Cargo Cult


Cargo Cults in Contemporary Art

May 16, 2017


Monumento Films



Gustavo Buntinx:


We will listen to the artist himself, Jaime Miranda.


Jaime Miranda-Bambarén:


Thanks Gustavo, thanks Haroldo. I was going to show a few slides with views of the show, but I think Haroldo has already done it in an extraordinary way. I am impressed by this descriptive vision from the anthropology of the exhibition. And, well, I am going to proceed to read an introductory text. Very brief. It is delirious: a delusional, almost psychotic reflection.




Unlike the show?




Hahaha, unlike the show, of course.




Which was rational and scientific.




In something like a counterpoint to this very clear and systematic tour of the exhibition offered by Haroldo, I will proceed with something different.


I would like to begin by saying that I am not an expert or a person well versed in some of the subjects I will superficially touch on during this introduction. Nonetheless, it is through the association of these gathered pieces of information that a vision emerges. The data presented here operates constantly in a state of question and doubt. There is no closed information.


I would like to provide a brief spiraled introduction. This information is not disjointed, it rather belongs to a perspective condensed by discipline and method.


There are diverse ways to get initiated in the mysteries of the mind. And when it comes to sculpture, I believe that the objects I construct are external stations of the psyche. But this condensation of external stations of the senses appear suddenly, like a discovery, through some hard work, rigorous discipline, exhaustive editing and method.. Somewhat in the perspective of what Harold spoke about Eliade and this search for the traditional in the work of certain contemporary artists.


I continue: This discipline derives from an always sincere urgency. In order for us to understand the intensity and caliber of all this, I would like to share a brief paragraph that I wish I could attribute to the poet and playwright Antonin Artaud, in some fragment perhaps to be found in his 1945 personal diary:


"Creative vehemence operates from a psychotic state of mind, one of uncontainable desire, like a merry sexual rapist of stray mangy dogs ––that’s how we give birth to myths. It is only then that we hit matter and pierce through the threshold towards all that is mythical. The archaic is reached solely by discovering the fissures in what is physical, accessing what is timeless through the strikes of a sledge hammer, with blows that are rabid, violating, maniac, psychotic, thirsty for what is atemporal. That is how we envision our forefathers from the caverns in our reptilian and primal cerebellums, radicalized towards what is civilized not by rejecting it, but through its metabolization into a Cargo Cult. We capture the fetish of merchandise and give it back transformed into objects of shamanic power, for our ultimate artistic sorcery, for an Art-Brother-of-God" (¿Antonin Artaud?").


On the other hand, the Bokors, who are warlocks from the island of Haiti, use the venom they extract from blowfish to induce an apparent death in their victims. After they are buried by their family and friends, the Bokors return and exhume those bodies, in order to revive them into a dreamlike state by means of other potions and drugs ––a state of lethargy in which they are easily controlled and turned into slaves. They have lost their consciousness and will. Some legends of Haiti zombies are associated to this.


This really caught my attention, because I live intrigued by the mystery of what is it that establishes the difference between what is dead and what is alive. When it comes to sculpture, that vitality condensed into matter operates in this expedition into the mystery of life. It is matter and the world seen from a poetic perspective.


Back in 2011, at Oxford, I met Brian Catling: none other than the British version of Joseph Beuys, according to Iain Sinclair ––the British version of Allen Ginsberg, according to Brian Catling. We were having a conversation and suddenly he said to me: "You know what? In sculpture, wood and mud are life, plaster is death, and therefore bronze is it’s resurrection." He quickly added, with a wink in the eye and a half smile, that resin and glass fibers are the zombie of sculpture.


I understand that matter is also animated by thought and poetry. But that which is poetic and artistic works as well on the edge of what is scientific. As the prophetic phrase of William Burroughs says:


"The time has come for the line between literature and science, a purely arbitrary line, to be erased".


Regarding the history of science and medicine, then, it is vital to know this example: Up to 1967, there were still doubts regarding whether our consciousness dwelled in our hearts: was that its container? This mystery, however, was solved that very year, with the first heart transplant. That is to say, when people got a heart from a donor their consciousness didn’t change, neither did their capacity to look and recognize themselves in the mirror.


On the other hand, in the early XVI century ––and for such purposes I have here a fellow traveller–– Leonardo Da Vinci, an artist and a scientist, after a tireless search reached the conclusion that our consciousness resides in a gland located right behind our eyes. This pituitary gland is the container of consciousness, according to Da Vinci. It is to be found exactly behind this point and under the... I would have to open the skull in order to show it. This materialization and objectification of the grandest mystery, that of consciousness, represents for me the greatest work of art, and of science, of all times.


This box, the human skull, is the motivation for my biggest fascination. The human head is the recipient of the world’s deepest horror and splendor. It is the origin and cause of the greatest conflicts and sufferings here on Earth. But, at the same time, it is an endless source of creativity and renewal.


It is with this perspective on matter in its relation to thought that I approach sculpture.