objetos indispuestos, 

inauguraciones suspendidas 

o finales inevitables para un casi-baile

 nibia pastrana santiago 

in collaboration with 

eduardo f. rosario (sound) + daniela fabrizi (costumes) 

whitney biennial 2019

ALL IMAGESnibia pastrana santiago, Whitney Biennial 2019, Photograph © Paula Court

Instead of a traditional stage, artist nibia pastrana santiago’s “choreographic events” unfold in charged spaces, often outdoors, and implicate both the gaze and the body of the viewer. In objetos indispuestos, inauguraciones suspendidas o finales inevitables para un casi-baile (indisposed objects, suspended inaugurations or inevitable endings for an almost dance), she will unpack the concept of the incomplete, or the unfulfilled—ideas that can refer to a promise, a task, or even a dance—while inviting audiences to reconsider different ways to understand choreography and duration when bounded by a place.

nibia pastrana santiago explores the idea of choreography as a demarcation of space, an inherently territorial act. She understands the resulting relationships between choreographer, performer, and audience to be enmeshed in a complex power dynamic—one that, in her work, she relates to the colonial force enacted on Puerto Rico by the United States. Her ongoing practice investigates the history and physical characteristics of San Juan Bay; for the Biennial, she will conduct a similar examination of the Hudson River and the New York waterfront, especially in the area around the Whitney.  The artist will engage in her daily research, Port Practice, along the Hudson River. This research phase of her work will be visible to the public between West 12th Street to West 17th Street, occurring May 22–25 and May 29–June 2 from 3–5 pm.

Guest Curator: Greta Hartenstein 



(nibia solo • no sound)



•    •    •



Eduardo F. Rosario

“What are we in the promised cities?”
–Hélène Cixous

May 19, 2019—A worn sign that reads “La Voz de la Providencia” catches my eye and suggests that although the notion of a ubiquitous voice is a tired and abused metaphor, learning how to listen to the voices of what is immediately around is an endeavor worth pursuing. A voice is not necessarily human, linguistic, material or sonorous. A voice could be the rate at which the decolorization of surfaces by sunlight takes place, turning objects into milky, opaque, ghostly indexes. It’s made of granular residues. A form of whispering. A voice can also be what is concealed from you such as the footage of security cameras that gets re-recorded as nothing out of the ordinary takes place and “normality” has been established. A type of encoding, gridding and flickering voice, which slices the soul with a scalpel-like hiss. It says it’ll be there to watch you tomorrow and maybe your presence will only be registered in the peripheral warmth of the CCTV. A form of whispering—although uncomfortably passionate. Another voice could be the precise moment at which a dog in the park makes eye contact with you and instinctively enunciates “this human can’t restrain me,” betraying the dog-human entanglement. Like that moment in facial recognition apps in which a little hiccup prevents the human face from being apprehended and instead imbues any other similar composition with a faciality. A lingering residue of a previous mode. Yet another form of whispering. Voices are like a thin, flaky film that cracks or dilutes with the least amount of pressure or moisture—one could say voices are always already cracked or diluted. Voices unfold in a brownian fashion, like a drop of food coloring in a glass of water. Providence is an aggregate of these voices. Subtle yet dominating. A kind of chimerical choir. What they all have in common is a mode of releasing themselves. What is there to gain by tapping in their domains is yet to be figured out. Keep expectations low. 

May 24, 2019—One has to ask whether landscape architecture in gentrified neighborhoods is in fact ornamented police borders. Both subjectivities in that image of a protesting student giving a flower to a cop in riot gear fused together. Are those plants, soils and decorative fences openly collaborating with the local authorities to reshape the bodily sways of those who were there before? Lavender’s been domesticated but it’s not docile. Tulips are as effective as riot police in setting boundaries. Red mulch is a stop sign without words and encompassing way larger chunks of space. Red mulch could also be the red carpet of tax benefits, of lines of credit, part of the circulatory system of capital. To take care of the flora police, a complex apparatus is deployed, striating what not long ago was an open steppe. Do not take for granted urban gardening that’s been put in place so that you can be kept in place. 

