–286. doi:10.1215/17432197-2795669. De la Cadena, Marisol. Indigenous Mestizos: The Politics of Race and Culture in Cuzco, Peru, 1919–1991. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000. Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. London: Continuum, 2004. DeLoughrey, Elizabeth. Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacifc Island Literatures. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2007. Ercilla, Alonso de. La Araucana. Biblioteca Virtual Universal, 2003. Accessed June 22, 2018. “Festival de Poesía La Chascona 2018: Homenaje a Cecilia Vicuña.” Fundación Pablo Neruda, May 2018. Accessed June 20, 2018.

204 Paul Merchant Gómez-Barris, Macarena. The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017. Gómez-Barris, Macarena. “I Felt the Sea Sense Me: Ecologies and Dystopias in Cecilia Vicuña’s Kon Kón.” In About to Happen. Edited by Cecilia Vicuña, 138–147. Catskill, NY: Siglio Press, 2016. Guzmán, Patricio, dir. El bóton de nácar. 2015; London: New Wave Films, 2016. DVD. Ivakhiv, Adrian J. Ecologies of the Moving Image: Cinema, Affect, Nature. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2013. Lippard, Lucy. “Floating Between Past and Future: The Indigenisation of Environmental Politics.” Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry no. 43 (2017): 30–37. doi:10.1086/ 692551. Mistral, Gabriela. “Muerte del mar.” In Poesías completas, 502–505. Santiago de Chile: Editorial Andrés Bello, 2001. Neimanis, Astrida. Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017. Oysi. Accessed June 20, 2018. Paternosto, César. The Stone and the Thread: Andean Roots of Abstract Art. Translated by Esther Allen. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996. Pérez de Arce, José. “Bailes chinos y su identidad invisible.” Chungará (Arica) 49, no. 3 (2017). doi:10.4067/S0717-73562017005000021. Steinberg, Philip E. “Of Other Seas: Metaphors and Materialities in Maritime Regions.” Atlantic Studes 10, no. 2 (2013): 156–169. doi:10.1080/14788810.2013.78592. Vicuña, Cecilia. “Carta a Bachelet.” Quipu Menstrual, May 20, 2006. Accessed June 20, 2018. Vicuña, Cecilia. “An Introduction to Mestizo Poetics.” In The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry. Edited by Cecilia Vicuña and Ernesto Livon-Grosman, xix–xxxii. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Vicuña, Cecilia, dir. Kon Kon. 2010; Santiago de Chile: Tiago Corp, 2010. DVD. Vicuña, Cecilia. “Kuntur Ko (2012).” Cecilia Vicuña. Accessed June 20, 2018. Vicuña, Cecilia. Kuntur Ko en el Mapocho, 2015. Cecilia Vicuña. Accessed June 20, 2018. Vicuña, Cecilia. Mar tejido, 2012. Accessed June 20, 2018. Vicuña, Cecilia. Valparaíso, 2007. Accessed June 20, 2018. Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. “Perspectival Anthropology and the Method of Controlled Equivocation.” Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America 2, no. 1 (2004): 3–22. Accessed June 21, 2018. iss1/1/.

12 “A Water of a Hundred Eyes” Reconfguring Liquidity in Recent Chilean Contemporary Art1 Sophie Halart

On 11 March 1974, a few months after the military coup that deposed Chilean President Salvador Allende, the military government of Augusto Pinochet published its frst Declaración de Principios—an offcial document that aimed to “redefne” the country. Written in a messianic tone, the text sought to place Chile at the forefront of a global fght against the economic and moral perils associated with a so-called “MarxistLeninist” ideology.2 At a domestic level, the Declaración defended a reduced intervention of the state in economic matters while advocating for a strong, moral authority. The country’s economic agenda, it explained, would focus on primary activities such as “mining, agricultural and industrial production”, and, in the years that followed, the relentless exploitation of natural resources—through mining, forestry and fshing, in particular—would indeed constitute the backbone of the national economy.3 Such an emphasis on the land as a source of economic wealth through extractivist practices found a symbolic echo in the document’s fnal paragraph, which addressed the “pillars of national reconstruction”, namely family, women and the youth. Heralding women as “the spiritual rock of the Nation”, the text reactivated a deep-seated archetypal pairing of femininity and territory to be placed under the control and exploitation of a renewed patriarchal order.4 These mineral images of both land and women were meant to convey a sense of earthly solidity: territorial and embodied existences would be rerouted, tamed and contained by the iron arm of the military. This discourse also served to conceal an opposite phenomenon: the liquefaction of the Chilean economy through the adoption of a US-led neoliberal agenda that sought to privatise, deregulate and open national markets to external investments.5 If free fows of capital were considered by some as a positive asset for the country’s modernisation process, at the level of human and intellectual exchanges, communication also found itself petrifed and subsequently pulverised by the implementation of curfews, censorship and arbitrary arrests. In the visual arts, the interruption of the state of law triggered by the military grab on power was experienced on an equally traumatic level, leading some scholars to characterise it as an “aesthetic coup” that forced many artists into exile.6 The emergence of a neo-avant-garde scene known as the Escena de Avanzada in the late 1970s constituted a delayed reaction to the initial trauma of 1973 and presented itself as an antagonist force to the military order in place. The Avanzada—a loose movement composed of artists such as Lotty Rosenfeld, Raúl Zurita, Carlos Leppe and the artists’ collective CADA—mobilised performative and often ephemeral interventions which Nelly Richard, the scene’s most important theoretical voice, described as seeking to undo the triumphalist narrative of national reconstruction shaped by the military government by evidencing the profound

206 Sophie Halart ruptures it had imparted on the Nation-Body. As Richard writes, “[c]ritical tools were refned, not only to deconstruct the representations of the offcial culture, but also to re-symbolize those traces of cultural identity brought into confict by the depth of the crisis”.7 In this sense, two crucial felds of interest for the Avanzada were the land and the body which the artists, drawing from post-structuralist and semiotic theories, intervened in order to “fracture . . . the unifying coherence of the emblems of progressive national thought”.8 While shaping an important front of artistic dissidence, the interventions shaped by the Avanzada and discussed by Richard have also been read critically by some authors for their tendency to resort to similarly negative and exploitative strategies as the junta itself in regards to both the body and the national territory.9 While this debate outruns the scope of the topic under consideration in this chapter, the identifcation made by some authors of certain semantic similarities between the Avanzada and a military language of rupture may be extended to a reading of the land in the Avanzada as appealing at times to a similarly dry and instrumentalist rhetoric of extraction.10 The 1989 referendum that pushed Pinochet out of executive power allowed for a progressive return to democracy and the state of law in the country. Its economic agenda, especially in regards to the exploitation of natural resources, has changed little however, confrming the country’s inclusion in what Macarena Gómez-Barris has recently qualifed as the “extractive zone”, that is “the colonial paradigm, worldview, and technologies that mark our regions of ‘high biodiversity’ in order to reduce life to capitalist resource conversion”.11 The pairing of this view with an increasingly globalised economy has come to affect all aspects of life, and the young generation of Chilean artists whose professional coming of age coincided with the return to democracy in the country has shown increasing interest in addressing Chile’s problematic exploitation of its natural resources, taking part, in this sense, in the public debates increasingly surrounding water management and crisis in the country. In this chapter, I examine the production of three of these artists, Claudia Müller, Francisca Montes and Carolina Saquel. While the dry, conceptualist language articulated by the Avanzada continues to cast a long spell on the country’s artistic scene, these artists have, by contrast, turned to the motifs of water and the watery to address questions pertaining to both the territory and the body. I contend here that water plays a double role in their works: frst, as a topic of interest, it allows them to address ecological urgency. Second, by looking at these works through the theoretical prism provided by ecofeminism, I argue that water also functions as a poetic platform to rethink one’s embodied relation to time, artistic representation and the experience of spectatorship. With this in mind, I will consider the work of three different bodies of water: fuvial, oceanic and lacustrine. In my analysis of these works, I do not wish to align these artists with an environmentally engaged trend of “artivism” in the sense that scholars such as T.J. Demos understand it.12 My aim, rather, is to examine the emergence of an ecological awareness in these works that fnds in water an evocative platform to articulate their political and poetic sensibility. More specifcally, I consider ecofeminism as a framework to account for the development of an ecological sensibility in these artists’ works that predominantly resorts to the motif of the watery to sustain itself. While ecofeminism as a movement that emerged out of second-wave feminism in the 1970s englobes various schools of thoughts that differ among themselves, all start from the identifcation of problematic similarities existing between the domination and control of the

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environment and of women by a patriarchal, exploitative order. More than the mere diagnosis of an abusive situation, however, eco-feminism also provides an analytical grid through which the critical tools acquired by feminism may be applied to the defense of the environment.13 In this chapter, I understand ecofeminism as a set of critical and visual strategies which offer to rethink established readings of visibility, time, the landscape tradition and representation, constructing more embodied forms of production and spectatorship. In this sense, the motif of water here equates with the feminine as a force that always exceeds attempts to contain and control it. Plotting against dry and extractivist approaches to nature, it also articulates a renewed understanding of territorial belonging.

