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<nettime> Re: borderhack
fran ilich on Fri, 24 Aug 2001 17:16:32 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Re: borderhack

hola coco,

> I realize from the nettime-latino list that you are currently receiving
> heated emails from critics about your borderhack event and don't want to
> give the impression that I just want to add fuel to the fire. However, for
> a long while now, each time I read your postings, I am left wondering why
> you present your borderhack endeavors as if there had never been an
> organized attempt before yours to develop a critical/artistic approach to
> the US-Mexico border. It may just be that you believe that using computers
> makes everything different but the content of the work you present and the
> content of your own essays read like re-runs of the manifestos of the
> Border Arts Workshop in the 1980s.

first of all I wouldnąt exaggerate. the personal attacks of only one person
donąt really count as "heated emails from critics". and I guess you already
noticed that this one person did received many "heated emails from critics".

about border actions, im aware that borderhack is not the first in the us. I
mean, even the extreme right has done its share of events to close the
border, this I would say, have been the more effective so far. I have always
known that the "borderhack", is an offspring of the bordercamps started by
florian scheider in documenta. and I never denyied this, au contraire, we
are working together with florian and co. of course, like any offspring this
one, has a lot of differences with the original.

I have never said that this is the first event against the border, not even
on this particular border. even though the borderhack its completely
different from what has been done in tijuana over the years. im really sorry
that I was a kid in the 80's and that I only took part on many of this
events as as spectator, but at the age of 5 to maybe 14, there's not much
you can do. this would however be corrected in the 90's, as early as 91,
when a collective of teenagers in which I was involved joined the slogan
paintings at the border, and several other campaigns, not all of them
directly against the border.

by the way where can I get those manifestos that you talk about? I would
really be interested in reading them, you surely must that chicano culture
is not popular at all in mexico, not even in the borderlands. and maybe only
in some circles mexico city. during a lot of years I got involved in many
border initiatives, not all of them with chicanos, but for example I worked
the mexican venues of what is now known as the san diego latino film
festival, and also collaborated from time to time with the taco shop poets.
but for once is hard to keep with the beat of the dollars. and sometimes is
really hard to make chicanos understand that is not easy to come to the
events, etc... money can also be a border.

so you talk of border artist in the 90's, but im sure you remember this
particular border wasnąt invented on the 80's. so who knows... I wouldnąt
say this people where the first one to get involved with this. so why build
a temple on them? why not others? or why not keep up with the rhythm of life
instead of limiting ourselves to what a particular generation did. and im
sure they where great, whatever I could see of this people always amazed me
(im not talking particularly of the group you mention). but where we can get
their texts, their works? for sure they where pretty obscure, and I donąt
blame it on them, as mexico is a country which lacks memory, and I also know
the limitations of infrastructure which can exist in citys of the north of

if one thing is for sure, is, we had the border in common. donąt you think
this simple fact can be enough to create the same effect in different
generations of humans?

> They organized cultural events at the border, did performances across the
> border fence, and in a metaphorical way, were "hacking" long before you
> got there, and before any mainstream museum ever took interest in the
> area. 

so this is great news, please do get me the contacts of this museums, since
in mexico nobody seems to care about it. do you think cultural institutions
care? please, lets not joke on this. remember this is another mexico, with
another government, less tolerant, etc etc etc. and believe me when I say
this, im not holding anything against your group of friends. au contraire.
it seems great enough, and I do hope we can work together sometime.

> Scores of academics in both the US and Mexico started thinking
> about the border as the starting point of hybridity because of the work
> that BAWTAF has done, and because of the contributions of such writers and
> artists as Guillermo Gomez-Peńa, Gloria Anzaldua, Alurista and so on. In
> addition, from the 1960s onward, Chicano artists were talking about a
> territory without borders and making art about the region, laying a
> groundwork for the sensibility you now claim as your own.

well, you might notice that borderhack, which is basically done by people
from tijuana, not by foreigners or people from the usa side of the border,
is also not done by artists. at all. nor people whom you can call exactly
activists. this is just a paltform to unite different activists and borders
who otherwise couldnąt work together. there kilos of borders beetween
different groups of artists and activists, and im not even talking about
people working with new media.  modemless people find really hard to
understand and get along with modem people.

