Mugunzá: Politics, Art/Development: Savour but don’t Swallow: Cook your Own Means to Express yourself

By Tiago Assis.

Published by The Arts Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In 2003 the group of artists constituting the “Action and Research Collective” of Identidades* started an intercultural, experiential project with a population based in Brazil’s remote interior (Conceição das Crioulas**, a Quilombola community mobilized in the struggle for possession of land, for the rights to education and health, and to dignify their life and identity). This collaborative relationship allowed the formulation of the theoretical knowledge that was presented as action/research in five presentations in the colloquium “Mugunzá: Politics, Art/Development” *** in the Sixth International Conference on the Arts in Society****. The current article focuses on how communities can establish their own laboratories while preserving their autonomy and identity, and on how the Western World can “savour”, and learn from, these experiences. The particular nature of this action/research shows the importance of articulating the intrusion of politics in the developed areas, leading to an assumed position about the concept of art/development. Taking place in a community where the issue of identities presents a huge multicultural complexity, the intercultural relationship follows through practices of complicity built in a mutual and continuous process and an extended knowledge of the subjects involved. The technological innovation’s defense and the spread of the community’s communicational spaces integrated technologies with strange grammar and syntax. This conflict opened the research about the interfaces’ nature and the applications’ friendliness in production/use within the ICT4D context. We question the implementation of technologies that were developed from Western models, ignoring and excluding other societies and cultures such as the community under discussion. The recipes used in attempts to implement these technologies under the acronym Information and Communication Technologies For Development (ICT4D) are based on a Western perspective that often ignores the socio-cultural aspects of these communities and become a top-down project. (*http://identidades.eu, **http://conceicaodascrioulas.org, ***This colloquium addresses the processes developed from intercultural relations between the community and the members of Identidades (mainly arts students), to create different perspectives on various issues. There are four more approaches in the project. First José Paiva makes a general framing of the project of inter-relating artist members of the intercultural movement Identidades in the social and political context of Conceição das Crioulas. Rita Rainho reflects on the role and implications of arts in the field of differentiated development and of the political space engaged with the social. Joana Mateus suggests a critical vision on connections of knowledge, trust, and complicity that tend to allow environments of interculturality. Lastly, Mónica Faria develops her reflection about the programs of artistic education in the community’s schools, highlighting the relations with the “Political-Pedagogical Project” of the community, and strategic fronts in the field of the education of leaders of the community. ****http://artsinsociety.com/Conference-2011/)

Keywords: Identity, Quilombola, Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), Power, Culture, Language, Interface, Conflict, Media, Community

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 5, pp.1-8. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 600.472KB).

Tiago Assis

Activist, Collective of Action and Research, I2ADS/University of Porto, Oporto, Portugal

Is a researcher and teacher at I2ADS, School of Fine Arts, University of Porto-Portugal and a Ph.D scholar at Valencia’s Universitat Politécnica-Spain. Tiago is developing a thesis under the title: ‘(Re)rooting Technology in Culture at the Margins of Technological Deluge: Impact of Information and Communication Technologies on Real Communities’. He has a Master on Multimedia Production from Universitat de Barcelona-Spain, and a degree on Communication Design from the School of Arts and Design-Portugal. Also worked on graphic design, web, video and photography for several companies and as a freelancer. He has been working on the group Identidades with ICT in communities from Mozambique, Cape-Vert, Brazil and Portugal.

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