Is an Emmy a Source of Pride or Shame for an Artist?

My Coaching as Part of the Kiss of the Spider Man (this is a very internal joke because I am referring to my gayness through Manuel Puig novel which later became a worldwide known film by Hector Babenco but, at the same time, it was Luis Grane first big Hollywood animation)

Thos who have already read me during the ten years of existence of this blog (in Spanish) and with a focus on the art of the Southern Cone, know that loveartnotpeople is a hub where a series of intersectional links are performed on the public sphere and the artistic elites. Since its creation, I have refused to receive money in exchange for advertising space because, as I thought, it would compromise the rather punk editorial line that this project adopted.  But to afford such freedom, I had to come up with a serious of courses and programmes that soon became a constitutive part of this project. At its core, a two to three year long decolonial history of art and visual analysis that discusses in detail every moment where suppressed feminine energy emerged as image-flesh and challenged the abstract masculine order since the Geometric Period in Ancient Greece on the verge of the Bronze Age to the present. In fact, the pandemic has been the last big crisis of motherhood after we realised that Mother Earth is not as sweet as we thought she was. I also worked coaching artists who to be considered had to submit a page with their artistic project or the reason why the images their project proposes should exist, at all.  In a culture overwhelmed by images, what would be the point of creating a more of them, a question that equates the erradication of the Romantic idea that a person that considers himself or herself as “an artist” should be respected for claiming a need or even worse, a right to express their Hamletian interiority. My coaching is deconstructive and certain people are not bold enough to go through a throrough process of self examination and decide to live in ignorance with their fragile subjectivities depending on the opinion of family and what they call friends.

 

 

Artist and the Issue of Success

Luis Grane is, probably, one of the most difficult cases I had the opportunity to coach because of his upbringing, incentives and professional success, a holy trinity that, apparently, gave him the mandate to separate art from animation. I am talking abot success because Luis has just been nominated for two or three Emmys, one for directing and the other for writing. His artistic case is tricky, mainly, for institutional reasons because, as usual, the definition of art and animation derives from the creation of institutions that have tried to regulate the circulation and consumpton of images. A fellow Argentine that did not endure in his formative years the postlapsarian ex ante postmodernity of that Buenos Aires or the crime fuelled modernism of its fellow Rosario port where all bad imports transubstantiated in the best art of the land with practitioners like Antonio Berni, Emilia Gutierrez and the younger post modernist of Nicola Costantino and Andrian Villar Rojas.

Raised in Parana, the agrarian capital of the Entre Rios province whose apparent ‘blessing’, from a Buenos Aires point of view, is that unlike the West and North of the country, its population is mainly white. A whiteness confused with civilisation by those generations that built the country before another kind of barbarism that brought guilt and sacrosanct respect for the Motherlands of old Habsburg Imperial Spain that which includes the South of Italy. I am referring to the contrast between previous Lombard and Northern European immigration and those like my, barely educated and dysfunctional to the bone, Spanish grandparents from the peasant North.  A moral doubling was deepened by the separation of an Ocean in between. Thus, a myriad of closeted gays dancing tango, failed husbands flaunting their infidelities as their only achievements and all sorts of addictions (mainly to religion) defined a culture based on a manichean set of oppositions. When women were in focus the method to approach them was or, has been, to placed them not in a continuum but in one of the two extremes of whore and saint. Mary and Eve as the founding mothers. Being white-ish or to be more accurate, coming from a family that found pride in its whiteness, Luis had to compensate with attitude and hard work, a chasm that if he had been born a bit darker could be impossible to bridge.  Ideologically located in the centre right wing of the spectrum, he did not have to battle the demons of the socio-historical responsibilities that pester those educated in the public schoool system heavily influenced by Marxism. By contrast, his demons were the impulse to achieve as soon as possible his/our grandparents of completing the full circle of Argentine Odysseus triumphant return to the Alpha that makes Argentina the land of all things good. A place, allegedly, of the heart where true friendship can be found. The condition for that is paradoxical and is to achieve success in the Global North to confirm the patriarchal international order our grand parents confuse with reality. His move to the North, in a way, mirrors that of his ancestors but, as in the case of many others, is if not fuelled, or at least accompanied, by guilt, the trip seems not be worth it. Life as a tragedy. Of course, that mandate presupposes that breaking the spell of transgenerational motivation could only happen in the North and at the hands of those who pushed those previous generations away from those countries. That is why winning an Emmy is a perfect point of arrival or departure. I don t know. What I do know is that that comes with a cost. Of course, I am not talking about Grane in particular but about a culture that has defined us.

