TEXTS
Bibliography:
“Ramon Rojas – dreams of huts” in Kunstjournalen B-post magazine, Bergen, Norway, 2009
.“Poesía Visual Argentina”– Edición de Vórtice Argentina, Buenos Aires, 2006.
“Textile Art”, catalog of “Reflection, Thought and Craftsmanship” exhibition, Ragna Sigurdardóttir, Reykjavík, Iceland 2004.
Estudio Abierto, El Molino, Eva Grinstein, Buenos Aires 2004.
“Signs of compassion in Argentine Contemporary Art” (in Spanish), Mercedes Casanegra –Criterio Magazine Nº 2267 July 2009

Texts by Maria Rosa Andreotti in Spanish):
Pescados – revista AL OÍDO 1 – Sept.2011
Ramón Rojas hyttedrøm - et dokumentarisk kunst prosjekt av Maria Rosa Andreotti, B-Post Nº 1-09 - Año 2009
"Atando cabos" (2007) por María Carolina Baulo sobre la obra de María Rosa Andreotti
Sobre IMPREVISIBLES, muestra en Caja de Arte, 2005, por Juan Carlos Romero
El Surmenage de la Muerta, Buenos Aires, 2004.
Textile Forum, ETN Publication, Hannover, Alemania, 2003.
Tramemos, órgano de Centro Argentino de Arte Textil, Buenos Aires, 2002.
Mercedes Casanegra sobre Sweet Dreams, la obra de María Rosa Andreotti, Revista Criterio, 2002
Enio Iommi sobre la obra de María Rosa Andreotti, 1998
 
[“Ramón Rojas, dreams of huts”] para B-post – Revista de artistas de Noruega.

A documentary art project by Maria Rosa Andreotti, an interview of Bjorg Taranger for B-Open, a Norwegian Artists’ Publication

The documentary video titled “Ramón Rojas, Sueños de chozas”, [“Ramón Rojas, dreams of huts”] depicts the daily life in the street of this 58-year old intellectual, philosophy reader, cultured man who writes poems and plans to devote to writing his philosophical framework… Ramón is depicted in his daily routine in the street or nearby plazas, talking to (or OFF) camera, saying his poems, playing chess and doing other activities alone or with friends. His culture has been his value of survival. He's the only one that speaks in this video, and many of his statements make you stop and think.
With some 13 hours of footage, the final documentary video is about 25’ long. Substantial editing indeed!

BT - Can you elaborate with some few words around the title? His “dreams of huts”  

Ramón daydreams a future life in an isolated hut in the shore of a southern Argentine Andes lake, a bucolic setting that he chooses for the rest of his life. Gastón Bachelard said that ”In a majority of the dreams with huts we wish to live on the other side, in that ideal, basic, more primitive world, far away from the crowded house, and from the concerns that the large city brings. It is a leap in thought searching for a true refuge.”

BT - Could you tell more about this his poems and writings? Is there any chance for him to publish them in any way?

When I asked him about his writings, he said they were "rough poems with a philosophical content, a cathartic means that contributed to his equilibrium”. He had written and destroyed every one and all of them; however he said he could retrieve them from his memory. I gave him a notebook and he did retrieve them for a while, they all end with a date and place, a ‘setting’. He liked to read them, and some of them are reproduced in the video. As months passed, one day I found him writing what he termed as his ‘philosophical framework’, in the style used by Plato with his disciples. He has written a full notebook already, and read parts of it to me.  I suggested that it might eventually be published and he refused it flatly. “I’m writing this just for me, or for those close to me, not for publication”.

[Incidentally, in the video he describes himself as an anarchist.]

BT - How and why did everything start, what is the story behind the story?

MRA – I had been seeing this guy day and night living in the street for well over a year, right there on the same block of the apartment bldg. where I live in Buenos Aires.  He was always sitting on the sidewalk with his belongings neatly packed in a supermarket cart, reading or writing, and listening to classic music on the radio. He hadn’t the physique du rôle.

Who is he? Why is he living in the open? How did he arrive at this situation?

Full of questions as I was, I still found it difficult to approach him.  The thing is, I thought, that even if he lives in the street, this is his shelter, and I hated to violate his precarious privacy.

