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Felipe Rivas San Martín

Political Retrofuturism of Abya Yala: Activisms, Between Time and Technique




06/28/2022 — 07/12/2022

"Activism as a particular form of technology". Chilean artist Felipe Rivas San Martín proposes an online co-creation laboratory around activist manifestations located in Abya Yala (the oldest known name for the Latin American territory). In this way, we will review diverse expressions of political dissidence, critical forces, and social movements in the region from the use of instrumental and symbolic technologies in tactical terms.

This laboratory aims to reclaim, recognize, and recover subalternized knowledge and strategies of experimental and radical activist practices in Abya Yala, through an ‘affective activation’ conceived from contemporary practices.

Felipe Rivas San Martín: "Me la paso la vida acarreando códigos (Ideología)" (2015). Courtesy: Felipe Rivas San Martín.

“Activism usually establishes a dense and complex relationship with its time, always expressed as a discomfort or disagreement with the present it inhabits. That is why, most times, this dissidence is expressed as a longing for transformation directed towards the future and condensed in ideals that point towards 'another possible world.'”

Felipe Rivas San Martín

Often times—especially in the heavily violated contexts of Abya Yala—activism goes back to the past, either to insist on the unfinished memory of human rights (the demand for truth, justice, and reparation), to vindicate the differential genealogies of our local memories, or to recover "decolonially" that which the traumatic experience of colonization erased, destroyed, excluded, and belittled. From this premise, the laboratory will approach the axes of time, dissidence, and technology through a series of emblematic cases of activism and social movements in Latin America.

Understanding activism as an exercise linked to technology, it will approach knowledge and practices in technological and temporal terms that allow an experimental approach, linked to contemporary political and aesthetic discussions. The laboratory will address topics such as analog photography as a resource of memory and human rights violations in the context of dictatorships in Latin America; the concept of 'retrofuturism' and the Andean quipus; QR codes and the intervention of memes in street protests, among other issues related to citizen resistance against the powers of hegemony and colonization.

With the aim of developing social activism strategies, we will exercise marginal pedagogies through readings, review of audiovisual materials, and brief practical experiences fundamental for carrying out an individual/collective proposal in public spaces. This activism laboratory consists in the intervention of strategic spaces in the context of each participant. These actions and interventions will link cities and their inhabitants with specific local problems and experiences, using technology as a catalyst for social demands in the present.


“The Political Retrofuturism of Abya Yala” is a free formative program open to creators engaged with different areas of activism, decolonization, political art, and technology.

Felpe Rivas San Martín: "Inscripción de Código / Metacuerpo" (2015). Courtesy: Felipe Rivas San Martín.