Kazá finished each year with a documentary made by the artists focusing on a specific aspect of life in the schools, with a gradual shift in focus toward rituals and practices around the cultivation of nature. As the region of the Sierra Gorda mountain range in Guanajuato has been hit by continuous years of drought due to the long-lasting effect of the now-closed mining industry, the documentaries recently took a poetic turn. La Casa del Agua (2019) tells the story about water’s birth; how it searches for a home as a comet flying in space. Eventually, it lands on Earth where it brings life and prosperity after which animals honor the »house of water« by offering something to it each year. The poem, documentary, and story were made through a participatory process by the children from the workshop at Miguel Hidalgo Elementary school in Misión de Arnedo. They created the costumes, choreography, and storyline, and wrote the short poem narrated in the film. As a preparation during the Assemblies that followed the tequio format, García and Godínez Nivón asked the children to write haikus inspired by Japanese ecopoetry, thinking about the local animals and plants and how these would give offerings to their environment. After writing the poems, the children each chose an animal and impersonated it, turning the Assembly into animals, not students. Connecting Haraway’s situated knowledge to posthumanist thinking is crucial in developing different ways of knowing by understanding how to connect with flora and fauna surrounding our local area, and bringing out more complex situated knowledge. The promotion of practices from another society, such as Japanese ecopoetry, does not ignore the idea of local-based experience. By introducing strategies from the outside that can be relatable in another context, the artist stimulated the students to relate to their surroundings and environment while developing new ways of thinking.
Where so far I have described the educational process that happens within shared social environments, I should discuss the role of sharing these experiences with a wider public and how it affects further Godínez Nivón’s artistic process. As José Miguel González Casanova writes, artists should not only be concerned with the production of artworks, but they should also be aware of other elements of their process, such as distribution and perception. However, these aspects are not necessarily in the central scope of most artistic processes. By considering these stages together, an artist can expand the field of visibility for the heterotopia art creates, through different communication forms.
Godínez Nivón views the creation of an artwork as an honoring of the correspondence method; however, sharing an outcome does not occupy a highlighted spot in his process. He equally weights the three aspects highlighted by Casanova, and he has a deep understanding of the economic system that supports art and network where the dissemination of works occurs. Godínez Nivón’s working method has two key elements: first, he confronts the hegemonic structure of knowledge by bringing nonrational knowledge into the education system. He invited the triqui midwives to the teenage girls’ class to show different modes of female empowerment to the students. During the workshop he held at a high school in Guanajuato, students could learn from the experiences of healer women from the local community, to fight against the Indigenous students’ negative perception of their indignity. By bringing the knowledge already present in the community to the official school, the artist legitimized the situated knowledge in the students‘ eyes.
Through the second element in Godínez Nivón’s working method, he expands the visibility for the Indigenous situated knowledge production through communication that happens as an outcome of the educational process. He creates a context-specific response in medium and format to each of his projects. The artist balances the use of translation and poetic device in his work, depending on where it will be disseminated. By doing so, he empowers but does not fully expose the identity of the participants in his projects. The use of these two outcomes in his work depends on the artist’s primary audience for the work and how they will be utilizing it.
Tequiografías are traditional school materials that are not controlled by the Ministry of Public Education and are directly used by Indigenous schools as a didactic device for students to understand their heritage. The use of translation here was not for the hegemony to better appreciate its subject, but instead as an educational tool to fight against forgetting languages and presenting cultural diversity. The primary mode of distribution of these works was not through the art world, but through stationery shops. Although it would be false to state that these images are not aesthetic objects in themselves, their low price and wider availability escape the art market’s commodifying frame.
When the work is to be used in art institutional context, Godínez Nivón usually works with myth or mythmaking as a poetic device in different mediums. Iñigo Clavo talks about confessional ontology, the Western colonial desire for transparency, »where to know also involves a certain ownership of things, nature, and other humans – the Western fantasy for control, in this ontology, extracting secrets is an important part of maintaining power.« In response to this, Iñigo Clavo refers to Édouard Glissant’s idea of the right to opacity, that by maintaining a level of abstraction and not knowing, we can defend the incomprehensible. To communicate, Iñigo Clavo reaches for De Sousa Santos: we should use poetry as its the few places in Western modernity where opacity is validated. According to Tim Ingold referring to Foster, anthropological artwork should not be complicit in marking things and placing them into a context. This process will lead to further marginalization of the subject. By practicing the right to opacity, Godínez Nivón’s work steps forward from the artist ethnographer of the 1990s as he avoids identifying things through his use of poetry and symbolic meaning. Both in the case of I remember the day I was born. Will be tomorrow (2017) and La Casa del Agua (2019/2020), Godínez Nivón utilized this right to opacity through the poem-documentary format. However, he does not fail to communicate and share something about and with the group he was working with. First, by creating a collective memory site through the film and the sculpture garden made out of dream flowers, he mythologizes the educational process. La Casa del Agua indirectly shows the way Kazá made the students engage and create new forms of situated knowledge by giving agency to flora and fauna as well as the environment of their region, through a self-made myth with the use of practices from outside the local knowledge, instigating new ways of thinking.
To answer my initial question about how artists can engage with the educational system, Godínez Nivón does this through communication and variation in participatory methods. Ingold understands education’s role in the same way. The artist understanding of tequio underlines the process as an ethical position, meaning that the common benefit gives a sense of belonging to one’s work and effort. His approach is based on the eagerness to wonder about something that one does not know. He arrives in each situation with a specific type of naivete and willingness to adapt to the group he works with. Godínez Nivón’s practice uses a poetic approach to instigate new modes of thinking and find tensions between different group members through dialogue, to imagine, through art, something that was not visible before. By creating assemblies, he realizes the tensions and common elements within a group. He aims for people to be invested in something already present or make a still-nonexistent or imaginary goal for them to invest in. Godínez Nivón’s work uses the official system of knowledge production and dissemination as schools, stationery shops providing teaching supplies, or art institutions to contrast objective situated knowledge with the monocultural hegemonic system using translation or poetry, depending on the situation. He pushes toward a multicultural education system where Indigenous knowledge is legitimized, as part of the official structure to legitimize their situated knowledge.