Calendars are instruments that represent the passage of time, tools of chronological systemisation to organise life that date back to early civilisations. The Gregorian calendar used today throughout most of the world, taking its name from its promulgator, Pope Gregory XIII, was adopted in 1582 by the Catholic states governed by Philip II, including the viceroyalty in the Americas. In 2009, artists Gilda Mantilla and Raimond Chaves devised, as part of an all-encompassing investigation around climate in the city of Lima, a type of meteorological and political almanac.
Over one hundred years ago, the forefather of Peruvian independence, Hipólito Unanue, described the atmosphere in Lima as opaque, hazy and lacking rejuvenation, conditions stemming from the capital’s geographical location. A ghostly cloudiness hovers over the “city of dust”, a term coined by Gilda Mantilla and Raimond Chaves which lends the title to the exhibition room where, from their unique calendar of the Lima climate — and from the audiovisual project Ciudadano Paranormal (Paranormal Citizen, 2013), by Peruvian artist Gabriel Acevedo Velarde, based on the stories of parapsychological phenomena in Peru’s official buildings — the artists reflect on the foundation of violence, even the ongoing violence perpetuated in the present in new states in the Americas.
Mantilla and Chaves’s Calendario (Calendar, 2015) comprises twelve MDF sheets representing the twelve months of the year that elapsed between April 2009 and March 2010. Each panel holds small rectangular pieces of recycled cardboard, acquired in the capital’s central market, to mark the days. The colouring of the cardboard, in grey, black and red tones, refers to the temperature recorded in Lima on each day — not only the meteorological climate, but also the social and political climate. Thus, the three months representing summer are a reddish colour, and the greys the other nine months, those that extend through autumn and winter. Yet amid its leaden-grey normality, there is an eye-catching week in red, at the beginning of winter, while the month of May appears almost completely in black: chromatic variations that translate the atmosphere experienced in the city during the sentence served under former president Alberto Fujimori, coloured a hopeful red in the calendar, and the Bagua massacre, bearing a black mark of pessimism.
To narrate that which is unknown, or which cannot be told, Gabriel Acevedo Velarde recreates a television programme in which Peruvian public servants tell the presenter about supernatural episodes they have experienced in official buildings. With the title Paranormal Citizen, the film gathers the testimonies of those who have perceived this spectral presence, akin, perhaps, to what happens under the table, outside of public knowledge, off the record: state secrets, a ghost state which, with the help of the media machine and interest groups, falsifies reality through studied strategies of assembly and stagin.