Looking back on’ California College of the Arts Summer Abroad: Italy’, and our collaborative project ‘Environmental Dialog’ with ‘Città della Scienza’ in Naples, Italy.
You know there are a hundred ways to revisit an extinguished thing. We did it like this: from Northern to Southern Italy. In two weeks we traveled to three major cities: Venice, Milan, Naples. With our instructor, Mariella Poli, at the head of the operation racing us across the country. Everything was new, and I wanted to touch it and feel it and bring it all back with me to California - my photographs didn’t do it justice. The history of the country was fascinating, and was apparent in the structures of the homes and churches and cobblestone pathways. The art was new and exciting and waiting around every corner. The awe that weighed my shoulders seemed greater than my fifty pounds of luggage, but it was an uplifting kind of weight. We adventured from the Guggenheim to the Venice Biennale to the Milan Global Expo, all in one short week. And then, finally, we settled for our last week in the welcome arms of Naples.
The Spring before we set off to Italy, our teacher Mariella said to us, “On this trip we will see the worst of each other and we will see the best of each other.” I remembered this often when I was tired and my feet didn’t want to venture another step. I remembered this when our group got cranky and exhausted of the never-ending alleyways and relentlessly humid June at the end of a long day. We indeed did see the best and worst of each other. But it wasn’t until we arrived in Naples and met with ‘Città della Scienza’ that I really saw the best in me. It was all building up to Napoli. Here we met up with the people working at ‘Città della Scienza’ (City of Science), who had been victims of arson two years prior. ‘Città della Scienza’ sits on the ground of a former large industrial complex, which is being reconverted to other uses, in particular to scientific research and museums. In the spring of 2013 the interactive science museum, similar to San Francisco’s Exploratorium, was intentionally burned to the ground. We went to Napoli to work on a project intended as a response to the destructive action of the arson, collaborating with a group of students from Università di Napoli 2.
Bricks remain under smoke, waiting patiently for recognition. The structure blackens and holds its breath. “When the fire happened, it was very emotional for the people of Napoli,” Ruwani Perera, a local Neapolitan and a member of our ensemble, said to me. I was moved to see how important this place of education and creativity was to the people of Naples. It was a fire that only strengthened the community, uniting them to find ways to bring back what they held so dearly despite the loss they suffered.
Our body of work was part sculpture, part film, and part performance. I joined the performance group. On our first day we met with Fabio Cocifoglia, a director of the Naples theatre group ‘Le Nuvole’. In mere few days Fabio created an ensemble out of us. We focused on the ways immigration and femininity affected our lives. I didn’t really get to know whom I would be working with until Fabio dragged us all onto the stage. It didn’t feel like working. We were all laughing and dancing and playing games, but this was how Fabio broke down the discomfort of our language barriers and opened up discussion for the serious issues our performance would be dealing with.
We were an all female cast, and we were all first or second-generation immigrants. My mother was born in Portugal. The rest of the ensemble was from China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Capo Verde, Lebanon, and other places around the world. All of us coming together in one room to share our stories was just short of miraculous. I performed a poem my avó (grandmother) wrote when she first arrived in America from Portugal with my grandfather and their six children. I recited in English, while Andreina Lopes Pinto, a member of the ensemble from Capo Verde, recited it in Portuguese. I was not new to the world of theater, but I had never had to perform something so personal. In translating and rehearsing the words of my avó I found a new appreciation for what my family had gone through to bring me where I am.
On the night of June 18th we held our performance in the garden of 'Città Della Scienza'. We all had performance jitters, wandering around fixing last minute touches to our hair and makeup and stage props. But as soon as the audience started trickling into the garden we all fell naturally right into our places - the show had begun. The words of my avó flowed through me, with Andreina by my side reciting in Portuguese; we became sort of call and response vessels for the poem to pass through. One short hour later we joined our film and sculpture team, exhilarated at what meaningful work we had produced in so little time - and for myself, the lasting relationships I had made with the people of Napoli.
An interactive work that mimics the use of social media while introducing to a Western audience the culturally specific Asian concept of 'Jeong'.
'No Losers' is an interactive public art piece that re-draws the boundaries between private and public space while encouraging audiences to express their creativity in a public space. As part of Kim's MFA thesis, the work reflects on how technology enables us to do our own creating and how we expect to be part of the process, but also in control of it, an experience that seemed familiar to the participants.
