Between crafts and QR codes: a sustainable awareness that unites tradition and future
Estefanía Radnic

Within the framework of the cycle “ART AND SUSTAINABILITY. Contemporary interconnections “ outlined by the PAN editorial team in collaboration with the Paco Urondo University Cultural Center and the Tilcara University Center, both belonging to the University of Buenos Aires, we interview the Argentine artist and curator Patricia Hakim.

We can think of a sustainable work of art as a work that weaves networks in an equitable way and unites different worlds in a constructive way, thinking about the future. Also, that an artwork that serves as an awareness that there will be no long-term development possible if it is not economically efficient, socially equitable and ecologically tolerable, is sustainable. In short, any art that encourages us to reflect on the extent to which as a person I affect other human and non-human entities is ecological.

Based on these assumptions, the project QR: Between the ancestral and the future of the Argentine artist and curator Patricia Hakim can be framed within the prism of sustainability due to its cultural impact.

Proyecto “QR: Entre lo ancestral y lo futuro”. QR elaborado con cerámica (barro colorado)Realización: Florencia Califano. Jujuy. Argentina.

Patricia revalues heritage by recovering ancestral artisan techniques and leads us to reflect on them from the present by linking them with technology. It puts art, crafts and technology in dialogue, tensing the contrasts and placing artisans in the foreground. They are the protagonists of the videos in which they show their workshops, the materials they use and explain the technique with which they made the QR code.

Proyecto “QR: Entre lo ancestral y lo futuro”. QR en Cestería. Realización: Analía Rodriguez.  Fortín Lavalle, Chaco. Argentina.

Estefanía Radnic: What is the link between this project and the issue of sustainability? What do you think about sustainable art?

Patricia Hakim: I am more intuitive than activist or scholar on the subject. In this way, I activated the project by selecting only artisans who produced a totally natural production system.

I mean that I invited artisans who go to the mountains to cut the branches, the chaguar or the palm, to the hill to look for the mud or to graze the sheep from which they will later spin their wool. Their link with the material is deeply linked to their environment and their way of life. As they are the ones who produce their materials extracted directly from animal or plant nature, their relationship with nature is one of respect and care.

ER: What impact did this curatorial project have on a social level, taking into account that it gives voice and identity to a group of artisans from peripheral communities of different provinces of our country? 

PH: Some of the artisans I worked with already knew each other, had some kind of relationship with artists and / or had contact with different artisan circuits. In other words, they already had their own space and voice in their field. This does not invalidate their job insecurity or their peripheral condition.

What I did with “QR. Between the ancestral and the future” was to give visibility to his practice in the art scene. This provided a new audience, spaces for exhibition, dissemination and an unusual way of approaching their work, which gave many joy, despite the complications that, for most, the realization of the QR demanded. Some artisans were able to see the exhibition in Buenos Aires or Santiago del Estero. There they took photos that they later wanted to use as a profile on their networks. I interpret this gesture as a commitment and empathy with the project.

Proyecto curatorial “QR: Entre lo ancestral y lo futuro”. Museo de Bellas Artes René Bruseau. Resistencia, Chaco. Argentina. 2019.
Museo del Barro. Asunción, Paraguay. BIENALSUR. Del 6 de Julio al 10 de Agosto de 2019.

ER: As you mentioned, these traditional techniques can be read in an ecological key since artisans work with awareness of the impact that each human action has on their environment. It would be a challenge to try to transfer this ancestral environmental awareness to contemporary art and even to the production of temporary exhibitions that generally ignore the sustainable dimension. What do you think about this question? 

PH: I think that environmental awareness exceeds the art world as it starkly replicates the capitalist system. But little by little responsibilities are assumed. From the end of the 60s, works that address ecology began to emerge. We could cite Hans Haacke, Joseph Beuys, the Argentines Luis Benedit or Nicolás García Uriburu, even Joaquín Fargas about whom I wrote the book “Joaquín Fargas: with science and art.”

COVID+QR. Artista: Patricia Hakim. Realización: Marcelo Mazarelli; Santiago del Estero. Cuero curtido y ramas.

ER: How did the idea of resignifying this project in times of pandemic come about? 

PH: As soon as the confinement began, my son, who was living at home and is a benchmark in 3D printing, began to donate (starting with the service of a public hospital run by my doctor brother) and then to manufacture the masks on a large scale. facial protection. My husband, an industrial designer, migrated his projects to the new problem, so it almost naturally occurred to me to reactivate the team to continue giving visibility to their practices as well as to the unique local and international situation. The realization of “COVID + QR” was much simpler than that of “QR: between the ancestral and the future”. It was a work of direct dialogue and complicity with the artisans.

PROYECTO COVID+QR. Artista: Patricia Hakim. Realización: Claudia Aybar. Hilo de algodón. El Cercado; Tucumán.

ER: What are you working on now? Do you have an upcoming project in mind?

PH: At the same time that I was working on COVID + QR I started to write a project that I am still working on “A4 Files: Transcendent Hidden Works”. It is a call in which I also seek to give space and a voice to others. This time to the artistic community with whom I was linked and they left a mark on my path. It is about putting in value hidden works (not adding more, to the existing infinity), through new modes of presentation and circulation (diagrams, videos, installations). It will be an archive of recovered works to re-view them with a view of the present. For which I will create a new collaborative and participatory work.

© All photos courtesy of the artist. 

To access the videos hosted in the QR codes, you can download a free QR scanner or reader app, or point the camera of your Android, Motorola or iPhone.

Proyecto “QR: Entre lo ancestral y lo futuro”. QR en técnica chaguar. Realización: María del Carmen Toribio. Formosa.
Proyecto “QR: Entre lo ancestral y lo futuro”. Museo de Bellas Artes René Bruseau. Resistencia, Chaco. Argentina.
COVID+QR. Artista Patricia Hakim Realización: Marisel Castillo. Salta. Argentina. Material: Lana de oveja
PROYECTO COVID+QR. Artista: Patricia Hakim. Realización: Analía Rodriguez de la Asoc Qomlashepi Onataxanaxaipi. Fortín Lavalle, Chaco. Cestería
PROYECTO COVID+QR. Idea: Patricia Hakim. Realización: María del Carmen Toribio. Técnica: Chaguar. Formosa
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