Chubut, La Patagonia, Argentina (2011)

Inmigrante, immigrant or invandrare? 

Oscar Lara, Home, Video Installation, 2011

Inmigrante, immigrant or invandrare? is the name with which the research proposed itself for the Nativo y Foraneo (Native and Foreigner) residency, organized by the Centro Rural de Arte of Argentina. The initial proposal was to create a parallel among reasons and consequences of immigration phenomena of Europe and South America, having already the Second Hand precedent this new South American chapter proposed a very similar framework but this initial approach changed drastically once there.

I got extremely caught by learning about the controversy that has existed for more than 50 years in between Parques Nacionales (National Parks, the institution ruled by the government and that regulates natural reserves in Argentina)and Los pobladores (The inhabitants; local people from the areas where National Parks took over lands in order to promote protected areas with tourism). Argentina started with the demarcation of protected areas at the beginning of the twentieth century, but it was during the forties and fifties that these protected areas started to be administrated in a more structural way during the time of President Juan Domingo Peron. At the beginning, National Parks implemented oppressive policies towards the local people from the rural areas of La Patagonia and to my surprise during my time in this region in 2011, it was still extremely easy to find locals willing to talk about stories of oppressive methods performed by National Parks during the fifties. This situation brought as consequence a big resentment in the Inhabitants of the area and this resentment has been pass through to the following generations.

This new input to my research shifted the focus towards trying to find suitable methods that could help me in surfacing the complexity of the transgenerational trauma that the inhabitants of the Argentine Patagonia currently face. Having los pobladores (the natives) living still in the area that now belongs to the Argentine state, with National Parks as administrative body, the questioning of what is home? and what defines home? and how relative is the concept of property for a definition of home? became present in my day-to-day exchanges during my initial inquiring.

Oscar Lara, Inmigrante, immigrant or invandrare? Process, 2011

My research suggestion at that time was that human beings can inherit trauma and that the mutilation of a fragment that has constructed the definition of our identity could cause a trauma which could stay rooted even on the soil we inhabit. Responding to this, I got interested in the genetical facts for potential proofs that trauma can be inherit, and it was by circling around these thoughts that I found the research done on a group of children that experienced the Dutch Hunger Winter still in their mothers’ womb. The research shows that these children’s genes have a peculiarity that could be understood as a chemical mark and that could affect their way of approaching life. Although this stream was revelling, at that time, I felt that it was more pertinent to explore into the potential identity trauma that happened when the soil we inhabit is conceptually taken from us; when our freedom of deciding over what we consider Home is destroyed. How can these circumstances put us in a state of relativity in regard to our identity? 

For this first experiment the research method was to challenge the confrontation in between the state institution and the local inhabitants using my artistic role as nexus. I realized that National Park workers had a constant migrants’ way of living. They don’t stay in a specific area for too long before they are relocated to another protected area over and over again. In a sense they are well familiar to the relativity of the formation of a Home as a concept, and that was the biggest similarity to my actual condition. I decided to materialize the research in formats that could point out different aspects of the relativity condition of a concept of home, and to confront this to more historical and iconographic elements that could follow the political aspect of my work regarding the historical confrontation Parques Nationales (National Parks) – Los pobladores (The inhabitants).

Home – video installation

Oscar Lara, Home, Video Installation, 2011

The video installation called Home, collects images from natives from la Patagonia area, national park workers and contemporary artists. They were all confronted to the idea of identity and migration as a potential way of living aiming by this to produce a project that could instinctively surface the fragility of the idea of identity as an universal concept. The process of producing the installation tried to challenge the participants by engaging them in the core analysis of the project for then asking them to respond to the questions: What is home and where is home? Imagine this is home and tell us your story? 

The participants had a few minutes to reflect on the given information and to prepare their respond, but just before they began with their narratives, they were requested to deliver their reflexions by the only use of their eyes. 

Oscar Lara, Inmigrante, immigrant or invandrare? Process, 2011

This video compilation was shown on a three by two meters construction sign that was found in the surroundings of the national park Los Alerces. This sign was vandalized with spray paint, quoting accusations of corruption and discrimination towards the governor of the region by that time, Mario Das Neves. The installation was product of an open collaboration with the administration of the national park Los Alerces, that allowed us to raise the sign again and to locate it in the entrance of the park for the display of the film.

Migrants – video 

Migrants was the result of an extensive observation to all these different uses that migration has. Having my own condition of a permanent immigrant that migrates over and over again for a sort of professional development, I decided to analyse the several other uses of migration that can be found in people with my same condition, and also in others that has found themselves without a permanent location in term of property. This piece intends to investigate these movements and their repercussions in terms of limitations for building an identity concept or pattern. Differentiation of any sense and the consequences of these differentiations where also issued in the piece trying to understand how discrimination can be interpreted despite nationalities, races, gender, languages, or professions.

Constant migration and differentiations can affect an ideological idea of home and with that our own identity. Discrimination seems to be the result of differentiations and the unknown character that many of these tend to have.