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On malagana, artefacto


Ral Quintanilla Armijo The best thing about living in Managua is being able to leave Managua. That quote is from Natalia Hernndez, a young Nicaraguan poet. And when I leave Managua and come to Panama, well, thats certainly the best thing about living in Managua. The Yankees unite Panama and Nicaragua. How many invasions? I dont remember and I wont google it. The events of 1989as the last Yankee invasion is euphemistically called hereand the "low intensity" war suffered by the Nicaraguans during the decade of the Sandinista Revolution, are the latest examples. Many bullets. Pla-Pla-Pla! (I'm listening to Calle 13.) We also shareI'm going back in timethe friendship of Ruben Daro and Daro Herrera. Together they danced the zamacueca. And going forward again in time, the Victoriano Lorenzo Brigade also binds us. That is, all the Panamanian comrades that fought with the Nicaraguan people against the Somoza family dictatorship. I could concentrate them all in the name of one man: Hugo Spadafora. Calvin Byron, from Changuinolawho in the sixties played third base with the Boer Indians, the Nicaraguan professional baseball leaguealso unites us. A baseball stadium bears his name, but theres a whole movement to change it for another name because when Byron became ill he said: "I dont want to be buried here. I want to be taken to Nicaragua. " We also shareI'm almost finished, I swearthe canal. The Panama Canal was almost the Nicaragua Canal. We were spared by a postage stamp of an erupting volcano: the hoarse and sonorous Momotombo of Victor Hugo and Billy Nelson Cromwell and Bunau-Varilla. Fuck. In a surreal parallel universe, you would have gotten Daniel Ortega and we, Martinelli. I dont know who would be have been more screwed.

OK, all this unites Nicaragua and Panama. But let me tell you, tribe: what binds me to Panama, more than anything else, are the eyes of a woman. Damn! Compared to your eyes, the stars are worth shit. There is no one like you, my love. There is no one like you. (Thanks, Jhafis, for the poetry.) We are united, then, by Virginia Prez-Ratton and her vision. Having settled that, I will reluctantly proceed with Malagana. I feel like Im standing before a firing squad, and it always makes me nervous, no matter how many Paxils I down, no matter how much I pray to my grandmother, my Nani. Nothing works. The point is that we (there are three of us from Malagana here) were going to launch the magazine during this biennial. The real magazine, the paper-and-ink magazine, the one that smells of print. Moribunderos Mafe was also coming to play. But none of this happened. Why? The usual story. We didnt get the dough. It's the price of being known. In Managua, I mean. People demand to see the magazine before they finance us. And once they see itI wonder whyClaro, Movistar, and the bankers hearts drop down to their asses. And they throb. And we are cut off. But all the prudishness of the new owners of culture wont stop us. It never has. So we just postponed it. We will launch the magazine this year during the Malagana exhibition in Panama. After this second explanation, Ill proceed toparadoxicallypresent Malagana magazine, which is, as I saidbut I'll say it againa magazine digitally made for paper and ink. But first I wanted to tell the story of how we got to Malagana. First came Artefacto, which emerged in 1990. After we lost the elections and the revolution, the artists were left as orphans, desolate, without direction, with no south, although they soon found their north. Most of them, in any case. When the revolution went to hell, the artists were stupefied. The truth is that the revolution backed the artists and the artists backed the revolution. Artefacto magazine was born in the new era of Mrs. Violeta and neoliberalism. The heroes and heroines, the great little national art teachersas they were labeled here yesterday soon found their place. They always fall, and will continue to fall, on their paintbrushes. Be they under Somoza, the Sandinistas, neoliberalism, and now, Danielismo. Artefacto was born as a reaction against this artistic prostitution and as an affirmation of our own existence: independent and on the margins. We excluded ourselves to create our own times and spaces. Ours was an autonomous cultural zone that searched daily for a new enemy. We even took it against Juanita. Against all art dealers. We were wicked and liked to misbehave. Our weapons (besides our lucid, fun and superior intelligence) were: a space, a magazine (we also had a newspaper, called Artimaa, that only survived three issues) and a series of strategic alliances. Our space was outside a grocery store (what we

called the art galleries) that provided all the beer required to make the break in the Nicaraguan arts. The magazine lasted 20 issues and left no stone unturned. Sort of cool, you know. Alliances were crucial, especially those established with the poet Carlos Martnez Rivas, another grouch like us, except with a book called The Solitary Insurrection, which shuts anyone up; with David Craven, a Yankee art historian who fell in love with Nicaraguas women, the revolution and Artefacto; and Vicky Mouse, who we all immediately fell in love with. Ipso facto. And she fell in love with us. Damn. And finally we established an alliance with the journalists of the time. So we were always getting in our enemies (now adversaries) hair. That lasted 10 years. After that, we calmed down. Only for a little bit. Recovery of silent forces. Gathered on a beach somewhere in Nicaragua, what was left of Artefactos central committee, and some new members, decided to adopt a new strategy. We dressed up as environmentalists. The results were unprecedented for us. Everyone loved us! And we had money for the first time. We fit in with people. "At last theyve grown up," people were saying. Yeah, right! Our disguise did not last long. What the fuck do we care about the whales when Nicaraguan women keep dying because of the legal ban on abortion, courtesy of the legislators of the left and of the rightmostly men. Therefore, we ceased to fit in, and to grow, and to be loved. Zero money. But we did make five Estrago magazines and two important exhibitions for the country. The first was called "100", which stood for the number of women who had died up until then due to the outlawing of abortion. (Now, according to figures from CISAS, the number is closer to 500.) The second was titled "Let The Children Come to Me" and dealt with sex tourism in the city of Granada, where for 30 dollars you can sexually consume all three meals with children from 9 to 15 years of age. That lasted three years. We returned to a stop. New recovery of silent forces. Gathered at another beach, different from the previous one but always somewhere in Nicaragua, what was left of Estragos comitern established a strategic-tactical alliance with EVIL, Wakala and Moribundero. Hence, Malagana: a flexible autonomous zone that stretches and shrinks, like the wiri wiri. To our liking and whim. The difference, I think, is that now its a multigenerational and interclass alliance, which boils down to a total regeneration of our previous modus operandi. As the blind man said, Well see what happens. At the moment, we sometimes meet and speculate. Hence, the magazine. And as things need to be said carefully now in Nicaragua, well then, we say them carefully. Veiled in the texts and images. We had to learn something from the

Cubans, chico. We do not want to be confused with the capitalist right-wingers or with the new leftist capitalists. I mean, we still wont sell out or accommodate. Yes, we sell our works although no one buys them. Except for Denis, who continues to finance the magazines. Sbele el volumen a la msica satnica. Thats it.

Postscript: Rolando Castelln, not Armando Morales, should be given a solo exhibition in the ideal version of BAVIC, which was discussed here yesterday.