Claudia Müller: Rivers In 2015, while in artistic residence in Bilbao, the Chilean artist Claudia Müller (1983–) produced the installation Catastros de Agua [Water Cadastres]: a network of ceramic pipes held together with copper clamps. The contours of the installation reproduce the topography of the Bilbao estuary that traverses the Basque city. Set up on a descending wooden structure, the pipes create a network through which water that has been pumped from the actual river fows down into a bucket. An engineactivated pump collects the water and brings it back to its starting point, thus creating an ongoing loop. The purpose of this installation resides in measuring the passing of time via the journey of the water which, through each passage, stains and corrodes the ceramic pipes, which were purposefully kept enamel-free. The use of water taken directly from this highly polluted river further increases the speed of this deteriorating process. When she returned to Chile the following year, Müller turned her interest to the local context by producing a similar installation that reproduces, according to the same topographic principles, the journey followed by the river Maipo, one of the pre-Cordilleran streams that provide the capital city of Santiago with fresh water. In this second work, the dark ceramic tubes create a zigzagging and at times interrupted network, following the dynamic route of the mountainous stream. Sized to scale, the Santiago structure is also longer than the Bilbao one, resting on two tables of different heights. Müller’s 2016 exhibition Nadie puede empujar el río [Nobody can push the river] at Fundación Bilboarte Fundazioa brought together the two installations, along with a series of underwater photographs of the rivers, revealing the rich chromatic diversity—and possibly toxicity—of their aqueous life (Plate 9). In this show, as its title suggests, Müller seeks to examine water as a metaphor of passing time, using the downhill gravitational pull of the stream to grant visual intelligibility to an abstract and uncontrollable phenomenon. As the artist writes: Time passes, it evaporates and starts all over again with a new cycle subject inevitably to our gravitational force. To think about the force of gravity and its relationship with time is to be reminded, time and time again, that we belong to a spinning solar system that alters and conditions natural elements such as water, fuids, fre and form. To observe the fall of things is to understand, on a very small scale, both ourselves and the world we live in. To understand water as an element determined by a magnetic force and an attraction is to understand that we are mere spectators of a universe we have no hope of pushing.14

208 Sophie Halart Müller’s statement here appears to appeal to some universal principles in regards to water and the natural order. At the same time, however, the artist’s warning that we “cannot push the river” refers to a specifcally Chilean situation, calling to task the economic forces which, in the country, have attempted to push, control, exploit and appropriate water over the past decades, oftentimes by concealing it. In the catalogue that accompanies Müller’s exhibition, the curator and art critic Peio Aguirre writes about the complex status of water in contemporary societies. Water, Aguirre writes, works as “both a conduit and a system”. But the difference between conduit and system is an important one: a conduit is a pathway or instrument, usually a covered channel through which water or other liquid or solid substances pass; a system, on the other hand, is [a] collection of infrastructures and legal and economic provisions that support a whole network of underground pathways and artifcial watercourses that have been modifed by humans.15 Water therefore operates on many levels. More than a natural resource, it also constitutes a system upon which ideological structures build themselves and power thrives. This is particularly true of Chile where, during the years of the dictatorship, the privatisation of water played a crucial role in the development of economic activities such as mining and industrial farming. According to scholar Jessica Budds, the control of water during the years of the Pinochet dictatorship constituted a crucial stake for the military government’s neoliberal agenda, and the Water Code that was passed in 1981 proved a decisive step in the implementation of this agenda. From a legislative standpoint, the Code separated water from other land assets and thus transformed it into a good that could be owned, traded and speculated on. It is in this context, for instance, that private companies like Agua Andinas obtained a quasi-monopoly over the water sources of big cities like Santiago. [C]ontrol over water was crucial for the development of Chile’s major natural resource industries, and the new principles enabled users to acquire permanent water rights that were allocated at no cost, were protected by law, constituted capital assets, and were subsequently untaxed. The economic development of these industries was key to the success of the wider neoliberal programme, which, in turn, was crucial for furthering the interests of its key proponents: the ambitions of the technocratic politicians, the stability and longevity of the military regime, and the prosperity of the business conglomerate.16 Under the Pinochet government, then, everyone seemingly benefted from the privatization of natural resources, water in particular. But by turning it into one more “liquid” asset to be swallowed by the rule of the fnancial market, the regime also severed water from nature, liquid bodies from landscape, participating in its general disappearance from everyday perception. It is moreover worth noting that according to the 1981 Water Act, while water resources effectively belong to the public domain, they become corporate assets as soon as they enter private pathways.17 In her installation, Müller replicates the presence of such private channels via the construction of ceramic pipes that effectively capture, contain and guide the fow of water from its very emergence. In this, the artist

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shows how, returning to the distinction made by Aguirre between water as conduit and water as system, both logics become confated under a national conception of water as a private asset separate from the land and the environment. Moreover, as water—rivers in this case—becomes the concealed fux through which neoliberal ideology irrigates the land, it operates according to a logic of control by disappearance. In the specifc case of the Maipo river, this concealment strategy has taken on a particularly worrying turn in the past few years with the development of the Alto Maipo Project, a private venture projecting the construction of two hydroelectric plants in the Maipo valley situated in the pre-cordillera, east of Santiago. The plans which include the digging of two deep tunnels that will feed from the waters of two important providers of fresh water for the Maipo river and re-route the water underground to funnel it to the electric plants would, if implemented, lead to the desertifcation of the Maipo valley and to a reduced access to fresh water in Santiago.18 Furthermore, on a symbolic level and beyond these obvious environmental perils, the very strategy of making fresh water disappear through underground tunnels for the sake of corporate benefts certainly confrms the effciency of the strategy of control by disappearance suggested by Aguirre. Following an opposite route, Müller’s work resorts literally to digging up and displaying fuvial conduits in order to reveal their importance as systems, thus granting them with a problematic visibility. As Aguirre also notes, the invisibility of water supplies constitutes a modern phenomenon: The urban environments of many pre-modern cities were organised around the radial distribution of water, the digging of channels and the use of local topography to carry water all the way out to their limits. In modern cities, however, the invisibility of water as a system is matched only by our utter dependence on it.19 Fighting against the contemporary invisibility of rivers thus constitutes, in itself, a political gesture on the part of the artist: a resistance against the conception of rivers as mere economic instruments and a critical statement foreshadowing, instead, the devastating human and natural consequences that such an instrumentalist view of the territory might bring about. In the Bilbao show, the artist’s ambition to present her installations as quasiscientifc experiments seems quite evident. Indeed, as the makeshift assemblage and mundane materiality of the pieces grant them a somewhat precarious aesthetic, the entire display economy seems to point to the appearance of an amateur lab. This is especially worth pointing out because while Müller’s take on water in the text she wrote for her exhibition catalogue might suggest a cosmic—and perhaps even esoteric—approach to natural elements and the universe, the installations’ austerity of means suggests otherwise. In their research on the exploitation of natural resources, Rhodante Ahlers and Margreet Zwarteveen note how the privatization of water in neoliberal economies is often accompanied by the formulation of myths concerning the universality of its availability. As they write, there are various way to de-politicise water, one of them consisting in “de-contextualisation and universalisation”, that is, in severing the corollary binding water privatisation and the harms it may bear on the entire ecosystem, including humans.20 This narrative seems to be fercely at play in Chile. Indeed, while during the dictatorship, the artistic genre favoured by the military government was landscape painting—and especially seascapes—refecting a Romantic conception of the Chilean territory, today, it is the Ministry of Tourism’s photographic

210 Sophie Halart campaigns glorifying the pristine nature and rivers of South of Chile that adorns the walls of Santiago’s underground stations.21 Meanwhile, local activists in Aysén and other localities of Patagonia regularly mobilise against the government’s exploitative ambitions to build dams and hydroelectric power plants in the region. The simplicity of Müller’s installation and its appeal to scientifc objectivity thus contribute to lifting this veil of sublime nature under which the Chilean government—the military of the past and today’s democratic one—attempt to conceal their conquering and exploitative ambitions. The topic of the visibility of water as an entry point to question the rationale of its co-option by private interests in both Chile and the global economic order also harbours a strong gendered element which, while not necessarily evident upon frst consideration when examining Müller’s work, does nonetheless seem to constitute an important—if implicit—concern for an artist interested in regaining respect for water’s central role in our ecosystem. This aspect of Müller’s work comes close to some of the theories defended by ecofeminists like Val Plumwood, who, in Feminism and the Mastery of Nature, argues that women and nature both suffer from a phenomenon of “backgrounding”, turning them both into passive bodies: backdrops and even foils coming to highlight male prowess. Indeed, the backgrounding of nature involves “the denial of dependence on biospheric processes, and a view of humans as apart, outside of nature, which is treated as a limitless provider without need of its own”.22 Meanwhile, women similarly provide “the environment and conditions against which male ‘achievement’ takes place”.23 In Müller’s work, it is this very backgrounding of water as a support system for the neoliberal experiment to succeed that is at play and her focus on natural fows as main protagonists of her installations seeks to undo this dual phenomenon of disappearance and abstraction. In Müller’s work, moreover, the introduction of a mechanised pump that collects the water falling into the bottom tray and carrying it back through a transparent tube to the bucket from which the ceramic piping network starts grants a very specifc temporality to the installation. From the spectator’s point of view, this recycling device introduces a certain meditative quality to the experience as an infnite fux, the endless repetition of the same water. Moreover, this cyclical pace also coincides with feminist approaches to alternative temporalities. Indeed, by resisting a linear reading of time and the logic of an exponential growth of the economy, Müller’s work recalls the writings of Julia Kristeva on “women’s time”. [F]emale subjectivity would seem to provide a specifc measure that essentially retains repetition and eternity from among the multiple modalities of time known through the history of civilizations. On the one hand, there are cycle, gestation, the eternal recurrence of a biological rhythm which conforms to that of nature and imposes a temporality whose stereotyping may shock, but whose regularity and unison with what is experienced as extrasubjective time, cosmic time, occasion vertiginous visions and unnameable jouissance. On the other hand, and perhaps as a consequence, there is the massive presence of a monumental temporality without cleavage or escape, which has so little to do with linear time (which passes) that the very word ‘temporality’ hardly fts.24 As Kristeva notes, both temporalities are problematic, running the risk of either essentialising the female body or of petrifying it into a restrictive archetype. She nevertheless

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notes that however carefully one ought to consider the application of these criteria, both patterns of repetition and eternity associated with the feminine are useful in that they contribute to throw in crisis an offcial—patriarchal—conception of time: “time as project, teleology, linear and prospective unfolding; time as departure, progression, and arrival—in other words, the time of history”.25 This time of offcial history as both grand project and narrative, in the Chilean context, also corresponds to the economic time geared toward endless growth and infnite profts: a time of frantic fows, a time when rivers are, effectively, pushed around. In her work, then, Müller offers a critical look at the current fates awaiting rivers in contemporary Chile. The cyclical pace of the pipes, for instance, acquires an organic dimension as the artist equates them to circadian cycles. Refusing the “acceleration of space and time” that Aguirre seems to consider unavoidable, the artist returns to embodied clocks, not in a way that would appear essentialist or symbolic but rather as the acknowledgement of water as an inextricable part of our physical rhythms.26 In this sense, she comes close to what Astrida Neimanis has defned as our common condition as “bodies of water”, a standing that stresses out that . . . we are both different and in common; water calls on us to give an account of our own (very human) politics of location, even as this situatedness will always swim beyond our masterful grasp, fnding confuence with other bodies and times.27 For Neimanis, this renewed approach to natural resources, water in particular, goes hand-in-hand with what she coins a form of “hydrofeminism”, a term to which I will return as I consider the oceanic bodies of water examined by Francisca Montes.