The work also intended to introduce a broader audience to a culturally specific emotion called Jeong.
Jeong is difficult to define, and it may even be impossible to translate the word directly into English or any other language. One Korean-English dictionary defines jeong as “feeling, love, sentiment, passion, human nature, sympathy, heart.” Despite the breadth of this definition, the word seems to include even more, basic feelings such as attachment, bond, and affection. Unlike other emotions, such as depression, anger, and anxiety, jeong does not have clearly marked definitional boundaries even in the Korean language; it is ambiguous and amorphous."
The interaction with the work began with scratching off the ink that completely covered the surface of a 2' x 12' panel mounted on a wall. As one brave participant started to scratch off the surface, many others joined in and quickly scratched off the rest of the panel. The process slowly revealed hidden messages and graffiti under the ink, while at the same time leaving creative traces of images as the participants scratched off bits of ink from the surface.
No Losers was a physical act of creation. What was uncovered beneath the ink is not as important as the action of uncovering itself. It is an allusion to how we connect to the Internet or social media such as Facebook or Instagram, merely to glance through the most recently uploaded photos or the news feeds of others. How we instantly respond to them by clicking 'like,' for example, has the same lever of surface gratification that comes from instantly revealing something 'new' under the surface of the ink. As the title of the work suggest, in this experience there are no losers. The experience is meant to be fun and pleasurable. But if this positive experience with others can turn into a fond memory for someone later on, then it has contributed to an encounter with the experience of Jeong.
Camella D. Kim (South Korea) explores a wide range of media and often combine traditional and contemporary methods of fabrication and techniques to manifest her interest in language and define what it means to communicate in the digital age.
Kim immigrated from South Korea to Toronto, Canada in 1999. She double majored in Media, Information & Technoculture and Visual Arts. She completed her MFA in Media Arts at University of California, Los Angeles.
Following the post on the project 'No Losers', Camella DaEun Kim talks about the experience referred to by the word 'Jeong', and the difficulties of its translations.
The word exists in Korean, Japanese, and Chinese cultures, and the same Chinese character, 情, is used to designate it in all three languages. It is interesting to note, however, that in each of these cultures there are subtle differences in the meaning of the word. Especially intriguing is how jeong has a much broader and amorphous range of definitions and nuances in Korean culture, where it also involves greater ambiguity in the expression of emotions.
To clarify the meaning of jeong , it might be useful to examine some of its characteristics. . The Sung Min Hong, Neungyule Korean-English Dictionary states that “jeong cannot be seen or touched, it has no color, no smell, and it is tasteless.”
One important characteristic of jeong is its “location.” Jeong seems to be located not only inside the individual, but outside as well. In other words, jeong operates between and among individuals and has its primary locus in the community. It may be difficult for Western minds to conceive of an emotion as being located outside the individual, yet it may be helpful to think of jeong as a collective emotion.
A second unique feature of jeong is its “centrifugal” tendency. It is more common for Koreans to say “jeong deulda” rather than “I feel jeong .” A literal translation would be: “Jeong has permeated me or I am possessed by jeong".Jeong, therefore, does not emanate from within the individual, but rather, acts on the individual from his or her surroundings. In fact, if love has a centripetal effect, drawing the Other inwards to oneself, jeong has the opposite, centrifugal effect, pulling the self outwards to the Other.
According to Dr. Christopher K. Chung, the earliest time when an individual is exposed to the experience of jeong is when a baby is held and carried by his or her mother. As the mother’s warmth radiates to and is felt by the baby, jeong begins to permeate the baby’s entire being. This type of jeong is called “mo-jeong”. This total trust of life and of the Other, without logic or reason, begins with the earliest experiences of life, comparable to Freud’s “basic trust” during the oral stage.(1)
But jeong is also experienced and expands as the child grows older and begins to develop a relationship with his or her father, other relatives, friends, neighbors, and members of the community. As the child passes through the various developmental stages of his or her life, new forms of jeong evolve, such as “bujeong” (jeong between father and child) and “woo-jeong” (jeong between friends). These forms remain with the individual throughout the remainder of his or her life.
