Anticolonial Fantasies


Anticolonial Fantasies, 2015
Acrylic on cardboard. 50 x 70 cm, 

Through absurdist humor I reflect on the notion of territory as something that is marked by borders for its administration and regulation under the nation state, that controls who has the rights to transit and inhabit spaces and who is allowed the right to travel and explore different territories, who must engage in paperwork limbos and how this mirrors historical colonial relationships. Humour allows me to celebrate how often these hurdles are overcame with the supportive knowledge and affection of our communities. The meaning of fantasy here is connected to a political force of the so far unimagined and of what is possible to be imagined. Because of how our ability to transform society depends on our ability to imagine a different reality.

The images that were produced following what came to be known as the discovery of America [1], belong to a particular artistic genealogy, in which the depiction of the 'New World' was marked by the colonial fantasies of the European individuals that drew them and who assumed the task regardless if they had traveled to America or not. They produced and fostered the imagination of exuberant and dangerous lands they described as virgin. A soil where no man had set foot before, and which was devoid of 'technological' or even 'human' presence. 'Nature' was pure and absolute: a sensual paradise of colonial projections. Along these fantasies, the humanity of the inhabitants of the continent was called into question. “Are they human?” was one of the questions articulated in the 16 c. debate concerned with establishing whether indigenous peoples were to be understood as falling under the criteria of law and religion, as possessing rights, and as subjects worthy of the protection by the Spanish crown. The question to their humanity to an extent set the precedent for another contemporary question: “Are they legal?”
The statistics on the “country of origin” of students at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna (2015) displays the differential access that exists to roam the planet. There were 4 students registered from Africa, a massive continent of 1,216,000 million people. There were 22 students—several of whom are enrolled in post-graduate programs—from Latin America, another large continent of 422.5 million people. The numbers correspond to the hierarchy of mobility and visa-free travel where nationals of ex-colonial empires hold a passport that grants them the possibility of unhindered travel. The aftermath of colonialism categorizes nationals from ex-colonies as migrants who are subject to strict migration laws, exhausting bureaucratic systems and chains of paperwork.

[1]  Latin America is often called Abya Yala, as one of the most known indigenous names for the continent at the time of colonization. Abya Yala is a term used by the Guna/Kuna people that inhabit the DariĆ©n Gap (Part of Panama and Colombia) to refer to their section in the American continent and which means in counter-Hegelian fashion "land in its full maturity" or "land of vital blood". Being a term that predates the arrival of Columbus, it is used to acknowledge a right to indigenous self-determination, as well as to open a revision about the colonial renamings of indigenous territories. 
[2] The statistics sheet shows the list of countries the students at the Academy of Fine Arts come from. It includes the number of students from the continents of Africa and Latin America, and whether they re legally allowed to come to Austria. Displayed under the title "Where Do You Learn This?"

Shown in the frame of: 

—Rundgang of the Academy of Fine Arts, 2015.
—Territory, 2015. 
—Anticolonial Fantasies / Decolonial Strategies, 2016.