martes, 6 de septiembre de 2011

El secreto de las urnas: Métodos y técnicas de investigación electoral

Métodos y técnicas de investigación electoral

Las elecciones de los últimos meses han instalado en un controvertido primer plano la cuestión de la investigación de Opinión Pública. Es oportuno, entonces, abrir una instancia de conversación acerca del tema, en un ámbito profesional, independiente de las discusiones mediáticas.
Consultores e investigadores elaborarán sobre métodos y técnicas de investigación electoral, abordando temas en relación con: los alcances y limites de técnicas y canales, cuestiones de diseño e interpretación, capacidad predictiva, los usos políticos, las falacias más comunes, entre otros aspectos que resultan centrales para una discusión productiva y actual.

Participarán, entre otros: Elsa Usandizaga, Lidia Aufang, Luis Acosta, Darío Cantón y Raul Jorrat, Juan Carlos Marín, Ricardo Abduca, Lucas Rubinich, Julián Rebón, Ricardo Rouvier y Artemio López.

Invitan: Roberto Jacoby y Lucas Rubinich.

Miércoles 24 de agosto | 14:30 horas | Sala de Reuniones
Instituto de Investigaciones Gino Germani, UBA | Uriburu 950 6º piso

video y realización: Syd Krochmalny y Florencia Reznik

Technologies of friendship and technologies of confrontation: Not even one square meter of sociability?

by Syd Krochmalny


By the end of 2008, the activists of the student center (CECSO) [1] decided to take over the three campuses of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Buenos Aires [2].The strike was founded on the demands for structural improvements, a higher budget, and the completion of the new multi-department center. All academic activity within the university building was suspended and classes were held in the streets. The students held assemblies, public classes, and demonstrations [3].

The principal issue was the necessity of an adequate space for student and faculty socialization. The students held a meeting and decided to extend the student center’s dining area into the parking lot on university property. The original dining space was created in 2008, located in a room of the building that was no bigger than 30 square meters. It was connected to a large doorway leading directly out into a faculty parking lot covering three quarters of the block. The student activists took the opportunity to re-appropriate the parking lot as a space for socialization. Previously confined to classrooms, hallways and lobbies that were not adequate for social interaction between students and professors, they took it upon themselves to transform the space through political action. During the demonstration, the activists occupied no more than five percent of the total area of the parking lot.

During the summer of 2009, an independent student group and the members of the student center began the construction of the dining area in the parking lot. The installation consisted of a roof and “stone-enclosed gardens”, forming a space-maximizing architecture that brought the activists´ goals into fruition. The creation of the new socialization space quickly surpassed its first purpose of an integrated dining area, as it came to host academic, political, cultural and artistic activities.

This political act was supported by the majority of students, professors, three chairs, the Department of Sociology, artists, and the founders of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. At the same time, the surface of the parking lot that was occupied was still a very small percentage of the total meters of the place, that until that moment had remained a marginal section of the parking lot, once filled with trash, wood fragments, and abandoned junkyard automobiles.

At the present, the participation of students, student directors and activists makes this space culturally vibrant and full of life. This new cultural ecology was developed while waiting for the implementation of the new Social Science building, that hadn’t been completed during the period that was officially established [4].

Nevertheless, in spite of the legitimacy of the students’ action, the rectorship interpreted this as an “usurpation”. This action did not only privilege the utilization of a parking lot above the social function of the academic space but also, for the resolution of a conflict of interests, the superior board asked the penal system to intervene in order to arrive to a solution. [5].
Taking this situation into account, the faculty authorities admitted that the conflict between the different actors should be worked out through a dialog table and without seeking the intervention of justice in a problem that was of political nature [6].

In 2009 the student center received a letter that notified it of the existence of an open penal cause and one student charged –Germán Feldman, former president of the student center-. The university rector ordered the dwellers and student center members to be identified, and also ordered an eviction during the summer of 2009, that was prevented by students. The report to the justice, by the rector against the students, means a setback in the history of the university and life in democracy [7].

