Opinion and Analysis: Culture | Participation | Social Movements
Cause: A New Social Network of Youth Culture in Venezuela
Almost five months ago the group Cause (Causa) was born to support the work and creativity of artists and collectives. Its members and collaborators produce videos, photographs, t-shirts and even songs.
Cause came into being on 13 April 2012 with the premiere of the music video Patriot by the band Area 23, directed by Vicent Chanza and co-produced by Guarataro Films and Hip Hop Revolution. From that day the organisation Cause became known for supporting alternative culture in our country. Their slogan is “because original is going to the source”, and creativity is evident with videos, music videos, music, art, design, clothing, dance, photography, murals, graffiti, cinema, painting and illustration.
The music video Patriot emerged with the millions of young Venezuelans in mind who didn’t experience the coup d’état [translator: when the right-wing opposition launched a short-lived coup against President Hugo Chavez in April 2002] or were very young at the time. Documentary filmmaker, journalist and designer David Segarra, a member of Cause, pointed out that some 200 people participated in this work, including the collaboration of neighbours from 23 de Enero [a neighbourhood of Caracas], motorbike workers and paratroopers from Maracay. The idea was that the historical moments that Venezuela experienced [in the coup] could be re-lived through hiphop. “There is democracy and freedom [in Venezuela] thanks to the millions of people who went out onto the streets to defend it on 13 April 2012,” Segarra commented.
Ciudad CCS: How did Cause begin?
David Segarra [DS]: The reasons for its birth reflect a reality that has come into being in recent years in Venezuela, that is, the rebirth and explosion of culture among the youth. There are a great number of bands, groups of artists, graphic designers, graffiti artists and muralists that are emerging from grassroots communities, from the barrios, which is the nicest thing; and with a lot of impact and success. [Before this rebirth] they had been crushed, silenced, and so the Cause’s mission is to accompany them, to gather them together, and try to make them visible, because this movement hadn’t had enough of a presence through the media and social networks.
Why the name Cause?
DS: The name Cause occurred to a friend from 23 de Enero, because he suggested that that it was of grassroots origin and that it had multiple meanings. Cause as a friend, as a brother, s/he who accompanies you through the good and the bad, because we’re a brotherhood of artists in culture and through culture we advance forward. The other meaning is classic: to have a cause, a motivation for something, for which you need to live and struggle. Our cause is culture, the way of loving and fighting for Venezuela through the medium of art.
Who is part of Cause?
DS: Cause is a group, a network, rather than an organisation. Between those that run the website and the social network there are 15 people, but there are many collaborators and people who are committed to work alongside Cause. There are hundreds. It’s not an end in itself but rather a medium to support cultural movements. It’s a medium of communication and a social network that’s reflecting what the cultural movements that undertake cultural revolution do, like for example, Hip Hop Revolution, the Other Event [el otro beta], Urban Guerrilla Cycle [Ciclo Guerrilla Urbana], the National Front of Rebel Bands, [el Frente Nacional de Bandas Rebeldes], Tiuna el Fuerte, [the groups] that reflect those movements with a true cause.
How do you support yourselves?
DS: We’re getting strong support from public institutions, which is fundamental because the protagonists of this change are young people. While in Chile, Colombia, in Europe there are cuts, and in Spain university tuition fees are being made more expensive and support for cinema is being cut by 35%, here in Venezuela, fortunately, the [institutional] support for culture is growing.
What does Cause offer?
DS: We founded www.causa.org.ve in which all of this talent meets and people are informed about what activities are on. Basically it’s a medium of communication, but being established and based in the internet, at the same time it’s a social network. In fact it’s become one of the main social networks of youth culture in Venezuela. [However] the new internet 2.0, the social networks, are more important than the classic web. We have made a great effort in graphic design, in the programming of alternative culture, but people visit the Facebook and Twitter accounts much more than the actual webpage. It’s a reality because social networks, due to their capacity of interaction, have become the vanguard within internet communication.
How much work have you produced?
DS: We have produced the first music video Patriot that reconstructs and records the history of the 11 April coup and the resistance of 13 April 2002; the second video that we produced was Band Energy, by Alto Ghetto Raíz, which aimed to not only relate the problems and conflicts of the barrios, but also to tell their stories, their beauty, their hope, and the loveliness that is there. The third video, supported by Redada and Tiuna el Fuerte, is a folkloric project that aims to join the youth from the plains with the people from the cities such as Maracay and Caracas. We also do coverage and film the nocturnal routes of museums and the central district [of Caracas] to produce small reports in video form.
The idea is to show this new Caracas that is no longer afraid to go out at night, that it dances and is full of beauty. We have also directly supported the recording of music gigs and of collectives and bands.
Do the videos have a point of honour? Will they always be made with a political and/or social concept?
DS: What Cause states is that we want to support grassroots culture, youth culture, but with different criteria to the hegemonic culture industry. When we watch channels such as HTV, MTV, Venevision Plus, we see that they’re anti-culture; it’s pure commercial spectacle and promoting delinquency with sexist, racist and colonialist values. There are thousands of points of view, but not supporting negative values that try to impose on Latin America. What Cause supports is a different culture, of constructively supporting Venezuelan talent with a positive vision.
Cause has also printed t-shirts of various models, and made videos that have been successful, but you don’t sell them…
DS: We have printed several hundred t-shirts in five models and the key, or secret, is that they’re made with the highest technical quality and fabrics. To fight against the hegemonic culture industry it’s fundamental to fight from salsa, tambor, joropo [styles of dance popular in Venezuela], with the same talent. The problem has always been marketing. Cause’s role is to support that national talent and offer them that quality, helping them to make high production music videos, high quality photographs, [and] quality clothing. Cause isn’t a company; therefore we don’t sell the t-shirts. The way to get them is through talent, and making a great effort. They have been getting distributed to collectives, artists, musicians, singers etc. Competitions have also been held. There isn’t money involved, but rather culture. That’s the cultural change that’s proposed.
Why is your slogan: Original is going to the origin?
DS: Precisely because of that, because the culture industry imposes clothing brands, fashion, so that you can be original, special, but by wearing Kickers, Adidas, listening to Madonna, and watching HTV and MTV. It’s something that imposes itself on all humanity and creates the situation that nothing is original. Venezuela has indigenous and African roots, and that makes it original, unique, therefore the way to be original and creative is by going to the origin of things, going to the roots in Venezuela, the Caribbean and Latin America.
Translated and edited by Ewan Robertson for Venezuelanalysis.com
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