Just Art

22/Jan/15 — 24/Jan/15, Teatro Julio Castillo
Director: Carin Kuoni, Lucía Sanromán

SITAC XII states that artists and their projects - working in collaboration with other disciplines and agents out of the art scene- can trace the way towards the creation of more just societies. 

With three research lines, the complexity of justice is studied within education, food and gender, and the starting line are these three international art projects and their counterparts in Mexico, hosted by the Estudio SITAC program. The New Delhi based artist, Amar Kanwar and his project Sovereign Forest in collaboration with CaSA: Centro delas Artes de San Agustín Etla and La Curtiduría, both in Oaxaca; Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti from Palestine with School under a tree, in collaboration with Fundación Alumnos 47; sound collective Ultra-red´s Vogue-ology, with Campus Expandido and Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC).


1. Education Justice

January 22

We examine learning as a form of re-occupation, both cognitive and spatial, in precarious political and physical contexts. The condition of physical displacement (including disappearance) is central to this day, that takes off from Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti’s School Under a Tree (“shared living in a state of displacement”), informed by their work in a refugee camp in Palestine.

SITAC XII opens with the metaphorical moment of silence, a calibration of the given context, politically, culturally and institutionally. With their video piece Moments of Silence, Swedish artists Lars Bergström and Mats Bigerts speak of the world in such a condition of pause as “a frozen arrow pointing at the thought of something important, so important that it should never be forgotten.” A tall order that the conference cannot aspire to, but certainly this moment in early 2015 does in the aftermath of the profound repercussions of the abduction and disappearance of young students in Iguala, Guerrero, the murder of young black men in the United States, and the criminalization of marginalized peoples in too many places in between.

2. Food Justice

Under various loaded terms – slow food, seed banks, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and others – the discussion on what we eat and who is empowered by it, has gained international urgency due to population explosion, monopoly by multinational food corporations, and environmental crises. Knowledge of local communities, and access and control over local agricultural products and procedures, so far sit squarely against corporate and government interests in large-scale food production. In Mexico, key words are indigenous food autonomy versus transgenic corn; in parts of India, positions are occupied along similar fault lines focusing a wide range of food crops. This day examined and compared strategies for a more just distribution of, and access to, food sources foregrounding art projects that open new thinking on these issues along legal investigations.

The morning was informed by Amar Kanwar’s project The Sovereign Forest, the artist’s long-term engagement with activists and local farming communities in Odisha on India’s East Coast, and the rousing debates over transgenic corn and the defense of native seeds in Mexico that mirror the Indian situation. Reports on the October 2014 Estudio SITAC that brought together Amar Kanwar and activists, artists, and educators in Oaxaca complement the morning session. In the afternoon, the discussion expanded philosophically and legally to reflect on such recent developments as the right to just treatment that has been expanded from human to non-human animals, from natural to corporate persons. Introduced in Bolivia in 2010, the Law of the Rights of Mother Earth, for instance, affords human rights to indigenous plants. In the U.S. in 2012, on the other hand, corporations’ right to free speech was reaffirmed.

3. ​Gender Justice

We looked into constructions of gender, their deep entanglement with constructions of race, and the potential to destabilize these categories through performance-based strategies.

MuAC’s Campus Expandido hosted the international sound art collective Ultra-red for an extended workshop in November 2014, in collaboration with Museo Experimental El Eco and the Seminario: Estética, Arte y Política taught by Helena Chávez Mac Gregor. The experience of “listening” based on a structured protocol was shared by twelve workshop participants from Mexico City, was the topic of the first presentation. Founded in 1994 in California and with members internationally, Ultra- red is dedicated to “militant sound investigations” that explore acoustic space as generative of social space and apply it to political organizing. Formative for the workshop in Mexico was Ultra-red’s recent project Vogue’ology, developed within the New York City’s House/Ballroom scene, an intentional community of transgender, bisexual, lesbian and gay, primarily Latino/a and African American men and women organized as “houses” that function as social networks and artistic collectives.

Later on, the discussion broadened to analyze operations of exclusion and counter-strategies through the enactment of gender, class and racial identities in gendered spaces, including architectural, urban, and virtual settings.


Programa de acompañamiento

04/Oct/14 - 21/Jan/15
Director: Lucía Sanromán

Departing from previous editions of the SITAC Workshops that have complemented the conference in the past, Estudio SITAC is situated as the point of entry to the conference allowing for deeper engagement and embeddedness by addressing the networks of artistic and activist knowledge that operate in the context of Mexico. Through the work of Campus in Camps (Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti), Amar Kanwar, and the sound art collective Ultra-red remote practices are linked to local approaches that inform issues and speakers for SITAC XII: Arte, justamente | Just Art. Short-term residencies, the Estudio SITAC for the first time expands the location of SITAC beyond Mexico City to Oaxaca and Tepoztlán and is organized in collaboration with host institutions through three distinct programmatic formats. Estudio SITAC participants are considered Aliados (allies) that accompany the proceedings and also inform the conference and publication.