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Basura/Informacion (Garbage/Information)

This installation by Paraguayan artist Adriana González Brun was first shown in 1999 at the Mercosur Biennale as part of a series called Basura/Información (Garbage/Information). Much of Gonzalez’s work evokes the ambivalent feeling that most Paraguayans have about government documents which they see necessary but corrupted, as a powerful resource that is also “only paper,” excessive and meaningless. This particular image always makes me think of how Paraguayans have seen their state since the transition to democracy in the 1990s. On the one hand they see it as an unsalvageable series of lies and dissimulations. On the other hand it is oddly impressive and desirable, a source of almost limitless possibility. My paper for this workshop, while it does not deal directly with the duplicity of documents, is about that curious moment, between 2008 and 2012, when a group of activists whose professional lives had been spent accusing the Paraguayan state of being corrupt to the core, were elected to government, and attempted to see what this beguiling wastepaper basket could do for them. (Reproduced here with permission from the artist.)



Participant: Kregg HETHERINGTON
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology | Concordia University
Presentation: "The Aftermath of Transparency"