by Diana Taylor
Welcome to eXcéntrico, the Hemispheric Institute’s Xth International Encuentro.
The first image that came to mind when we at Hemi conversed with our Chilean colleagues about doing an Encuentro in Santiago was X.
X, Hemi’s Xth International Encuentro.
X, eXcéntrico, we wanted to highlight the margins, the peripheries, the decolonial, the off-center, off off off. This Encuentro has certainly been eXcéntrico, though not always in the ways we imagined…. We hoped to spread out throughout the city of Santiago and even the country. The street art-action rutas or routes that traverse the city along various paths (Memory and Violence, The Indigenous City, Resistance in Urban Peripheries) built into this year’s program shows the impulse towards dispersion. As always, however, the center pulls back, and pushes outward, the periphery demands to become central, the tensions and oscillations between centers and peripheries resist stability or closure. The students once again take to the streets. Centers of learning are closed; other areas of interaction and dialogue open up.
X is the crossroad, the point where all the divergent elements come together, meet up, collaborate, and separate once more. X does not contain. We converge; we create; we depart.
X pinpoints the space between us that we inhabit and animate. Each of us may occupy a corner, but the in-betweenness is key to understanding affect and political action that does not happen in you or me but in the shared place between us, the productive x that both links and separates us.
X is Hannah Arendt’s space of appearance: “The polis, properly speaking, is not the city-state in its physical location; it is the organization of the people as it arises out of acting and speaking together, and its true space lies between people living together for this purpose [….] It is the space of appearance in the widest sense of the word.”
X = (in the multiplication tables) is a mechanism for augmentation. Creators X = greater number of creators. This is the law of contagion, intensification, and amplification. This is the work of political performance.
X , however, also stands in for the indeterminate, the variable element in any equation: a÷b = x. We never fully know the results of our actions. What will come of our getting together here in Santiago de Chile now? Great new thoughts, actions, and ideas, we hope.
X is queer, sexually ambiguous, skirting Romance Languages’ demands for gender definition. Instead of los and las, we have lxs.
X has decolonial potentialities. When the Spaniards conquered Mesoamerica they faced the difficulties of the Mayan and Náhuatl languages. They struggled to transcribe the sounds they heard into the Roman alphabet. Many approximations worked well enough, but some phonemes completely eluded them. Some of those they marked as X. The X in MeXico, niXtamal, aXolotl, Xóchitl, and others sound very different. X stands in for and against; it will not succumb to colonial rule or spelling.
X marks the spot, our location in the University of Chile in Santiago. For the next week, this will be our performance space, an arena of potentiality. Hemi thanks our hosts here for making this space possible. But it’s clear that material location is never a given—this very spot is and has long been the site of struggles and transformations. Our presence here now only highlights the constant re-figuration over time of the space itself.
X is polyvalent, signaling everything from kisses, to female chromosomes to censured materials.
Hemi, we like to imagine, is a crossroads for the Americas. Artists, activists, and scholars can come together at the Encuentro, connect, engage, inspire, mobilize, multiply, and keep moving out to the four corners of the world. Enjoy!
Welcome to the Xº eXcéntrico Hemispheric Encuentro 2016
For many, the resurgence of social movements in our country which started in 2006 and reached their climax throughout 2011 was a turning point in the dormant transition stage that defined the years following the dictatorship in our country. In a way this phenomenon sealed, on one hand, the end of the process of democratic restoration, and on the other, it brought forth the reappearance of old demands calling for the need to transform our political system. Social movements, of various kinds—for free and egalitarian quality education, for the right to gender and sexual diversity, the struggle for the claims of native peoples, for a change of paradigms in the exploitation of the environment—allow, in their ensemble, to recover a political dimension against the downgraded habituation of politics as a mere form of administration. It is in this context that the question of sovereignty, of the right to dissent, in brief, of the right to think up a different social and economic organization acquire full relevance, and the claims of the citizens become urgent. This civic shift recenters the discussion around the issue of participation rather than representation, one of a distributive power rather than an attributive one. It is on this ideal stage that emerge other ways to manifest dissent, ways which become eccentrical, amounting to a distinct and separate space, in which other subjectivities are made possible, other means to do and know, taking the form of what we call performance today.
This is why the University of Chile has decided to co-organize, along with the Hemispheric Institute of Performance & Politics of New York University, this event; not only because it is the University of the Country, but especially because of its public mission which defines it and bids it to contribute to the development of the Nation. This is an unprecedented initiative born out of the University’s desire to intervene in the public debate and build ties with the national and international cultural and artistic milieu. Due to the nature of this initiative, which combines academic exchanges and a performance festival, it succeeds in creating a space for the arts all the while allowing a public discussion in regards to politics. The very signature of the Hemispheric Institute is this intersection between arts, politics and academia, which introduces an innovative and necessary work modality in our country.
Today, a time in which we want to consider politics as a space for dissidence where the sovereignties which operate between the state and the citizens become increasingly tense, and where performance is built as an experience of that transformation, is the best moment for our country to host this Xth Encuentro Hemisférico.
Welcome Hemisférico, welcome all.
Vice-rector of Extension and Communications
University of Chile
Mauricio Barría Jara
Xº Encuentro Hemisférico de Performance