 

 

From the point of view of his talent, Luis is in the top 10 per cent in the world. Pixar acknowledged this from the very beginning and abducted him to a life of middle class dreams and securities. When we met, we were from very different but similar sets of values and incentives. I had left Argentine civil service because it guaranteed a lifetime of mediocrity and ennui. I came to England to access those institutions (like the Courtauld Institute or Warwick University) that in my country in spite of being ideologically presented as the democratic, free for all and at the service of society as a whole, they are actually the preserve of a group of upper middle class state funded women and men that decide who is in and who is out, almost always for the wrong reasons. Granewas decided to nurture that artistic talent for illustration in the best possible way and the training that is provided by Pixar or Disney at the level, is analogous in relative terms of what in the XVII century was the Accademia di San Luca in Rome or Antwerp. If you want to be trained in the representation of the human form, there is no better place for that than the US West Coast and the entertainment industry. That is why, when Luis approached me trying to have an artistic career on the side, it was a very difficult line to delineate because, at the end of the day, the difference between an animation and a work of art depends on the situatedness and positionality of the authority with power enough to make that differentiation. Artistic education is today more about discourse than manufacturing and more about new technologies than about fine arts.

 

Besides Luis married a lovely Mexican lady and by lady I mean, literally, a lady which means that he  married upwards so he found himself in a sociality of art that happened in art fairs and galleries and defined the ethos of the 1990s and 2000s through an idea of quality that equates success and media visibility. These pieces were usually collected by financiers and pushed Latin American artists to perform a role in a new international division of labour.  In this new international stage, the primitivist place was not politically correct any more, but an updated form of primitivism emerged in practitioners whose symbolic associations could be summarised through the two examples that Mexican Gabriel Orozco and Colombian Oscar Murillo, represent. The former, embodied the ideals of a new migrant. An ascetic pilgrim that instead of walking from Saint Jean de Luz to Santiago de Compostela, did so from Basel Art Fair to Frieze Art Fair looking at the world as a multicultural but homogeneos patchwork of colours and ethnicities. That is an homogenising idea of the world that prepare it for the level of hygiene, puritanism and circulation needed for the tourist of the Global North. Murillo, by contrast, prepared the terrain for someone like Gabirel Chaille who unashamedly become the “native informant” that brings a bit of dirt to the blue chip art gallery of the Global North make the upscale collector feel the “authenticity” of the Latin, at least, for a few moments, In Murillos case, his gallery is no other than David Zwirmer and his shows are a theatrical stageing of Colombian poverty, always linked to his childhood, as if through osmosis that experience would be transferred to the surface of the canvas. Their job is to tackle the sense of inadequacy and guilt of those who compose that upper class sociality. Thus, international elite-type visual arts (accessible through corporate art galleries) confirms that those who were born in the Global North are reflective, intellectual and are on the right side of ethics (in other words, the Hillary Clinton type) while, by contrast, the South is a place of vitality and experience. The North as the head of the world and the South as the lower parts of that global body. The hierarchical division of labour has been sublimated by the racism is the same.

 

 

Luis works and lives in Los Angeles, a place that is not easy for a Latin family. LA was the place where I experienced in my own body, for the first time, the horrific sensation of racism when, in a party in Beverly Hills, people would blatantly see me as an alien, a brown one, and walk away. From that day, I never go out in the US without a Rolex for it functions as your real passport if you have certain skin colour.  After that, I devoted myself to Queer Studies and Gender Issues very much in tune with the theories of race and ethnicity. There came my second awakening and I started seeing what berfore I did not because I was raised in a city, like Buenos Aires, that, as Diana Taylro says is characterised by what she calls “the percepticide” which means that, after a series of performances of terror during the Dictatorship, the Argentines of my generation just cannot see what they have in front of them. All of a sudden racist behaviour was everywhere in Britain and not only that, it was the foundation itself of a systematic orgnisation of live in which we all live. For the aforementioned, when Grane approached me what he really wanted was a strategy to belong to that world of art (David Zwirmer Gallery, for example) and, to my shock, the medium he chose was painting. That is how the repressive parental mandate functions through a regression to places and values that negate our own achievements while celebrating them. But slowly reason prevailed, he realised that video and animation must be his media because there is no one like him at that and institutional invitations started to appear and now, possibly, an Emmy for a multiculti film that affirms the way the North sees the South but he knows what he is doing and he will. Good for him.

This was our chat in Spanish almost two years ago.

Everyone is Queer Except You and Me: The Podcast