Francisca Montes: Seas In 2009, the multimedia artist Francisca Montes (1979–) took part in a collective exhibition at Santiago’s Museo de Artes Visuales (MAVI) as part of her postgraduate end of year show. On this occasion, Montes exhibited fve photographic pieces, which she installed as one uninterrupted line upon a wall (Plate 10). Captured together, these images reveal a dominant hue of mariner blue that almost entirely flls the space of each frame, contrasting sharply with the white board and black frame containing each photograph. The shimmering texture of the blue backdrop grants each picture an almost textile quality, which further highlights the presence of white dotted lines crossing the space in various directions. These images are part of the artist’s photographic polyptych Mar Interior [Interior Sea] (2009) which Montes obtained by fying over the sea aboard a small plane near the southern end of the island of Chiloe. The shiny texture is created by the refection of the sun on the surface of the water, while the white straight and oblique lines, upon closer inspection, turn out to be fshing buoys delimiting fsh farms—a ubiquitous presence in this part of the country (Figure 12.1). In Chile, marine aquaculture, especially salmon oceanic fshery, constitutes a highly lucrative activity, placing the country third in the global ranking of fsh production. The industry underwent a boom in the mid-1970s due to technological developments and the absence of regulation from a military government eager to reduce state intervention in the economy. As a result, highly questionable measures were used in

212 Sophie Halart

Figure 12.1 Francisca Montes, Mar interior (2009). Source: Photographic print. Detail.

order to increase proft. The introduction of non-native species, overpopulation in the underwater cages and the overuse of hormone and antibiotic treatment became common practice in the fsh farms, constituting a health and environmental hazard. This period of deregulated use of the ocean was characterised by scholars as one of “socio-ecological silence”.28 While some form of state control was introduced in 1989 with the signing of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Law and the introduction of quotas, the new law also granted long-term maritime concessions to private companies, thus applying to the ocean the same exploitative logic as to the sources of fresh water examined by Müller, namely the transformation of water into a commodity that could easily be owned and traded upon. Montes’s photographic series does not, at frst sight, explicitly address any of these tensions. On the contrary, the highly polished aesthetic of the images brings instant visual satisfaction as the spectator’s eye becomes pleasantly trapped in the oceanic immensity, playfully jumping from buoy to buoy. These are quasi-abstract works which dumbfound the pictorial tradition of landscape by adopting a bird-eye view point that leaves out of frame the reassuring presence of a horizon line. In the catalogue accompanying Montes’s 2015 exhibition at the Santiago-based gallery Die Ecke, art historian Ignacio Szmulewicz picks up on the aesthetic pleasure provided by Montes’s works by referring to their sublime dimension. There is something universal in this series, he argues: an appeal of the ocean as infnite mass, which the artist shares with generations of sailors and explorers who have, throughout history, embraced the challenges of the high sea. “In terms of sensibility”, Szmulewicz writes, “both feed off that constant, unrelenting desire to place the viewer in an expanded

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position, to extend sensorial abilities so yet another incomprehensible patch of life— or better yet, another blank space on the map—becomes accessible and affable”.29 While Montes’s series may indeed be read in light of a Romantic tradition of Chilean seascape painting, I would argue that by aligning Mar interior with such an anthropocentric view of the sea—as the epic ground upon which heroic tales of fearless men are built—this assessment fails to do justice to a much more critical approach to the sea and its industrial exploitation in the artist’s work. By contrast, I would contend that the abstract seduction of Montes’s sea portraits functions as a strategy that not only draws attention to what may be concealed beneath the surface (as was the case with Müller’s work) but, most importantly, to the act of concealment itself and the shape that this phenomenon may take at a visual level. Mar interior is not the only work in which the artist pursues such a task. In her later series Primera línea [Front Line] (2011) (Figure 12.2), Montes resorts to a similar process, boarding a plane to capture photographs of the streets of Santiago on two important national days: the 11th of September (the day of the 1973 military coup) and the 1st of May (the Día del Trabajador, or International Labour Day). These two days correspond to moments of citizen mobilisation in the streets of the country, and Montes’s photographs seek to document from the sky the various shapes and colours produced by the protests. In her pictures, while some areas of the city appear totally empty, others are flled with aggregated and colorful dots, suggesting the presence of

Figure 12.2 Francisca Montes, Primera Línea (2011). Source: Photographic print.


Sophie Halart

groups of demonstrators. Montes’s series also captures the aftermath of these protests by recording the state of the streets littered with fyers and stained with paint. For the art critic Nathalie Goffeard, these aerial shots ought to be read as “landscapes of the economy” (borrowing the term from Canadian artist Roy Arden): bird-eyed views documenting the ways in which our bodies’ physical occupation and transit through public space obeys a logic of presence/absence absolutely conditioned by the capitalist laws of labour and productivity—even when these presences are triggered by an opposition to this logic, as in the case of the Labour Day protests.30 Asked to comment on her work in an interview, the artist explained that the abstract quality of her pictures serves the purpose of bringing the image back to a material experience. . . . An ambivalence occurs between the historical weight of the event and the visual effect present in the pictures, bringing about a gesture that distances and fattens the action which is then reduced to a repetitive abstraction.31 What Montes’s photographs seek to capture, therefore, would be akin to a formalist history of political events in their most abstract shapes. According to Szmulewicz, this later series corresponds to a moment of socio-political awakening for the artist.32 I would argue that they actually constitute the surfacing of a thought process that was already at play in Mar interior and which confrms the artist’s interest in portraying the visual and aesthetic consequences that a political or economic action might take, once immediate intelligibility and context have been removed or erased. By rejecting the fgurative—and even narrative—aspect of the landscape tradition, it is true that Montes takes some distance from daily politics (the environmental perils of aquaculture or the annual left-wing marches), but she does so in a way that is absolutely political. Moreover, it is this transformation of her subjects as “repetitive abstractions” that, in the case of her depiction of the sea, allows them to escape a passive existence as objects of economic exploitation and/or aesthetic admiration. The ocean in Montes’s photographs becomes that very “repetitive abstraction”, an endless to-and-fro, a formless ebb-and-fow that cannot be contained by copper cages. Escaping the dry, extractive rhetoric specifc to a neoliberal view of natural resources, the overwhelming presence of water in Montes’s work also does away with the genre of marine landscapes that, in the historical context of the dictatorship, constituted a pictorial tradition much appreciated by the military. This is certainly not innocent, for in marine landscapes, the presence of a horizon line as well as of the shore—whether explicitly represented or suggested—constitute framing devices, containing—and thus, controlling—the immensity of water. In Montes’s works, on the contrary, the absence of such solid frontiers grants to liquidity a threatening quality, as a potentially destructive force capable of undoing the populist rhetoric of territoriality As we have seen when examining Müller’s works, however, a representation of natural resources—water in particular—as abstract, universal forces that permanently defy and escape the controlling ambitions of humankind remains a problematic one. Not only does it downplay ecological urgency, it also runs the risk of recuperation by economic and political agents whose promotion of nature as sublime beauty might also function as a seductive foil to conceal otherwise exploitative ambitions. In the case of the Chilean sea, this strategy has been largely deployed to serve national

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economic interests in the name of environmental protection. In 1991, shortly following the country’s return to democracy, a National Fisheries Law was passed that declared the triangular expanse of water going from the most northern part of the continental coast to Easter Island and all the way down to the Antarctic a space of national sovereignty, which the document rather pompously baptised Mar Presencial [Presencial Sea].33 The rationale upon which the country built this claim appealed to the protection of the natural ecosystem and its species from overexploitation by foreign powers. It is worth noting, however, that the law had little impact on the national fshery activity and, on the contrary, sought to give it an economic edge against international competitors. Even more recently, in 2012, the frst government of right-wing president Sebastián Piñera introduced fshing quotas that ensured the economic future of seven large industrial fshing companies while dealing a hard blow to small-scale fshing in the country.34 The formulation of abstract concepts such as the one of the Presencial Sea partakes in this concealing exercise that consists in romanticising the pristine nature of the sea while liberalising and privatising further its economic exploitation. From an environmental and ecofeminist viewpoint, it seems that the ethical stakes raised by the resort to abstraction when representing natural resources like the sea ought to be applied to its treatment in visual arts. Returning to Montes’s work, one question that begs to be asked then pertains to the relevance—and ethical adequacy—of abstraction as a visual tool in this series: might an abstract approach to water like the one portrayed in Mar interior play—unwillingly, no doubt—into this instrumentalisation of water characteristic of a neoliberal view of natural resources? While there is certainly a risk in this abstracting exercise, one might actually argue, as I did previously, that an abstract representation of political issues such as fsh farms might actually constitute a powerful mechanism which, by luring the viewer into an apparently seductive image, also instils in the same image pointers of another, much less pleasant reality. In this sense, the buoys ornamenting the surface of the water also constitute hints that, in our ecological age, the tradition of waterscapes as wild and immaculate expanses have become nostalgic, untenable fctions. On the other hand, as various authors investigating our own inability to act—or react—in the face of climate change have argued, the challenge might not be as much moral as cognitive.35 Similarly, our numbed panic in the face of the inevitability of the Anthropocene is, as Irmgard Emmelhainz correctly notes, only matched by our frustrated desire to see it: “the Anthropocene has not meant a new image of the world”, Emmelhainz writes, “instead it has meant, frst a radical change in the conditions of visuality; and second, the transformation of the world into images”.36 Mediated by ever-more perfected screens, our understanding of an agonising nature is also strangely traversed by a perverse aesthetic pleasure. Montes’s slick images play into the ambivalences and the guilt produced by this pleasure and, in this way, contribute to make it surface to our conscious minds. The shield of abstraction might also become a foil that draws attention in a way that becomes unescapable. In this sense, it is also the experience of spectatorship that is questioned by Montes’s images of the Chilean ocean. By suppressing both horizon and any clearly identifable referents, the pictures of Mar interior draw us to this an aqueous world, slowly dissolving the brittle border separating our own liquid selves from the oceanic mass. In this sense, the work provides an introduction to what Neimanis has qualifed as “our watery relations within (or more accurately: as) a more-than-human hydrocommons”.37 Beneath the veneer of the buoys, it is also our bodies which—going up

216 Sophie Halart the links of the industrial food chain—become increasingly pumped with hormones and antibiotic-resistant. In this sense, Montes’s work contributes to shift the aesthetic experience from a visual to a phenomenological one in a way that will become even more apparent in Carolina Saquel’s treatment of the marginal waters of Chile’s southern territories.