Technologies of friendship and Technologies of confrontation

Together with sociologist Lucas Rubinich, we decided to intervene in the conflict. We resolved to call a group of artists to operate and generate artistic and social forms in the parking lot/ dining room space. We thought that we shouldn’t use the typical rethorics, tactics and strategies that were used by student groups which were similar to the artistic practices of the activist art groups: the “technologies of confrontation”, which meant actions and discourses during conflict situations that consisted of opposition, protest and denunciation techniques [8].

The “opposition strategy” is founded in the political relationship between friend and enemy, where the enemy is the bourgeoisie, the bureaucrat, the genocider. This strategy is an act of resistance and reinvindication when facing an attack towards a friend. The Other, in the strategy of opposition, is aggressor whose function is to make the aggressed come together, and makes the conflict a reason for community, collectives and groups to gather. This organisational forms arise in a defensive way. The generation and proliferation of this strategy is produced in line with the confrontation that defines the groups’ limits: it is not the “being along with”, the “we”, but it’s the conflict, “the other”, that works as a foundation of the groups of art and political militancy.

From this paradigm, that turned out to be inescapable since it was a main part of the situation in which we were going to operate, we took the following elements:
a. Intervention in a conflict space between actors (mainly students and rectorship)
b. The collaboration between artists and activist groups (members of the political groups of the student center)
c. Media coverage (articles in different media and video documentary)

But, at the same time, it was necessary to avoid some constant elements that were part of these tecnologies, namely: the reproduction of the conflict based in a friend-enemy relationship, the rethorics of denunciation and protest, the strategy of opposition, the modality of defensive action, the verbal and material attack. This way, the idea was to operate over certain elements that are part of the background of the activist art tradition. The cafeteria/parking lot is a situation in which we could work artistically with other Technologies. The ones that Fernanda Laguna and Cecilia Pavón had coined, towards the end of the nineties, as “Technologies of friendship” and that Roberto Jacoby was simultaneosuly working with in a series of projects like Bola de Nieve, Chacra 99, Proyecto Venus and Ramona.

The Technologies of friendship consisted of connecting and articulating fragments of World, artists’ initiatives within a vast autharchic cultural ecology in which artists proclaimed themselves as their self-producers: as their own directors, curators, critics, gallerists, writers and researchers. From these technologies we retook the following guidelines:

a. The participation of artists and non-artists (we included teachers, architects, activists and students that were taking the “General Sociology” subject with Lucas Rubinich)
b. The emphasis in the connection –philia- between different actors in conflict (activists from other parties that were not a part of the student center, members of the directive board of the faculty, the Sociology carreer and the deanship)
c. To build a new status quo facing the deterioration of institutions.
d. To give a visible image to what was invisible before.
e. A positive logic of action, by accepting heterogenous proposals.
f. To build bridges, cross symbolic borders and multiply the opportunities of fertile encounters.
g. To put the “economy of giving” into practice.

In order to put this plan into function we made a within our closest artistic circle, by summoning those artists that could provide practical and theoretical tools, and that had been a part of the “activist art” and “autogestive art”. The following artists were called: Mariela Scafati, due to her experience in the Taller Popular de Serigrafía (TPS), Javier Barilaro, painter and co-founder of the Eloisa Cartonera editorial, and Fernanda Laguna, artist and writer, promoter of Belleza y Felicidad, Belleza y Felicidad Fiorito and Tu Rito. Architects Gustavo Dieguez and Lucas Gilardi from a77 and Pio Torroja and Mauricio Corbalán from m7red were also convoked.

Tactics and open command experiment

With the technologies of confrontation as a factual situation we invited different artists to display friendly technologies. We defined the dining room as a lumpen bar and conceived it as an installation in which we could intervene, configure, redesign and collaborate [9]. It was also a space of conflict, inhabited by students, what made it organic, interactive, changing, where actions overlapped and modified each other, having sometimes unexpected developments.
We decided to call the artists and think within the place. The common opinion was that the space lacked “visuality”. If the occupation had legitimacy because of the lack of a territory of socialization, this could be crumbled with just one image. Therefore, we considered the need of creating a "face". Another common thought was that we should work with the needs and materials on the site, thinking of the possibility of accepting donated materials that could be attached to those we found there.

