ALTERED VIEWS, THE CHILEAN PAVILION PROPOSAL FOR THE VENICE BIENNIAL

Few weeks last for the 58th Venice Biennale and little by little the projects of each pavilion are known. Among the most expected we could mention the Chilean Pavilion represented by the outstanding artist Voluspa Jarpa (Rancagua, Chile, 1971) and the renowned curator Agustín Pérez Rubio (Valencia, Spain 1972). With a prolific career, each one in his field, Jarpa and Pérez Rubio will present Altered Views, a project of historical revision in relation to the hegemonic discourses and colonialism that have shaped Western culture from its origins to the present.

By Matías Helbig
Agustín Pérez Rubio y Voluspa Jarpa, los representantes del  Pabellón Chileno de la 58º Bienal de Venecia. // Agustín Pérez Rubio and Voluspa Jarpa, the Chilean Pavilion curator and artist for the 58th Vennice Biennial. Ph: Felipe Lavín.

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The ambitious and long research work that characterizes the Chilean proposal emerged three years ago. In 2016, the exhibition En una pequeña región de por acá (In our little region here), by Voluspa Jarpa, was exhibited at the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (MALBA), in those days directed by Agustín Pérez Rubio -who also was the exhibition curator-. On the one hand, the exhibition explored a series of documents disqualified by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in fourteen countries in Latin America. On the other, 47 portraits of social or political leaders with unresolved deaths were exhibited through various mediums. Thus, Jarpa questioned the power relations that wrote Latin American history and the fact that whoever wanted to access it must know English, a language that the artist conceived as a hegemonic language. From that large-scale project, the Chilean artist and Pérez Rubio set the bases for Altered Views production.

"The research work that we started with Voluspa aims to make a historical rereading of the Eurocentric and colonizing history that all the Western world has assumed," explains the Spanish curator. "A history that has turned its back on other stories from other geopolitical regions such as Africa or South America countries." From this premise, the Chilean Pavilion reveals the narrative that prevailed as Western history and the ways in which this story was developed. "In this way, we have taken hegemonic models used throughout history to subvert them according to History."

The work produced by Jarpa for the 58th Venice Biennial consists of six case studies ranging from the 17th century to the end of the 20th century. The project, as revealed by Pérez Rubio, is manifested through three hegemonic discourses that serve as a medium: the museum, the art gallery and the opera (a musical genre founded, precisely, in the city of Venice). "These three cultural institutions have been created by those who have written history," argues the Pérez Rubio, "this is where the idea of taking previous elements in order to subvert them resides." But the investigation does not stop only at the origins of this hegemonic discourse -that is, in the European monarchy and the feudal structure-, but it also alludes to the ways in which the colonies in Africa and America gave rise to new forms of supremacy over pre-Columbian history and knowledge.

Lastly, Altered Views assumes two higher interpretation values in relation to this biennial. The first is due to the observation made by the Spanish curator regarding the Venice Biennial, when, in a very correct way, he declared: "It is the only biennial where diverse geopolitical powers representation are equally valid". The second is within the slogan that general curator of the biennial Ralph Rugoff gave to the 58th Venice Biennial: May you live in interesting times. A supposed Chinese proverb that alludes to the uncertainty of which the 21st century, consequence of the fakenews, is a product.