In a Contemporary Key

AGabriela Salgado and I have the honour of being chosen to coordinate the first two issues of Revista Atlántica de Arte y Pensamiento focused on indigenous concerns. We decided to address this question not as a closed category, but as a field of problematics expanding outwards towards different loci of thinking and action. Our point of departure is grounded in the belief that the concept of ‘indigenous’ does not have any essence prior to its own history, but rather is contingent on subjective, political and historical processes. In consequence, on one hand we wish to preclude the concept from remaining trapped in exoticist considerations, romantic idealizations and reductionisms centred on some kind of fixed or purely ethnographic identity; and, on the other, we argue for the need to focus the indigenous question in a contemporary key. To address the question in terms of being anchored in an origin and enclosed in the past would denote a ethnocentrist prejudice rooted in modernity which discriminates between ‘enlightened’ cultures open to the future and popular-indigenous cultures condemned to look back to the past in order to preserve their ‘authenticity’. On the contrary, we must view as contemporary the actions of different cultures able to confront their own time, to reiterate age-old traditions or to introduce changes and innovations in consonance with the rhythm of their own self-managed processes.

Based on the premises expounded above, the indigenous question is dealt with transversally, in such a way that it cuts across different theoretical and pragmatic fields and coincides in paths or specific points with all kinds of plural movements.

  1. In a world traumatized by the pandemic and perplexed by the uncertain post-Covid future, indigenous cultures located on the sidelines of the ideal of progress can provide invaluable pointers that will help to conceive other models of temporality, of insertion within the biosphere and of attitudes towards illness and death. One of the most compelling challenges of the Euro-Western present is to open up to a greater diversity of epistemologies, sensibilities, cosmologies and ethical-political systems. This challenge ought to be inscribed within a decolonial perspective: following the fight to recognize alternative models of social organization and knowledges brought into question by hegemonic hierarchies.
  2. The first two issues of the journal will also encourage crossovers between the indigenous question and environmentalist theories, demands and practices, as well as an intersection between this question and the critique of patriarchal hegemony coming from feminism and LGBTIQ+ positions. These alternative forms of thinking and militancy coincide with the counter-hegemonic (or at least non-hegemonic) stance of indigenous cultures. Those forms and that position also converge in the discussion of universal categories that binarize and tend to neutralize differences.
  3. Finally, the problematic presented in these first two issues also calls for a political dimension. And this not only involves positions and conquests on a macro level but also demands micropolitical focuses able to accept the resistance of subjectivities to the colonization of creative forces by globalized capitalism. These focuses will make us view sensibility, poeticity and art in particular as fundamental moments in the imagination of other possible and better worlds. Indigenous cultures have a long experience in this essential undertaking.

Based on these general premises that cut across the coordination of the first two issues, each writer is responsible for their sources, their opinions and their focus on the individual concern they address.

Ticio Escobar
July 2021

Ticio Escobar – Editorial Coordinator

Ticio Escobar

A curator, professor, art critic and cultural promoter, Ticio Escobar (Asunción, Paraguay, 1947) is also President of the International Association of Art Critics in Paraguay, President of the Association of Support to Indigenous Communities of Paraguay, Director of Culture of Asunción and Minister of Culture of Paraguay.

He was the author of the National Culture Bill and co-author of the National Heritage Bill of Paraguay. He has carried out countless curatorships in Paraguay and worldwide, has penned a dozen books on art theory and culture, and received various distinctions in Argentina, Brazil and France, Honorary Doctorates from Universidad Nacional de la Artes and Universidad de Misiones, Argentina, and several international awards. He currently works as Director of Centro de Artes Visuales/ Museo del Barro.

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