Feb 19th - Apr 4th, 2021
A HAUNTING FROM THE FUTURE
NINA HOECHTL, INVASORIX & SECRETARIAT OF GHOSTS, ARCHIVAL POLITICS, AND GAPS (SKGAL)
Nina Hoechtl, DELIRIO GÜERO I WEISSER WAHN, 2021, film still. Camera: Rafael Ortega
Exhibition view, A Haunting From the Future, Kunstraum Innsbruck 2021, Photo: Daniel Jarosch
Kunstraum Innsbruck 2021, Photo: Daniel Jarosch
Kunstraum Innsbruck 2021, Photo: Daniel Jarosch
Kunstraum Innsbruck 2021, Photo: Daniel Jarosch
Kunstraum Innsbruck 2021, Photo: Daniel Jarosch
Ivana Marjanović & Nina Hoechtl, Photo: Martin Kink
INVASORIX, Macho Intelectual I Intellektueller Macho, Videostill, 2018, Video, 3’17’’
Exhibition period: Feb 19th - Apr 10th, 2021
Curated by Ivana Marjanović
Nina Hoechtl invites us to look “back to the present” through the lenses of speculative future and storytelling based on archival research and historical events in Mexico and Austria. As a member of the queer/cuir feminist collective INVASORIX in Mexico City and a co-initiator of the Secretariat of Ghosts, Archival Politics, and Gaps (SKGAL) in Vienna, her work is deeply grounded in transnational collective feminist and decolonizing practices.
As we are the past’s future, we are also the future’s past. In complex layers of the present, what was and what will be fuse, sometimes with joy, sometimes with violence. Whether conscious, ignorant, or learning about our part, the accumulated past shapes our present and carries us into the future. The future will be haunting us: for good, for bad, for what lies in between.
When Nina Hoechtl learned about her distant ancestor from Innsbruck, Anton “Toni” Mayer, a dedicated follower of Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Charlotte of Belgium in their colonial-imperial undertakings in Mexico in the 19th century, she began her work of interrogating the colonial past of the family tree. A number of relationships and delusions opened up. This was a point of departure for creating her film essay Delirio Güero I White Delusion (2021).
As a critical analysisof whiteness in the context of colonial relations, the video installation takes a central role in the exhibition A Haunting From the Future at Kunstraum Innsbruck. Furthermore, Hoechtl’s solo project is accompanied by the humorous video-song-installation Macho Intelectual I Intellectual Macho (2015) and the video-karaoke-installation Me duele la cara de ser tan güera I My Face So White It Hurts (2019) by INVASORIX as well as a poster project that deals with feminist archives, futures, and aesthetics entitled Gelbe Fahnen (1913) & Congreso Feminista (1916) by SKGAL, created in 2018 for the 100-year anniversary of women’s right to vote in Austria. A new poster project is being planned, in collaboration with local feminist groups in Innsbruck. The present conditions of life under the pandemic are not staying uncommented: Hoechtl’s drawing Covid-XIX Orden global patógeno / Covid-19 Pathogenic Global Order (2020) refers to a 17th century chronicle of confluent smallpox by Quechua author Guamán Poma.
Nina Hoechtl is an artist, researcher, educator, and activist. Born in Stockerau, she currently lives in Mexico City. She studied at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and at the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. She completed her PhD at Goldsmiths University of London and her Postdoctoral Research at the Institute of Aesthetic Research, UNAM (Mexico). She is currently teaching at the Campus Expandido Program, University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC)/UNAM and the Cultural Studies and Visual Arts MA Program at the Miguel Hernández University of Elche (Spain). Hoechtl’s work includes writing and developing videos, performances, installations, and exhibitions. In 2019 she participated in the MexiCali Biennale with INVASORIX, showcasing at both sides of the California/Mexico border, and SKGAL’s feature film Hauntings in the Archive!(2017) won 2018 the Women’s Voices Now Best Documentary Feature Award. http://www.ninahoechtl.org
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Nina Hoechtl, Delirio
2021, video installation, 34’20’’,video
1’06’,’11 ixtle fiber objects
Using the form of a video lecture performance to stage a fictive TV history show placed in the 23rd century, Nina Hoechtl unpacks a set of images and complex (art) historical relationships of appropriation. Besides focusing on the royal Habsburg family history (Maximillian’s attempts to fight a war to rule in Mexico) and on the artist’s own family history (Hoechtl’s relative Anton “Toni” Mayer’s dubious businesses in the export of precious ixtle fiber from Mexico), the film also portrays other historical figures haunted by White delusion. The practices of self-appointed discoverer and artist Jean-Friedrich Waldeck, who claimed, among other nationalities, to be an Austrian, and the German/Austrian architect, researcher, and photographer Teobert Maler reveal the unresponsible role of “Western” arts and visual culture in the development of colonial-imperial relations. Analyzing a series of images and representation practices whose performativity has played an important role in establishing power relations, this essay film boldly articulates institutional critique. Furthermore, using a complex analytical approach, Hoechtl observes with meticulous detail a number of practices entangled with the construction of White privilege and the fiction of race. In this, being a güera (White) woman in Mexico herself, the artist does not withhold her own position: an ambivalent though critical position that represents the “West”. She refers to herself as “güera (White) filmmaker/artist whose experiences and fantastic interpretations of early 21st century Mexico seem to recall the ways in which colonial practices under the influence of delirio güero [White delusion] continue to underwrite dominant ways of knowing, interpreting, feeling, and making/showing art.” (Hoechtl’s website)