May 31, 2019—Hundreds of samples of nibia’s voice are cut. Sample no. 342: “…que no eres una amenaza.” Not entirely sure for what or how they’ll interact with each other. Each sample asking more than one question. Each failed in more than one way. A constant translation practice: how can a process of cleaning-ordering-policing be rendered perceptible through sonorous, visual or tactile means without reproducing its dominant logic? Sample no. 113: “…pero estoy bien.” Translation is always contingent, prone to accidents, and dynamically abundant. Is it always mediated through language or can it be by-passed in favor of a material-to-material synthesis? Sample no. 370: “…creo que el murmullo se produ… okay el murmullo se produce mira el murmullo se produce…” The recursive structure of a fence can be projected against itself, as rhythm, breathing, permeation, entropy, fleeing, etc. Sample no. 204: “Ay…me estoy contradiciendo esto es importante pero…” There's a history of the fence recorded in bodies, objects, psychic domains and more, that does not rely on discourse to effectuate its indictment. What other ways of achieving this can be enabled? Sample no. 478: “…el futuro es un murmullo extraño.”

June 2, 2019—Through a scanner radio app on my phone I had been listening for about an hour during the mornings to the “VHF Marine radio for the Northern New Jersey and New York City area.” Each of the distorted voices helps define grain by grain a peculiarly condensed sphere. Regardless of its crude aural façade this kind of feed is an interface made to render perceptible the abstract lines that slice its corresponding bodies of water. Monitoring has never been exclusively optical. In fact, the scope of the eyes might be rather limited here. These high-frequency exchanges between 156 and 174 MHz—according to Wikipedia—thread across the waters, clothing—therefore coding an otherwise bare body. And as someone that’s unacquainted with how marine protocols take place the question really is, what kind of garment are these bodies forced to wear? A body is not just a human body and it doesn’t need to be organic either. But having a body allows for an anatomical program to be put in place in order to keep its agency in check. The arm of the Spinozist inquiry of “what can a body do” is twisted “for its own safety.” As I keep listening, the following remark is transmitted: “They… they’re not like synchronized like one is… fuckinnnn’ over the top and the other one is like a… a bitch.” The source and stakes of the voice are clear right from the outset. The standards compiled by the voice’s superiors have not been met and some aspect of “safety” could be compromised. It’s of no significance what the objects of this dichotomy are—what’s important is how object relations have been outlined and will subsequently be reproduced. How these actively-entropic, erroneously-polarized, and expected-to-be-neutralized categories of over-the-topness and bitchness can be appropriated to make a tactical use of them? What it seems to me is that regardless of where or what the ontological condition of objects can be traced back to, they’re happy to go on strike. The shit hits the fan because it voluntarily throws itself into the moving blades. When last May 15th a helicopter crashed on the Hudson River, one could reverse the logic of the event and claim that the river actually summoned the aircraft down, demanding that whatever its mysterious requests were, they be met. “Over the top” and “bitch” are used with the intention to discredit an otherwise legitimate complaint. A denunciation on behalf of… Another transmission: “you got it sir aight no problem actually Mike and I will [unintelligible] at each other aaahhh because… we are not that bright and I was like damn that’s it…[distorted laughter].” A lattice-like form—like a board game maybe—designed to smooth irregularities and guarantee the safe passage of capital. Heavily concentrated nodes of accumulated value ripple ashore. And the question remains: what kind of garment are these bodies forced to wear? Is it made of zip ties, some polycarbonate, fiberglass or kevlar? Is it impermeable, heat resistant, light reflective? A juridical and financial net has been cast in order to sift out whatever’s clogging the arteries of the colonizing machine. Monitoring has never been exclusively optical. In fact, the scope of the eyes might be rather limited here. 

Maneuvers is part of Tripwire Pamphlet #2: nibia pastrana santiago which also includes writings by Ren Ellis Neyra, Tung-Hui Hu, Greta Hartenstein and nibia pastrana santiago. 

•    •    •

Using Format