The order arrived at the last minute, before the inauguration in the Alcalá 31 room, of which Madrid is the owner, of the exhibition Good government, with the work of the artist Sandra Gamarra (Lima, Peru, 1972). It questions how Spain has interpreted its role in the Latin American past. As elDiario.es has learned, there were two words included in the text that received visitors in the cultural space that bothered the Minister of Culture of the Community of Madrid, Marta Rivera de la Cruz: “racism” and ” restitution”. The counselor’s team conveyed to the artist and the curator, Agustín Pérez Rubio, that these two terms should disappear from public view and rewrite the text of an exhibition that had been approved with an approach that denounces racism and demands restitution.
The exhibition was inaugurated a week ago without a trace of the words, although the proposal has not changed. As if that were not enough, this Tuesday Marta Rivera de la Cruz and Toni Cantó will present a festival called Hispanidad 2021, which will be held between September 28 and October 12, with a wide published program of concerts, conferences, shows and exhibitions. among which the Ministry of Culture has excluded Good governmentby Gamarra. Included are art galleries with “exhibitions of Hispanic American artists” and the exhibition that will soon open the Prado Museum, entitled Tornaviaje. Ibero-American Art in Spain. Apparently, Good government it does not fit into the idea of ”hispanidad” promoted by Ayuso, Rivera de la Cruz and Cantó.
From the Ministry of Culture they downplay the fact and assure that “the introductory text of the room is merely indicative and the counselor does not dictate or censor absolutely anything about an artist’s interpretation of her own work.” They also add that “the texts of the entrance are written with the criteria both of orientation to the public that is going to enter the exhibition space and taking into account the space available on the wall.” And those two words did not fit.
We had to withdraw those two words. They did not want to see them in the presentation of the sample and I understand that they can be two harsh words, but they are two terms that are debated all over the world.
Gamarra explains to this newspaper that the development and assembly of the exhibition went quite well until the last moment. “We had to withdraw those two words. They did not want to see them in the presentation of the sample and I understand that they may be two harsh words, but they are two terms that are debated throughout the world. There was no more interference in the exhibition, but they did not leave this position would surprise us, “says Sandra Gamarra. “It saddens me a lot,” says the artist who finds an explanation in the “insecurity” of the story of the Hispanidad on the right. “That makes them think that anything is going to attack them,” he points out.
The change of government
The Community of Madrid called Agustín Pérez Rubio in October 2019 to ask for a Sandra Gamarra project. The exhibition Good government it was approved a few months later, in December. Then Marta Rivera de la Cruz was still part of the ranks of Ciudadanos and the Government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso defended other ideological assumptions. Two years later, Rivera de la Cruz wears the colors of the PP and the Government of the Community of Madrid has turned to extreme its positions in favor of the legend of the conquest and evangelization of America. With the Gamarra exhibition open to the public and criticizing the budgets Hispanic, the president of the Community of Madrid has fired in New York against the American indigenous peoples and has fueled the discourse opposed by the exhibition of this daughter of a Peruvian mestizo father and a mother of Japanese origin.
Of course, Gamarra does not agree with this contempt that the president of the Community of Madrid has made to indigenous peoples, which she defends and respects for their worth. He believes that they feel like the enemy because “the native attacks the three pillars of his story of the conquest of America: language, culture and religion.” “At this time the complaint is not tolerated,” explains Gamarra, forceful and scrupulous in his arguments, in his reasoning and in his proposals.
It clarifies that the Latin American population is not worried about what happened 500 years ago, but about what has happened 500 years ago. “Sometimes I feel that we are children of a violation from which many children came out. There will be children who are with the mother and others with the father, those are the divided stories that must be reconciled. How? Recognizing the father and mother by the same. Spain does not recognize the pain it has caused, “says Sandra Gamarra to this newspaper.
A Hispanic paranoia
The Peruvian and Spanish artist thinks that the story about “Hispanicness” is so vertical that it seems like “paranoia.” “If your Hispanicity is built from evangelization and conquest, any alternative story will attack you. But Spain is much more than that,” he says. “Hispanism is not paranoia, but if you want to build on the story of the conquest, it will be, because it is a very fragile story,” he argues. Caballero Bonald wrote it: “The most publicized attributes of his nature are also the most fallible.” In that same poem the writer of his country said that “it has never been able to stop the derisions perpetuated by its own inhabitants.”
Good government vindicates the proper governance of the legacies. “Your good government is knowledge”, warns the author. A few days ago, Gabriela Wiener told this newspaper that the exhibition “refutes the same idea of museum and art exhibition.” In no case does Gamarra demand a separation between America and Spain: “On the contrary, I aspire to reconciliation. But I denounce that there is a lack of knowledge on the other side. It is the good government of these two cultures that perhaps cannot be one, but they have to learn to live together “.
Gamarra uses images with ease to make himself understood and explains that the right wing has gone to the extreme and that the middle line has moved with them. “You have to pull back to the center. And that’s where the confusion arises: it seems that right-wing people are now from the center,” he says. That is why art is important in these moments to resist and pull to the other side, to regain balance. “Art is not an easy place, because it compromises you. Hence, art must resist, because if you don’t run out of space,” says the artist who proposes a critical review of a culture, the Spanish, which she also considers her own. .