Delirio Güero I White Delusion is a body of research based on an imaginary history lecture performed by a person with uncanny white face and hand masks that symbolically stand for the damage of the obsession with Whiteness. The figure of the moderator simultaneously represents violence, ignorance, and knowledge iterating postures and gestures of White deception. The popular motif of the pineapple as well as the usage of ixtle within the installations Sphere of Substances (which are said to have induced intoxication) and Yes, the delicious pineapple! at Kunstraum Innsbruck emphasize past and present colonial relations: everything, be it fruits, natural resources, but also peoples’ lives, is available for white supremacist capitalist extraction, profit, and fame/name making.
The moderator’s figure is juxtaposed with a ghost from the future, a figure that represents hope, critical thinking, and un-learning. In the form of a shadow, this ghost is imagined as an ancestor from the future who continuously comments on the ideological background of the facts presented in the TV show. The ghost reveals colonial violence in the narrative and importantly calls attention to voices of resistance, of anti-colonial and feminist struggles, such as that of murdered Mixtec activist Bety Cariño, the Zapatistas, but also a queer/cuir-feminist group in which Nina Hoechtl is active in Mexico City: INVASORIX. Being an important figure of agency, the ghost has also a prominent place at the entrance into the exhibition.
The intertextual film Delirio Güero-White Delusion refers to the networks of connectedness of struggles, its composition resembling the (art) practice of Nina Hoechtl, which derives from research as well as from acting within feminist and anticolonial collectives that take an intersectional approach. Her art work is as much a result of individual as collective processes. Hence, in the film as well as in the exhibition, art-activist projects from collectives she is engaged in are also on view.
SKGAL, Gelbe Fahnen (1913) & Congreso Feminista (1916)
,2018, Research and poster installation by Secretariat of Ghosts, Archival Politics, and Gaps
Since 2012 Nina Hoechtl and Julia Wieger have acted as a duo under the acronym SKGAL, intervening in archives from feminist and decolonizing perspectives with the aim of unsettling narratives of the past by pointing out present injustices and their historical genealogies. Using formats that refer to feminist traditions and aesthetics, they create posters and other projects that challenge dominant views. Western-centrism has constructed many inaccuracies; one of them being that events in the “West” (of Europe or the USA) are seen as being pioneering in terms of emancipatory policies and that, in other parts of the world, these developments supposedly happened much later (often under the influence of the “West”). The work Gelbe Fahnen (1913) & Congreso Feminista (1916) juxtaposes two historical events that happened three years apart from each other: The First Feminist Congress in 1916 in the Yucatán state (Mexico) and the International Women’s Suffrage Conference (IWSC) in 1913 in Vienna (Austria).
In 1913 in Vienna, the organizers of the International Women’s Suffrage Conference not only organized a program for the first international feminist conference, they also took to the streets of Vienna, bringing their demands into the public arena. As part of the demonstration, more than 120 cars and carriages drove through the city carrying yellow flags with the motto: FRAUENSTIMMRECHT [WOMEN’S RIGHT TO VOTE]. Five years later, in 1918, women gained the right to vote in Austria. In Yucatán, in 1916, the First Feminist Congress was organized at the Peon Contreras Theatre in the City of Mérida. It demanded a change in Yucatan’s Constitution, which would allow women the right to vote. The request was rejected and it was only in 1953 that women gained suffrage in Mexico. Both of these events, not only present the struggles for the right to vote for women but also refer to many other aspects of movements against patriarchal oppression, such as access to the labor market and education for women. Moreover, these past events are a starting point for talking about current oppressions, especially against foreign “citizens”, such as their exclusion from the federal right to vote, which citizenship grants in Austria, or not having the right to be politically active in Mexico.
Archival material used: Fototeca Pedro Guerra, Autonomous University of Yucatán Archival materials: Fototeca Pedro Guerra, Autonomous University of Yucatán; General Archive of the State of Yucatan; Vereinigung bildender Künstlerinnen Österreichs/ Austrian Association of Women Artists (VBKÖ) Archive.