(1) Christopher K. Chung and Samson Cho. “Significance of Jeong” (paper presented at the 10th Scientific Meeting of the Pacific Rim College of Psychiatrists, Melbourne, Australia, October 6 – 9, 2001).
Installation for a group exhibition by Polish artist Kamil Baś.
Loopholes is an installation that I prepared for a group exhibition in Lamelli Gallery in Krakow, Poland. It consists of a cube-shaped, white-painted, metal structure with two rocks hanging inside and a source of light that can be targeted at it from almost every angle. As two objects block the line of light, there appear two additional, irregular shades that interfere with the quasi-regularity of a grid, making a hole in a cage. The observer-user can easily affect the shape and size of the shadow, but it is almost impossible to avoid leaving black spots, that sometimes free themselves from a prison.
His works have been shown at many exhibitions in Poland and Ukraine. His 2011 project "Blue Folding Model" was rewarded a main prize during the 4th All-Polish Students Drawing Exhibition in Torun, and his 2012 MA thesis "Art of Women" was announced as one of the best Polish theses of the year.
Recipient of one of the 'Assemblage Studios' scholarships, South African young artist Pebofatso Mokoena presents here some of the works that earned him the award.
Mainly through printmaking, Pebofatso’s works deal with the psychological issues surrounding mass-incidents, family loss and loss of communication. They are preoccupied with the psychological effects of losing a part of one’s self or a family member or relative. His works try to explore how people go about filling those particular voids in their own families or in themselves.
Having suffered from depression while in high school, coupled with the deep loss of his grandmother when in 8th grade, the artist’s deep-rooted personal loss is reflected in his drawing and prints. Pebofatso uses art to let go of these traumas, thus reminding others of the importance of family relationships.
“Earning this scholarship" he says, "will give me the opportunity to expand my work and will help me grow as an artist. It will bring forth new spaces to explore and the messages I try to convey will gain a wider reach..."
Gina Goico presents her collaborative performance "Pelliza: Tejiendo Narrativas/Weaving Narratives" at the the Bronx's 100th anniversary event "Boogie on the Boulevard" hosted by the Bronx Museum of Art in New York City. Pellizas are traditional hand woven rag rugs from the Dominican Republic. The history of these rag rugs is difficult to trace, but they have certainly been around for a long time. The original Pelliza rugs were made in the past with remnants of clothes and fabric and woven on top of plastic sacks. You would find Pellizas decorating the interior of carros públicos (shared taxis), beneath horse saddles, or in the interior of rural houses. About 10 years ago, the Pelliza became popular in the city. The materials changed and the designs became more complex to fit a demand. An activity that before was merely performed by women in the community for additional income became an entire family's business. Pellizas now decorate penthouses in the city, government offices, and are even used for decoration at weddings and parties.
The performance “Pelliza” had no other pretension than simply sharing this technique and weaving alongside other women while sharing stories. By the end the performance, which was aimed exclusively at Latinas, it
included children, women, and men from different parts of the world that didn't identify as Latino. It was performed during "Boogie on the Boulevard" on August 2nd, 9th, and16th in the Bronx, NY.
View more images and read about the last day of Pelliza performance on Gina Goico's blog. Watch a video of the project edited by Gina Goico on YouTube here.
"Boogie on the Boulevard" was presented by the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York City. It took place on Grand Concourse between 165th and 167th Streets in the Bronx which were shut down to traffic for three Sundays in celebration of the Bronx borough's 100th anniversary. The event featured free music, activities and programs hosted by artists and art/cultural, civic, and health organizations. View the full list of participants here.
Gina Goicois an multidisciplinary Dominican artist and activist currently based in New York. Her work deals with Dominican/Latino identity, culture and the politics behind being perceived as the Other in the United States. Read more about Gina Gioco's project #ATABEY on EAShere.
An installation series by artist Carmin Alizarina (Maria Alcaide) created during a 24 hour period spent alone in her room.
"Bunker / Schlafzimmer" can be defined as a performance which resulted in photographs and an installation. I spent 24 hours in my bedroom with no communication or electronic devices besides my camera and some food. This series is a result of the experiment. The photographs are based on an exploration of the findings of the group Oulipo, relating specifically to the endotic—a term coined by one of its members, George Perec, as described in his book The Infra-ordinary. Contrary to the exotic, the endotic is a very subtle but powerful tool to use when making artwork in a restricted setting.
