PABLO HELGUERA, SCHOOL OF PANAMERICAN UNREST PABLO HELGUERA « SCHOOL OF PANAMERICAN UNREST » Je m’appelle Pablo Helguera. Je suis un artiste mexicain vivant à New York – une ville qui se vante d’être la capitale du monde, ainsi que la capitale du monde d -
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“school of Panamerican unrest”
My name is Pablo Helguera. I am a Mexican artist living in New York — a city that praises itself to be the capital of the world, as well as the capital of the art world. The Art world- the environment where a good part of my life unfolds— is a strange place. On the one hand full of intellectual energy and creative activity, and on the other, a self-absorbed universe, existing within the spheres of its own influence.
In September 2001, many things in the world changed due to the events that took place in this city, and the events that ensued, as the United States once again took the center stage of history asserting its hegemonic power by invading Iraq.
I wanted to understand how the American ideals of peace, brotherhood and unity had evolved into a project of global hegemony. And I felt that we needed to look back at history, at the time when the cultures of the new world had been founded. Where were those XIXth century ideals of perfect American democracies, imagined by leaders like Jefferson and Bolívar? Where was the America described by the poetry of Walt Whitman and José Martí? And where were the artists, the creative minds, figuring out what is happening to us today?
As a Latin American living in Anglo America, I asked myself further questions. What did the concept of “nation” means to us today? What is the role of art and culture in defining who we are? What is it that makes us unique? And would this knowledge help us reassert our place in this world? How can we create new ways to dialogue beyond the discourse established by international financial interests and how can we have this dialogue through art in a way that would go beyond the more conventional formats of international biennials and art fairs?
The most logical answer to me, the most direct, was to have face-to-face interactions. I would drive from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, in search for those answers, carrying a space with me, a traveling school house which would be a place of collective learning to both understand the continental past and elucidate the present, organizing conversations and collective actions in between. Perhaps it was the most romantic action one could take, and yet to me it was the most fitting for the kind of pursuit I was doing. I was in search of a place that I did not know on whether it was real or fictional, and it was named Panamerica. This is the story of that journey.
Pablo Helguera, September, 2006
Eric Shiner, senior vice president of contemporary art at Sotheby’s
Pablo Helguera’s “The School of Panamerican Unrest” 2005.
A multi-months-long performance that unfolded between Alaska and Argentina, The School of Panamerican Unrest saw artist Pablo Helguera drive through the Americas with a portable schoolhouse and lecture podium as he conducted think tanks, lectures, and artist statements throughout North, Central, and South America. It stands for me, as one of the most important durational artworks of this century, and its message of unity, dialogue, and collaboration is more important now than ever before.
Pablo Helguera performed individually at the Museum of Modern Art in 2003, where he showed his work Parallel Lives. His musical composition, Endingness, has been performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Helguera has exhibited and performed at venues such as the Museo de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; ICA Boston; RCA London; 8th Havana Biennal; PERFORMA 05, Havana; Shedhalle, Zurich; MoMa P.S.1, Brooklyn Museum; IFA Galerie, Bonn; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum; Malba Museum; Ex-Teresa Espacio Alternativo; The Bronx Museum; The Brooklyn Museum; The Guggenheim; SITE Santa Fe Biennial; Artist Space; BAM; Sculpture Center amongst many others.
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