The first activity was a visit to inspect the site, with the participation of Javier Barilaro, Florencia Rodríguez Giles, Luciana Lamothe and Lucas Rubinich. At this first meeting we presented some ideas and took some photographs of the site.

The second meeting consisted of reading two books, the one about the thousand seats and another on contemporary architecture. As we read we worked with four wooden spools of wire that were lying on the parking lot. We sanded, painted and refinished them, and placed spinning wheels of polypropylene on them. This time joined by Mariela Scafati (who donated the paint), Fernanda Laguna and Irina Kirchuk.

The third meeting was within the context of the second Independent Book Fair held in the parking lot of the faculty. We continued our work in the construction of mobile tables. Santiago Villanueva and Federico Villarino visited us and joined the action. Other artists like Barilaro and Laguna and set up a booth with books. By the afternoon Pio Torroja, Gustavo Dieguez and Lucas Rubinich put together a discussion panel to reflect on the urban possibilities of the conflict.

The parking lot was taken as a privileged urban space (outside of the market), a lot of great dimensions, scarce in that zone of the city of Buenos Aires. The space had not been affected by the real-estate businesses since it was a public territory of the university. The capacities that were wasted due to the use of this terrain as a parking lot were evaluated. Therefore, the architects proposed to inject political imagination to think of the parking lot / dining room as a public plaza of arts and sciences, coordinated by the university. At the same time two subterranean parking lots could be built. The construction and financing of this self-sustaining project would take 5 years.

The implementation of a plan of this magnitude would be an economic fact larger than the current that, in turn, would prestige the college, by involving the participation of different social actors, and being an exemplary act for other community outreach projects to the college. This plan would meet the main articles of the new university statute:
"The development and implementation of active policies that commit resources and capabilities of the institution for the extension and transfer of knowledge to the community, related to specific social and institutional actors" (Statute of the UBA).

In the fourth action, Mariela Scafati and Lola Granillo preparared a soup with pumpkins extracted from the organic garden placed in the parking lot. The guests were students, graduates, student center leaders and two teachers. This exquisite soup was not only an act of donation articulated with the materials that were available at the site but was, unintentionally, a cooking lesson. The student cafeteria menu is based on high-fat foods (ham, pastries, choripán) and carbohydrates (pasta, potato dumplings). The soup postulated through action the unnecessary relationship between a low budget and poor quality food.

The fifth action consisted of a public class. Lucas Rubinich taught the class for the General Sociology subject at the student cafeteria. It was attended by students, activists, artists and guests. The class coordinated the contents of the subject with the conflict in the dining room / parking. Rubinich performative capabilities were deployed from the sociological theory of action and the analysis of the conflict between students and the rector.

The sixth intervention came from the kindness of Irina Kirchuk who informed us that she would be dismantling the Jorge Macchi’s exhibition at the Ruth Benzacar gallery. We went on a charter with Javier Barilaro and, along with Irina and Guido Yannitto and loaded the wood strips in the van. Upon arrival to the parking lot several students assisted in the unloading of the timber. The material was housed in the Faculty. We told the students that we were planning to build benches, chairs and tables. They supported our initiative. But a week later, members of the student center, commented with secretive enthusiasm while we were dictating the seminar along with Rubinich, that they had made “something” with the strips. After the class went to see what they had done and we found a trae "social sculpture." Macchi’s timbers had been assemblied with chairs, benches, tables and a large poster with the slogans: "permanent transfer of the dining room "an only building" and "bigger budget." The assembly made up a barricade. The trench was installed at 4 m from the stone enclosed gardens, expanding the occupied surface.

The experiment carried out in the Social Science faculty is still open. We encourage the participation and collaboration of sociologists, artists, urban planners and architects. The parking lot is a social laboratory to intervene. So far we have covered the following points.

The crossover between art, politics and sociology, the reconfiguration of space, objects and subjects, the relationship between art, education and educational value, the aesthetic actions of political practice driven by artists and appropriated and re-elaborated by students.
The political purpose of the project is to connect the actors (students, teachers, directive board and superior board) and articulate the different voices towards the construction of a space for science, culture and arts in the university open to the community.

