Paratext #41 by Nancy Garín

Paratext #41
January 19, 2020
By Nancy Garín

Lucía Egaña (Artistic Research Grant Fundación Banco Sabadell – Hangar)
Alán Carrasco (exchange grant between Hangar and Casa de Velázquez)


To think about creating stories and thoughts from other frameworks is a very necessary endeavor in the current state of how things are. Necessary but titanic in front of the absolute resistance of the spaces where knowledge is supposedly being produced.

Because it means dismantling more than three centuries of Western centrality by the hand of modernity/coloniality coated by the discourses of the Enlightenment and with it the aura of the truth of the sciences in all its breadth.

A legitimacy that has been the sinister cover of plunder, massacres, and destruction for centuries. And which has been the most powerful machinery for erasing the memory of hundreds of centuries of history and lives.

I think of my own experiences with “methodologies” and the constant headache I have had trying to fit into the dynamics of academia and the rigid formats of how research and the arena of ideas are elaborated. In fields such as art, this is disturbing, since this standardization produces the stripping of the creative power, the possibility of imagining, of overflowing; to submit it to the corset of “scientific rigor”.

It is from there that the projects presented by Lucía Egaña and Alan Carrasco manage to give a small outline of other possible routes. They seek to generate common lines and dispute the narratives generated from hegemonic readings.

In both projects, the lack of final results is part of the response that their authors have given to the standardization governed by the field of formal and academic research. They propose other times, other rhythms, other possible ways of responding. Listening to Lucía Egaña explain in such a complete and energizing way the process of her research made a lot of sense to me.

Her project, which won the artistic research grant from Fundación Banco Sabadell and Hangar, has a curious and inspiring title for those of us who have suffered the inquisitive gaze of normative pedagogy and disciplinary academia: “Subnormal Methodologies: a manual of practices for
misadjusted researchers”.

This work was born from her living experience of facing a Ph.D. thesis, with all the mechanics that this determines in the generation of knowledge. According to Egaña, her work goes through different methodological proposals that are ” unadapted” in terms of an “identitarian self- conception”.

She has worked her way through different methodologies from three axes: embodied research, conjuring, and error, in such an organic way that they are materialized in a kind of talisman (bracelet) that she developed at the beginning of the project. And finally, the error in the incongruity that is written in the words of the bracelet.

The idea of embodied research stems from proposals developed by women thinkers decades ago who generated forms of resistance to the hegemonic parameters of how to elaborate thought.
Examples found in texts such as “This Bridge, My Back” by Chérrie Moraga and Ana Castillo in the late seventies and early eighties, or the well-known “situated knowledge” by Donna Haraway, have opened the way for dissident research that today seems more widespread, but which in their day
were real challenges.

They are original proposals that seek to reject how scientific research has validated forms and procedures, producing truth and knowledge. For this reason, this research is not presented as the pursuit of an expected result, but as the confirmation of some hypothesis.

The embodied resonates from the proposals of the five co-researchers invited by Egaña to participate: Gelen Jeleton, Vale Flores, María Ptqk, Jorge Díaz, and Jara Rocha.

The invitation to work collectively has been thought of from particular temporalities, which dispute the time frames of formal research. Thus, each participant was able to work with the temporality they needed, developing their formats. There was also some kind of public activation to open the processes to other people.

Each project explored some of the questions and possibilities on how to produce dissident methodologies. From writing as a gesture of knowledge, through conversation, the power of intuition, the referents with which we work, the formats that embody personal and collective searches, and the procedures that in themselves are knowledge and wisdom, seek their validation.

To this was added a kind of cartography/map of possible anatomy that a maladapted researcher could come to have. Anatomy is composed of this researcher’s characteristics, the ways of working, and the work context in which she transits.

Lucía Egaña’s work has followed its course without a time and space margin determined from the outside.

Her work dialogues with the frameworks that I have developed in my practices, attempting not only to give space to other methodological possibilities but on the other to give visibility to silenced and submerged narratives: “other” memories that rise disputing the hegemonic narrative.

