THE FULL DOLLAR GALLERY
Guayaquil, Mexico DF
At the beginning of 2004, a one-man gallery was launched in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a port of 2’000.000 people, which has undergone a major urban renewal process for the last 4 years, especially in the downtown area. Formerly having a bad reputation due to street violence, chaos and architectural decay, the city recently was awarded a UN award as a paradigm for development. Officially, signs of success are the cleaning-up of street sellers, the increasing tourist flux and security, and the surplus generated within real state markets. Perverse effects on the history and identity of the city are also clear, as exemplified by the creation of a generic landscape, sociological cleansing and exclusionary policies for vast populations. Once spaces are homogenized, renovated, and sold to people inscribed within a tight network of political connections, they are privatized by different means. In doing so, public spaces are disappearing and disciplinary practices of citizenship are increasingly on private hands. This is, of course, a story that is taking place around the world.
A complicit silence about these processes within the social science and art circles, justified the gallery’s creation on the first place. The space was inaugurated without previous notice to anybody but the onlookers. A certain decaying building was arbitrarily appropriated by the Corporación Full Dollar, a private company devoted to foster different kinds of both academic and art-like interventions in the city in order to raise questions about urban development and the problematic position of contemporary art as part of it. The company, however, perceives its goal as an extension of wider concerns about society. A purposely outsider to the art world, sees its interventions as anthropological commentaries on society, first, and hence on art. Consequently, the gallery is basically ethnography by other means.
The corporation owes its name to a sign posted on the façade of its original location, presumably the logotype of a retail store for old-style pay phones (also a species on danger of disappearing thanks to massive privatization of telecommunications by multinational companies). The original design was retained in order to identify the different locations where projects sponsored by the company take place, including now global outlets such as the one in Mexico City.
The corporation fulfills its agenda both through rumors, gossip and chit chat in bars, and periodic publications, lectures and papers that are regularly delivered at different academic venues such as conferences and panels on the social sciences. Meanwhile, the gallery is in charge of in promptu exhibits, silent performances, and the symbolic appropriation of generic architecture that is turned by the company’s blessing into historical landmarks, a critical exercise that is meant to debunk dominant ideologies of urban renewal and popular culture. A press report of activities is published monthly and circulates as a letter to the community, a flyer or an electronic message to an audience composed mainly by non-artists. These efforts were enthusiastically supported by the site http://www.laselecta.org/2009/05/la-galeria-full-dollar-guayaquil-mexico-df/. Since august of 2005, the Corporation is kindly host by http://www.laselecta.org. The information broadcasted so far provides people with fragments on the history and ideology of this ongoing enterprise.
|Corporación Full Dollar|