, Macho Intelectual I Intellectual Macho
, 2018, video installation, 3’17’’ and Face in Hole photo installation 3,71 m x 2,40 m
The art world is known for its great inspiring personalities, be they “men*” or “women*”, who abuse their charisma and charm to humiliate, silent, and dominate others. INVASORIX say NO to these intellectual power games under the guise of “progressive” thinking, and propose solidarity instead of competition and censorship. Intellectual Macho is a video-clip song that uses a set of performative re-enactments of photographs of famous art groups to thematize the phenomenon of machismo in gender relations. Displaying historical images of art collectives such as DADA, Wiener Secession, Neoconcretismo Brasileño, Guerilla Girls, among others, INVASORIX and friends re-enact them through a critical humorous parody. Using queer-feminist crossdressing, INVASORIX create an alternative display of roles while also unsettling the dominance of men in art history. However, Intellectual Macho addresses macho men as much as macho women and machismo as a domination practice that works through the creation of hierarchies, even within “emancipatory” intellectual leftist circles in contemporary arts and education contexts.
The Face in Hole photo wall installation uses a 1902 photograph by Moriz Nähr portraying the then all-male members of the Vienna Secession at the opening of the 14th Exhibition, also known as the Beethoven Exhibition. Vienna Secession Exhibition (Group of Secession members in the middle hall of the Vienna Secession before the opening of the 14th exhibition, so-called "Beethoven Exhibition." Back row from left to right: Anton Nowak, Gustav Klimt, Adolf Böhm, Wilhelm List, Maximilian Kurzweil, Leopold Stolba, Rudolf Bacher, front row from left to right: Kolo Moser, Maximilian Lenz (lying down), Ernst Stöhr, Emil Orlik, Carl Moll. Image: Bildarchiv Austria - Austrian National Library.
INVASORIX, Me duele la cara de ser tan güera
/ My Face So Güero It Hurts
, 2019, Karaoke video installation, 5’37’’, objects
My Face So Güero [White] It Hurts is a reguetón song, an activist karaoke installation that thematises “guerx” i.e. the construction of Whiteness and White privilege. The racist concept of Whiteness was the prerequisite for colonialism and it still dominates contemporary, post-colonial, global, capitalist societies. INVASORIX join the voices of struggles against this destructive discourse. Skin color as a projection surface for exoticizing is what INVASORIX criticize not only on the dance floor but also in schools and universities. Even though the problem of racism is discussed today not only in activism but also in academia, and post-colonial critique is part of many universities’ curricula, racialized subjects are often excluded from theory. Skin can hurt in the system of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.
, Covid-XIX Orden global patógeno / Covid-19 Pathogenic Global Order
,2020,ink on paper, 21,7 cm x 14,7cm
By connecting the COVID-19 pandemic with the post-colonial context in the drawing Covid-19 Pathogenic Global Order, Nina Hoechtl comments on the spread of diseases and globalization since colonialism. Even in the era of smallpox, religious myths and politics employed their manipulative interpretations of pandemics. The drawing resembles, in style, form and size, the drawing no. 162 from the manuscript Primer Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno [The First New Chronicle and Good Government], an early 17th-century illustrated chronicle by Peruvian Quechua author Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala. This Chronicle consists of 1200 pages documenting historical events in the Andes from an indigenous perspective: the ancient Andean history, the rise of the Inca Empire, and Spanish conquest and colonialism. The Chronicle was sent to King Philip III of Spain as a harsh critique of Spanish colonial rule.
Poma de Ayala’s drawing no. 162 shows the miracle of Santa María de Peña de Francia, who, by her miraculous apparition, supposedly frightened Inca soldiers in battle and forced them to flee. The drawing unsettled the conquistadors’ myth that smallpox were god’s punishment. Through referencing this drawing in relation to the present pandemic, Hoechtl’s print brings to the fore the ideological context that plays a decisive role in the struggle for life. Hence, in Hoechtl’s dramatic scene, not only political and religious but also global corporations are brought into contact with disadvantaged social actors. As Nina Hoechtl maintains “I also examine scenes of sick and dying health care and cleaning workers, vulnerable people, and agents of toxic politics in protective coveralls at the mercy of Corporate Virgin of Corona floating on Mexican government’s super heroine Susana Distancia, whose name is a wordplay on "healthy social distancing”: While violence is not on quarantine, the gap between the few rich and the most vulnerable has become even wider.” (Nina Hoechtl, Notes)
Text Dr. Ivana Marjanović
Sources and references: http://www.ninahoechtl.org
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March 24th, 6pm
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