A Gaze from the Outside: Cultural transactions from abroad

Liliana Pedroza Castillo

Given that diplomatic relations between countries are often introduced as though it was a feast of distinctive arts and unique culture, it is necessary to rethink how to establish these links of communication between different cultures.

Nottingham Castle, United Kingdom. Photograph: Eduardo Estala Rojas.

Nottingham Castle, United Kingdom. Photograph: Eduardo Estala Rojas.

I discern from my own experience in cultural exchange within and without Mexico in the alternative spaces of cultural negotiation: it is paramount and necessary to show the artistic discourse surrounding the fringes of cultural marketing, i.e. that discourse that hardly comes out to be appreciated by the broader public and nonetheless spans in a network of connecting little places and small doses. Galleries, libraries, pubs, theatres, parks, any place can be a venue to gather artists of different fields and create a suitable atmosphere for the interactions across creators and spectators: they generate spaces for the encounter with the public deliberately summoned to share an entire afternoon or a key moment of the day’s routine. They generate a new audience. They provoke the crossover of art with daily life blurring its borders. They allow to play with the spaces, the artists, the spectators assorted in all possible manners. They elicit awe.

The cultural attaché is also a mediator between the artist and the public. However, she ought not to be seen just as an intermediate point, mean, conduct, but as a curator of a complex cultural interdisciplinary discourse. The cultural attaché is an aerialist that must tense the rope that will be her way between tradition and breakthrough art, this happening in a cultural dynamic of constant renovation—those static paradigms present in the foreign imagination and societies of a nation against the vital flux that transforms and rejuvenates the same paradigms. The cultural attaché is mediator between the own and the foreign gaze.

While cultural activism diversifies and is transformed through the numerous artistic inputs, the development of cultural diplomacy is tempted to fall in the stagnation of bureaucracy, of a limited range of defined action, of repetition. The development, rather, aims to cross roads and sum up efforts. The development is about the junction of one and another’s work so culture breathes beyond in other spaces and propagates to other spectators. It is, thus, necessary to take over the streets so culture and art can habituate the daily life beyond aseptic and isolated places. The development should generate a meeting point of cultures not only to underline difference but to observe similarities. In this shared territory, cultural diplomacy places in equality both the official cultural discourse and the emergent one. Behold the challenge.

Translated from Spanish by Dr. Paniel Reyes-Cárdenas.


Liliana Pedroza Castillo is a Mexican writer and narrator. She majored in Spanish Literature in the Autonomous University of Chihuahua, Mexico. She was award a doctorate in Hispanic American Literature by the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. Liliana was awarded the National Prize of Young Stories “Julio Torri” in Mexico, 2009. She won the Chihuahua Contest of Literature in Mexico, 2008, in the category of tales. She has been included in different editions and published in national and foreign cultural journals. Some of her stories have been translated into French and Greek languages. She is author of “Andamos huyendo, Elena” (Tierra Adentro publications, Mexico, 2007); “Vida en otra parte” (Ficticia Editorial, Mexico, 2009) and “Aquello que nos resta” (Tierra Adentro publications, Mexico, 2009). We suggest to visit http://www.lilianapedroza.com

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