ABOUT THE PROJECT
The School of Panamerican Unrest is an artist-led, not-for -profit public art project initiated in 2003 that seeks to generate connections between the different regions of the Americas through discussions, performances, screenings, and short-term and long-term collaborations between organizations and individuals. Its main component was a nomadic forum or think-tank that will cross the hemisphere by land, from Anchorage, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego. This hybrid project included a collapsible and movable architectural structure in the form of a schoolhouse, as well as a video collection component. The project, which seeks to involve a wide range of audiences and engage them at different levels, offers alternative ways to understand the history, ideology, and lines of thought that have significantly impacted political, social and cultural events in the Americas.
After an official ceremony in New York (Ellis Island), the SPU initiated its road trip in Anchorage. From May 19 through September 15, the SPU made 27 official stops. The journey was documented in video footage that will result in a documentary to be launched in 2007. Daily updates of the trip are documened on this site. A virtual bilingual forum discussing aspects of this trip was initiated in January of 2006 and can be accessed at http://espanol.groups.yahoo.com/group/forovirtualpanamericano
Initiated by Mexican artist Pablo Helguera, and with the support of more than 40 organizations and more than 100 affiliated artists, curators, and cultural promoters in the Americas, The School of Panamerican Unrest responded to the need to support inter-regional communication amongst English, Spanish and Portuguese speaking America, as well as its other communities in the Caribbean and elsewhere, making connections outside its regular commercial and economic links. In contrast to Europe, which over the years has been orchestrating its cultural integration through an open flux of dialogue, many Latin American countries still have a limited cultural exchange amongst one another, and often limited to the connections offered by the hegemonic points such as New York, Miami, or even Madrid. Many years after the initial impulses by various Latin American intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos, Simón Bolívar, José Martí, who once envisioned a unified cultural region in the Americas, this project seeks to revisit and evaluate the meaning of those ideas during the time of the Internet and post-globalization. In the debates, programs and roundtable discussions, the project will seek to articulate and debate issues that pertain to local concerns around culture and society. We also seek to discuss ways through which artistic practice in the Americas can acquire an influential role in public life, political, cultural and social discourse, enriching their respective communities in a productive and proactive manner.
As an artistic project, the SPU seeks to innovate by combining performative and educational strategies, creating new forms of presentation and debate about political and historical subjects and creating a discussion infrastructure that will break with the usual academic formats, and the predictable means of communication and debate that are normally used in the art world. The theoretical outcome of this project has been articulated by Helguera through the term of Transpedagogy. The project was inspired by the travel itineraries of those who once crossed the continent, ranging from missionaries, explorers, scientists, revolutionaries, intellectuals, writers, and others. In the utopian spirit of those who once conceived the Americas as a unified entity, the SPU will cross the continent literalizing the very idea of Panamericanism.
The journey waas completed in September of 2006, and the documentation of it will be brought together in the form of a publication, a documentary and a traveling exhibition starting in 2008.
FROM EYAK TO YAGHAN
The beginning and end of the Schoolhouse road trip was marked by meetings with the last living speakers of two Native American languages. In Anchorage, the SPU interviewed Marie Smith Jones, the last speaker of Eyak, a native Alaskan language. The end of the trip was marked by meeting Cristina Calderón in Tierra del Fuego. Calderón is the last speaker of Yaghan, a native language of Tierra del Fuego.
On each of its stops, the SPU offered a number of public programs in collaboration with its host.
As a special component of the onsite programming planned as part of the School of Panamerican Unrest, we offered a special program of experimental video and documentary films on the Americas, in collaboration with the organizations Cinema Tropical and Women Make Movies.
Cinema Tropical, is a not-for profit organization based in New York that promotes, programs, and distributes Latin American Cinema in the United States. The SPU schoolhouse will feature a program of experimental video from Latin America in collaboration with Cinema Tropical.
Women Make Movies is the largest distributor of films and videotapes by and about women in the world. A program compilation of film works will explore subjects around the Americas such as history, social and political issues.
At each stop, the School facilitated a discussion/roundtable with local participants on a subject that is of both local and Panamerican relevance. The discussions will be summarized in the daily blog, and papers and other information will be posted on this site. A full list of discussion topics is listed on the "Itinerary" section.
At each stop, Pablo Helguera conducted writing and performance workshops, which concerned the discussion on the subjects related to the visit and the writing of short performance speeches that participants will be encouraged to perform at the Panamerican Ceremony.
The SPU presented a civic ceremony event, presenting the Schoolhouse to the public and the presentation of a commemorative plaque to the local host. The ceremony will include a speech and the performance of the Panamerican Anthem, an orchestral composition by Pablo Helguera. Pablo Helguera archive: http://www.pablohelguera.org http://web.mac.com/phelguera/iWeb/Site/Pablo%20Helguera%20Archive.html