It is subtle because it looks to the imperceptible of everyday life, to the usually hidden details of space and gestures of the bodies around us. It rescues the astonishment from the forgotten and obvious, trapped by its naturalization. The endotic is a powerful tool because it leads us to read and listen to our surroundings, always looking from unexplored stances.
The Oulipo group experimented working with constraints, so I chose to impose to myself my own limitations: time, place and material. These three constraints concern the main pillars of my narrative and are evidently present in my practice.
This project also involves ongoing research on how materials can influence a final artwork, and how a comfort zone (a private space, intimate) can become a place that is ultimately uncomfortable.
In this way, some kind of interference is produced: the bedroom becomes a 'white cube', transforming the space in a box where thoughts are shown by everyday (endotic) objects.
"When You Are Late" (left), "El Fandango es blues de flamenco, yo estoy triste" (middle), "Fantasie Orientale" (right)
Artist Carmin Alizarina(Maria Alcaide) is from Andalucía, Spain and completed an MFA at the Bellas Artes de Sevilla (Sevilla, Spain). In 2012 she was invited to the Université Paris8 where she studied art theory. There she began exploring textile and installation art. She now lives and works in Berlin, Germany.
To view more of Carmin's work visit her artist website here
‘Cone Room’, and ‘Like Second Skin, But Too Blue’, 2015: A two step, two part project by Kaori Freda which deals with religious experiences and the revisiting of adolescence memories.
The manner in which I interact with and interpret my surroundings through visual mediums has been profoundly influenced by my adolescent exposure, in my family, to the Unification Church, a Korean cult led by Reverend Moon, a man who proclaimed himself to be the next Messiah. It is a religion that arranges mass marriages in football stadiums, intense fundraising by church youth, and self-flagellation at the training center.
The church elicited alarmist media coverage in the United States in the 1970s and ‘80s. Deprogrammers were hired by worried parents to free their children from the brainwash they were subjected to by the cult; my grandfather hired such deprogrammers to kidnap my father, although he failed in his attempt.
Towards the creation of this body of work, I received a fellowship and a grant to revisit their “Holy Shrine,” or the Cheong Pyeong Heaven and Earth Training Center in Gapyeong, amidst the mountains, near Seoul, South Korea. I conducted my research in person at Cheong Pyeong in the winter of 2015. There, I made rubbings and video-documented daily rituals that the pious carry out to ensure the purity of their lineage and passage into paradise.
The documentation I brought back informed an immersive site-specific installation which filled my entire studio with 23,000 cones, a silken waterfall, and a series of silk scrolls rendered with ink and encased in plexiglass.
The project is called Enveloped by Korea, and allowed me to address my repressed past, render my memories into relic form so that I could meet my ghosts, and finally, accept them.
When it comes to religion, there is conflict and confusion all around. Every person has their faith. In a way, I suppose, I am grateful to this church, for without it my parents never would have met. This project was incredibly meaningful for me as a cathartic way to communicate with my past, productively channel confusion, process external stimuli, and form my own environment as a departure from my religious upbringing.
After completing the project at Cheong Pyeong I went to Seoul to study the phenomenology of holy spaces espoused in Korean Buddhist temples within the cityspace, and spent time at Myogaksa Temple.
Like Second Skin, But Too Blue poses Buddhist and Unification iconographies at odds with one another. The composition contends with the conflict between religious iconographies from the Unification Church and the Buddhist temples in Seoul’s city center.
Like Second Skin is one part of the larger body of work that contends with issues of memory situated in a holy space that I once accepted, but now repulse. The work projects a faint shadow, dancing upon the wall behind it. Roiling and rippling yet suspended within a narrow perimeter, the work’s movements evoke those inner turmoils which haunt the psyche. This scene cinematographically repeats itself over a length of silk, a medium which so closely resembles skin— that which drapes and enfolds body, mind, and memory.
