By Clara Maria Apostolatos for The Latinx Project
To visual artist Carlos Martiel, recording performance art is much like creating an archive.
“I consider my performance art like an archive in itself, in terms of its documentation. The photographic and video documentation becomes registered like an archive of the times I am living through, as well as an archive of the problems of the times I have had to live.”¹
In drawing out the relationship between archival and performance practices, Martiel invites us to consider how performances become transferred into tangible records of the artist’s creative practice as well as their political moment. And while Martiel here speaks of archiving performances, his close friend and visual artist Camilo Godoy is more interested in performing archives and the information disclosed in them.
“We can create new histories through performance, especially when considering the violence of history. There are so many events that have not been documented by photographs or video but live from accounts of oral histories—of people talking and describing what they experienced. To me, performance is a device that allows us to examine something that is never seen but maybe read about or heard from.”²
Together, the work of artists Camilo Godoy and Carlos Martiel capture the immediacy of generating and reanimating collective memory. Evoking the interrogative forms of the counter-archive, Godoy and Martiel question and disrupt conventional narratives of the historically disenfranchised, among them the Latinx and queer community. Rather than present objective or official views of history, the artists draw upon personal memory and cultural heritage to offer subjective and contingent reports of history. The artists enact critical interrogations and revivals of past narratives through aesthetic strategies I heuristically describe here as affective touch and corporeality.
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