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Cultural Exchange via Internet - Opportunities and Strategies
Forum of the House of World Cultures, Berlin, 12 October, 1998 - ... open end

Subject:Another contribution to the forum
Date:Wed, 09 Dec 1998 14:27
Author:Francisco Córdoba  []

Rome, December 8, 1998.

This morning, before I got up, I was thinking of "ideas and 'my' solutions" to write about and send to the forum. As a matter of fact I've been thinking about my new participation for quite a while. Indeed, like some others, shyness, the English language and much work have made me think a lot before writing again. Today is a holiday in Italy and I opened the art studio in the afternoon. Then I found Leandro Katz's contribution, where he asks for the Unesco Letter of the Rights of Artists. Of course it would be a pleasure for me to translate the Italian version I have into Spanish (I believe somebody else could help from Spanish into English). Although, I think that probably Aleksandra Ivir of the Institute for International Relations (IMO) in Zagreb, Croatia, focal point of Culturelink, "the Network of Networks for Research and Cooperation in Cultural Development" - as she wrote in her contribution of the 6th of November -, established by UNESCO and the Council of Europe in 1989, could be the best person to ask for the English (or French) version of such a document. The other document I mentioned on my participation I can surely translate and make available to whom might be interested.

I've been following all the statements and, as I wrote before, I have wondered how to make a concrete further contribution. First of all because, as an artist, I do not consider my art research indipendent from the social, political and economic reality I live in or the one I came from.

People probably know that in a few days the United Nations will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Declaration of Human Rights. Several participants to the forum have mentioned the great possibility we have with internet in order to carry on world wide campaigns to defend human rights. I certainly agree with that. As a matter of fact, when Karla Tucker was to be killed in a so-called "legal" way in a prision in Texas, I put a phrase on my home page: "to kill is not a solution". But that phrase was not enough, I thought, and with so many wars and weapon industries flourishing all over the world I put another phrase: "The future is in the eyes of the children, PEACE AND HUMAN RIGHTS NOW!" Of course these statements came from the bottom of my soul and I'll keep on inventing new ones whenever necessary.
Yet, I keep on wondering: apart from some consciousness which of course is ok, will they ever really help to stop so much violence?! I know that my "power" lays on the possibility to write such statements but I think I would be lying to myself if I ever thought that was all I could do. I do believe that strengthning groups of artists who work this way could be one good solution, too. Who knows if we would find even "official" institutions somewhere in the world joining these initiatives. Even if not so frequent, fortunately, it would not be brand new, either!

Several participants have also pointed out the military history and military use of internet, the power control over the net and so on. I think it is obvious that the economic systems we live in have never stopped their control over real democratic exchanges and information. In spite of the appearance I do not think we live in a democratic economy, how can we expect democratic culture in such conditions? I dont' think freedom of expression can ever be taken for granted. But it's also a real fact that we are here exchanging our own ideas, experiences and opinions. It's true that I don't think I've ever seen the faces of any of the members of the list and yet, I feel the need of relating to you. Maybe, somebody will think this is a naive feeling. But, wasn't it a "virtual way of communicating" when some of us, as teenagers, used to make pen-pal friends all over the world? I learned how to use the telex machine when as a university student. Then I worked as a night clerk in a hotel in my hometown (San José, Costa Rica) more than 20 years ago. Because of the time zones, sometimes I "spoke" with the person who was receiving the telex I was sending to another continent. Wasn't that another way of "virtual communication"? Of course, I never saw the face or heard the voice of the person who typed back to me!

I did appreciate a lot some artists' statements (for instance José Tlatelpas's). Being an "inmigrant" in a so-called rich industrialized country maybe does lead us to face similar problems. Maybe it also gives the possibility to "touch" how many different ways and languages consumption uses in order to produce very similar mentalities, needs and behaviours. Of course, I would be afraid of just relying on internet and forgetting how important personal exchanges are in a Mediterranean country like Italy. Even the use of English and sharing the contributions to the forum becomes a problem since not so many people write or read English, believe it or not!

So another question raises: how to find practical "solutions" if I know very well that projects are absolutely limited because of lack money or lack of sponsors. Sam wrote on the 6th of Dicember about " 'setting up' an exhibition". That was a concrete proposal. So far, nobody has replied, though. In my case, since I run a small art studio and I work with a culture group, of course, I would be delighted to be able to organize exchanges with other artists. However, even if an exhibit could be a solution - in my opinion, a limited one - I do expect a lot more from this forum and I would expect more ideas and/or projects from those who have more access to either public or private facilities.

Thank you for your attention.

Francisco Córdoba


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