Carolina Saquel: Ponds Carolina Saquel’s 2009 Cuero Vivo (Live Skin) (Figure 12.3) is a seven-minute video focusing on a dark expanse of water. Filming what resembles a pond from a very close angle, the video keeps out of the frame any contextual information, leaving the spectator to search for meaning in the almost imperceptible alterations of the liquid surface. To this absence of frame, foliage or any other kind of informative horschamps to ground the eye, the video adds a disorientating soundtrack. While it frst appears to reproduce nature’s noises (the wind in the grass, the lapping of a wave) as perceived from the shore, the distortion and amplifcation of these sounds could just as well recall the muffed noises one detects when immersed under water. Playing at undoing familiar sensorial referents, Cuero Vivo triggers an impression of complete disorientation in which the surface of the flm and that of the water merge and take on an unexpected density, wrapping themselves around the spectator’s body. As when surrounded by pitch darkness, one’s senses slowly adapt to this new confguration, though, and gradually learn to detect the presence of discrete movements on the surface of the screen: a sluggish ebb and fow, sporadic raindrops, or the alternate frowning and smoothening motions of the wind caressing the water. Cuero Vivo draws from an early memory of the artist. As a child, spending her summer holidays in the south of Chile, Saquel would often be told the Mapuche folktale of the “cuero vivo” (or Lafquén Trilque in Mapudungun), a monstrous creature

Figure 12.3 Carolina Saquel, Cuero Vivo (2009). Still from video work.

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lurking in the lakes of the southern parts of the continent. Targeting animals and humans who ventured too close to the shore, the monster, it is said, would hypnotise its victim before dragging it away to the bottom of the pond, smothering it and sucking out all of its bodily fuids. While the title of the work directly points to this folktale as its genesis, it is worth pointing out that the ensnaring strategy adopted by the monster in the legend is also reminiscent of the frst impression of bodily alienation provoked by Saquel’s work: that of a moving, leathery surface mesmerising the spectator with an overfow of stimuli, tightening its grip around her senses and colonising the safe distance traditionally maintained between work and beholder. In this sense, the water in Saquel’s video shares with the photographs of Montes a similar desire to rethink spectatorship: destabilising the beholder, cutting her expectations short and detaching her from the frm ground, the horizon, the shore. Contrary to both Müller’s fuvial fows and Montes’s oceanic waters, however, the stagnant pond in Saquel’s video eschews productive cycles and thus seems to escape the exploitative logic of a neoliberal economy in which the former two watery bodies have been caught. Its dense, leathery mass speaks of a marginal water, an entropic force that cannot be put to proft and that seems, therefore, to have been pushed out of history, left out to be forgotten. By remaining on the margins of modern life, this water also fulfls a specifc function in regards to national history. As a reservoir for the country’s ancestral memory, it holds in its fold all these other bodies refractory to the logic of proft and whose presences have, therefore, been evacuated: from the decimation of southern indigenous people in the nineteenth century to the desaparecidos (the disappeared) of the last military dictatorship.38 Left to their own devices, the lacustrine waters of the southern regions contain an undigested history of marginalities that remain recalcitrant to the teleological narratives of military triumph and economic progress shaped from the capital. As a space of unresolved mourning, it also vibrates with a specifc energy that appears quite ominously in Saquel’s treatment of the pond as monstrous potentiality, a “water of a hundred eyes” and “a thousand eyes”, as per the evocative image expressed in one of Gabriela Mistral’s poem.39 In her book Staying with the Trouble, feminist thinker Donna Haraway describes these bigger than life demonstrations of nature as chthonic beings which the current ecological crisis forces to increasing emergence. I imagine chthonic ones as replete with tentacles, feelers, digits, cords, whiptails, spider legs, and very unruly hair. . . . Chthonic ones are monsters in the best sense. They also demonstrate and perform consequences. Chthonic ones are not safe; they have no truck with ideologues; they belong to no one; they writhe and luxuriate in manifold forms and manifold names in all the airs, waters, and places of earth. They make and unmake; they are made and unmade. They are who they are.40 Saquel’s monstrous water in Cuero Vivo belongs to this category: it is neither a reparative, nor a revengeful force. Its existence is amoral, and yet it manifests itself as both the ghost of past events and the future outcome of present actions. As Haraway rightly states, it “demonstrate[s] and perform[s] consequences”. In the face of the current ecological crisis, Cuero Vivo speaks of the melting glaciers of the South, the tsunamis of the Central coast and the landslides and fash mud foods of the North. Moreover, as Haraway notes elsewhere, the representation


Sophie Halart

of chthonic beings in the face of political and ecological crises overruns the mere visual experience. As she explains, in this context, visuality turns into “a becoming-with or being-with, as opposed to surveying from”.41 The safe distance separating individual standing from collective becoming that Montes’s photographs of the ocean had started to make a dent in becomes further menaced in Saquel’s works. By denying the eye the solace of a shore, Saquel’s video becomes an immersive experience, wrapping itself around the spectator, activating all of her senses in a way that initially feels very menacing indeed. The consequences of this, however, are not necessarily purely destructive. In Cuero Vivo, the initial menace one might perceive also becomes, on secondary consideration, an empowering experience, for it is this very breakdown of reassuring boundaries that brings the spectator back to her own existence as an embodied, if precarious, self. Indeed, the initial discomfort felt when faced with the overwhelming presence of the water slowly fades away once the eye grows accustomed to deciphering texture and movement on the liquid surface. Past the initial shock of the encounter with the “monster”, it is a different experience of perceiving liquidity that comes into play. By learning to read the surface of the water, the eye does not necessarily regain the distance abolished that would allow it to scrutinise, identify and categorise the movements slowly unfolding on the screen. As if defeated in its conquering ambitions, the eye assumes a different, more accepting demeanour, probing the combined flm of screen and water and letting itself, in turn, be stroked. Having witnessed the emergence of the monster also means letting go of our controlling instincts and accepting a new embodied confguration of our relation to nature—albeit a non-pristine, post-natural one—and to consuming art in this time of trouble: a less individualistic, more entwined standing to and with the other—be it human, sentient, or not. The sensory reconfguration deployed by Saquel in Cuero Vivo resonates with what the psychoanalyst and artist Bracha Ettinger has called a “matrixial borderspace”: a place of encounter between the “I” and the “non-I” that is not fragmenting nor exploitative but that hails, rather, from an opening to the other that, in turns, generates a space of inter or trans-subjectivity.42 Each encounter creates its own psychic resonance feld, and each resonance feld is with and in other felds of resonance. Thus, each matrixial cluster is a web of meeting of one with-in the other, where each one—and each other—belongs to several such clusters. The matrixial web is thus the body-psyche-time-space of the intimate even though it is a web of several, and it is from the onset transgressive.43 Matrixial borderspaces are transgressive in their defance of individualistic rules. At the same time, they do not seek to abolish individuality. Rather, they suppose an opening, a porosity in the “I” that makes it receptive to the presence of a “non-I” and the experience they may share that, in turn, becomes a constitutive trace of one’s original sense of self. For Ettinger, these experiences take the maternal womb as the model par excellence of such shared subjectivity. Matrix that signifes womb and indicates femaleness, prenatality and pregnancy supplies the symbol and an image by which we can identify and recognize the

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moves of the transgressive and partial trans-subjectivity behind or beyond the moves of the differentiated subject and draw the activity of a specifc Eros with its aesthetic and ethical consequences.44 Ettinger’s description of the womb as a space of creative potentiality enabled by its liquid, amniotic properties, resonates with the works produced by Saquel, as well as by Müller and Montes. By redeploying a poetics of water that seeks to open the subject to a trans-subjective encounter, they put in crisis accepted notions of time, representation and spectatorship.

