– Summer 2012

A Conversation Between Eduardo Molinari and Nuria Enguita Mayo

Nuria Enguita Mayo

Eduardo Molinari, Los niños de la soja (The Soy Children), 2010, photomontage, detail. Courtesy the artist

In 2001 I founded the Archivo Caminante (Walking Archive) in Buenos Aires. It comprises walking as an aesthetic practice, research using artistic methodologies (for example, photography, drawing and collage) and interdisciplinary actions. It is a visual archive in progress that critically reflects on dominant historical narratives; the processes of the construction of memory, singular as well as collective; and actions against the mummification of social and cultural memory. Materially speaking, the Archivo Caminante is comprised of around fifty boxes, which contain three kinds of documents: a) black-and-white photographs from my visits to the National General Archive (AGN), the main public archive in Buenos Aires, b) photographs I have taken while walking in urban and natural landscapes, and c) ‘trash’ or ‘garbage’ documentation of graphic scraps of mass culture, including magazines, books, newspapers, posters, flyers, postcards, maps, videos and recordings that I have found in the streets or received from people who know of my interest in these materials. Joining together these visual materials, I create the Documents of the Archivo Caminante: manual collages, drawings, photographs and photomontages. In their spatial display, I define them as expanded poetic documents. They occupy spaces in different ways: as installations; alongside ordinary furniture; at specific sites and public spaces; in graphic materials, films and publications. — Eduardo Molinari

Nuria Enguita Mayo: The Archivo Caminante isn’t a travelling archive, but an archive that resides in movement, that turns movement into action, constructing stories and conveying different potentialities. Walking, as artistic practice, defines both its form and content, and walking writes the text at the same time that it searches for its subject. Archivo constantly asks itself: who is speaking? How? From where? History, in Archivo Caminante, is

  1. Eduardo Molinari/Archivo Caminante, The Unreal Silver-Plated Book, Buenos Aires: Goethe Institut Buenos Aires/Kulturstiftung des Bundes, 2004, p.10.

  2. The historians associated with the Nueva Escuela Histórica, which emerged in mid-1920s Argentina, were Ricardo Levene, Emilio Ravignani, Rómulo Carbia, Diego Luis Molinari and Luis María Torres. The Nueva Escuela sought to professionalise and apply scientific method to historical studies, leaving behind texts on history that were more similar to philosophical or sociological essays. They consciously sought to form a common historical identity for Argentina, which had absorbed immigrants and their children. The Revisionismo Histórico is a historiography focused on changing the history that had been hegemonic in Argentina until the mid-nineteenth century. In particular, it has aimed to defend the figure of the federal leaders and of Juan Manuel de Rosas, who were considered ‘barbarians’ in the official discourse.

  3. Adolfo Colombres, Teoría transcultural del arte: Hacia un pensamiento visual independiente, Buenos Aires: Ediciones del Sol, 2005, p.23.  

  4. For more on semiocapitalism, see Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, Generación Post-alfa, patologías e imaginarios en el semiocapitalismo (trans. Diego Picotto et al.), Buenos Aires: Tinta Limón Ediciones, 2007, pp.107—08: ‘With the term semiocapitalism I define the mode of production that prevails in a society in which every act of transformation can be substituted for information, and the working process is carried out through the recombination of signs. Then, the production of signs becomes the main economic cycle, and economic valuation becomes the criterion of valorisation of the production of signs. In its traditional forms, semiosis had meaning as its specific product, but when semiotic processes become a part of the cycle of value production, the assignment of meaning isn’t the purpose of language any more.’

  5. Eduardo Molinari/Archivo Caminante, ‘El arte es un trabajo que interroga al mundo del dinero’, Woki-Toki [online journal], 14 September 2008, available at http://www.wokitoki.org/wk/109/eduardo-molinariel- arte-es-un-trabajo-que-interroga-al-mundo-del-dinero (last accessed on 20 February 2012).

  6. Khipu (the word means ‘knot’ in Quechua) are mnemotechnic instruments that gather statistics and figures. They are made up of a principal string to which other strings of various lengths and different colours are tied. Khipus were used to gather statistical data, register historical events, chart the astrological calendar and calculate taxes, among other activities. The majority of khipus were destroyed by the Spanish in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as part of a campaign to eradicate idolatry. See Mario Santucho, ‘En busca del quipo perdido (Criterios metodológicos para una investigación abierta)’, in Tras los pasos de los hombres del maíz, Chemnitz: Weltecho Galerie, 2008.

  7. Because the khipu’s main function was a community’s accounting, its language mostly involved verbs — for example, how many animals were born, sold, died, etc. It also often referred to taxes — who had been paid, who was owed, who had debts.

  8. The exhibition ‘The Potosí Principle’ originated at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (12 May — 6 September 2010), and travelled to the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (8 October 2010 — 2 January 2011) and the Museo Nacional de Arte and MUSEF, La Paz (22 February — 30 April 2011).

  9. Paolo Virno, A Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life (trans. Isabella Bertoletti, James Cascaito and Andrea Casson), Los Angeles and New York: Semiotext(e), 2004; see, especially, chapter 4, ‘Labour, Action, Intellect: Day Two’, pp.47—70.

  10. Ibid., p.73.

  11. See Rodolfo Kusch, América profunda (1962), Buenos Aires: Editorial Biblos, 1999, pp.89—80; and R. Kusch, Indios, porteños y dioses (1966), Buenos Aires: Editorial Secretaría de Cultura de la Nación, 1994, pp.124—25.