for example guillermo gomez peńa, an artist which I donąt personally know
(nor his work) , but to whom I invited to the event, didnąt even reply to my
emails. what to say? the border needs to be hacked every day. should I wait
till the 80's come back again?

and come on, when taggers krews like hem or dlc did graffiti on the border
(not the border wall, which is so easy to tag when you compare it to the
actual us customs building, the big gate which taggers spraypainted ), not
one of this performers and artists validated the action; and the government
was putting this persons in jail, and civil groups where even killing
taggers, as well as cutting hands, not one leftist said anything. in fact I
remember being in panels as a spokesperson of the tagger community,  fighing
the points of views of government as much as leftists. even the democratic
party was against taggers.

they, like most leftists didnąt like what this new generation was doing.
much in the same way that we didnąt like what older generations where doing.
but then again I was only 17 back then, but not that late to write
"metro-pop" a novel which would start a debate about tijuana being the
soweto of san diego, and who im sure chicano people donąt even know about.
should I blame the market? or should I call them ignorants because they
didnt read it? just to think of making a writers conference in tijuana/san
diego with writers from side is almost impossible, there is almost no
communication or interest at all. and we are talking the sensitive people
as you know, playing with the border is not about taking credits. I donąt
claim this sensibilty as my own. in fact, I donąt think there's much
sensibilty involved in doing an action like this.

> It is dismissive and even ignorant to describe all these efforts as
> "cliched" approaches to the border - I honestly don't see that what you
> propose as very different other than that you propose to transpose this
> work into a virtual context. The other real difference I see is that you
> want to draw a predominantly European and Euro-American net.art crowd from
> nettime to TJ and link the US-Mexico border scene to the European art
> scene -- now what would that do for the border and the people who live and
> work there?

yes, im totally here with you. and I do get your point. but you know, same
things happen when the performanceros from the 80's came and smoked
marihuana and then left. nothing changed on this side of the border, you
know. what we are trying to build is a platform of people who can compromise
with actual work, and who can distinguish that art is not the only thing it
exists. still art is important, and its a big step. but there are other
steps to make. and believe me, I know that what this people in the 80's did
was amazing.

> Still, it is historically inaccurate to suggest that artists first got
> concerned about borders in Europe first during the last Documenta as you
> have written -- artists have been working on the US-Mexico border for much
> much longer than that.

I didnąt say this. I said the kein mensch ist illegal bordercamps started in
documenta. do you get the difference?

>What does seem terribly odd is that it would appear
> that you must erase the history of border culture in order to cast your
> own venture as the starting point. Now why would that be necessary?  Why
> make net.art partake of that violent modernist tradition of having to
> demolish everything in order to make one's own creativity seem original?

its funny that you see things this way, we are not erasing history. hell,
we're not even historians. and this not our starting point, we have over 14
years working in tijuana. why? not because it was cool, but because we grew
up there and didnąt have any other choices. we didnąt move from mexico city
to tijuana. we where there the minute we borned. and come on, people like
tijuana no, solucion mortal, the people from factor x, prt, all of them who
have been involved in border actions since at least the 80's are
participating in borderhack. borderhack is not only an art event, its a
platform for activists of both sides of the border. people who are really
taking part on the action on a daily basis.

> Why not bring all your peers and colleagues from a variety of disciplines
> and histories into dialogue together to share border culture? Why turn
> your back on the past and even on other artists working in the present
> (BAW TAF still exists, for example) and only pay attention to one digerati
> clique that too often mistakes itself for the only politicized avant garde
> to have ever emerged in the history of the world?

well, we invited since last year the contacts or emails we could get. but we
didnąt get much of an answer. altough people like zopilote has been a great
support. and yes, some are participating during the 3 day camp.  others
couldnąt event take the time to answer a polite "no" by email.

anyhow, I do hope we get to something with this, and hopefully next year, or
even in the next few days people who worked in the border in the past or
future, will come and join. maybe if you are somewhere near, you could even
come and present something, participate in a panel, help break the borders
beetween border people. because  this not about making borders, but breaking
them. im sorry if I offended you (or the people you mention) with the event,
believe me it wasnąt my intention at all. the only point was to make such an

and I do hope we can work together. wouldn't be great? I think so ;)

muchos besos!

nos vemos en el futuro.



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