LAB plans to publish selected posts from the Honduras Memoria Creativa blog. The full blog can be read here. The blog introduced itself with the following project report:
Honduras Memoria Creativa is a blog which aims to map, describe and celebrate the wealth of creative talent coming out of Honduras since 2009, using the blogging platform WordPress. Honduras is a country which unduly receives limited coverage in the international press, usually being depicted reductively as only the site of coups and catastrophes, reflecting a broader theme in reporting on developing countries (Dahlgren and Chakrapani 1982). As a result, the country’s diverse creative scene garners even less attention from international reporters and audiences, who seem to mainly focus on the production of American and European artists in the press. This combined with a lack of promotion and support for the arts within Honduras, means that artists struggle to reach broader recognition and audiences. My blog contributes to combating this oversight by providing an introduction to Honduran music, art, illustration and literature. Although I am not bilingual, I have attempted to use my moderate Spanish to make most of the site’s content available in Spanish and English, to try and introduce both a broader international audience to the Honduran arts scene, and also regional neighbours in Latin America. This has proved successful judging by the countries viewing the site so far:
Fig. 1 WordPress blog visitor statistics for Honduras Memoria Creativa
I have chosen to focus on the creative production of the last five years not only to keep the blog’s content as current as possible but also as Honduras has been experiencing a time of escalating political instability, social agitation, militarisation and severe inequalities amongst the population. Furthermore, there has been a “boom” in the Honduran creative scene coinciding with this timescale, with many new bands and artists emerging, a number of whom have used their art to react critically to their surroundings. Whether the creative “boom” can be directly linked to the 2009 coup, or whether it has been a product of increasing technological innovations facilitating the self-promotion of artists, or simply an enhanced creative atmosphere in the country, it is hard to say. However, it is important to note that not all artists are solely motivated by political critique, I will include artists with varying motives for production because as one of my interviewees Alfredo Kaegi, guitarist of rock band Sueño Digviana, reflects:
“Honduras is such a diverse ecosystem that minimizing the sources of inspiration and creation of art to mere political activism would be like watching a 3D movie with sunglasses and an eye patch” (Kaegi 2012).
Nonetheless, those artists who do embed social commentary within their work will provide a more deep and complex presentation of Honduran society and politics than an international audience will have previously accessed through the press.
With my blog mapping the creative scene in Honduras from 2009, it could be described as a visual anthropology project, as it demonstrates my research of a specific culture’s ‘media and material making’, exemplifying the belief that ‘culture is manifested through visible symbols situated in constructed and natural environments’ (Stokrocki 2006: 47).
Helen Tibbo distinguishes between the terms “digital curation” and “digital preservation”, saying that the latter originally referred to converting analog archives to digital and did not address content that was already in a digital format (Tibbo 2012: 2). “Digital curation”, on the other hand, maintains and adds ‘value to digital research data throughout its lifecycle’ (Dcc.ac.uk 2014) and is the term I will use to refer to my curated blog, Honduras Memoria Creativa. Tibbo, stresses the importance of online information gathering saying ‘Curation is essential to the long-term accessibility and understandability of resources in digital formats’ (Tibbo 2012: 2) and notes that digital curation is ‘almost always a collaborative endeavour’ involving a wide array of individuals with various skills, knowledge, and perspectives (Tibbo 2012: 3). This has certainly proved true throughout my research on the Honduran arts scene as I have used my contacts amongst the Tegucigalpan music scene to reach out to a wider range of musicians and have called on various Honduran friends for their suggestions. I have been indebted to extant online curated projects within the arts (http://www.ars504.com/), music (http://honduraspaisdelrock.blogspot.co.uk/) and literature (http://www.poetasdelmundo.com) which have introduced me to many new artists to feature.
In June 2009 Honduras was shaken by Liberal President Zelaya’s forced removal from office. Many believed it to be a political coup however, some thought it to have been a just intervention by the Supreme Court when Zelaya attempted to rewrite the constitution. The National Party’s Porfirio Lobo replaced Zelaya and he has presided over an increasingly violent time in Honduras’ history, with the country being named one of the most dangerous in the world due to its high homicide rates. The escalation of military and police corruption has been tied to the National Party’s rule and the press is tightly censored with at least 29 journalists having been murdered since 2009 with 16 of those being killed because of their work (Cpj.org 2014).
It was against this backdrop that the November 2013 elections took place, albeit with optimism that the newly formed left-wing LIBRE party may succeed at the polls. This was short-lived as reports of electoral fraud, intimidation at polling stations, and the murder of LIBRE party supporters emerged, with the National Party winning a second term. A requested vote recount confirmed the National Party’s victory, however, many Hondurans remain dissatisfied with the result.