The bodhisattva patterned within the composition finds its origins on the carefully preserved wall of a temple perched on the side of a mountain, while the architectural brutalist landscape is sourced from Cheongpyeong’s grounds. Momentarily frozen in rendered line, gods war amongst themselves. A bodhisattva gestures at a peculiar trio of religious bodies emerging from a celestial portal, set against a background of dancing dragon heads. United, these three deities floating side by side represent the Unification Church’s syncretic origins, with representatives from Buddhism, Korean culture, and Christianity.
I reasoned that these two intense experiences, completed within quick succession, would effectively negate the other’s influence on me. Thus, Like Second Skin, But Too Blue mirrors this peculiar balancing act between two religions. Yet it is also revealing that the attempt was not entirely successful: the brutalist banister dominates the center of the composition and throws perspective to the winds; the dragon heads sneer while they liltingly dance to the west, and bodies emerge senselessly from a gaping hole in the sky.
(I wrote 85 pages on this topic for my senior thesis at Reed College. If you would like to read more, please email me at email@example.com for a copy.)
This project was funded by The Reed College President’s Winter International Travel Fellowship & The Reed College Initiative Grant.
Kaori Freda is a multimedia artist and recent graduate from Reed College, Portland, OR. Her work contends with issues of religious grounds, the effect of memory upon spatial relations, and tends to lean towards illustrative design or mediums including casting processes, humorous sculpture, and assemblages. Kaori currently resides and works in rural Japan.
"An Artist Abroad" is a video poetry anthology by artist Valerie Wolf Gang. It is a project that started in August 2014 when Valerie moved to Portugal for one year to explore and research the influence of temporary change of residence, country and culture on artistic production and creativity. Beside her research she was creating poetical videos, which give the public insight into her personal creative evolution.
The anthology contains six video poems: 'Mivka/Sand/Areia', 'Talking Stones', 'Plastic Rhythm', 'Bread of Life', 'A Message to Humanity' and 'Tearing it Down'. They were created systematically from the first day of Valerie's stay in Portugal and they show the process of her integration into a new environment. This includes language confusion, feeling the sand structure, meeting new materials, people, and landscapes, and finding deeper emotional transitions, in combination with experimental video styles and techniques. The videos are constructed as experimental poetical art films in which Valerie uses principles analogous to those of painting. She sees the video production and editing, the sound design and the poetry writing as part of the same process of re-creating different atmospheres and merging different realities.
Her work reflects social conflicts arising from political regulations and constraints, especially when traveling or working abroad. When moving in space and time she animates the dead surroundings with her camera as suggested in the writings about speed by the contemporary philosopher Paul Virilo. Her works underscores the contrasts between nature and city, happiness and sadness, authority and freedom.
The project was presented as a solo exhibition at Centro de Artes, Museu António Duarte in Caldas da Rainha, Portugal and in Washington Square Park in New York City. “An Artist Abroad” was integrated in a web page, and it was possible for the viewer to access every poem through the scan of QR codes which were displayed in the gallery. Every visitor could scan the codes and play the desired poem on their tablets or smart phones. The viewers thus became the curators, being able to decide which video to play, when and where to play it. The videos acquired an interactive dimension, which symbolically relates to Valerie’s concept of merging different realities and creating collaborative performances with people she met on her journey.
Soon after the videos were included in different festivals and received several international awards and nominations.
Find out more about Valerie Wolf Gang's work on her artist website.
Valerie Wolf Gang (1990) is a multimedia artist who has graduated from the Ljubljana High School of Design and Photography (Ljubljana, Slovenia). She obtained a BA in Digital Art and Practice with an emphasis in video art and an MA in Media Art and Practice from the School of Arts at the University of Nova Gorica (Nova Gorica, Slovenia). She works as a freelance video artist, a status granted by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia, and is actively involved in different forms of artistic production, video and film projects, exhibitions and artistic residencies.
#ATABEY: A Dominican American cultural platform by Gina Goico and Imán Muñiz.
As women, we understand the contradictions we embody every day; constant tensions between whore and saint, beautiful and ugly, protection and defiance, life and death. These tensions plague our thoughts and movements, and ultimately define us. Being a woman living in a diaspora brings another layer of contradictions and tensions which we have to manage as we continue to perform while inhabiting a foreign space.
Will we choose the comfort of our homeland but risk poverty? Or will we take a chance in the empire and be exposed to a completely different type of violence in order to earn dollars? Will we choose solitude and longing over pesos and hurricanes?
