Less Foucault, More Shakira

One of the things that attracts me to Less Foucault, More Shakira is its ambiguity. I don’t want to kill that ambiguity with this question, but I’m still curious to hear your response: how do you describe what you do?

Well, to talk about this it’s necessary to say first that Less Foucault, More Shakira is a project that comes out of the CIPEI (Permanent Circle of Independent Studies) and whose trench has been dug out of what we call study blocks, which last four to six months. We have been working for two years under this logic, for instance. So, from this perspective, we prefer to call ourselves a platform for counterpedagogical interventions and totally independent, self-directed investigation that hopes to find other forms of troubling thought from our anticolonial, transfeminist, and potentially infectious stance. We derive this project of counterpedagogical infection from a critical revision of so-called “cultural production”; in our work we have reviewed the album Lemonade by Queen B via a critique of Judith Butler’s white supremacist lesbian conceptualization of performativity and from there, dig into the power of feminisms that use mainstream language to locate their agenda within that hegemony—something that generally only results more of the same, but that’s already another discussion, or it will be.

How do fun and humor function within the Less Foucault, More Shakira’s practice?

The name of our project is already is a provocation that immediately locates us from a place of humor. When Daniel Sepúlveda and Mariana Recamier (founders of the project) started to work on the project they had a lot very clear. The first thing this provocation could do is hook all of the men offended by the banalization of the white European fag genius par excelence, Michel Foucault, and his conflation with a female Colombian pop star and mass consumption. Who the fuck did it occur to think that Foucault and whatever other colonist isn’t mass consumption in a world drawn by that colonialism and its capitalist effects? What’s next, less Camus, more Maluma? were the types of indignant questions that we were asked from the moment we appeared on social media. It’s something we’re doing very well, we think.

Later, coming out of a dialogue with Iki Yos Piña, one of our godmothers, we started to stage humor as a possibility for the political articulation of discourses constructed from what formal thought considers banal: social media and its offline possibilities. Iki developed a series of workshops proposing a meme-politics. This proposal is situated in the context of the Spanish kingdom and the content of her workshops is an incisive criticism of Euro-hetero-cis-white supremacy using the meme as a principal weapon within what she identifies as a visual war. That’s when we took up one of her workshops: my body is a battle meme. We consider the creation, diffusion, and viralization of memes as a clear counterpedagogical political wager. We, just as many others, believe that humor can de-politicize, banalize, and for this reason favor the facisms we have seen take root in Mexico over the last 70 years: democratic fascism made invisible by the social imaginary. For this reason, we bet on subverting these values with humor, the same tool that Neo-Vasconcelist benevolent fascism uses for its legitimation in this context. Our bodies are a battle meme.

How is Less Foucault, More Shakira organized? Are there meetings? How do the meetings go? How do you decide when and where to do something or share something on social media?

At the moment we are slowly growing into collectivity. As we said initially, the project had certain directives that came from Daniel and Mariana. Right now is a different moment: the CIPEI is made up of a nucleus of 8 people who in turn infect a more-or-less constant group of 18 people. We meet every Friday for the process of collective formation with this group of 18 people. These meetings of collective formation are three hours long, in which we share ideas that end up knocking into shape the body of the critique that we elaborate about a specific theme. Right now, for example, we are working on political fictions and regimes of representation. It is the final block coordinated by Sepúlveda, in which we use these notions to continue dismantling mestizaje as an ideology that sustains and legitimizes racist practices in Mexico.

Our work in social media is another thing. We try to share material that in some way or another fits within our proposal and from there we decide what to share or not. Among the material that we share we have certain allied pages, those we know immediately that we will support, while what the content refers to depends more on the situation and above all the discussions that are born out of online life. There are things that we prefer not to involve ourselves in.

In this process that we are inhabiting right now we are coming into a rhizomatic working group, that is to say every person works in independent areas. Recently we were awarding financing for a project between Mexico and Brazil that also will be accompanied by a public program in which Duen Sacchi, Magda de Santo, and Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro will participate, among other artists. These two activities will really be the first in which we are working as a formal collective. We are excited because once more the infection of our proposal will spread all over.

Where are you located? and why? If you aren’t located in a particular place specifically, why not?

Our principal base is in Mexico City, specifically in Tres.Cero.Tres, a center of physical practice and contemporary thought located on calle Puebla in the Roma Norte neighborhood. Our weekly meetings happen here, those that sustain the continuous formation of MFMS. Tres.Cero.Tres is our host house currently, but we hope that becomes more of a shared space between the two projects.

As we said, we are a totally independent and self-directed project. For this reason, we don’t have a “work space” as such and although we are working on being more financially self-sustaining, we need to continue applying for grants and other kinds of financial support.

This condition has in turn led us to sustain ourselves more from workshops, talks, and seminars that have been given in various institutions, from the University of Guadalajara, the Autonomous University of Querétaro, the Reina Sofía, the MATADERO Art Residency Center, the Complutense University of Madrid, and independent spaces like Cuerpos Parlantes in Guadajalara, T.I.C.T.A.C in Barcelona, and the studio of artist Teresa Margolles in Usera the neighborhood of Madrid, in addition to our residency at FelipaManuela, also in Madrid.

To whom are your activities directed? Who and how is your public? How do you use social media to encounter your public? When you have events, how do the people that show up correlate with your ideal public?

Our activities are actually directed at the entire general public that is curious to learn or deepen their knowledge in the themes that we propose. In general, the people that come are students or professionals in social sciences or humanities. The challenge here is to leave this circle and arrive at people who do not come from this space as a principal place of articulation.

Therefore, our principal tool of diffusion is social media. That is because in one way or another the people that follow the page are aware of our work, and through their likes we can get closer to their friends on social media friends who may not be aware of our work, for example when we are giving workshops or seminars in Mexico City.

Our ideal public is mainly that which understands the declaration Less Foucault, More Shakira as the provocation that it is. For us, all the people that have come to our events, like for instance the open conference with Federico Navarrete or to our exposition at Centro Cultural Border last year, are our ideal public.

What we do know is are those who we are not interested in having a dialogue with: all of the defenders of Western-centered thought, academics, heterosexual supremacists, neo-historians of indigenous people, cut-rate Europhiles, and the NGO-ization of the social movements of so-called sexual dissidence.