Friday, 11 February 2011


Joe Villablanca, 'Gran Santiago', 1998

Joe Villablanca, 'Quiero Ser El Director Mas Joven de la Historia del Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes', 1998

about Joe Villablanca's 'Gran Santiago' by Michele Faguet
in Michèle Faguet, 'Marginally successful: A brief account of two artist-run spaces' in On Cultural Influence: Collected Papers from apexart International Conferences 1999-2006', apexart, New York, 2006

"In it the artist places a call to a local talk-show program which aired in the early morning hours and which presumably nobody watched. That show, like the video, is called Gran Santiago and is hosted by two middle-aged AM-radio personalities. Holding the camera in one hand (the video-tape image shows the face of one of the hosts looking out from the television into the eyes of his caller), Villablanca talks to his silent public about the role of Galería Chilena in relation to the emergence in Chile of a new artistic scene. The hosts nod patiently, attempting to politely but unsuccessfully end the call, as the caller is both wide-awake and insistent. It is perhaps this video that most eloquently articulates the fate of a project which already had knowledge and acceptance of (and perhaps desire for) its ultimate failure built into it from its very inception: an artist alone and awake in his room at 5 o'clock in the morning, his words falling on deaf ears, conscious of the indifference of those who only pretend to listen, and yet always just a little bit hopeful. All this ambiguity had been incorporated into the project from the very beginning. A constant parody of itself, Galería Chilena simply stated the obvious: that the creation of an informed group of collectors of contemporary art in Chile was simply not possible at this stage of the country’s development. But in making explicit this failure, Galería Chilena was effectively articulating a set of negative truths about its immediate context against the spastic, unwarranted optimism that had gripped Chile during the first phase of the post-dictatorship, as well as about the way in which the art world must constantly prostitute itself to publicists and buyers in order to achieve the visibility necessary to be socially relevant. Even their notably effective milking of the local media machine was not enough to gain them international recognition; this is because contemporary Chilean art is strongly tied to a localist paradigm which utilizes references not easily comprehensible to the outside world, directly interfering with its ability to penetrate international art circuits."

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