July 21, 2000


THE RAINBOW CHRONICLES

Chapter VIII

By Jeannine Diego

 

First Chorus

 

Dear Héctor…

 

I'd like to bounce a couple of ideas off of you, in direct reference to our visits to Tijuana and San Diego. I realize that a few weeks have passed since your visit and, hence, that time may have affected your feelings in terms of what you experienced during your stay. In any case, I wish to petition your honesty in responding to this inquiry; your frank response as an individual and perhaps not so much from the position of `artist,' is indispensable.

I'll begin by submitting to you my concern as to an issue which has surfaced as a result of being (and albeit not `living') in the region for ten days out of each month, and which has become somewhat of a personal dilemma: the question and complicated dynamic that is The Border. Living in Mexico, the socio-economic reality, within which we cannot deny our own privilege, is inescapably palpable. We nonetheless tend to avoid it and, what's more, develop entire mechanisms in order to ignore our responsibility toward and our positioning within this social landscape. I feel that these mechanisms obstruct our willingness to speak of this reality in our work; to do so would involve the risk of evidencing our `selves.' In other words, we fear speaking, doing or reacting in direct response to this reality through our work, because in essence we fear erring in judgment, the consequence being that the work itself would remain a testament to this error. To be `from' Mexico allows us, before the foreign gaze, to hide behind a thousand and one rationalizations of the attitudes we develop. By the same token, before a different audience, we also shroud behind complex systems enabled by the façade of artist-observer-intellectual. My question: Do you feel that you assumed this risk, that you spoke `effectively' about the border issue, in your project about the migrating plants? If so, how? If not, why not?

 

…Jeannine

 

Dear Jeannine,

 

The letter you sent me seems a good beginning for a discussion about the function of the artist in contemporary society, as well as about the positioning of the self with regard to the issues and dilemmas which surround us, and how we respond.

 

For now, a couple of clarifications:

 

1. It seems to me that the risk lies in pretending to speak `effectively,' upon a first visit of only ten days, around a tremendously complex issue as is the reality of life within the Tijuana-San Diego region.

 

2. With the frankness which I hope to have both as a person and as an artist, what I attempted to do through the work that we performed, was to become familiar with and involved in a reality and a space located thousands of kilometers from where I live.

 

3. In order to become familiar with and involved in this reality, I chose to search for and speak with people on both sides of the border that could possibly adopt two plants belonging to an endangered species. Having outgrown the space available to them on my rooftop in Mexico City, it was imperative that these two plants migrate. The most immediate way for me to relate to the predicament of these two cities was to associate that reality to the need for my plants to migrate.

 

I hope that, in the near future, we'll have the opportunity to discuss this further and more extensively.

 

…Héctor

 

….to be continued…….

 

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The Rainbow Chronicles is a sponsored project of inSITE2000, a non-profit arts organization operating in both San Diego and Tijuana. The Chronicles will be published in La Prensa San Diego for 19 weeks. For information on the project visit www.insite2000.org.)

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