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Origins: 100 Words on Totalitarianism , 2015/2020

Emilio Santisteban

Latin American artist  performance

Emilio Santisteban. Orígenes. 100 palabras sobre totalitarismo.
Emilio Santisteban. Orígenes. 100 palabras sobre totalitarismo.
Emilio Santisteban. Orígenes. 100 palabras sobre totalitarismo.
Emilio Santisteban. Orígenes. 100 palabras sobre totalitarismo.

​The image-text thus links the reflection on the totalitarian ideology from its historical beginnings (Arendt), and the common ideas around totalitarianism in those who, from a political, economic, social or cultural perspective, feel to live or observe it.

The 100 words that make up the image-text are:

Movement, all, be, power, world, party, men, masses, nazis, politics, fields, organization, domination, fact, society, end, form, police, country, propaganda, life, reality, members, classes, government, fear, war, law, history, chief, human, people, elite, jews, concentration, nature, part, regime, populace, exterior, sense, way, conditions, state, experience, ideologies, action, system, well, formations, logic, population, secrets, authority, force, death, thought, process, loneliness, structure, beginning, people, bourgeoisie, conquest, hierarchy, Bolshevik, fiction, nothing, time, existence, boarding schools, lies, beginning, capacity, supporters, tyranny, isolation, services, criminals, essence, idea, freedom, organisms, case, consistency, leaders, objective, premise, work, god, methods, position, living, categories, division, army, intellectual, legality, military, travel [ 2].

[1] Arendt H (1998 [1951]) The origins of totalitarianism. Translation into Spanish by Guillermo Solana. Madrid: Taurus.

[2] They correspond to the selection made in 2019 for the execution of the work in Lima, Peru, in collaboration with Venezuelan immigrants. The original selection for Caracas corresponded to a set of 122 words selected by families of meanings mentioned a minimum of one hundred times in the text, and not by unitary words as in the new selection. On that occasion the words chosen were: Being, It was, It was, It was, It was, It was, It was, It was; All, All, All, All; Total, Totalitarian, Totalitarian, Totalitarian, Totalitarianism; More much; Nor, Never, Never; If not, Although; Man, Men, Human, Humans, Human, Humanity, Human; Person people; State, Apparatus, System, Administration, Regime, Regimes, Government, Governments; Movements, Movement; History, Past, Time, Before, Previous, During, While; Alone, Alone, Unique, One; May, May, May; World World; War, Terror, Violence, Horror, Destruction, Death; Same, Same, Same, Same; Domination; Party, Parties, Politics, Politics, Politician, Politicians; Masses, Mass; Law, Legal, Legality, Illegality, Norms, Normal; Shape, Fashion; Had, There was; Society, Social, Societies; When; Meaning, It means; Tell; Why; Life, Alive; Organization; Campos, Campo; Already; But; Done; Outside, Outside; Such; Propaganda; Policeman; Even; Every; Reality; Member, Members; Class; Country countries; Population, People, Citizens; Public.

Nahir Maestre Quintana


Adriana guerrero

Adriana Guerrero 2020-02-26 at 21.19.56.
Adriana Guerrero 2020-02-26 at 21.19.55.

Arendt, Hannah.

The origins of totalitarianism.

Invitation to participants

Origins: 100 words on totalitarianism is a project by Emilio Santisteban with the informed participation of Venezuelan citizens.

Conceived in 2015 within the framework of the South Caracas Biennial at the invitation of the Brazilian curator Angela Barbour, the project was not carried out in Venezuela (in unclear circumstances). Instead, it has been developed in collaboration with Venezuelan immigrants in Peru since January 2020 for an indefinite period of time, having started as part of the public program of the show Crónicas Migrantes. Common stories between Peru and Venezuela  (September 2019 - February 2020), conceived by the Venezuelan curator Fabiola Arroyo at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Lima MAC — Lima.

​ The participation of Venezuelan immigrants consists of displaying, on a wall of their home or work space, the image-text shown above. Said exhibition does not necessarily entail its exhibition open to the public, but personal contemplation and between relatives and fellow immigrants, or with local friends who receive them and - if the participants so wish - the publication of the personal reflections that the image-text conducive.

The image-text shows a question of uncertain direction and of multiple and open answers: what if at the end? ,  question in turn composed of the hundred most used nouns in the text "Totalitarianism", which is part of the book The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt [1] . This selection of terms dialogues with Tania Bruguera's performance 100 hours of reading on totalitarianism , carried out by the artist in Havana (2015).


The words that make up the question, now detached from the discourse they formed, suggest certain emphases that hint at various forms that totalitarianism can take, such as the nullification of freedom in political totalitarianism, the alienation of life in economic totalitarianism, or xenophobia and aporophobia from which a kind of totalitarianism of a social and cultural nature emerges in practice, for which it is the population itself, deprived of citizenship, that exercises police action of control and oppression.

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