A Prologue for a Prologue

The title of And if I devoted my life to one of its feathers? A Prologue in Public Space quotes Cecilia Vicuña, a Chilean poet and activist who urges us to weave aesthetic and spiritual threads between people and nature. Across the planet, the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted our everyday lives and the ideas that form the basis of our understanding of the world. Faced with the reality of this new and challenging moment of lockdowns and closing borders and doors, we understood the importance of keeping a collective transnational conversation going beyond these walls that have been put up, instead of merely pushing back the dates of the exhibition.

This “prologue in public space” brings together six artists and collectives – Manuel Chavajay, Chto Delat, Inhabitants with Margarida Mendes, Daniela Ortiz, Prabhakar Pachpute, and Sophie Utikal—whose practices engage in the struggle for collective survival and the processes involved in restoring social bonds that have been disrupted by misogyny, colonialism, and imperialist violence. Each was invited to produce specific works for a series of billboards that reflect on the current pandemic from the perspective of their own experiences, concerns, geographies, and political communities. These billboards are designed to convey messages that are different from what we regularly see in social media, commercial ads, and newspapers. Each work responds to and reflects a different outlook on a shared world that is collectively, but unevenly, being affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

In keeping with the spirit of the original exhibition, these billboard interventions seek to start a dialogue about self-determination and social and ecological change. The showcased works critically examine the breakneck pace with which raw materials are mined and the environmental destruction inflicted by neoliberalism. Indigenous positions burst through colonial legacies to remind us of the continuation of extractive logics in the twenty-first century. Solidarity-based and anticolonial feminisms highlight the struggle against patriarchal capitalism and state oppression, while other works tell stories of reverse migration and forms of affective belonging. Collectively, the works of And if I devoted my life to one of its feathers? A Prologue in Public Space call for the urgent development of a degrowth society that has justice and equality at its core.

Miguel A. López, Curator

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