Guatemala Después: Rethinking the Past, Reimagining the Now


April 9, 2015 - April 29, 2015

Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries

Opening Reception: Thursday, April 9, 6:00 pm

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“The past is always ahead of me,“ says Benvenuto Chavajay, a Mayan artist from Guatemala, reminding us that our experience of the past shapes the present and draws us into the future. Chavajay’s words invite us to rethink our relationship to notions of time, official
histories, collective memory, and erasure.

Following 36 years of internal armed conflict fueled by U.S.-backed military regime(s) and a state of recurrent colonialism, Guatemala seems paralyzed in the midst of a fragile democracy and a volatile economy. Nevertheless, over the past two decades, artists, thinkers, and socially engaged practitioners in the Central American nation have developed inventive new spaces, collectives, and resourceful practices that challenge traditional ways to think and experience historic memory.

Guatemala Después is a collaborative curatorial project between The New School and Ciudad de la Imaginación (Quetzaltenango, Guatemala). It seeks to showcase artistic practices from Guatemala that reclaim suspended histories, reveal invisible injustices, and engage in dialogues that relocate our imagination of the present.

This exhibition emerged through a yearlong process of co-investigation, fieldwork, interviews, workshops, and an open call for proposals from artists in and outside of Guatemala. The outcomes
showcase artistic investigations by multidisciplinary teams of nearly 40 artists, social scientists, and community activists, as well as influential works by established Guatemalan artists.

The artist collaboratives participating in the show include:

Chirmol is a Guatemalan sauce made from smashed roasted tomatoes and spicy peppers; in oral culture to say chirmol is to speak about something chaotic, convoluted and complex, but which simply tastes delicious. The transnational collaboration between The New School and Ciudad de la Imaginación has turned into a “chirmol” of artistic energies and curatorial perspectives, reframing memory and the performance of urban agency while situating indigeneity and otherness, as reflected in Guatemala Después. We invite you to participate in this creative inquiry and make your own chirmol along the way.

Presented by The School of Media Studies, The New School for Public Engagement and Ciudad de la Imaginación

Curators: Anabella Acevedo, Pablo José Ramírez de Leon, and Nitin Sawhney with curatorial support from Radhika Subramaniam

Curatorial Assistants: Alba Carrasco, Caroline Brendel, and Julian de Mayo Rodriguez

Production Assistants: Santiago Lucas, Nelesi Rodríguez, and Livia Santos

Guatemala Después would not have been possible without the dedication and support of New School graduate students involved in the production studio course Curatorial Design and Media Practices: Guatemala Después (Spring 2015) and the seminar course Art, Media and Conflict: Guatemala Post-Genocide (Fall 2014), taught by Prof. Nitin Sawhney.

Thanks to: Malak Abobakr, Zina Alam, Valentina Bonifacio, Alexandra Cherasia, Colin DeMatteis, Ivana Garcia, Walis Johnson, Jamie Monterroso, Maira Nolasco-Carranza, Nelesi Rodríguez, Sari Safitri, Laura Sánchez, Novel Sholars, Lisa Stenhaug, Melissa Wiskin, Daniela Valero, and Katerine Vasquez.

To learn more about the project visit:

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