In his acclaimed Steps To An Ecology of Mind, the anthropologist Gregory Bateson (1999, 1) defined a Metalogue as "a conversation about some problematic subject. This conversation should be such that not only do the participants discuss the problem, but the structure of the conversation as a whole is also relevant to the same subject." In this video, Montezemolo invited ten anthropologists involved with contemporary art issues in multiple forms and ways: as creative producers, curators, researchers, filmmakers, photographers. Emulating the strategies of minimalist art, instructions were sent by the artist to the participants:
What is the relation between art and anthropology, for you? What does art bring to you and to anthropology and what does anthropology bring to art? The piece and project I’m contacting you for, titled METALOGUES after Bateson, is very simple. I am asking you to work with a specific format and medium that would resonate with the non-academic context of the show: a three-minute recording on the relation between art and anthropology, ideally self-videotaped on your cellphone, and preferably NOT recorded in an office space. Thank you.
The video deploys playfully a Pop Art aesthetics, half way between Godard and Warhol, suggesting that, for better or for worse, anthropology has become a major force in contemporary popular-visual culture.
In "Bio-cartography of Tijuana's Cultural-Artistic Scene," a conceptual and cartographic piece, I set out to think of the gesture of mapping an urban landscape as a diagnostic act. With a sense of irony toward the curator’s medical gaze and cannibalistic form of care, I perform here the role of an imaginary gynecologist diagnosing her patient named Tijuana. Mediated through the materiality of an ultrasound of my own uterus—a gendered and highly contested scientific technology that monitors fetal growth and developmental stages—my medical report is a provocative reading of the parent-child relationship between curators and artists in Tijuana and a critic of a new “localized” nationalism.
"MI-LIEUS" is a collaborative multimedia project that reflects on the persistence of taxidermic principles in contemporary scientific denominations and on national cultures. Three blue bottle flies were collected, mailed from Morocco, Italy, and the United States, preserved and indexed via corresponding stamps to their national, geographic, and ecological provenance. Iconic images of various national cultures blend with the organizing principles of zoological taxonomy, pointing to the isomorphic link between culture, nation, territory, and life-form. The three flies installed in this piece belong to the same family within Linnaeus's classificatory system [Blue bottle fly or bottlebee: Species Calliphora vomitoria, linnaeus, 1758] and are found in most areas of the world. MI-LIEU problematizes the intersection of natural history and museum in the age of the territorial nation-state and colonial expansions in the nineteenth century. Specifically concerning the nationalist/colonialist habit of classifying insects and the Cultural Other. Both nationalist and colonialist science rely on taxidermy as a political technology. The etymological association (Calliphora vomitoria) of this specific family of flies with corpses and vomit underscores the vitalist ontology, the logic of life and death, that underpins the rapport between colonial science and the nation-form. MI-LIEU "resists" this vitalist ontology through its playfulness with scale, thereby establishing a contrast between the monumentality and exceptionality of nationalist symbolism and zoological taxonomy and the miniature-like size of ordinary flies. Scale ultimately blurs the boundaries between the organic and the inorganic, between life and death, frustrating the political vocation of the nation to give life to the forms that live on its territory.
Bateson, Gregory. 1999. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Originally published in 1972.