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Decolonizing the Creative
by Raul Moarquech Ferrera-Balanquet
The term transnational Latino is associated with a nationalist framework, product of the exchange taking place at the US-Mexican border. This renders invisible an organic history of US Latinxs interconnecting territories such as the Caribbean, Central America, Latin America, Brazil, and First Nation Native American territories. It also obscures the factual military occupation of the southwest, once a colonial Mexican territory under the Spanish Empire and where many indigenous and interethnic subjects trace their ancestral roots, as well as the present situation of Puerto Rico. As consequences of this misunderstanding, the geopolitical and cultural locations of the US Latinx Diaspora are hard to comprehend, especially when border knowledge and cultural practices are taking place across territories not marked by the physical national divided. The imagined geography of the US/Latino territories confronts issues of citizenship, undocumented migration, ethnicity, race, sexuality, class, and decolonization to produce social, political, and cultural effects in the larger context of the United States. How can US Latinxs make sense of a national identity when we are permeated by many transnational experiences?
When thinking about the intangible transnational Latino territories, I envision a theoretical and historical interdisciplinary mapping of a crossroads embracing the creative and critical variable intersections among the US Latinxs, Afro-Latinxs, Caribbean, Latin Americans, Indigenous and First Nations Native Americans, Arab Americana, and Asian Americana Diasporas. At the crossroads emanates a complex system of knowledge (decolonial thinking), which weaves several epistemologies to enact a multilayer-multidirectional understanding of the senses, of knowledge acquisition and production, of historical understanding, of a variety of creative productions, as well as a multiplicity of social and political interactions.
The mechanisms of modern Anglo-Eurocentred modern/colonial matrix reinforces the visual apparatus, chronological time, linearity, the hierarchy of the object based production, and the illusion of economic development and progress. This matrix is engine by the exploitation of nature for economic gains, cognitive and cultural racism, and the constrains of the erotic power. Institutional power in the social sphere works at the deep levels of our bodies, experiences and memories. The heteronormative patriarchal scientific rationalist logic of coloniality still managing our corporal responses, slaving the creative process and cultural expressions to the dark side of modernity and, at the same time, blocks the access to the wisdom and ancestral knowledge alive at the crossroads of these interconnected Diasporas. Therefore, we must focus on the ways in which the oppressive nature of the ideology of the visual affects the sensorium, the subjective experience, and the critical and creative process of Indigenous, Afro descendants, Caribbean, and US Transnational Latinxs critical thinkers and cultural workers.
As we delink from Anglo-Eurocentric aesthetics and forms of representation, we travel closer to our imagined decolonial AestheSis, or vida sensitiva as it is known in many Diaspora territories empowered by indigenous ancestral knowledge. The I/We performative decolonial critical thinker, artist and writer imagines cultural production in relation to larger Diaspora territories and their heterogeneous histories/herstories. Photography has evolved in the last fifteen years in the US Latinx/Latin American Diaspora to overcome the medium relation and association to realism. Net Art Latino demonstrates how the hypertextual variable architectures imagined by the net artists are historically and culturally weaved into creative imaginary landscapes originating at this side of the Atlantic. The organic transnational historical relations between the Mexican, the Xicanxs at the border/frontera cultural locations constantly reconfigure the heterogeneous creative movements across the border. The actual presence of Indigenous and African ancestral knowledge, as well as the use of Maya Yucatec, Vèvè, Abakua, and Kongo Palo Monte writing languages and wisdom are intrinsic elements of the political identities and the creative expressions of some of the artists located at the interconnected crossroads.
A critique of the nation state ideology demonstrates how the cultural production of Cuban American artists has been double marginalized and displaced due to the inherent racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and conservative politics within the dominant discourses of the first wave of Cuban exiles and also by the leftist fetishism over the Marxist Eurocentric heteronormative patriarchal ideological rhetoric of the Castro’s government, which in 1959 it auto proclaimed as the leader of the Cuban revolution.
Decolonial artists employ creative practices and decolonial strategies such as delinking, remembering, cimarronaje, and ancestral memory to detach from the modern/colonial matrix and search for knowledge in the location erased and/or displaced by coloniality. I invite the readers to understand how the remaining structural foundation of the colonial matrix is a geographical Anglo-Eurocentric spatial projection, which claims the universal truth of the construction of geography and spatial relations. And outside the borders of this matrix, there are interconnected Diaspora territories which nurture the cultural productions of artists at a crossroads inhabited by the presence of US Latino, Latin American, First Nations, Caribbean, Brazilian, and Africana Americana cultural and socio experiential sensitivities, knowledges, and creative practices.
Raul Moarquech Ferrera-Balanquet Photo Credit: performance was supported by FCA (Foundation for Contemporary Arts). @CreativeArtsSchoolDelray @OldSchoolSquareCreativeArtsSchool LEARN SOM