The 7th Berlin Biennale invited the former mayor of Bogotá, Antanas Mockus, to comment on one of the projects. Mockus, a political thinker and now, an artist, chose to refer to Teresa Margolles’s work on the current drug war in Mexico, where gangs and paramilitary groups kill each other, murdering many other unrelated civilians in the process. Gangs fight for incredible profits made on the black market for drugs in the United States and Europe. Mockus asks Biennale visitors to commit to not using drugs anymore or to reducing their consumption. You can sign a declaration, and if you want to go deeper, you can also contribute one drop of blood. A large number of such promises could in fact lead to a reduction in the number of murders in Mexico. Mockus’s installation aims at changing the Mexican reality and asks people to take responsibility for how much drug consumption in Europe relates to the number of deaths in the narco-trafficking wars in Central America.
Who is Antanas Mockus? A former mayor of Bogotá, who employed what he called “sub-art” in his political practice. In Colombia in the mid-1990s—a period of hostility, bloodshed, and narco-trafficking—he created a nonviolent, performative politics of images and gestures. Inspired by his mother Nijole Sivickas, a Lithuanian sculptor, he later employed subversiveness, irony, and unpredictability as tools for direct politics. His program of citizen culture (Cultura ciudadana), a form of civic self-education based on games and staged situations, led to a significant drop in the homicide rate during his two terms as mayor. With this approach he effectively suspended politics as usual, destabilizing rational discourse, disarming hate speech, and subverting bureaucratic rule. Mockus has promised that if the homicide rate in Mexico does not drop during the exhibition, he will declare himself a failed artist and art a pretentious concept. Text by Artur Żmijewski and Joanna Warsza
Antanas Mockus is a philosopher and politician whose approach to politics is based on artistic strategies. In the framework of the 7th Berlin Biennale he also presents a lecture-performance about political suicide based on his own experience in the last political campaign in Colombia.