The dispute of other memories against the hegemonic narrative is what the artist Alan Carrasco has been working on for some time now. His work tries to rescue the visible and invisible traces that the social and political processes of almost the entire twentieth century have left in the city.

He tries to raise and lighten up the speech of the resistance against the hegemonic speech of the planned defeat during the post-Franco transition process: collective memory that crosses the century and that questions us in the present, showing the still open cracks, the agreed silences, the narratives erased through bayonets and also of “democratic agreements” that meant the years of the dictatorship and the processes of resistance to the hegemonic speech of the first decades of the post-Franco period.

Carrasco claims for the place of the erased narration of almost half a century of the social processes lived in the Spanish State, but that despite it is in its daily life, its streets, its buildings, in these voids, in which there is hardly any voice, but it is there, it speaks to us, it whispers to us.

The project will begin with a clear direction, but the evolution of the process itself will guide it in another route, at the moment still unfinished.

It begins at Casa Velázquez, the institution with which the grant is linked and which turns out to be an interesting scenario because of the relevant role this space played in the political and redevelopment/organization processes of the city of Madrid during the civil war and Franco’s dictatorship.

Carrasco, as in many of his other investigations, tries to inquire into those officialized and normalized discourses that have shaped the city/s; in this case Madrid, concerning the memory of the civil war and Franco’s dictatorship.

The logic of the officialized and agreed memory has meant living under the lack of trial and punishment of those who systematically violated human rights during the long years of dictatorship. It has meant living with the image of the dictator Francisco Franco institutionalized by a broad sector of society and the approval of another. And it has meant having to live day by day surrounded by the enormous number of signs in urban (and non-urban) spaces, sustaining a half-truth with the living traces of Franco’s regime.

In the process of investigating this space, Casa Velázquez, Alan Carrasco discovers hidden pieces of this memory. The one that escapes the Law of Historical Memory, the one that disputes the monumentality, the collective one, of those who convinced us of having been defeated.

Through drifts and observation through different spaces surrounding the Casa Velázquez, his method is related to the subnormal methodologies that Lucía Egaña works with. These drifts are born by placing body, that is embodied that takes it in this process. Because these derivations have some sort of conjuring to bring to life millions of people, of lives, of stories that do not appear in books, nor the story of the winner. Rather, they appear as instants, almost ghostly, but which illuminate the shadows of oblivion.

And error as an activating possibility in each drift is also very present, as he finds traces of what he was not looking for. This is what happens in Carrasco’s wanderings, such as coming across an almost imperceptible plaque to the Battalion XI of the International Brigades that disputes the
monumental narrative of the victors of the Arc de Triomphe and the Valley de los Caidos

Thus, he gathers evidence of what has remained as a trace despite the attempt to erase it. From the memory of that denied resistance, collective memories, personal memories such as those of General Kléber, who reveals the sinister face of power as it is deleted not only from the triumphalist history of Francoism, but also of Stalinism.

Fragments of that resistance that we are unaware of, but brimming with power, which is still there despite the shadows. Although in every attempt to surface, power seeks to annihilate them.

In his attempt to formalize the discoveries of his research into an aesthetic proposal, he was faced with the fact that the same logic of “security” over certain spaces in the city made it impossible for him to carry it out. The frustrated attempt did not stop the momentum, but rather fueled it,
impelled to move forward, without a fixed deadline, without a clear idea of where it would lead, but with the fixed idea of continuing to show who and how dominates the discourse of memory and how to dispute it.

What this monumentality inherited from Francoism has left us is the belief in defeat.

And it is here where Alan Carrasco wants to reach by raising the evidence of a resistance that did not let itself be defeated, like that of Madrid in the middle of the war, that of the XI Battalion of the International Brigades, that of General Emilio Kléber, who in a brief message in Morse code has summarized what has been denied to us for decades as a possibility, and which today resonates so much with us: RESIST!

And it is perhaps here where the work of non-adapted and monstrous methodologies proposed by Lucía Egaña also joins in this cry against the norm and the stripping of knowledge and knowledge:


Categories: Paratext report |

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