Exploring the Concept of Democracy in Latin America: Carlos Motta's "The Good Life"

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Commissioned by Art in General, Carlos Motta's new Internet archive, The Good Life, is the latest part of a project the artist has developed since 2005, comprising 360 video interviews with pedestrians in twelve Latin American cities. In his essay, "Postscript: Civilization or Barbarity," the Colombian artist outlines the shift from politicized, creative practices, like those of Argentina's Third Cinema and Brazil's Paulo Freire, to increasing U.S. incursions, since the 1970s, into Latin American governments and economies. Attempting to close the divide "between democratic theory and practice" and reclaim, according to essayist Stamatina Gregory, an older conception of participatory politics, explored by Aristotle and revived by Hannah Arendt, Motta asks his interviewees about their own conceptions of democracy, democratization, and U.S. interventions in the region. Visitors can navigate the site via a variety of criteria, including interviewee occupation, location, and age group, as well as interview theme. The unedited, straightforward quality of the videos, Motta writes, renders "the process of the work's making transparent," foregrounding the many and varied stories and opinions that constitute the public community. While commissioned essays and texts, a forthcoming illustrated publication, and past exhibitions have articulated The Good Life's various facets and adaptable nature, Motta hopes the Internet will be "a way to reach a wider audience outside the field of art...and to make the work available to the individuals that responded to the questions" - Tyler Coburn

Image: Carlos Motta, Revolution is power for the people (Still from The Good Life), 2008

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