Clemente Padín

Everything began in an afternoon of November, 2003, when I received a call from Cardiff, Wales, Great Britain, by the Irish performer André Stitt. I remember that in that afternoon I was preparing my baggage to travel the next day, for participating in "Contrato" (Contract), a performatic event which was to be held in Cordoba, Argentine, an event organized by the Daniel Acosta, artist and performer from Buenos Aires, and also by Ximena Narea, curator of the well remembered events PROYECTO LIMES, in Montevideo and Buenos Aires, and by Luís Cuenca, Director of the La Casona, Centro Cultural Municipal del Cordoba (events already commented in later issues of Escáner Cultural) (Cultural Scanner, an electronic magazine from Chile, South America).

Still's call was to know whether I was inclined to accept an invitation to participate of an exchange program of artists and promotions of a culture called Visiting Arts, sponsored by British Council for the Arts and by Henry Moore Foundation, which provide funds in many parts of the world for exchanging experiences with local artists. Due to this resources, British artists are able to invite an foreign artist, during a week, to dialogue and know themselves and share common experiences. Of course I accepted under previous consult with some members of my Fan Club.

André Stitt, born in Belfast, North Ireland, in 1958, is considered one of the most important performers in the world. He has done about 300 performances since 1976 in galleries, festivals and encounters in very good places. Stitt is identified for the tension and force of the execution of his performances what resolves in a catharsis (what Stitt calls "akshun"). His works center in political and social themes, oppression, freedom, subversion, alienation experiences, culture appropriation, ritual and transgressive actions. His artistic work incarnates the contradictions of capitalism and the determination to the materialism processes of construction and desintegration and the consequent via crucis of the redemption. On other hand he commands the National School of Fine Arts of Gales, in Cardiff, and the Trace Gallery, only dedicated to the realization of performance and by which many world famous artists have been passed.

It is in such good ambience that I made the performance PUNTO FINAL, on February 28th, at 6 p. m., in a very crowded room. I have already done this work in Montevideo, in a kind of legality of human rights and the situation of many parents of prisoners and disappeared for political objectives during the bad period of dictatory in my country. I also made some poetical performances and exchanges of impressions with the Stiff's students of School of Fine Arts.
An especial chapter was the escape to London for some days. It was good, first, for knowing Stuart Brisley, one pioneer performer from 60's, one of the first artists who gave the major impulse to the incipient artistic gender. Known worldwide not only for his performance, but also for his theoretical works, he is now a living glory of United Kingdom and Europe. And, second, for unprecedented effect that assumed the encounter of mail artists or networkers during my visit to London. All began for a call, via Internet, to the world artists and of the island for a meeting on February 26th in the entrance of Tate Gallery. So, until 14 p.m. we were meeting Martha Aitchinson, Marisol Cavia, Pat Collins, Ed Wilson, Julia Tant, Alan Turner (from UK); Guido Vermeulen, Don Jarvis, that is, Dawn Redwood, Vic Scott, Geert de Decker, that is, Sztuka Fabrica (from Belgium); Roberto Scala (from Italy); Peter Kustermann, that is, Peter Netmail (from Germany); Erik the Viking (from Denmark); Diane Thorel (from USA) and André Stitt, the last who gathered to the group. During the presentations and dialogues of surprise for meeting each others in these circumstances, for we belonged to many different countries and languages, and after the exchange of magazines, postal cards (Martha prepared an excellent post card with my poem PAZ = PAN), addresses, objects (Peter gave me a German post-box) and poses for our cameras, we went to the fourth floor for having a coffee and keep on making our exchange.

One time at the bar and after the soft drinks, PeterNetmail distributed one postcard in which there is a photo of mine with a vacuum cleaner on my body (it was a photo of a performance in the street during the homage to Edgardo Antonio Vigo, which I organized in the Centro de Arte Moderno de Quilmes, Buenos Aires, in 1998). On the high part of the postcard one reads: "We will take contamination out of Clemente Padin in Tate Gallery" (notice that the play of words between "descontaminaremos" (to take contamination out of ) and "terminaremos" (to finish, to end), date and local and partial list of the participants. First the performers covered their faces with handkerchiefs and put on yellow sterile gloves, dressed white tunics and covered their heads with nets. They put a t-shirt on me on which one reads "ANTRAX POLIZEI" (Anthrax Police), for I, fictionally, was supposed to bring radiations and all kinds of germs, including the virus of Anthrax, for the fact I came from Uruguay, 3rd World. Suddenly Peter started passing a vacuum cleaner in all my body, while the others verified other parts of my body. At the end, Dawns put a stamp with gum arabic in the back of my hand on which there is a declaration that I deserve to belong to the First World. The performance had a dramatic close when a sentinel called for his supervisor. The supervisor very politely explained that everything which has been done in the Gallery should be "curated" by it and that realizations as ours should be with copyright as the property of Gallery. We didn't go on and stopped the performance immediately because we intended to avoid problems with laws and British police.

