Re-visiones #8

Editorial

Lately I only write things I can read with others

Gelen Jeleton (María Ángeles Alcántara Sánchez)

Artist (gelenjeleton@riseup.net)

Pablo Martínez

MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (pmartinez@macba.cat)


 

Each issue of Re-visiones begins its journey with a call for papers. The yearly call comes out of a sense of urgency and a strong intuition around a specific topic, inviting a community of co-conspirators to enter into a dialogue about writing and images. The end-goal is to expand a body of thought that recognizes and affects different forms of action. In the case of this issue, the call was concerned with reviewing the very framework that has given it meaning: the university, indexed journals and their protocols, academic grading schemes, writing itself disembodied and re-embodied, the legitimacy of non-academic knowledge or forms of knowledge not recognized as such, as well as the construction of communities centered on practice-based research. Perhaps it is worth recalling an excerpt of that call, which mobilized our desire as researchers outside the Academy to appeal to all the authors who appear in this issue. It began like this:

The past decade has been an active witness to numerous ongoing gestures of collective dissidence and dissent evidencing a critical commitment to public services against the threat of neoliberalism and its structural violence. Universities and museums, as public institutions involved in the production of knowledge, have been subjected to unrelenting intervention by the austericidal polices of states that, in conjunction with private corporations, have progressively turned to debt as a means of disciplining subjectivity. In parallel to this, the introduction of the point-based system for the accreditation of academic merits has resulted in CVs based solely on the logic of accumulation. What this amounts to is the official standardization of knowledge, promoting a form of learning based on economic interests that have tied research to production-based development and innovation.

One of the greatest problems currently facing the Academy is the normative framework at its foundation. In the case of Europe, the origin of these rules is the 1999 Bologna Declaration. To regulate education across Europe, this agreement emphasizes the construction of a system based on a set of procedures that biopolitically organize the lives of those who work in the academic sphere, along with mechanisms that isolate the university from any process that falls outside its own internal logic. What this issue demonstrates is that under this surface there is a build-up of magma: practices that go beyond the normative to envisage the university as a space of possibility, as a place to sneak into and make off with whatever one can. In this sense, we would like to draw attention to the material underpinnings of Re-visiones, a university journal that depends on the scant funds that the Spanish state invests in research and development (among the lowest in the Euro Zone), most of whose participants are situated on the inside-outside fringe of the university (precarious adjunct professors, postdocs, artists, independent researchers, etc.). A related issue is the journal’s bilingual nature, which not only increases its ranking in the marketplace of academic capitalism, but also opens it up to an international community far beyond the confines of the Spanish-speaking world. And yet, at the same time, in addition to its enormous impact on the journal’s finances, it ties the journal to the hegemony of English as scholarly language and underscores our own subaltern position with respect to the European framework of thought, so detached from (and, I would add, so disinterested in) the epistemologies of the European periphery. All of us who have taken part in this issue defend the public university as a space that is ours, and therefore we can consider ourselves as part of its constituencies, those external and internal forces that face off with the institution itself in an attempt to shake it out of the paralysis induced by the “rating agencies,” which have relegated research to the sphere of rankings, competition and solitude. We agree with Mieke Bal’s stance in her “Ten Objections to the Peer-Review System in Academic Publishing” (2018). For this reason, the reviewing process for this issue has been based less on appealing to the voice of the expert to issue an opinion on the work of those who have submitted contributions (presumably because their lower rank means they need to accumulate merits, part of what makes the system perverse). Instead, we have decided to follow other accepted practices, requesting that the authors provide us with a list of possible researchers who could enter into a critical dialogue with their texts. This has altered the reviewing process, creating an atmosphere of comradeship that has infused it with new meaning. In short, we have endeavored to think about the ecologies of the Academy, as caregiving practices and as a formula for resisting and generating ecosystems, entangled readings, and discussions that satisfy our sense of sincerity, vulnerability and interdependent solidarity.