[1] Presided by OKTUBRE, a leftist front formed in 2003 by the Partido Obrero, the MST, “El Viejo Topo”, the Partido de los Trabajadores Socialistas (PTS) and the “29 de Mayo”. In 2004 it was joined by Praxis (formerly known as Socialismo Revolucionario that separated from the PTS for considering it “sectarian” and “workerist”) and the MAS. During 2005 the MST was fractured with the documents 1 and 2 briefly coexisting and in 2007 it was joined by the COR (another breach of the PTS). Most members of the front are of “trotskist” ideology.
[2] Marcelo T. De Alvear 2230 headquarters, in Recoleta. Parque Centenario headquarters, Ramos Mejía 841 and Franklin 54. Constitución headquarters, Santiago del Estero 1029.
[3] During the same period, the University Assembly voted to reform the university status with 164 affirmative votes, 16 negative and 8 abstentions. During the session, groups of student activists tried to break the police barrier and enter the place with the goal of requiring their participation in university government. Christian Henkel, co-president of the FUBA, said the assembly intended to deepen neoliberal policies at the university. He urged them to remove the fences and withdraw the police guard in order to involve all the student representatives. The university assembly did not accept the demands, and the reform was approved. Meanwhile, there were some differences between some student sectors and the leftist conduction.- Oktubre, the front that then had the presidency, was again fractured. In November elections were won by a front of "Independent Left" called "El Tren" .- This coalition is composed by the groups “Contrahegemonía” (Corriente Universitaria Julio Antonio Mella), “La Mala Educación” and “Agrupación Universitaria Prisma”..
[4] Meanwhile the university does not comply with Article 70 of its statute that attemps to "promote cultural and sports activities and the appropriate infrastructure and teaching equipment upgraded for better performance of educational work."
[5] This action contradicts the stated in the university statute: all members of the university community are entitled to use and enjoy the property of the University (Article 79).
[6] It also represents a serious institutional injury and a setback in the history of the institution. Because the attempt to address an academic problem using the judicial power undermines the university autonomy.
[7] The student movement in Argentina has a long tradition. Due to the conquest of the university autonomy it was established as a political model for the organization of contemporary universities. This independent cultural movement spread throughout Latin America, Spain and the United States. The University Reform is the name given to the movement promoted by students since the university strike in June 1918 at the National University of Cordoba, demanding deep reforms of structures, contents and goals of the university. It attacked the feudal, bureaucratic and undemocratic structure and its dependence on the political system. In this context, the Federación Universitaria de Córdoba published the Manifesto Liminar, written by student leader Deodoro Roca, that later became the basic document of the University Reform. The movement was a critique of the relationship between knowledge and authority, showing the involvement of students in university life and decision-making with independence of outside powers (justice and church).
[8] Activist art operates over experiments carried out in collaboration between artists and activist groups to "creatively intertwine aesthetic and communicational resources with political practices" (Longoni, 2007). These groups are formed by architects, journalists, and artists who seek to activate transformative practices beyond their scope of registration. These projects and strategies fuse art and activism in a peculiar way. They are collective artistic actions - of a performative type, street signs, iconographic productions, interventions in real and virtual space - that propose an immediate political impact through media coverage and the participation of social activists, human rights and ecological organizations. The repertoire of these practices is composed by performances, actions, images, urban signals and interventions. The deployment of these practices occurs in different contexts: marches, protests, tributes in central points of the city; in neighborhoods, factories, advertising posters, buildings and squares. These practices provided a visuality to the actions of protest and strategic communication.

[9] The dining room is an installation because it is partially built (planters and roof) and because it lacks a central perspective (multiple configurations). It incluyes any viewer as a participant, as an integral part of the space, and assumes a decentered subject and an embodied viewer.


Laguna & Pavón, Belleza y Felicidad, en Panoramix, Fundación Proa, Buenos Aires, 2005.
Jacoby & Krochmalny, Tecnologías de la Amistad o como hacer y comer juntos, Ramona 69, Fundación Start, Buenos Aires, abril 2007.