I travelled to Honduras in 2012 to explore the country and to interview musicians for a potential radio documentary, which eventually ended up as an article in music magazine The Wire (March 2013). The time I spent with some of the country’s creative people gave me a very different perspective of Honduras, as a naturally diverse country experiencing a boom in its creative scene, which was seeking to define a new Honduran identity through the arts.
I have used a content curation approach to researching and documenting the Honduran arts scene reflecting a broader trend for independent digital curation which breaks down the hierarchy of institutional mediation, the kind experienced in museums and galleries, making the content easily accessible to all online (Guha 2012: 41). However, strong parallels remain between museum and digital curation, as they share the intention of facilitating ‘the access, preservation, and increase of knowledge’ (Guha 2012: 41). Content curation’is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme’, providing context with ‘organization, annotation, and presentation’ (Kanter 2011). Through each of my posts I have both introduced a specific creative project and have written a response to it, whether reviewing art installations, writing about a band’s output or interweaving interview comments in my description. The blog is audio-visually diverse aiming to fully immerse the site’s visitor in the Honduran arts scene and provide them with a range of content to experience – they can listen to the music of Honduran artists while they read about them, and access the full audio from interviews and even buy illustrator’s designs through links from the site.
Digital technologies are extremely useful tools through which to document and display anthropological research in an attractive visual format. I wanted the blog to be simple to use and to be laid out in an attractive style that prioritised the largely visual content, WordPress’ Spun theme suited my purpose well. My project has been inspired by The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution (http://www.creativememory.org/?lang=en), deliberately acknowledging this with my decision to name the blog: Honduras Memoria Creativa. Creativememory.org is a beautiful digital archive chronicling Syrian creativity during the revolution, and I hope to emulate its objective in my own way by focussing on Honduras at a time of political corruption and social instability and to document a scene which does not usually receive attention internationally.
Although my project skims the surface of the true depth of Honduran creativity, it has aimed to collate various creative fields in Honduras to provide a broader picture of Honduran creativity and an introduction not only to Honduran art, but also to the people of the country and how they express themselves creatively. I hope this inspires more people to visit Honduras, experiencing the art first-hand and discovering the vast sources of inspiration for Honduran artists, from the diverse natural terrain, to the daily lives of city inhabitants, as well as more thorny topics like social injustices and globalisation. The blog aims to stand as an attractive platform to digitally present artists and musicians whose work deserves a broader audience and international appreciation, I invite the European and American music and art worlds to look to new sources of talent, outside their own nations, and to give these artists the chance to exhibit and perform internationally.
Amendola, R. (2014). Ars504 | Arte Contemporáneo en Honduras. [online] Ars504.com. Available at: http://www.ars504.com/ [Accessed 15 Mar. 2014].
Cpj.org, (2014). Honduras – Committee to Protect Journalists. [online] Available at: https://cpj.org/americas/honduras/ [Accessed 12 Apr. 2014].
Dahlgren, P. and Chakrapani, S. (1982). The Third World on TV News: Western Ways of Seeing the “Other”. In: W. Adams, ed., Television Coverage of International Affairs, 1st ed. Ablex, pp.45-63.
Dcc.ac.uk, (2014). What is digital curation? | Digital Curation Centre. [online] Available at: http://www.dcc.ac.uk/digital-curation/what-digital-curation [Accessed 24 Apr. 2014].
Guha, S. (2012). Curating Data, Disseminating Knowledge: Museums of the Digital Age. In: P. Nesi and R. Santucci, ed., ECLAP 2012 Conference on Information Technologies for Performing Arts, Media Access and Entertainment, 1st ed. Firenze University Press, pp.41-45.
Honduraspaisdelrock.blogspot.co.uk, (2014). Honduras País del rock. [online] Available at: http://honduraspaisdelrock.blogspot.co.uk/ [Accessed 1 Apr. 2014].
Kaegi, A. (2012). Alfredo Kaegi of Sueño Digviana.
Kanter, B. (2011). Content Curation Primer. [online] Beth’s Blog. Available at: http://www.bethkanter.org/content-curation-101/ [Accessed 24 Apr. 2014].
Morris, L. (2013). Global Ear: Tegucigalpa. The Wire, (349).
Poetasdelmundo.com, (2014). Movimiento Poetas del Mundo. [online] Available at: http://www.poetasdelmundo.com [Accessed 10 Apr. 2014].
Stokrocki, M. (2006). Searching for Meaning: Visual Culture from an Anthropological Perspective. Art Education, 59(1), pp.46-52.
The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution, (2014). The Creative Memory of the Syrian Revolution. [online] Available at: http://www.creativememory.org/?lang=en [Accessed 1 Mar. 2014].
Tibbo, H. (2012). Placing the Horse before the Cart: Conceptual and Technical Dimensions of Digital Curation. Historical Social Research/Historische Sozialforschung, pp.187-200.