Liquid Poetics The current challenges faced by environmental humanities today deal with the need to rethink our view of nature as a tool subservient to our own embodied existence and, thus, to examine artworks replicating these gestures with a critical eye. The motif of water becomes the milieu in which one might be able to rethink one’s relation to the environment, art-making, spectatorship and each other. In this text, I have sought to examine how a young generation of Chilean artists, while not necessarily involved in any kind of environmental or feminist activism, have nevertheless been producing works that seek to consider water from an embodied and feminine angle. These works, I have argued, offer a new way to think of nature and—by extension ourselves—as fundamentally liquid: that is, as mutable, porous and hybrid entities open to phenomena of changes, infuences and metamorphoses.45

Notes 1. This research was conducted thanks to the fnancial support provided by a FONDECYT Postdoctoral Grant (Folio 3180056). 2. Chile, the document explained, “begins its national reconstruction at a time of profound international crisis”. And while the generals did not claim “any kind of leadership that would exceed [the country’s] own borders”, they declared themselves “aware that the outcome is being observed with interest by many [foreign] peoples for whom our experience could be useful in many ways”. Declaración de Principios del Gobierno de Chile (Santiago: CEME-Archivo Chile, 1974), 1. Accessed March 29, 2018, Dictadura_militar/doc_jm_gob_pino8/DMdocjm0005.pdf. Unless specifcally indicated, all translations from publications in Spanish are by the author of this text. 3. Declaración de Principios, 10. 4. Ibid., 12. 5. For more on the infuence of Milton Friedman on the so-called “Chicago Boys”, a group of Chilean economists who completed parts of their postgraduate studies under his mentorship at the University of Chicago and who would go on to occupy infuential positions back in their country during Pinochet’s government, see Francisco Vergara Perucich, “The Neoliberal Urban Utopia of Milton Friedman: Santiago as Its Realisation,” in Neoliberalism and Urban Development in Latin America: The Case of Santiago, edited by Camilo Boano and Francisco Vergara Perucich (Oxon: Routledge, 2018), 21–38. Under Pinochet, key public sectors such as education, health and pension schemes were opened to outside, private investors, effectively turning public policy into a lucrative sector with little safeguard. As this change allowed the state to make important savings, it also left citizens’ health, education and retirement benefts in fux. For more on the changes introduced by the Pinochet government to traditionally public sectors in the country, see Marcus Taylor, “The Reformulation of Social Policy in Chile, 1973–2001: Questioning a Neoliberal Model,” Global Social Policy 3, no. 1 (2003): 21–44.

220 Sophie Halart 6. Luis Hernán Errázuriz and Gonzalo Leiva, El golpe estético: dictadura militar en Chile 1973–1989 (Santiago: Ocholibros, 2012). 7. Nelly Richard, “Art in Chile since 1973,” Third Text 1, no. 2 (1987): 14. 8. Ibid., 18. 9. The philosopher Willy Thayer argued for instance that the avant-garde theoretical frame adopted by Richard failed to consider the stakes that a rupturist rhetoric would bear in the face of a local context that had already been so profoundly maimed by the military coup. The coup or El golpe, Thayer argues, could—and should—be read as an avantgarde event in itself, functioning as both the paroxysm and the consumption of avantgarde, iconoclastic impulses. In the face of this, he added, the fascination harboured by avant-garde theory—and its application in the Avanzada—for institutional attack and iconoclasm appears out of touch, at best, and complicit, at worse, with the actions of this new military order. Willy Thayer, “El golpe como consumación de la Vanguardía,” Extremoccidente 1, no. 2 (2002). Richard responded to Thayer in the equally lapidary text “Lo político y lo crítico en el arte,” Revista de Crítica Cultural no. 28 (2004): 30–39. For more critical reading of Richard’s Avanzada, see Carla Macchiavello, “Vanguardia de Exportación: la originalidad de la ‘Escena de Avanzada’ y otros mitos chilenos,” in Ensayos sobre Artes Visuales. Prácticas y discursos de los años ’70 y ’80 en Chile (Santiago: LOM Ediciones, 2011). 10. I am thinking of key Avanzada performances here such as Lotty Rosenfeld’s Una milla de cruces en el pavimiento [A Mile of Crosses on the Pavement] (1979), which consisted in painting across the dividing line of traffc on the pavement, effectively transforming the minus signs into plus signs; or CADA’s infamous ‘bombing’ of pamphlets over Santiago in their performance ¿Ay Sudamérica! [Oh South America!] (1981). It is worth mentioning a few exceptions though such as CADA’s Para no morir de hambre en el arte [In Order Not to Starve to Death in Art] (1979), a multi-partite project that problematised the material and symbolic properties associated with milk. Another body of work that did approach watery fows in an interesting way is that of Gonzalo Mezza, a multimedia artist who showed a prescient interest in environmental topics, featuring the Chilean ocean as an important protagonist of performances such as Cruz del Sur [Southern Cross] (1980). 11. Macarena Gómez-Barris, The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017), xvi. 12. T. J. Demos, Decolonizing Nature: Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology (Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2019). 13. For more on ecofeminism and the relation between embodied and territorial forms of belonging, see Mary Mellor, Feminism & Ecology (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1997); Val Plumwood, Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (London: Routledge, 1993); and Greta Gard, The Nature of Home: Taking Root in a Place (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2007). 14. Claudia Müller, “Nobody Can Push,” in Nadíe puede empujar el río (Bilbao: Fundación Bilbaoarte, 2016), 8. 15. Peio Aguirre, “Sistema Agua,” in Nadíe puede empujar el río (Bilbao: Fundación Bilbaoarte, 2016), 18. 16. Jessica Budds, “Water, Power, and the Production of Neoliberalism in Chile, 1973–2005,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 31, no. 2 (2013): 308. 17. Guillermo Donoso Harris, Water Markets: Case Study of Chile’s 1981 Water Code (Santiago: Global Water Partnership South America & CEPAL, 2003). Accessed April 1, 2019, 18. For an informed explanation of the consequences of the Alto Maipo project on nature and public health, see the reports and factsheet published by the Center for International Environment on the topic ( 19. Aguirre, “Sistema Agua,” 18. 20. Rhodante Ahler and Margreet Zwarteveen, “The Water Question in Feminism: Water Control and Gender Inequities in a Neo-Liberal Era,” Gender, Place & Culture 16, no. 4 (2009). 21. For more on the artistic tastes of the Chilean military during the dictatorship, see Katherine Ávalos and Lucy Quezada, “Reconstruir e itinerar. Hacia una escena institucional del arte en dictadura militar,” in Ensayos sobre artes visuales. Prácticas y discursos de los años 70

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22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33.

34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41.

42. 43. 44. 45.


y 80 en Chile vol. 3 (Santiago: LOM Ediciones, 2014); and the aforementioned Errázuriz and Leiva, El golpe estético, 2012. Val Plumwood, Feminism and the Mastery of Nature (London & New York: Routledge, 2003), 21. Ibid., 22. Julia Kristeva, “Women’s Time”, trans. by Alice Jardine and Harry Blake, Signs 7, no. 1 (1981): 16. Kristeva, Women’s Time, 17. Aguirre, “Sistema Agua,” 21. Astrida Neimanis, Bodies of Water (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017), 4. Jonathan Barton and Arnt Fløysand, “The Political Ecology of Chilean Salmon Aquaculture, 1982–2010: A Trajectory from Economic Development to Global Sustainability,” Global Environmental Change 20 (2010): 739. Ignacio Szmulewicz, “Ninety Degree Incline: The Photography of Francisca Montes,” in Vahído (Santiago: Die Ecke Arte Contemporáneo, 2015), 18. Nathalie Goffeard, “The Landscape as Time, the Gaze as Limit,” in Vahído (Santiago: Die Ecke Arte Contemporáneo, 2015), 45. Francisca Montes, “Fotografías de Francisca Montes se exhiben en Santiago,” Facultad de Artes. Universidad de Chile (2013). Accessed April 4, 2018, noticias/93219/fotografas-de-francisca-montes-se-exhiben-en-santiago Szmulewicz, “Ninety Degree Incline,”, 22. This law, while bearing little legal ground on the international stage, nevertheless has a historical precedent that runs back to the late 1940s when Chile unilaterally claimed that the 200 nautical mile fringe of water bordering its coastline constituted its own Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a bold move which was ultimately recognised by the 1982 United Nations Conventions on the Law of the Sea. For more on the EEZ and the Presencial Sea, see Paul Stanton Kibel, “Alone at Sea: Chile’s Presencial Ocean Policy,” Journal of Environmental Law 12, no. 1 (2000). The law became known as the “Ley Longueira”, after Piñera’s Economy Minister Pablo Longueira, who had been a fervent supporter of Pinochet in his youth. Dale Jamieson, Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle against Climate Change Failed: And What It Means for Our Future (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). Irmgard Emmelhainz, “Images Do Not Show: The Desire to See in the Anthropocene,” in Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environment and Epistemologies, edited by H. Davis and E. Turpin (London: Open Humanities Press, 2015), 131. Neimanis, Bodies of Water, 4. Patricio Guzmán’s examination of water in his flm El botón de Nacar [The Pearl Button] (2015) poetically addresses the ambivalent status of water in southern Chile: from source of life to giant cemetery during the years of the dictatorship. In her poem La Fuga [The Flight], Mistral writes: “y tú eres un agua de cien ojos/ y eres un paisaje de mil brazos” [and you are a water of a hundred eyes, and you are a landscape of a thousand arms]. Gabriela Mistral, “La Fuga”, Tala. Poemas. (Buenos Aires: Sur, 1938), 12. Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2016), 2. Donna Haraway, “Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulhocene: Donna Haraway in Conversation with Martha Kenney,” Art in the Anthropocene: Encounters among Aesthetics, Politics, Environment and Epistemologies, edited by H. Davis and E. Turpin (London: Open Humanities Press, 2015), 258. Bracha Ettinger, “Copoiesis,” Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization 5, no. 4 (2005): 703. Ibid., 704. Ibid., 705. Ettinger talks about “metramorphosis” to emphasise what she identifes as an inherent relation between the female womb and a transformational potentiality. See Ettinger, “Copoiesis,” 708.


