Inaugural Session of the VII Conference on Research and Documentation in the Visual Arts
Posted on 23 January, 2018
Carlos Guevara Meza
Read at Aula Magna, Cenart, Mexico City, October 18, 2017
On behalf of the National Center for Research, Documentation and Information on the Visual Arts (Cenidiap) it is an honor to welcome you to this
VII Conference on Research and Documentation in the Visual Arts
. I appreciate the presence of the authorities of the National Arts Center (Cenart) and the General Subdirection of Arts Education and Research (SGEIA) of the National Institute of Fie Arts (INBA) who are joining us here today, as well as the participation of both the speakers and the audience, here at this conference room and through the internet.
I want to thank in particular INBA and Cenart for their support to carry out this conference, and the organizing committee which has done an outstanding academic job to outline the subject of this conference, a subject of undeniable relevance today and which is undoubtedly controversial. I also want to thank Ricardo Calderón, Director General of Cenart, and Sergio Rommel Alfonso, Subdirector General of Arts Education and Research at INBA, for their support, especially during these last few weeks of emergency derived from the 9-19 earthquake, which almost forced us to cancel this event.
I want to give public recognition to my team. In spite of the emergency situation and working under far from ideal conditions, they gave their best to make this event happen once the decision to carry on had been made, especially Virginia García, our PR Coordinator and her team, and Abraham Briseño, our Administrator and his team. Also the authorities and technicians at Cenart, who provided all the means at their disposal in spite of the difficult situation, and SGEIA, particularly their PR Department. We will never forget their efforts, their comraderie, their affection.
Academic debates like this one seem to lose density and meaning when we are dealing with urgent matters of life and death, such as the tragedy we have experienced in the last few weeks. But I think those of us who are here today have come (or are on line) not just to recover a reassuring normality amidst the anxieties and fears of the hour (something which I think is perfectly acceptable), but also, and perhaps especially so, because we share the certainty that critical thought is necessary for an inevitably changing society to grow, to improve and to fight to make sure that inevitable change is not for the worse.
These days, we have been swept indeed by a veritable whirlwind of information and images through the media and social networks, which drove us towards solidarity in action but also filled us with fear, anxiety, sadness, impotence, anger, hatred, indignation, not all of it justified since some of those contents turned out to be at least deceiveing or exaggerated, and in some cases decidedly false. Much of it was true, of course, and spreading it out contributed to counteract the process of invisibility promoted by agents interested in hiding avoidable tragedies. This has shown the amazing potential for social, perhaps even political, mobilization that these media and its contents have, as well as their power to mislead and to generate overwhelming aesthetic situations (inasmuch as they affect our sensations and feelings), to such an extent that they shut down our ability to think and to act, and even the ability of power instances to deliberaely produce paralizing uncertainties. This merits, this demands to be subjected to deep, uncompromising, critical thinking, to get to the roots of a system that has exhibited many flaws and a deep seated disregard for the value of life.
All of the papers were written and delivered prior to this emergency situation, but I’m sure that, without neglecting the important issues that were originally proposed, the speakers and the audience will find the time to reflect upon this; I’m also convinced that both the original issues and the urgent matters of this hour will be seen to have many common threads, there will be communicating vessels between situations that at least as a hypothesis are not merely arbitrary or conjunctural.
Without forgetting by any means those who have left us, what is still to be done and what is in store for us, let us take a breather to gather here for these three days, to think and to feel together, joined by the others, what we have lived through for a long time now. It is not a mere distraction, and it will not be in vain.
I sincerely hope that none of those who have gathered here suffered personal or material losses. On behalf of the Cenidiap community, I express our deepest solidarity and affection for those who were affected in any way.
Thank you very much.