Arnisa Zequo

Gossip, Ephemeral Evidence and Conceptual Performance – On the different bodies of Ulises Carrion

During this presentation Zeqo shares some of her ongoing research on gossip, conceptual performance and the Mexican artist Ulises Carrión (1941-1989). Conceptual Performance is a semi-fictional art historical terminology put forward by Mexican artist Ulises Carrión in Amsterdam in the early 80s. It describes how in Carrión’s performative practices, fiction, printed matter, and body are entangled through ephemeral methodologies. In Gossip, Scandal and Good Manners for instance, Carrión worked with ten collaborators who were spreading gossip about his artistic practice over a period of three months. He then organized a lecture on the importance of Gossip in Art and Literature at the University of Amsterdam.
Carrión settled in Amsterdam in the early 1970s, where he could freely live his personal relations and reinvent himself as an artist. He then opened the artist’s book space Other Books and so. Carrión called himself a “wetback,” a derogatory term for foreign citizens, and his writing mutated from Spanish into English, Dutch, and French. It has been said that Ulises Carrión was actually several Carrións. Through the years his practice and engagement shifted from literature to performance, artist’s books, archives, mail art, popular culture and theory, yet always with a precise interest in cultural strategies and daily life.
Zeqo’s research takes a starting point in the work of Carrión and in conceptual performances as cultural strategies and practices at the intersection between literature, performance art, conceptual art, migration and social (dis)engagement.
How can the work of Carrión become a vehicle for further artistic and curatorial research and exchange today?

Arnisa Zeqo is an art historian, curator and educator based in Amsterdam. She co-founded and runs rongwrong a space for art and theory in Amsterdam. She was recently (2015- 2017) working for documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel, responsible for the education programs (aneducation) in Athens and initiator of the Society of Friends of Ulises Carrion within the Parlament of Bodies. In 2016/17 she was a guest lecturer at the Athens School of Fine Arts. She was the Mondrian Fonds/Dutch Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy in Rome in fall 2017 working on gossip, scandal and good manners. Her work is embedded into artistic practices dealing with performance, fiction,stories of art and education. A recent terminology that she is developing centers on the ‘conceptual body’ and the intersections between performance and conceptual art. She is currently a tutor at the Dutch Art Insitute. The writings of Jane Bowels and June Jordan give a liberating feeling to her methodologies.