Note: Page locators in italics represent fgures. abstract: art 113, 174, 179, 212–214; space 55, 83; water as 20, 55, 61, 63, 67, 207, 215 abstraction/abstracted: geometric 20, 134, 187; kinetic 21–22, 30, 134; processes of 8, 55, 63, 66–67, 93, 98, 101; repetitive 214–215 Action Art 127, 129, 133 activist: anti-dam 17, 29; political 56, 111; social 25, 29, 74, 92 Acts of Remaining: Liquid Ecologies and Memory Work in Contemporary Art Interventions 6 aerial: perspective 98; surveillance 89, 98; view(s) 63, 96, 98–99, 167 aesthetics: environmental 13; infrastructural 6, 22, 30 African, diasporic practices 37, 43, 76, 165, 167, 178 Afro-Cuban 38, 41, 43 Agard-Jones, Vanessa 180 Aguirre, Peio 208–209, 213 Alaimo, Stacy 163, 171, 180, 191, 197 alterity, as state of being 22, 26, 64–65, 163, 165–166 Álvarez, Domingo 20, 21 Amazonas, State of 106, 139 Amazonas Norte Multimodal Hub 109–110 Amazon forest 106, 112, 118–119 Amazonian: art 109; artists 107, 118; hydrovia project 106–110, 116, 118–119; indigenous peoples 7, 106, 107–110, 117, 148, 149, 156; waterways/water-worlds 7, 106, 109, 118 Amazonian Hydrovia/Waterway Project 106–110, 116, 118–119 Amazonian Waterway, Amazonian WaterWorld: Rivers in Government Projects and Indigenous Art 7 Amazonian Water-Worlds 7, 107, 109 Amazon River 18, 106, 110–111, 117

Ambientaciones cromáticas (Chromatic Environments) 20, 22 Amich, Candice 192, 193, 194, 196, 199 amphibious culture 73, 78 Andermann, Jens 144, 157n4 Anthropocene: ecological present 4–6, 13, 215; narratives of 35, 48, 163–166; nonhuman forces of 23, 37, 75, 174, 176 anthropocentric paradigms 18, 23, 30 anthropogenic, as pollution 1, 5, 13, 23, 101 anthropology, cultural 13, 18 aquaculture 213, 212, 214 archipelago 5, 80, 84, 146, 149, 164 Argentina 8, 144, 149, 153, 154 art: aesthetic 4–9, 13, 20, 93, 111, 167, 178, 219; audiovisual 7–8, 19, 45, 144, 150, 152, 157, 195, 198; drawings 63, 150–151, 157; ecologies, as inspiration of 25, 30; feminist practices 8, 129, 133; Geometric Abstraction 20, 134; human body as 17 190–191, 45, 59, 129–130, 146, 152; hydropower and 21–23, 25, 29; installation, audio-visual 35–37, 45–46, 48; installations, multi/mixed media 6, 38–39, 42, 172; kinetic 6, 14, 20–23, 30, 62, 134; land 135, 189, 192; mediums 23, 55, 65, 84 111, 165, 172–178 (see also liquid/ liquids); modern 20, 29; rendings 22–23, 24; Western, classical 37; women in 127 Art in Guri 19, 21 artist: as body and performer 29, 179, 199; indigenous 7, 8, 108; invisible designs of 25, 74, 77, 113, 118, 135; realism, use of 8, 94, 180 artistic: collaborations 8, 14, 107–108, 119, 139; creation 21, 131; engagement 6, 13; media 3, 6, 19, 35, 196; see also mixed media artists: Cuban-American 129, 131; Shipibo 7, 107–108, 111–114, 118; Uitoto 7–8, 107–108, 111, 114–115

Index Atlantic Ocean 18, 47 Avala, Adriana 39, 41, 42, 43 Avanzada movement 205–206 Bachelard, Gaston 29, 128–129, 168, 171, 179; Water and Dreams 29, 129, 179, 179, 180 Bachelet, Michelle 191 Ballestero, Andrea 58, 68n27 Banco de la República 95, 103n30 Barad, Karen 129, 166, 167, 173, 178, 180 Barney Caldas, Alicia 3; ecological devastation 76, 89, 92–93, 95, 98, 187, 189; Río Cauca 7, 89–90, 91, 93–95, 137, 138; river mapping 93 Bauman, Zygmunt 3, 9, 119 beach: as medium 117, 132, 152, 193, 194–197 Belén Sáez de Ibarra, María 44, 46 Benítez-Rojo, Antonio 73, 77, 165, 170 biodiversity 13, 110, 206 biosphere 74, 136, 139 Blackmore, Lisa 6, 120n1 Blanco, María 145 Blaser, Mario 107, 118 Bocas de Ceniza (Mouths of Ash) 46, 74–75, 82–83, 84 Böhme, Gernot 131, 140n14 Bolívar, Simón 80, 81, 95 Bolivian water wars 7, 55, 59 Bollín, Icair: Even the Rain 7, 55, 58–60, 67 Borea, Giuliana 7–8, 108, 112, 120n1 Borges, Luis 75 Boulton, Alfredo 19, 21, 23 Bozak, Nadia 198, 202n46 Brathwaite, Kamau 8, 164–166, 168, 174 Brumadinho, tailings dam 1–2 Bruno, Giuliana 66 buen vivir (good life/living) 13, 25, 54 Button, Jemmy 149 Cabrera, Aceneth Perafán 91 Cáceres, Berta 17 Caldas, Francisco José de 92–93 camera: aerial views, with drone 98; digital 165; fsh-eye episteme 62–63, 65; hydrological cycle in 61–62; point and shoot 148–149, 152, 172, 176 Campos Johnson, Adriana Michéle 6 Campos-Pons, María Magdalena: AfroCuban feminist perspective 38, 41, 43, 132; Agridulce 36, 41, 42; Alchemy of the Soul, Elixir for the Spirits 35, 38–39, 40, 43; Elevata 172; Everything is separated by water 35, 37–39; Sugar/Bittersweet 35, 39, 42, 42; water-as-object artist 3 canal 14, 16, 57, 80, 109


Canal de Dique 78, 79 Cannes Film Festival 135, 146 Capellán, Tony 8; Invaded Sea 164 capitalism: early 84; extractive 197, 199; global 163, 189, 193; gross social inequality of 76, 78–80, 100, 128; late 3, 32n30; modern 42, 119 Caribbean: art 3, 5–6, 8, 35, 41, 163, 165; colonization of 167–168, 171; infrastructures in 1, 6–7; (see also infrastructures); mapping 167, 168; repeating islands 73, 77, 171 Caribbean Sea: depths, artistic view of 165; opalescent, depicted as 166–167; poem of 170; seawater, as medium 165 Caroní River 18–20 cartographies/cartography 8, 48, 80, 145, 147, 155–157, 166–167, 199 Cauca River 7, 89–90, 94–95, 100; see also rivers Caycedo, Carolina: Be Dammed 25; Land of Friends 55, 62, 63, 63, 67; Serpent River Book 6, 14, 25–26, 27, 28, 29 Chile: Concón 189–191, 193–194, 196–197; exploitation of natural resources 8–9, 146, 147, 206; indigenous peoples of 187–188; South, ethnic groups of 147–149 cinema/cinematic 54, 153–156, 198 Clark, Lygia: conceptual artist 130, 133, 136; Livro sensoral 130 climate: change 13, 22, 73, 77, 89, 101, 163, 171, 215; crisis 5, 106; disaster 29 COHIDRO (correct is COHYDRO) 109, 110, 121n14 Colectivo de Acciones de Arte (CADA) 188, 205, 220n10 Colombia: armed confict, forced disappearance 35–36, 44–45; Cali, city of 90–91, 94, 137, 138; eco-art 7, 89, 101; gold mining 27, 89–90, 95–96, 98, 100; Marmato gold mining 95–96, 98–101; Yumbo, pollution in 90, 91, 94 color sense, bright blue of sea water 177 compositional fragmentation 172, 180 Connery, Christopher 191, 201n17 contamination 2, 4, 6–7, 49, 89, 109, 135, 171, 196 contemporary: art/artist 6, 8, 35, 37, 45, 111–113, 128–129, 139; invisibility 209; mapping 167 Corner, James 155 Corporación Venezolana de Guayana (CVG) 19 Córrego do Feijão, iron mine 1 Cruz-Diez, Carlos 6, 14, 21–22, 30; Ambientaciones cromáticas (Chromatic Environments) 20

224 Index Cuba/Cuban: slave trade, portrayed through liquid arts 35–37, 39, 41, 43; sugar trade 35, 41 Cubitt, Sean 189, 194, 198, 199 Da Cunha, Dilip: Invention of Rivers, The 58, 63 dam: building 14, 17–18, 25–27, 30, 55 89; destruction, as of environment 18; El Quimbo 25, 62; Guri 6, 14, 19–20, 21, 21–23, 30; Hidroituango 14, 28, 104n60, 137; Hoover 14; megadam 13, 14, 29, 30; protest against 2, 29; weight of 13 Davis, Annalee 172, 183n52 Dawson Island 148 death fights 144, 150, 155, 156 de Castro, Eduardo Viveiros 26, 56, 61, 119, 196, 199–201 deforestation 90, 96, 106, 140 de la Cadena, Marisol 188 DeLoughrey, Elizabeth 5, 8 Demos, T. J. 92, 94, 100, 206 de Nordenfycht, José 192, 193 Depestre, René 170, 171 Depetris-Chauvin, Irene 8 Derrida, Jaques 145, 155 Descola, Phillipe 119 Désert, Jean-Ulrick 8; Waters of Kiskeya/ Quisqueya, The 166–167, 168, 169, 170–172, 182n31 developmentalism 1, 14 Díaz, Roberto 90 Didi-Huberman, Georges 22, 24; Confronting Images 22 diffraction 165–167, 170, 172, 174, 176–178, 180 documentary: flms 7, 54, 67, 135, 145–147, 200; photograph 137, 138; poetics 63, 187, 189, 198 drug traffcking 7, 73 Echavarría, Juan Manuel 74, 82–84 Echeverri, Clemencia 6; Río por asalto 35–36, 44, 46, 47, 48; Sin cielo 62; Treno (canto fúnebro) 35–36, 44–45, 48; visual communication, Colombia 95 eco-art 7, 89–90, 94–95, 100–101 ecocriticism 13, 198 ecofeminism: development of 129, 139, 206–207; Feminism and the Mastery of Nature 210; women and nature 127–128, 133, 192 ecological: art 100, 198, 200; challenges 30, 100; crisis/impact 35, 191, 197, 217; destruction 99, 128; devastation 76, 89, 92–93, 95, 98, 187, 189; discourse 94;