I started figuring out ways to approach him. One day I found the mediator object – a travel trolley I had at home. I would offer it to him just in case he’d need it to keep his belongings.

He accepted it pleased and we introduced ourselves. His name: Ramón Rojas, Spanish speaker, but not Argentine. Ramón was born in Paraguay and had a cultured Spanish dialect, not fitting with the usual Guarani Indian accent of most Paraguayan immigrants in Argentina.

In the following days and weeks, I would stop by to talk with him. Being of the same generation, we readily found subjects of common interest - the ‘magic realism’ in Latin American literature, the nouvelle vague and Bergman films, classic music and the popular  music of the 60’s and 70’s, etc..

BT- How did you approach such a difficult case (if you can use that word)?

MRA – As days went by, I realized that even if still unable to answer any of my early questions, his articulate, meaningful and philosophical speech made me an attentive, empathical listener to what he was eager to communicate, he had things to say and enjoyed talking about them, as much as I enjoyed listening to him.

It was only then that I thought of (and decided to propose to him) shooting a documentary video about him.

He accepted my proposal somewhat surprised, and soon asked me about the script. (He had been working as a journalist for different newspapers throughout Argentina and South America, and as script writer for educational documental videos, so he knew what it was all about). I told him there would be no script, because I wanted everything to be as spontaneous as possible and he replied: “Then it will be like Eisenstein’s, mostly editing”… Comments like this increased my confidence in the project.

I also proposed paying to him an amount of money I could afford for each day of camera work. I wanted him to take it as a job that would provide him with some money for his basic needs, until I eventually got a municipal grant I would apply for to cover his work and the editing and sound process of the documentary video.

While working on it, I had to pack an installation for an exhibition in the south of Argentina. Since Ramón was so neat and careful with his own belongings, I asked him to help me pack the artwork. This collaborative action in my studio was also recorded in a 2’ separate video titled “Envoltorios”, 2008 [Wraps, 2008].

BT - Could you tell me some more about the production itself, how you arranged for the shootings, was the any special /or what kind of challenges came along?
Did you/ or what kind of reactions did you get from the surroundings, his friends and others that became a part of process?

The production was minimum - just a camcorder, a tripod and a tie microphone, my daughter helped with the camera. Most of the outdoor shootings were in his ‘own setting’, (day or night, preferably on weekends) - the street, neighbor shops and plazas, usually he moved with his cart.  During the shootings I was able to discover how many friends he had around. Many neighbors thought he was being interviewed by the TV station nearby. For others, Ramon developed an ‘aura’. (Both he and I think that the shootings probably contributed to his getting a job. In fact, in the middle of our work, a neighbor offered him a job as watchman in his construction work, which lasted 15 months.) He accepted it right away, but posed a problem for me because I had only 30% of the shooting done. So we arranged for 3-hour shooting sessions once a week (for which he virtually crossed town walking, some 2 ½ hours, without the cart).  Many of these were done indoors in my studio. In addition, I visited him twice on Sundays with his friends. With one exception, all his friends accepted gladly to participate.

BT- What kind of personal agenda was here for you to enter the subject artistically?

MRA – Most of my work concerns the individual and social body, as manifested in identity, violence and the value of places as various as the bed, the kitchen, the home. The home and the places that shelter the intimacy, the dreams, the routines of the quotidian have been at the core of my artwork in the last decade. I’m interested in their objects, the depositories of memory, their corners, the forms of endearment and attachment.

The body is an important part of my working process, in a continuous attempt to redefine the place of humanity in a politically infected world.

So I’d say the collaborative work of this documentary video can be associated to my recurrent artistic agenda.


BT- What is your thought about art as a social/political tool, or is that the matter here?

MRA – I’m reluctant to see art as a social/political tool; I believe there are (or there should be) more appropriate and powerful tools to promote social or political change. I tend to see art more as a process of transformation and learning, for both the artist and the spectator. I was a political activist in the 70's, a decade of turmoil in my country. Political activism gave me a first-hand insight of the boundaries separating art from politics.

While art questions, politics replies.
Art opens up, whereas politics closes.
Politics proclaims certainties, art poses doubts.

