The effort to collect the different video situations in the Latin American countries in the same book is a conclusive answer to the inexcusable ignorance and to the systematic oblivion. In the numerous video chronicles which have been written not only in Europe but also in the US for the last decades of the 20th Century, the Latin American representation did not exist apart from some isolated comments about specific works by Juan Downey, Jaime Davidovich o Marta Minujín. The Western video was “baked” in first world countries and, even though sometimes it could be flavored with a pinch of Latin American exoticism, the absence from the media has always been the general trend.

The compensation does not lie in generating a particular essay excluding the excluders, but in offering a thorough outlook on what Latin American video was before and is now. Hence, this selective collection of video art produced only by Latin Americans does not consist in segregation (we are different), but in vindication: we have always been here.

Video in Latin America and Latin American Video

Actually, Latin America is not a homogeneous territory This was the beginning of Rodrigo Alonso’s lecture on Latin American video art in Helsinki, so as to conclude further on that if there’s something that bonds Latin America, it lies in the constant existence of obstacles and difficulties1 I would like to clarify this statement by adding that the coincidence has been consolidated by the astonishing fertility of its video production... despite the lack of budget and the difficult access to technology. Let us take this as a starting point.

Within the vast Latin American territory, the story began in the sixties and seventies, at the same time as in the US and Europe, with the first videos in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Colombia or Peru, while in other countries such as Costa Rica, Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Paraguay or Uruguay, video art did not start to outstand until the mid- eighties. In some cases it was delayed until the nineties, as in the case of Cuba or Ecuador.

In this book, the different phases and stages of the video in every country in Latin America are shown in these texts, in which some specialists analyze its complex extensive reports of more than 40 years, or simply narrate the first steps of an audiovisual media “recently discovered” for the art. Therefore, neither their courses nor maturing processes, nor their recurrent interests and themes are the same.

Jorge Villacorta and José-Carlos Mariátegui assure that there are two moments worth recognizing in the history of electronic art in Latin America2:

In the first one, which took place in the eighties, although it could well have been the late seventies, there are isolated artists or reduced groups of artists experiencing with the available electronic devices (often imitating works already done in Europe or the United States). The second, begun around 1990, has come together with the appearance of new artists immersed in the electronic creation, willing to integrate themselves culturally into the visual style of their time, free of national boundaries

In general terms, those periods and outstanding landmarks in its history can be clearly identified, yet it is too hazardous to venture any representative trends from every country, for the video performance and the video installation, the formal experimentation with audiovisual language, the (other) communicative experimentation and alternative media and political activism can be found, to a greater or lesser extent, in every Latin American country.

Either extreme, the local or the global, is equally unstable –and in the short term wrong— because in this context there are a series of determinants that invalidate all the specific assertions.

Even if the particular history of every country –generally convulsed in a territory riddled with economic crisis, colonial heritages, dictatorships and revolutions—, has led not only video production but also Latin American documentary towards political and social themes providing it with a characteristic feature, it is also true that in each country the authors have decided to tackle the more daily and temporary matters of their particular environment, proving a very diverse socio-cultural and political development.

On the other hand, we must recognize that in our day and age we are plunged into the complexity of a culture in which communication systems play a decisive role of access and spreading, allowing the assimilation of multiple models and the pollution –viral since the arrival of Internet— of ideas, styles and interests. All this creates a “glocal” culture, in which the local and the global erase their limits, melt and complement each other. According to the statement of the media theorist Derrick de Kerckhove:3

Human communities living at different speeds and with different levels of social skill, have been launched to each other without previous warning or any mediation. There are no protocols to prepare us for these chaotic confrontations, no coaching on social or collective behavior. As our global consciousness raises, the more conscious and more jealous we become about our own local identities, and this is the paradox of the global village. The hyper-local is the necessary complement to the hyper-global.

In spite of sharing a common language and, perhaps a basic temper, seeking unity in Latin America can be as unnatural as trying to find native local color. The video is not in “black and white” any more, but in “glocal color.”

These reasons determine the main interest of this publication: to flatten particularities, that is to say, to gather in a single volume the different video histories of each Latin American country. As Sarah Minter writes, using a beautiful metaphor which alludes to creation and to the patient and the laborious work, it is about “interlacing our memories” in order to weave a historical fabric of Latin American video.

Encounters and link

There are some key factors, favored by chance and need, that explain why we find a few people interested in video art within these lines. One of them is the CICV Pierre Schaeffer of Hérimoncourt (France), a place –or better, an experience– shared by some of those writing here. The event “Interferences” –Festival Internacional d’Arts Multimedia Urbains, organized in Belfort (France) in the year 2000—, gathered many artists and critics specialized in video and new technologies. They met there and began to produce their own projects. My personal bond with the center dates from 1993 –I was awarded my first scholarship to write a Ph.D. dissertation on video—, since then I kept an endearing and productive relation until its sad closure on July 2004. And even though I did not take part in the Latin American event in 2000, the reunion in this book, also in video, is still a great coincidence. No doubt this is just another happy consequence brought about by its visionary founder, Pierre Bongiovanni, whose main goal –his work— has always been bringing people together so they can generate their own affinities and to develop their projects. Without the shadow of a doubt, it has been a success.

Another link has been the network of Centros Culturales de España, whose work in spreading art and the new technologies has become very important in the boost of Latin American video... and also to the present edition. Without their invaluable support, these pages would have never been possible.

Finally, I would like to highlight that one of the qualities of this book lies in the fact that more than a half of the authors are not only privileged witnesses of the history of video in their home countries, but they are also part of it with their video works, curatorship and writings. Hence, we are before a first-hand version; lived, not read; extremely subjective... in short, more valuable.

I take advantage of this opportunity to thank those who have made this publication possible with their memory, research, lucidity and love: dear Rodrigo Alonso (Argentina), Graciela Taquini (Argentina), Cecilia Bayá Bolti (Bolivia), Arlindo Machado (Brazil), Lucas Bambozzi (Brazil), Ernesto Calvo (Central America), Néstor Olhagaray (Chile), Marialina García Ramos (Cuba) Meykén Barreto (Cuba), María Belén Moncayo (Ecuador), Raúl Moarquech Ferrera-Balanquet (US and Canada diaspora), Sarah Minter (Mexico), Fernando Llanos (Mexico), Fernando Moure (Paraguay), José-Carlos Mariátegui (Peru), Enrique Aguerre (Uruguay) and Benjamín Villares (Venezuela). Thank you very much, partners. We are on the right path.

Laura Baigorri Ballarín
April 2008

1 "Turbulence zone. Latin America‘s video art," lecture given by Rodrigo Alonso in Turbulence Zone. Ateneum Salii, Helsinki, 2002

2 José Carlos Mariátegui and Jorge Villacorta. Curator’s note in Invisible Video. A selection of Latin American video art 2000-2005. Museo Patio Herreriano, Alta Tecnología Andina, Valladolid 2005.

3 "Global village in the neonationalist era,” in La piel de la cultura. Investigando la nueva realidad electrónica. Barcelona: Gedisa, 1999. (1st English edition, The Skin of Culture. Toronto: Somerville House Books llimited, 1995).


Videoart: The Iberoamerican Legend (2002), de Martín Sastre

Videoart: The Iberoamerican Legend (2002), de Martín Sastre

No-Latin Party (2003), de Diego Lama

No-Latin Party (2003), de Diego Lama

No-Latin Party (2003), de Diego Lama