Cheverismo, or Death!June 10, 2015
Dearest Gabriel, thank you for inviting me to take part in this debate. It's a great opportunity to organize various thoughts that I've had since the term Cheverismo came to light.
I agree with you that Central America and the Caribbean region find themselves at a very special historical moment; it is one that, in my opinion, is characterized by the formation of art scenes in which platforms of experimentation, distribution, exchange and commercialization are emerging and forming their own character.
In this sense, I think that is important to generate a vocabulary that fits the moment, that helps to define it without using terminology linked to those traditional discourses that try to measure everything according to their own standards, and that in general turn out to be obsolete for dealing with the current reality because they ignore its chaos and contradictions.
Cheverismo is a term that was coined in airport lounges, at restaurant tables, in the hallways of fairs, bars, parties... it refers more to an attitude than anything else. It isn't a movement that came together in the academy; rather it finds its origins in the street or in pure lived experience. It lives off friendship, but doesn't exclude other mandates.
Even if those in Central America and the Caribbean could rely upon institutional or state-sponsored support for the development of contemporary art, Cheverismo would still exist, because it belongs to culture and knowledge in general before it belongs to art history.
Cheverismo doesn't operate according to the parameters of what is culturally accepted as professional. Rather, it is an alternative that develops out of daily life and appropriates strategies associated with spontaneity––conversation, humor, discussion, barter, fun—to create open channels of activity. It forges paths that don't depend on markets or institutions, but that don't ignore them either.
Cheverismo speaks to inclusion, to the practice of being 'chévere,' of leaving the door open so that information can come and go—although it also accepts thresholds.
One of the proposals put forth by Cheverismo is to redefine its own limits, to lay out original models and generate strategies, based on individual or collective experience, that arise locally, with the aim of sharing in international movements without depending on traditional mandates.
In this way it has allowed for a diverse array of participants to enter onto the scene, generated visibility for modest works, spurred discussion, and propelled the flow of ideas, all of which help to distinguish our region on the international map of contemporary art.
Yes, it can cause controversy due to the subjectivity of its practices and the analogical nature of its activities, and because of the ways in which the channels of communication and exchange it uses draw on the logic of the emotions and constantly adjust themselves to the necessities of the moment. However, its success can be located precisely in its richness of improvisation, its solidarity, its gleanings, its metamorphoses, and its use of unexpected resources to resolve situations and propose new ones.