The School of Panamerican Unrest is an artistic project that
seeks to generate connections between the different regions of the Americas
through discussions, short-term and long-term collaborations between
organizations and individuals. Its main component will be a nomadic
forum or think-tank that will cross the hemisphere by land, from Anchorage,
Alaska, to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego. This hybrid project will include
a collapsible and movable architectural structure in the form of a schoolhouse,
as well as a video and book collection component inside a van with which
the journey will be made. The project seeks to involve a wide range
of publics and engage them at different levels in a dialogue about alternative
ways to understand the history, ideology, and lines of thought that
have significantly impacted in the political, social and cultural events
in the Americas.
The actual journey will be initiated at the end of May 2006 and will
conclude toward September of the same year. The virtual forum and preliminary
dialogue will initiate in early 2006 in this webpage, with the objective
of starting to generate ideas, interest, and support in the different
areas to which the project will travel. During the trip, a blog will
provide an update of the journey’s experiences. After the journey,
a documentary project will be initated, taking the likely form of a
video documentary, an exhibition, and a publication.
Initiated by Mexican artist Pablo Helguera, the School of Panamerican
Unrest responds to the need to support inter-regional communication
amongst English, Spanish and Portuguese speaking America, as well as
its other communities in the Caribbean and elsewhere, making connections
outside its regular commercial and economic links. In contrast to Europe,
which over the years has been orchestrating its cultural integration
through an open flux of dialogue, many Latin American countries still
have a limited cultural exchange amongst one another, and often limited
to the connections offered by the hegemonic points such as New York,
Miami, or even Madrid. Many years after the initial impulses by various
Latin American intellectuals such as José Vasconcelos, Simón
Bolívar, José Martí, who once envisioned a unified
cultural region in the Americas, this poject seeks to revisit and evaluate
the meaning of those ideas during the time of the Internet and post-globalization.
In the debates, programs and roundtable discussions, the project will
seek to articulate and debate issues that pertain to local concerns
around culture and society. We will also seek to discuss ways through
which artistic practice in the Americas can acquire an influential role
in public life, political, cultural and social discourse, enriching
the perspective communities in a productive and propositive manner.
As an artistic project, the SPU seeks to innovate by combining performative
and educational strategies, creating new forms of presentation and debate
about political and historical subjects and creating a discussion infrastructure
that will break with the usual academic formats, and the predictable
means of communication and debate that are normally used in the art
The SPU currently has nearly 30 participating organizations throughout
the Americas. Nevertheless, we are still in search of curators, critics,
artists and/or cultural activists thoroughout the continent who may
be interested in participating at the level of members of this project’s
Artists, writers, political activists, sociologists, economists and
educators are being invited in this nomadic think tank. At each location
we shall present at least one panel discussion, all of which will be
pre-planned amongst international and local participants.
The project is inspired in the travel itineraries of those who once
crossed the continent, randing from missionaries, explorers, scientists,
revolutionaries, intellectuals, writers, and others. In the utopian
spirit of those who once conceived the Americas as a unified entity,
the SPU will cross the continent literalizing the very idea of Panamericanism.
Once the journey is completed, the documentation of it
will be brought together in the form of a publication, a documentary
and a traveling exhibition.
The School of Panamerican Unrest is a project supported by the Creative Capital Foundation in New York.
© Pablo Helguera, November 2005
The online forum started in January 2006.
Its goal is to generate dialogue and debate around the topics that will be addressed by The School of Panamerican Unrest throughout its journey across the Americas. The forum will also keep members abreast of the developments of this project.