issues 7, 30, 99, 108, 134; violence 47, 95; well-being 25, 95 ecomedia 189, 194 El Cocuyo 78, 79 Electrifcación del Caroní C. A. (EDELCA) 19, 20 El Río que camina (The River that Walks) 116, 122n44 Emmelhainz, Irmgard 215 Encina, Paz: flmmaker 64–65; Viento sur 55, 64–65, 66; visual works 66–67 Enlightenment idea 1, 14, 92, 171 environmental: activist 17, 29; degradation 43, 49; exploitation of natural resources 205, 209; impact 5, 25, 110, 137, 198; issues 127 environmentalism of the poor 7, 73–74, 84 Ettinger, Bracha 218–219 experiments 136, 209 extractive zone 13, 14, 25, 30, 206 extractivism: consequences from 89, 108, 187; temporal regimes 27, 29; water, as a resource 13, 17, 19, 54, 64 Fajardo-Hill, Cecilia 127, 137, 140 Fals Borda, Orlando 73, 78 femininity 127, 132, 205 flm: defned 55; documentary 60; (see also documentary); experiencing, as aerial 62; (see also aerial); short 59, 62, 64, 152–153, 155, 192, 193–194; Super 8 132; underwater perspective 62 flm, animated short: Abuela grillo 7, 55, 59, 60, 61, 61–63, 67 FitzRoy, Captain Robert 149, 150 Flatley, Jonathan 156 Flores, Tatiana 5, 8, 164 fow/fows; aquatic 75, 77, 82; colonize, as to 23; constant 22–23, 118; control 3, 16; counter 2, 6; free 2, 205; liquid 20, 23, 29, 197; natural 81, 210; overfow 6–7, 26, 89, 93, 217; river 18, 90; stuttering 21, 23; toxic 73, 77; water, of 62, 63, 139, 170, 191, 208 fuids: amniotic 1, 129, 133, 170–171, 179, 219; bodily 136, 139, 217; contaminated 135 Foucault, Michel 54–55 Freud, Sigmund 83, 130, 176 Fundación Pablo Neruda 188 Gallery at the Bard Graduate Center, New York 5 Gardner, Joscelyn 172, 183n52 gender: binaries 172, 176; fuidity 176; inequality 137; sexuality and 38, 128

Index geography/geographies: as affective 157; amphibious 73; ecotones 7, 73, 75; spectral/spectrality 145, 151–152, 155, 167 geohistory 13 Giorgi, Gabriel 152, 157n8 Giunta, Andrea 127, 137 Glissant, Édouard 84, 85n26, 167 gold mining see Colombia Gómez-Barris, Macarena 50n1, 62, 188, 196–199, 206 Gómez, Liliana 6, 50n1 González, José 91 González, María Luisa see Yeni y Nan González, Nancy Motta 91, 102n9 González, Tomás: Manglares 74–77, 84 Gordillo, Gastón 80 Gorelik, Adrián 152, 157n10 Gran Colombia Gold Corporation 99 Guayana 18, 19–21 guerrilla combatants 74, 81, 94, 95 Gumbs, David: Water and Dreams 179, 179, 180 Guri, Lake 19–20 Guzmán, Patricio: El botón de nácar 144–146, 147, 148, 148, 149–150, 155–156, 200; La cordillera de los sueño 146; mapping, as affective 156; narrator of flm series 146; Nostalgia de la luz 145, 146, 156; spectral geography, technique 145 Hackshaw, Jennifer see Yeni y Nan Halart, Sophie 9 Haraway, Donna 4, 76, 166, 167, 178, 217; Staying with the Trouble 217 Hayward, Eva 174, 176–178 Heidegger, Martin 17, 31n15 Helmreich, Stefan 57, 167, 171 Hernández, Felisberto 139 Hoheisel, Horst 153 Huggins, Nadia 8; Circa No Future 172, 173, 175, 174–176; queering of the Caribbean 172–173; Transformations 176–177, 177 humanities: blue 2–3, 5, 163, 165; environmental 2, 163, 165, 187, 200, 219 hydrarchy 147, 156 hydraulic: infrastructures 6, 13, 17, 29; systems 1, 13, 16; technologies 14, 19, 25, 29 hydroelectric: infrastructure 1, 17, 30; power plants 19, 21, 47, 209–210; projects 14, 25, 89, 137 icaros, healing songs 112, 115 Illius, Bruno 113, 121n25


images: nature, of 21; satellite 24, 27, 63, 146; superimposed 62, 172, 179 Imaina, Leonardo Tello 108, 110, 116, 120n1 indigeneity: liquid 8–9, 187–189; modern 193, 194 indigenous: bodies 58; contemporary art 7, 107; cultures 128, 191, 192–193, 194, 201; group 9, 95, 145, 191, 193; identity 9, 187, 192–193; people, Mapuche 193, 216; peoples 7, 106, 107–110, 117–120, 148, 149; peoples, Aconcagua 193, 197; peoples, Inca 187, 193, 194; population 17, 146; relationships 55 infrastructure: artefacts, as written 1; hydraulic hypothesis 14; liquid 16; poetic mode/aesthetics 17, 21–22; projects 73 Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP) 110, 121n17 Irigaray, Luce 128–129, 133, 136, 170 irrigation 14, 57 Jones, Owen 144 Kamiya, Yukie 46 kene - anaconda 112, 118 kinetic art 14, 20, 22, 30, 134 Kohn, Eduardo 26, 32n47 Kristeva, Julia 210, 221n24 Kukama people 116–117 La Ciénaga 7, 46, 73–74, 83 La Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta 7, 73 landscape/landscapes: fuvial 5, 45, 49; murky 1; vernacular 73, 81 La Plata River 145, 153 Larkin, Brian 1, 9n1, 21 Las Casas, Bartolomé de 58 La tierra del caimán (The Land of Caiman) 74, 78, 82 Latin American 17; artists, female 128–129, 188; arts 3, 5, 127, 130; ecofeminism 127–129, 133, 139, 206–207; infrastructures in 1 Lefebvre, Henri 55, 67 linear: time 13, 24, 30, 37, 210; trajectory (ies) 17, 20, 22 Linebaugh, Peter 147 liquid ecologies: human/non-human relationship 3–4, 48, 172; material medium 3, 35, 49; methodologies 8, 36; water is never water 2–3, 30, 47–48 liquid ecology 2, 18, 27, 29, 84 liquid environments 1–2 liquid epistemologies 6

226 Index liquidity: metaphor, of fuidity 2, 4, 35; notion of 3, 108 Liquid Modernity 3, 9, 119 liquids: as cultural metaphor 35, 41; mediarefexive dimension of art 6, 35, 37; ontological material 6, 35–37, 41, 43; water, bodies of 35, 37 liquid turn 1, 3, 4 López Acosta, María del Rosario 44–46, 48 López, Martha 111 Loreto 110 Magdalena River 7, 55, 73, 75 mangrove: desecration of 74, 75; ecology of 73; poetry of 76 mapping: affective 8, 149, 156; cinematic 155; conceptual 5; symbolic act of 92 Marmato: crisis in 99, 101; gold mining 95–96, 98; government, as distrustful of 100 Marmolejo, María Evelia 8, 129, 136–137, 138–139; Anónimo 3 (Anonymous 3) 137, 137; Anónimo 4 (Anonymous 4) 138, 138 Martín, Alejandro 5 Marx, Karl 54, 59, 78–80, 119 massacres 73, 74, 82, 83 materiality: body and environment, of 129, 135; ephemeral 6, 36, 38, 41; haptic 66; spectrality and 144, 145, 151, 152; water, bodies of 9, 44, 46, 48, 56–57 matrixial borderspaces 218 Mbembe, Achille 77, 84 McCulley, Patrick 13, 31n4 McDaniel Tarver, Gina 7 McKay, Don 57 McKittrick, Katherine 80 Memories in the Present: Affect and Spectrality in Contemporary Aquatic Imaginaries 8 Mendieta, Ana 8, 129, 131–133, 135; Serie siluetas 131; Untitled 132 Merchant, Paul 8–9 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice 37, 130 mermaid 112, 169, 170 Michelet, Jules 64 Mistral, Gabriela 190, 217 mixed media 38–39, 42, 91, 168, 169, 171 modernity: industrial 13, 21; liquid 3, 9, 119; tempo of 6 18, 20, 22, 29; temporality/late 22, 119–120; urban 17, 25 Moiah James, Erica 172, 183n52 Molano, Alfredo 74, 78, 84 Mompox, Tierra de Dios 81, 82 Moñivas, Esther 8, 140n9 Montes, Francisca 9, 206, 211–219; Mar Interior (Interior Sea) 211, 212, 213, 215;

multimedia artist 211; Primera línea 213, 213 Moreno, Rafael 83 mother of pearl, button 149, 150, 156, 167 motif 14, 30, 45, 63, 144, 206–207, 219 mourning: artistic work of 8, 36, 44–45; songs/chants 45, 74, 75 movement: bodily 133, 214; creative 37, 46, 197; liquid/fuid 6, 22, 130, 135, 156, 167, 190; social 25–26, 99 mud fow 1, 29, 62, 65, 75, 117, 132, 217 Müller, Claudia: Catastros de agua (water Cadastres) 207; Nadie puede empujar el río (Nobody can push the river) 207; water, as metaphor of time passage 207–208; water, as art 206, 210–213 murals 20, 22 Museo de Arte Banco de la República 95 Museo de Arte of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá 44 Museo de Artes Visuales (MAVI) 211 Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) 5, 164 mythology 156; Andean 93; Ayoreo 59; Uitoto 111 National Environmental Certifcation Service (SENACE): 110 National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberacíon Naciónal–ELN) 83 nature: culture and 3, 23, 36, 38, 57, 133, 144; eternal mother 171; women and 127, 128, 210 Naval Mechanics School (ESMA) 153, 157n11 Neimanis, Astrida: Bodies of Water 8, 36, 38, 211; feminist scholar 3, 37, 167, 171, 189, 191; performative acts 48, 199, 215; water, ecological impacts of 191, 192, 196 neoliberal: logic 118, 122n43; natural resources, view of 214–215; policies 189 neoliberalism 99, 101 Nixon, Angelique V. 172, 176 Nixon, Robert: Slow Violence 25, 47, 73–74, 82, 84 non-state armed actors (NSAA) 95, 98, 100 nonhuman others 163, 169, 170, 174 O’Bryen, Rory 7 O’Hern, James 193 ocean: dystopian element 144, 147, 151, 165; female, artistic 172–173; heteropatriarchy 172; image of 165; mapping 146; nonhuman 163, 164; sugar/ slave trade 36, 37, 39 oceanic: turn 2, 163–164; visual logics 166 octopus 169, 170–171, 172