We are convinced that “authors’ guidelines” can and should incorporate the possibility of writing, reading, acting and listening together. This issue opens with a group piece by CCC PhD-Forum that approaches PhD research as a network of practices which recognize the potential of methodological, epistemological and cultural difference, not just at the strategic level, but at the structural level as well. It is followed by two more collective pieces, one signed by a group of students from the most recent cycle (2017-18) of MACBA’s Independent Study Program, and the other by a couple, Yera Moreno and Melani Penna. In their text, Yera and Melani rewrite grammatical histories using lesbian language, revealing the tenuous points in such histories, and the hyperproductive rhythms induced by neoliberal academics. One of the sources they cite is one of their mothers – a figure who at best normally appears in the acknowledgments section of a dissertation – illustrating how, for the Academy, reproduction is considered secondary to production. Miren Jaio similarly invokes her grandmother; like Maite Garbayo-Maetzu she defends the oral as a legitimate form of knowledge transmission. Gay and lesbian language also shows up in Pedro Tadeo Cervantes García’s piece, which refers to a Language (in capital letters) that is imposed, and to lesser queer languages (plural) that appropriate its insults as their own. Feminist and decolonial practices also form part of Rían Lozano de la Pola’s essay, in which he narrates his experience with collective instruction in a Mexican public university whose very existence is in peril. Once again, the contributions to this issue all foreground the importance of situating lives at the heart of the Academy. Along these lines, Viviana Silva Flores shows how, in a fine arts dissertation on images of forced disappearance, methodologies based on the distance of the scientist and on observerless observation prove inadequate. Likewise, the conversation between Leire Vergara and her friend and former PhD advisor Irit Rogoff describes the web of affects that surround the process of writing a dissertation, revealing those “other academies within the Academy” that Selina Blasco has called for in her contribution to this issue. Perhaps Rogoff’s statement in the course of the interview that “I no longer believe in the separation between theory and practice as I may have earlier, as I consider myself a practitioner for whom theory is one of the main tools” serves to sum up what we mean by practice-based research, and the necessary dissolution of the boundary between theory and practice.

This issue includes attempts at low theory, as in Selina Blasco’s “superficial impressions”; the incorporation of fiction, anonymity and “unscientific” material rejected by other scholarly publications in the case of Xavier Bassas; the invocation of otherness in the construction of communities of learning in the case of Belén Sola; or the call for an “art that is not seen or heard” in Rocío Noemí Martínez González’s description of the Zapatista experiment. One of this issue’s common denominators is a call for action from the bottom up, a call for much-needed epistemological contamination and for a decolonial gaze directed at the notion of art itself. An affirmation that art, as with theory, can no longer be treated as goods to be bought and sold, but as materialities with body and soul, as Rocío Noemí argues. Similarly, Alejandro Cerón, in his piece Terms & Conditions, alludes to disidentification and the performative processes of displacing or decentralizing dominant modes of production.

A central part of this issue focuses on the archive, given its important role in the construction and organization of knowledge. In Memory and history and the act of remembering, Marina Gržinić describes the operations of amnesia-aphasia-seizure employed by capitalism from Fordism through to today’s most violent forms of necropolitics. This issue’s Focus is in turn dedicated to two recent curatorial and pedagogical-curatorial research experiments that have dislocated the archive through the recuperation and reformulation of issues traditionally left out of the archive, such as the activism-oriented graphic art produced by LGBTQ movements over the last several decades in Spain. Fefa Vila’s contribution narrates some of the experiences surrounding the project ¿Archivo queer? at the Reina Sofía Museum, while the article ARXIU DESENCAIXAT constitutes a situated experiment in unstraightening the archive.

The volume closes with two reviews, in this case not of books per se, but rather of two projects that enable collective reading practices and the construction of communities of knowledge and learning. María del Socorro (Coco) Gutiérrez Magallanes examines the publishing house Taller California (Independent and Cross-Border Publishing Project), while Jara Rocha discusses La mundoteca caníbal, defining a possible trans*feminist infrastructure and what it might imply.

 

Imagen

Barcelona and Murcia, 19 December 2018

* Unless otherwise indicated, all links provided in this issue were last reviewed on 15 December 2018.

 


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Este obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-SinObraDerivada 4.0 Internacional.

 
 

Re-visiones - ISSN 2143-0040
 
HAR2013-43016-P I+D Visualidades críticas, reescritura de las narrativas a través de las imágenes