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Cultural Exchange via Internet - Opportunities and Strategies
Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, 12 October - 4 December, 1998

[as of December 1st 1998 the forum has been prolonged - ... open-ended]


Subject:Re: 4th Summary available
Date:Thu, 19 Nov 1998 03:45
Author:José Tlatelpas  [nclassic@vcn.bc.ca]
Reply To:forum1@hkw.kbx.de


Hi all!
(Quibolas banda):

First, I do not like to write in English and I badly can do so. Also I was feeling lost in this discussion because I do not understand clearly which is the subject and the goal, and I believe that the papers made to begin the discussion are quite unclear. Well... may be I am just slow to understand.

Also, many of the issues already written are quite complex and interesting and quite good to begin a bigger discussion.
However, some concepts I would like to comment.
Regarding to the references to the 3rd World, sorry, I do not believe we are 2nd, 3rd or 4th to none. We all are 1st World, First People (including to the Native Canadian who uses this term in an specific context, rightfully), and we all have 1st class rights.

Also, I just do not believe we should be "accepted by Europeans" or "White society", "Caucasians", etc... nor I believe we should reject someone because is black, brown, yellow or white. I mean: all of us have to be accepted in our right to speak, to be and to develop as far as we respect anothers. And racism against "blacks" is no different than racism against "whites". To say "we should not" is may be not so different. Because the basics of the discussion still lies in the interactivity between the Occidental World and the "South"... I think this is not the center of the problem. What about the relations of Africa with Latin America? What about the relations between Asia and Native America, what about the relation between all of us?

I think that among the philosophical and political reasons of the need of relating, there is sometimes a second agenda. The economic one. Many do not want to relate with poor countries because they have no money to purchase goods and services. I mean, many artist and curators are quite interested in relating with USA, but not with Haiti and not with Honduras, to say something. And sometimes the economically poorer countries have richer cultures, it happens....

Many artist dream with New York and try to justify that arguing that New York is the capital of Art and there you can find the best of the best. Wrong. You can find a lot of money around art, but mainly that. Same with the issue of the greatest writers of USA, they seems to be as better as more books they sell. But unfortunately that is not an aesthetic or literary parameter.

So should be quite clear the analysis of the issue. Are we interested in a democratic, plural participation or in opening markets for our cultural products, or a mixture of both? But they are not one and the same. One of the main issues of a curator, a critic and a writer should be to identify the hidden agendas, the real motives and factual performance, I guess. Regarding the role of the Internet in the cultural promotion and globalization... uhhh.... that is a big thing... as far as globalization we should be clear that what some people (many, if you review that) call globalization is just the assumption that the Big Empires or The Big Empire is going to globalize (appropiate) of the world and the media and that we should get an advantage of that... (?).

The Academy of the Spanish Language in New York published a very interesting article about the use of the word and its translation into Spanish. In fact, globalization should be related to those terms many have forgotten, Imperialism and Neocolonialism... the so called Globalization is the Cybernetic Age Imperialism, in another clothes.

So many of us, deprived from means to publish, broadcast, promote alternative feelings, ideas and dreams have celebrated the apearance of the Internet. However, we all should remember that the Internet was not precisely created by us, FOR us, and is not specifically designed to serve US. On the contrary. However, the people, the artists, the cultural workers and the intellectuals, certainly have found small corners were we can all live and multiply, sometimes like flowers, sometimes like mice, sometimes like trees, sometimes like eagles.

To say that in a metaphoric way, the Internet to me is like a new big house, and the alternative culture broke in like a humble dandelion. It have reproduced itself and multiplied. And the "owners" of the house (I mean Internet service providers, the big hosts, the telephonic companies, the big institutions, the governments, the big business) are thinking which kind of pesticide the could use to get rid of us. Or in which way they can sell ourselves to ourselves...

In fact, the world of Internet is everyday more difficult for us. The Java and CGI scripting are replacing the easier HTML, you no longer can be in the publishing web world with a 286... every day the equipement and technology is more demanding, the training needs increase and all this displace the poor and promote to the rich.

In fact, the problem of the use of Internet is not foreign to the political order of the world and the economical world system.

As it was true centuries ago, the alternative culture have to find their place in the backyard of the leading power.

No wonder that so many sites and good and very very good sites disappear... many of our sites are done out of love, fanatic drive, crazyness, stuborness, whatever... not hard resources. The "content" sites can be very hard, very very hard to build, and to maintain. The big institutions quite often abandone them for lack of resources... we can imagine the huge disadvantage for us with no resources at all or so little that should be regarding practically as non existent.

For example, in our magazine La Guirnalda Polar we have been cometing with other magazines and institutions having more than 100 well paid workers and some top paid. We compete with clons founded by government agencies and private ones, and most of them have top technology, state of the art. We, in our side, have worked in the kitchen, in a friends bassement, sometimes with a 286, sometimes with a Pentium, sometimes with a 8088 and a floppy... sometimes alone one person... sometimes a handful... our contributors can be top of the world authorities and really good people but the people actually doing the work are found sometimes in the food banks or in the lines of the homeless... We have got a lot of recognisment and respect... but he paid that with a lot of sacrifice... I know this is a common situation among many of us... how we can compete, survive, serve, contribute and grow in that terms?

Of course sometimes we seems to have an edge, we can be on top of the institutions... they can not purchase as easy the reason, the art, the ingenuity of the artists of the world... we find a way of making the things possible... Sometimes we just dream... and that is OK... but no way a reason to ignore the real world...

However... we often have to pay our achievements... with starvation, sleep... (to seay the less) and we quickly get drained, exhausted... and we dissapear as websites (or are disapeared in some cases). How can we compete sucesfully in that terms?

I was been making a lot of research in marketing in the Internet but I barely can update my work... that make me think that one of the possible solutions is to build a network.

I think the alternative culture should create a network of resources, space, a space that can be shared and also permit the artist to sell their goods... a space that can promote the profesionalization of curators, artists, writers, critics, etc. Many community spaces are killing the survival of their members preventing them from selling their productions (how can they survive in that terms?). The commercial networks are more expensive and the situation of most artists is not so good to have enough comerical space into the web. Also many websites are prevented from selling advertising space, and the advertising strategy in the web is now in a kind of crisis.

Some people have not clear the importance of profesionalization. If a worker is not paid, then is exploited. We are against the explotation of the cultural worker and believe that the cultural work should receive the same value as the work of any worker. If we promote the non paid work, we will kill sooner or later the projects. And will push to the weaker of brain and heart to sell themselves to the evil out of need, rather than choice.

Well... I am in rush and have written so long... sorry for that... I would like to have more time to write and be more precise, careful and acurate... but barely I was able to write this.

Hughs to all


José Tlatelpas


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The Spanish Canadian Web
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Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, on the use of Internet in the cultural exchange with and between Africa, Asia/Pacific and Latin America.

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