From practice to action

Although I focus my analysis on the actions that take place in the Dominican Republic, I must refer to the cardinal work of Nicolás Dumit Estévez, who resides in the United States. 


The actions of the Shampoo collective for the Biennials, the San Juan Polygraphic Triennial and other group exhibitions, as well as the Peregrinaje action, by Nicolás Dumit Estévez, are examples of an attempt to implement another model of relationship between public institutions and private, artists, the public, the mass media, official bodies, the economic sector, etc. These models are representative of actions designed and carried out in different spaces of the institutional art system. On the one hand, the artists take the upper hand; on the other, artists, designers and architects come together to create another reality and subvert, even for a few months, order; and finally, the artist reverses and conditions his relationship with institutions.

An example of this is the Nicolás Dumit Estévez project called For Art's Sake. Dumit develops in this an action that Eva Grinstein would call a practice of parasitic action in the best of senses.14 We consider By art a parasitic action because she consciously developed an action plan that involved and made use of cultural institutions that had to access to participate in it. Dumit infiltrated the institutional system of art like a parasite. In this action, Dumit develops a series of pilgrimages that disrupt the relationship between art and institution and between art and ritual. The extensive project makes a seemingly naive, though deeply scathing, comment about the processions and the religious entourage of our countries ... and relates it to those same actions, but aimed at the art world. This pilgrimage becomes an instrument at the service of art, while the artist makes different trips that begin in Lower Manhattan, after a blessing from the curator Juliana Driever, and conclude in seven different museums. At the end of these pilgrimages, each conceived with its dose of martyrology, an official of said museum signs a document that works as a passport. As I said, every trip has a penance, be it going on your knees, walking on your back or carrying countless art books, or simply spreading the “word” of art.

There exists in those moments on the part of these artists of the performance a decisive intention to retake the public space and the designated one for more traditional forms to generate art and to recognize the implications of this in the creative processes. This is a differentiation that starts fundamentally from "genetic" issues. I use for this analysis a little the idea of ​​Gilles Deleuze15 about the virtuality in works of art to explain issues that have to do with the own biology of each production. There are differential elements almost genetic in the products of art today that are fundamentally different from those that yesterday responded to a different contextual framework. That is why much of what is produced in this field today is of a critical and reflective nature and serves, above all, the contextual issues surrounding the creators. Geography, for example, is an essential element in works such as Geo-references, by Caryanna Castillo. This action, which was developed in the León Center, was an exercise in cartographic rewriting in which the artist and those present who participated in it questioned cartographic visuals, borders and coexistence in this world.

Taken from the Book Braiding a History in Progress, Contemporary Dominican Art in the Context of the Caribbean 

Sara Hermann, Historian and Art Researcher
Leon Center Advisor

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