– Summer 2012

Archivo Caminante: Constellations and Performativity

Teresa Riccardi

Eduardo Molinari, El paragüas (The Umbrella), 1987, ink, collage, cardboard, 40 × 50cm. Courtesy the artist and Colección Amalia Molinari

An American monster walks in the night. It looks at the sky and at its surroundings. It seems to be lost, but follows its star. While it does so, it moves its tongue. Soon there are many who accompany it. All together their voices say: ‘Asking, we walk.’ — Eduardo Molinari1

More than a Marxist Rabbi, a Blind Archivist Using the Constellations as His Guide

A ghostly image, one that foreshadows future constellations, seems to say it all. A blind man walks with difficulty, looking upward under a storm of newspaper clippings, an umbrella covering his head. He has lost one shoe, but he keeps on walking, protecting himself from both the past and the present. This may well be how Eduardo Molinari saw himself in 1987 when he made the painting-collage El paragüas (The Umbrella): tormented by a past that was impossible to deal with. More than ten years passed before Molinari managed to conjure this image again with the creation of Archivo Caminante (Walking Archive), an artistic/ archival production of a performative nature that he has been carrying out since 1999, and under its official title since 2001. When Terry Eagleton termed Walter Benjamin a ‘Marxist Rabbi’ he was referring to Benjamin’s ability to celebrate the codified allegories from the past contained in present-day objects and the nostalgia or alienated emotional attachment that people project onto these commodities. Embarking upon the difficult task of deciphering the contradictory ways in which images and memory are often camouflaged in these objects, Benjamin created ‘constellations’ of dialectical images that ‘revolutionis[ed] the relations between part and whole’ and struck ‘at the very heart of the traditional

  1. Eduardo Molinari, El camaleón — Archivo Caminante, Medellín: Fondo Editorial del Museo de Antioquia, 2011.

  2. Terry Eagleton, The Ideology of the Aesthetic, Oxford: Blackwell, 1990, p.330.

  3. ‘Power-memories' make up part of the conceptual map employed by Molinari in his figure of the blind historian/archivist. He uses them to define different aspects related to memory and history and their images. Conversation with the author, December 2011.

  4. The CIA is a non-profit organisation, founded by Graciela Hasper, Roberto Jacoby and Judi Werthein in 2009 in Buenos Aires, that promotes collaborative research between artists and thinkers in Latin America. See http://www.ciacentro.org/ (last accessed on 19 March 2012).

  5. See Ursula Marx, Gudrun Schwarz, Michael Schwarz and Erdmut Wizisla (ed.), Walter Benjamin’s Archive: Images, Texts, Signs (trans. Esther Leslie), London and New York: Verso, 2007, p.50.

  6. This refers to the reading made by the Critical Art Ensemble, quoted in E. Molinari, ‘Walking Archives: The Soy Children’, 28 January 2012, available at http://www.minorcompositions.info/?p=365 (last accessed on 14 February 2012).

  7. Ibid.

  8. E. Molinari, in Tras los pasos de los hombres de maíz, Chemnitz: Galeria Weltecho, 2008, pp.26—33.

  9. Ibid., p.5.

  10. See Alice Creischer, Andreas Siekmann and Gabriela Massuh (ed.), Pasos para huir del trabajo al hacer (exh. cat.), Buenos Aires and Cologne: Interzona Editora and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2004.

  11. See http://www.lamusaranga.com.ar (last accessed on 14 February 2012) and E. Molinari, El tío, Buenos Aires: Cooperativa Chilavert Artes Gr.ficas, 2006.

  12. ‘The Potos. Principle’ was exhibited at three locations: the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (12 May — 6 September 2010); the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin (8 October 2010 — 2 January 2011); and the Museo Nacional de Arte and MUSEF, La Paz (22 February — 30 April 2011).

  13. The ekeko is a deity of the Aimara or Colla people that represents abundance, fertility and joy. It takes the form of a slightly obese, smiling figure dressed in costume typical of the Andean region and carrying a large quantity of slung bags and packages of food and other necessities.

  14. See Teresa Riccardi, ‘Representaciones y mitos de “lo latinoamericano”: el dualismo, el maíz y la papa en las propuestas conceptuales y performáticas del arte argentino’, paper published as part of the conference ‘Tercer Encuentro. La problemática del viaje y los viajeros. América Latina y sus miradas. Im.genes, representaciones e identidades’, Universidad Nacional del Centro, Tandil, 14—16 August 2008.

  15. Guillermina Fressoli, ‘El archivo como problema en la constituci.n de las formas de recuerdo art.stico’, paper presented at the conference ‘Art and Archives: Latin America and Beyond From 1920 to Present. International Research Forum for Graduate Students and Emerging Scholars’, 15—17 October 2010, University of Texas, Austin.