Index ontologies: Amazonian 107, 111; fuid 26; wet/sea 5, 163, 176 opacity 2, 35, 64–67, 180 Orinoco Basin 14, 18–19, 21 Orinoco River 18 Otero, Alejandro 6, 14, 20–21, 23–24, 30; Torre solar (Solar Tower) 20, 21, 23 Pacifc Ocean 8, 110, 132, 145, 166 189 painted lines 62, 63 paintings: early 14, 200; leitmotif 14, 139; subjects/formats 111, 113, 114, 148–149 Parana-Paraguay 106, 109 Park Green Mill: Double-dial clock 16, 16; mill time 16–17 part/present: integration of 196 Peabody Essex Museum 39, 40 Peeren, Esther 145, 157n6 Perel, Jonathan 8; Las aguas del olvido 144, 152, 153, 154, 154–155; short flms 155–157; spaces, as disruptive 145, 152, 153 performance, ecocritical 137, 139 Peru, Ministry of Culture 110, 118, 120n6 Peruvian Amazon 7 phenomenological perspective 37, 41, 43, 153, 165, 180, 200, 216 Philogene, Jerry 172, 183n52 photograph: beauty of 20, 148, 151, 172; digital 173, 175, 177; documentary 26, 27, 91, 137, 138, 150 photography 6, 164, 172, 176, 179, 180 Pinedo, Harry (Inin Metsa): Dueño de las Cochas 2 (Guardians of the River Ponds 2) 112, 113; El Protector II 108; El Rugir del Yana Puma 109; Shipibo artist 7 Pinedo, Roldan (Shoyan Sheca): Doncella (Barred Catfsh) 114, 114; Río de Kene (River of Kene) 114, 114; Shipibo artist 7 Pinochet, Augusto 9, 145–146, 149–150, 155, 189, 205 Piura 110 poem/poetry 26, 75, 154, 187; see also documentary politics: location, of 48, 192, 199, 211; memory, of 144, 153 pond 216–217 Puerto Navarro 90–91 purawa (snake) 116, 117 quipu/ceque 191, 192, 194, 195, 197–199 Radical Women: Latin American Art 127, 140n1 Ramírez, Enrique: Los durmientes 8, 144, 150–151, 151; Métaphores d’un horizon 150; Océan 145, 150 Ramírez, María 78, 84


Ramos, María Elena 135, 141n21–24 Rancière, Jacques 54–55, 67n1 Raúl Leoni Hydroelectric Plant/Dam 19 Reátegui, José Enrique 109 Rediker, Marcus 147 refnery 90, 197 refection, as mirroring 166 refraction 167, 174, 176, 178 Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago 5, 164 relations/relationships: human/non-human 6, 13, 17–18, 26, 29, 74, 130, 179; intimate 17, 48, 128, 157; between mind and body 38, 41, 49; public 14, 25; social 62, 112 resources: natural 13, 17, 92, 100, 132, 191, 205–208, 211–215; water 9, 56, 208 Ress, Mary Judith: Ecofeminism from Latin America (Women from the Margins) 127 Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, The People’s Army (FARC) 74, 82 Richard, Nelly 205–206, 220n9 Río de la Plata 8 river: contamination of 90–91, 94; as entity 63, 64–65, 118; existence of 107; fow patterns 13, 14, 26; hydraulic systems on 13, 118; ocean, as fow to 18; organic machines. as 29; polychronic 29; Río de Kene (Kene River) 113, 114; times, diverse 29–30; transformation of basins 13; water, as life sustaining 62 rivers: Amazon 7, 18, 106–107, 109–111, 112, 117–119; Atrato 82, 83; Caroní 18–19, 20; Cauca 44–46; Huallaga 106, 116; Magdalena 62; (see also Magdalena River); Maipo 207, 209; Marañón 106, 116; Orinoco 14, 18–19, 21; Putumayu 114; Sierra Nevada 7, 73; Ucayali 106, 110–112, 114, 116 Roar of the River Grows Ever Louder’: Polluted Waters in Colombian Eco-art 7, 89 Roca, José 5 Rodríguez, María Costanza 74 Ruisdael, Jacob van 14, 15 Russo, Sebastián 153, 155 Ryckaert, Martin 14, 15; Mining Operations along a River 14, 15 San Basilio de Palenque 78, 79, 80 Santos, Boaventura de Sousa 1, 9n2, 17 Saquel, Carolina 9; Cuero Vivo (Live Skin) 216, 216, 217–218 Schneider, Rebecca 49 Scmulewicz, Ignacio 212, 214 sea: blue-green capitalism 163; as cemetery 150; contains death 171; as feminine 171, 190–191; maternal 169, 171; ontologies

228 Index 5, 163, 176, 180; submerged mothers 164, 168–169, 174 Serpent River Book 6, 14, 26 sewage contamination 90–91 shaman 112–115, 119 Shanghai Biennale 2018 46 Sharpe, Christina 165, 182n15 Shipibo: artists 7, 108, 111; community/ beliefs 7, 111–112; designs 112–113 Sierra Nevada 7, 73 Silenced Rivers 13 silt 90 Simón Bolívar Hydroelectric Station 21 Sin cielo 7; flm, as abstract 98; gold production, video focus on 95; problematic aspects of 99–100; video project 96 slow violence 47, 73–74, 82, 84 socio-political confuence 13, 30, 214 Staying with the Trouble 217 Stoler, Ann Laura 6, 38–39, 49 Submerged Bodies: The Tidalectics of Representability and the Sea in Caribbean Art 8, 163 submersion 5, 165, 172, 174 sugar cane 41, 89, 137 Svampa, Maristella 54 tailings 1, 26, 29 Taussig, Michael 92, 177, 178 Taylor, Diana 36, 46 tepuy 20, 23 Thompson, Krista 167, 177, 178–180, 183n61 tidalectics 8, 163, 164, 166 toxic sludge/fow 1, 13, 73, 77 tracing: history 6–7, 29, 48; water/river lines 58, 62, 63, 172 transnational: corporations 1, 25, 197; flm crew 58 transparency, underwater light 178 transparent visualities 62, 65 trauma: experiences 76, 83, 144, 172, 205; generational 43; past 155, 165; residual 2, 38; studies 145 tributaries 18, 84, 106, 112, 114 Tsing, Anna 4, 9n10 Tuana, Nancy 2 Two Water Mills with an Open Sluice 14 Uitoto: Móó Buinaima 115; worlds, as interconnected 7, 114 United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) 74, 82–83 University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC): Water Research and Technology Centre of the Wildlife Conservation Society 110

Untangling the Mangrove: Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor in the Colombian Caribbean 7, 73 vagina/vaginal 138, 169, 170 Valera, Elana 111 Valle del Cauca (Cauca Valley) 90, 101n2 Venezuela: art/artists 14, 20, 129, 133–134; power plants 6, 19, 21 Vicuña, Cecilia: About to Happen 199; Kon Kon 187, 189, 189, 190, 191–193, 194–200; Kuntur Lo en el Mapocho 192, 193; land art, precarios 189, 196; lifetime achievement award recipient 188; Mar tejido 187, 188, 192–193, 198; Oysi 193; Valparaíso 193, 194 video: digital 179, 179, 198; distortion, for effect 216; documentary 134; fade cuts 194; foor-level 151; online 187; YouTube 116, 193 Vilardy, Sandra 74 violence: fast moving 73; la Violencia 77, 81; slow moving 73–74; structural 73, 78 Virgin Mary 168–171 Virgin Octopus 170 visuality 26, 55, 60–61, 65–67, 111, 130, 163, 166, 218 water: anachronistic 155, 157; as bodies 59, 129, 167; as commodity 54, 61, 67, 212; contamination from mining 89; as displaying logic 60; familiarity with 131; fow, displayed 62, 75, 207; has memory 150; natural resource 208, 214; power, connection to 14, 16; primitive accumulation 54, 59, 78, 79; privatization of 54, 208–209; qon, source of life 193; role of as a resource 14, 17, 37; semantics of 135; textures 117, 146; as time 207; treatment plants 94; two senses of 54; as useful support 59; utopian/dystopian settings 94, 144, 147, 151, 191, 195; wars 55; what it is 56, 89; women and 129; worlding fows of 77 Water Act 1981 208 Water of a Hundred Eyes: A Reconfguring Liquidity in Recent Chilean Contemporary Art 9, 205 waterway: building upon 106, 107, 118; connections, human/nonhuman 84; defned as 1, 109; pollution/contamination of 78, 81, 89; violence on 77 Waterweavers: The River in Contemporary Visual and Material Culture 5 weaving, as time and place 192 women and nature 127–128, 210 Women, Water and Action Art in Latin America: Ecofeminist Epistemologies 8

Index Women’s Art Movement 38 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) 106 Wylie, John 154, 158n15 yacumama 24, 26 Yahuarcani, Rember 7–8, 108, 111, 115, 116, 120 yaku (water) 24, 61 Yeni y Nan: Autológica del agua/Autológica del aire 135; ecofeminism artists 129;


environmental awareness 134; public performances 133; salt crystallization process, exploration of 135; Simbolismo de la cristalización–Araya 135; Transfguración elemento tierra (Transfguration element earth) 8, 134, 134, 135 Yuma (land of friends) 63 Zurita, Raúl 146, 156, 188, 205