Of course it was a bitter parody about the treatment received by travelers from dependent countries when they arrive in metropolitan countries (except in rare cases). In fact it starts with the ironic accent while were are being questioned by the immigration clerks until the complete nudeness searching for drugs. On one side the tragedy of illegal immigrants looking for better levels of life, those one who suffer the hell of exploitation and humiliation until they find a nice place to live (sometimes only for survivence) and, on other side, disdain and loss of documents of identity to which they are submitted to be accpted.
But the reality always overcomes the fiction: nobody could imagine about the implications of this jocose performance (which only inadvertent public was the parishioner in the pub) would have to do with one of the controverter institution of the system of arts and its market, the COPYRIGHT. It treats about one of most difficult themes which can be studied by the present jurisprudence about all questioning which has arose by the artistic activity in networking (the net of artists which work in cyberspace) and, also, by the postmodernism which ha done anything with the old concepts of plagarism and other concepts related to the old order.

Another chapter was open when, due to a kind invitation from my old friends Angel Pastor and Joan Casellas, I traveled to Barcelona taking the opportunity of my travel to Europe. It was a very impressed meeting, not only with Angel and Joan (with whom I have shared performatic spaces in Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Cordoba one year later), but also with all people from Barcelona, for I left good friends when I was there in 1999, when invited by the University, I offered a lecture in the Facultad de Filologia.

My first action was on March, 2nd: a lecture to a group of students in the Facultad de Bellas Artes of the University in charge of Prof. Pilar Bonet on "Poetry and Political Action". In the same day, in Espal Jove Boca Nord, I performed my work PUNTO FINAL (with many changes, I should confess) in a journey organized by the collective Z. A. I. (Zona de Acción Itinerante = Itinerant Action Zone), which, among other things, the presentation of the book by Robert Filliou "El Arte es lo que Hace la Vida más interessante que el Arte" (Art is what makes the Life much more interesting than the Art) with Spanish translation by artist Nelo Vila, from Valencia; with the presentation of the book ART ACTION, in charge of its editor, the Canadian performer Richard Martel and, else, exhibition of audiovisuals of some of my works in the street, what I call "social and artistic happenings" (for, in fact, I can call them "performances"). Later, a wide space opened up for the performance and the works were appearing one by one. First the hosts Angel Pastor and Joan Casellas and, then, the invited artists: Richard Martel, Nelo Vilar, Valentin Torren and me.

On March, 3rd, with Angel, we made a quick visit to the mail-artist César Reglero in Tarragona, a person who manages a singular institution on the networking: the MUSEO DEL SOL, all for the exhibition of works of mail art. He alone edits a magazine and daily updates and maintains one of the most visited websites of digital art in the world: BOEK861. We also enjoyed the company of the artist Isabel Jover and of the poet Guillermo Marín.
The following stage was to face the Instituto Catalán de Cooperación Iberoamericana, on March 4th. There I gave a lecture on "The Latinamerican digital poetry" illustrated by numerous examples taken from my colleagues Regina Célia Pinto, Jorge Luiz Antonio, Fabio Doctorovich, Ladislao Pablo Györi, Franklin Valverde, Roberto Keppler, Isabel Aranda, Lorenzo Facorro, Alcides Martinez, Alexandre Venera, Fernando Strano, Christián Diaz and Santiago Tavela.

Then the most touching part of the travel came for me to live. Even knowing by the program that "The act will be followed by the reading and actions of the poets J. M. Calleja, Xavier Canals, Pere Sousa and Gustavo Vega", I have never imagined that their interventions were turned to parody my own experimental poem, which make me live moments of intense emotion. The same happened on March 5th, in KABARET OPERT, a bar which offers performances shows each first Friday each month late evening. The interesting is that everyone who wants can go up to scenary and make what he or she wants. In that place we give a lot of interviews to many artists and I had the opportunity to enjoy an unforgettable overtime. I read one of my experimental poet and a poem of my friend, who was unfortunately dead, the North American Dick Higgins. We finished the night in Stidna enjoying an excellent exhibition of its activities.
Finally on March 7th I returned to London for taking a flight to Montevideo, via São Paulo, sharing some hours of my flight with Martha Aitchison and her husband, "Largo" John, a person who taught me to know the best of London.

Montevideo, Uruguay, March, 14th, 2004.

Translator: Jorge Luiz Antonio

André Stitt' performance: The Soft Parade, Los Angeles, 2002

with André in the Gales' hills near a "naif" work

At the Tate Gallery, Feb 26, 2004

With Peter, Martha y Geert

Commemorative Postcard

Performing "We Deconterminated" at Tate Gallery

Descontaminación 2

Kabaret Obert's poster / Barcelona

Angel, César and Guillermo in the "Taller del Sol de Tarragona"

J. M. Calleja's performance

With the students of the university...