Artpace: Walk us through your exhibition
Daniel García Andújar: The space is about process and how we build up the white cube. Before you enter the space there is a drone video along with a series of images lining the walls, which are all created from archival documents. Inside the space is an atlas of images, The Texan Files. The photos are arranged to resemble Google image search results as seen on a computer screen, iPhone, or other technology—the machinery of representation. These machines function as a mediator between reality and the representation of reality. In this space are images I’ve collected from libraries and archives including cartography, which was used to control people’s perceptions of their world before modern GPS technology. These historical maps represent movement in the land of butterflies, animals, and people, but I removed information and manipulated them so that you don’t know what exactly the movement represents.
The videos in the exhibition explore public space. The drone footage simulates someone walking along the Camino Real trail. During my residency, I was looking for the historic Camino Real trail and was given access to a private ranch that included part of the trail. Most of the land in Texas is private and, up until recent history, air was still considered public space. Now with planes and drones, even air space is regulated and public space no longer exists. In the 1990’s at the beginning of the Internet boom, people saw the Internet as an extension of public space, but now it is totally controlled and regulated just like land and air. It is the same extension of the capitalist idea of private space.
AP: What is your definition of an archive?
DGA: I define an archive as machinery used to control knowledge and people. I’m also concerned with copyright and appropriated images, which are a major part of my work. The role of an artist is to create a space of resistance, to create another way to look at reality. I believe access to information and technology is a basic human right. Art is used to understand our history and interpret our reality. I believe art has the capacity to change the world.
AP: What did you create outside of Artpace?
DGA: There are three public interventions offsite and there is documentation of them in this space. In the vacant storefront of the Book Building on Houston Street, I installed a 404 website error message, normally encountered when you navigate to a web page that no longer exists. Previously I’ve designed 404 website pages for Spain’s Reina Sofia Museum of 20th century art, but this is the first time I’ve installed a 404 error message in a public space.
When I am in a new place, I first go to their archives to understand its history. In downtown San Antonio I discovered these beautiful buildings from the 1920’s, but they are totally vacant. During the 1950’s it was cheaper for people to move out of downtown and develop their businesses in the suburbs. Installing the 404 error message in the vacant Book Building merges reality and our digital representation of reality.
The pictures of the flag reading, Democraticemos la Democracia or Let’s Democratize Democracy, are part of an ongoing project that I will take to Athens, Greece after Artpace.
AP: What is the perfume?
DGA: The perfume is a scent created to evoke Chili con carne, which was first brought to San Antonio by women from the Canary Islands in 1731. The Canary Islanders were the first people to settle in this area and though the possessions they carried were limited, they were able to bring their knowledge of cooking techniques and ingredients of what would become Tex-Mex cuisine. In San Antonio, the women reportedly cooked their “spice stew” outdoors in copper kettles in the village plaza (now Main Plaza) and shared with soldiers and passersby at sundown. The women introduced the unique, cumin-heavy flavor signature of Tex-Mex chili con carne.