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Carlos Motta, The Good Life

Smack Mellon
92 Plymouth Street, corner of Washington, 718-834-8761
March 7 - April 12, 2009
Reception: Saturday, March 7, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

The Good Life is a two-part video project composed of a video installation and an Internet archive ( formed by 400 video interviews with pedestrians on the streets of twelve cities in Latin America shot between 2005 and 2008. The conversations and dialogues recorded in Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Guatemala, La Paz, Managua, México City, Panamá, Santiago, San Salvador, São Paulo, and Tegucigalpa, cover topics such as individuals’ perceptions of U.S. foreign policy, democracy, leadership, and governance. The result is a wide spectrum of responses and opinions, which vary according to local situations and specific forms of government in each country.

In the installation viewers encounter a multi-channel video presentation, where 12 monitors are mounted on a four-part, two-tiered wooden structure that is an abstracted formal reference to the Priene, the theater and general space of the Athenian Agora, in which citizens were entitled to meet, debate, and participate in legislative and judicial decisions. The position of the monitors on the structure allows them to metaphorically function as speaking subjects—citizens—in the space, addressing their comments to a wider forum.

A series of photographs arranged asymmetrically on the walls create a kind of enclosure to the environment. Hundreds of stills from the videos, arranged in different categories, including political graffiti, religious processions, and public monuments, demarcate an active relationship between, religious, cultural and ideological iconographies.

Additionally, a poster, available to take away, featuring texts commissioned from artists Ashley Hunt, Naeem Mohaiemen and Oliver Ressler; and political philosopher Maria Mercedes Gómez answers the question, “What is democracy to you?” It expands the dialogue proposed in the videos in regards to the concept of democracy as a system of governance.

The Good Life is informed by conceptual documentary traditions, referencing the approach of Third Cinema classics such as Fernando “Pino” Solanas La hora de los hornos (1968) and Cinema Verité works such as Vilgot Sjöman’s I am curious (Yellow) (1967) a work that proposed to study the notion of public opinion as mediated ideological construction.
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