We may have different opinions as to the way artists address social or political issues, but they actually do it directly or indirectly when dealing with the times present or envisage the times to come. Our artistic production is determined by our deeper feelings and interests (whether social, political, intellectual, aesthetic, etc.) as well as by our outlook and stance in life.

I approached Ramon Rojas driven by a concern about the homeless, someone who has nearly lost the most intimate and valuable feature we have as human beings - the right to privacy, to fantasy and hence, to individual freedom, for all of which the home or the refuge is absolutely necessary; in other words, I was driven by a macro-social issue and ended depicting the micro-universe of an individual who says a lot about the society in which he/we live and makes us think about our own life choices; however I never planned or thought of the documentary video itself as a social or political statement.

Incidentally, on a recent trip to Spain, I saw an intervention by Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar in a Barcelona subway car window reading:

“L’Art és necessary

?”

[“Art is necessary

?”]

Maybe the reply to your question lies in the ambiguity of this statement/question, and particularly, in how visible, accessible and influential art is, particularly contemporary art. I saw his intervention once on May 22, 2009, and never did I see it again. I wonder how many people could see it, to how many people was the statement meaningful, how many subway car windows had it stamped, etc. etc. And finally, what do artists and spectators think about this statement/question.


BT- What do you think about European art compared to South American art? Do you see any difference in the artistic agenda?

The most evident difference I see lies in the support and the means available to artists in such different latitudes as well as in their production scale. Art is a big business in certain world capital cities with more affluent societies. The institutional involvement and the financial support given to art in Europe and the US are significant. With the exception of certain LA artists who reached the mainstream, art continues to be a fragile and unstable means of employing time for most artists in Latin America.

Your question about differences in the artistic agenda is interesting because it leads to the relationship territory-globalization-culture. I wonder if in 2009 it is appropriate to speak of a “Latin American art” (to include art practices in Central America and the Caribbean). Would a territory/region in current globalized world produce art that is just local? I myself celebrate those little islands in which local and small issues, micro universes, are addressed as if to contradict a global and anonymous world.  

Generally speaking, I don’t see many differences in the European and Latin American artistic agenda, but rather increasing contamination – globalization, biennales, artistic nomadism, residences, the Internet, art fairs and the market account for that, so much so that it is difficult to draw boundary lines.

It seems to me that the requirement/expectation of exoticism in Latin American (or African, etc.) art from certain European and US art circuits and players belongs to the past. In the last couple of decades, Latin American artists have gradually abandoned a ghetto that required them to speak of, or expose, their local context in order to be worth for Europe to look at. Current artistic agenda in Latin America is as diverse as in Europe, Asia, or the USA, and includes formalistic, neo-conceptual, investigative (archives, documents), relational, social/political, interdisciplinary, collaborative art, etc.  

There are artists openly addressing social and political issues, criticizing power and authority all over, as there’s sharp criticism in works considered “superficial” or “apolitical".

Artists’ stance vis-à-vis the particularities of their temporal and local contexts, whether instability and uncertainty, political repression, minority and cultural discrimination, military rule, violence, social fragmentation and poverty, the by-products and imbalances resulting from the economic models implemented worldwide from the 80’s onwards has been in the past, is in the present and will in the future be in the artistic agenda of both European and Latin American artists, regardless of the mediums, languages, channels, poetics and subtleties used.

Maria Rosa Andreotti, Buenos Aires, July 2009

 

Sobre IMPREVISIBLES, muestra en Caja de Arte, 2005. Por Juan Carlos Romero

It can be said, following Tao, that artists find nourishment in both the foreseeable and the unforeseen. Some work tools are built on experience and will surely produce results resembling what is known, with virtually no surprises. However, when tools and media are used randomly, without following any codes of procedure but governed only by chance and accident, works will go deeper into unknown and mysteriously poetical worlds. It is there that the essence of things is subverted, and contradicting any canon, the artist enters a space that is full of subtleties capable of altering the significance of what is known.

Indefinite, hazy, unfathomable, ambiguous, obscure are the qualities present in Maria Rosa Andreotti’s works. Beyond the media used, whether paper or textiles, a closer look at each work reveals new territories foreshadowing the presence of other essences that will always be spaces of the void. That is precisely where their original value lies.