Curated by Paul Soulellis
– In collaboration with Julia Weist –
The Download is a series of Rhizome commissions curated by Paul Soulellis that considers posted files, the act of downloading, and the user’s desktop as the space of exhibition. !!!Sección ARTE [No. 11+Rhizome], by Julia Weist and Nestor Siré, explores the structures of Cuba’s the Paquete Semanal.
We are two artists, one living and working in Havana, Cuba, the other living and working in New York, USA, and we have been exploring Cuba’s the Paquete Semanal (Weekly Package) together and separately for several years.
In our projects we have explored El Paquete’s reach, structure, trends and ephemerality. Because of the lack of equipment and tech infrastructure in Cuba, digital storage is extremely limited and each week’s package overwrites the last. For a recent work entitled ARCA (2016–2017), presented in the exhibition 17.(SEPT) [By WeistSiréPC]™ at the Queens Museum in New York from 2017–2018, we created a one-year (52 terabyte) archive of El Paquete in collaboration with a group of its creators: the OMEGA matriz. Our archive is the only formal record of paquetes from August 2016 to August 2017.
Another ongoing project called !!!Sección ARTE (Art Section) is an alternative and independent artistic project that coexists within El Paquete. Created by Nestor in 2015, !!!Sección ARTE is a direct intervention focused on the visual arts, especially contemporary Cuban art, that is inserted each month into El Paquete. Cuban and international artists as well as writers, filmmakers, critics and others have contributed to the project over the last two years. !!!Sección ARTE’s structure replicates that of El Paquete; it includes a consistent directory of folders. It also follows the rules of El Paquete: it contains no pornography and no political issues, although it explores these limits. !!!Sección ARTE circulates news, exhibitions announcements, books, documentaries, open calls and artworks made especially for the CARPETA =galería= (FOLDER =gallery=).
!!!Sección A R T E has many things in common with Rhizome’s The Download, first and foremost that it’s meant to be experienced offline as a digital package. Whereas for The Download this disconnection is a symbolic construction for curatorial and artistic purposes, for !!!Sección ARTE it’s a requirement borne from extensive restrictions on internet access. There are more subtle similarities as well, including an embrace of multi-window presentation and visible technical intention—everything from file naming to directory architecture. Unlike the broader Rhizome platform, !!!Sección ARTE exists within a digital environment but is circulated through physical contact. Material cannot rely on links or streaming and there is no access to previous months’ content. No tools exist for determining scope or audience numbers in quantitative terms. Audience interaction is difficult but !!!Sección ARTE does have an email account which can be contacted with request for topics and materials to be included in future editions.
In January 2018 we’ve developed a special !!!Sección ARTE that takes into account these intersections and deviations of El Paquete and The Download. This bilingual edition was produced as part of our ongoing collaboration and as with our other works merges the contexts of our artistic lives in New York and Havana. Julia gathered projects, publications, and announcements by international artists who are familiar to Rhizome regulars—Tyler Coburn, Caroline Woolard, and David Horvitz, to name a few. Nestor gathered material as usual for the section from the Cuban context and beyond, including a special work developed by the brilliant Yonlay Cabrera, whose project !Descargas de todo un poco (2014-2017) is included in the la CARPETA =galería= this month. In his project, Cabrera explores the strategies he’s developed since gaining limited access to the internet for the first time five years ago. He shares a largely complete chronological collection of the web material he’s chosen to download amidst constraints on connectivity as a “record of the evolution of my thinking and intellectual development seen through the information I have referenced.”
Downloadable directory of files [4.43 GB]