In our conversations with other immigrants of diverse generations we were moved by our shared reluctance to provide definite answers to these questions. We are neither here nor there. Not one nationality or the other. Neither sluts nor saints. We are the in-betweeners, forever lost at sea between lands, forever living in nostalgia. We are #ATABEY*.
#ATABEY is a cultural proposal that uses social research combined with art production by artist Gina Goico and artist/scholar Imán Muñiz. The goal of #ATABEY is to create new artistic and academic narratives about the lived experiences of women from the Dominican Republic and its diasporas. We aim to create a cultural platform of new meanings, symbols and ideas that will serve to critique, describe, represent and create our needs and desires.
This project was born from both Iman’s and Gina’s understanding that there is a traditional romantic idea of what Dominican culture is and it needs to be questioned in order to start a real decolonization of Dominican bodies, mind and politics. We also understand that it is crucial to recognize US imperialism as a conditional framework in which Dominican culture continues to develop and change alongside other cultural influences that have shaped us after colonization.
Currently, various projects are being developed to be showcased in the upcoming months. For instance, we are developing projects in collaboration with various Dominican social justice organizations and initiating an interactive performance to be held on three consecutive Sundays in August in the Bronx, New York as part of Boogie on the Boulevard. Additionally, both Imán’s and Gina’s individual academic undergraduate and graduate theses served as the groundwork for a future book, which is estimated to come out in late 2016.
For more information on #ATABEY e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ginagoico.com to stay tuned!
*Atabey, or Atabeira was known by the Tainos (native peoples of the Caribbean) as the supreme Goddess.
Imán Muñiz is a researcher, artist, writer and activist from the Dominican Republic currently based in California. When #ATABEY started her thesis project was on sexual violence prevention in Santo Domingo and currently she studies the Dominican Economy and Haitian Labor.
Gina Goico is an multidisciplinary Dominican artist and activist currently based in New York. Her work deals with Dominican/Latino identity, culture and the politics behind being perceived as the Other in the United States.
Uji Venkat reflects on her experience as an intern at Southern Exposure during the weeks she spent working with ‘Mission Voices Summer 2015'.
I would call Southern Exposure a non-profit, frequently educationally motivated, community of artists. However, this doesn't even come close to conveying the impact that the Mission Voices Summer programhas on participating artists, students, staff, and interns, such as myself. The teaching artists and staff met for weeks prior to the students’ arrival, deciding themes and sub-projects. When they settled on (T)HERE, I was perplexed, to be honest. I began talking to the artists about the sub-projects they planned for their students. Slowly, I started to see the pieces come together. Think about how many times a day you use the word there and here. You will become increasingly conscious of the use of this word throughout your day; I did. Something so seemingly insignificant has an incredible impact on our day to day. Imagine if those two words did not exist. Try replacing them at every occurrence in your conversations. While their absence would be a huge impediment to language, here and there also describe the passage of time, distance, and space. Artists and students at ‘Mission Voices Summer' program explored together their meanings, from the most literal to their broad connotations. Starting on day one, with a physical line getting from point A, here, to point B, there, the young artists were inspired to create. The final exhibition showcases films recounting time and motion, directing plaster hands and fingers, zines (collaboratively constructed over the duration of the program), and much more. I was delighted to find out that being an intern in the art world means much more than administrative duties. I was often out with the students and the teachers. I participated in bringing the vision of (T)HERE to life on a daily basis. This was as simple as partaking in the ice breaker or making a piece of the here to there segment, but all the time I felt like being part of much larger idea. Even promotional social media posts enlisted creative initiative. The most invaluable experience I had was the interaction with each gifted mind. Whether they were staff, professional, or aspiring artist, they were all truly artists. A simple conversation, however unrelated to the current project, always struck creativity and provoked thought. The six teaching artists were navigational wizards throughout the project. They prompted and probed but never told. Workshops, activities, and even technical instruction were all centered around opening more doors as opposed to answering questions to close them. A socially and personally relevant project was formed from a compilation of the youth voices, its originality unobstructed and limitless. As opposed to daunting and overwhelming, the young artists approached the project as magnificent and challenging unchartered territory. On the outside they are kids, some only a few years younger than myself, but their minds are so unafraid and inventive. Their passion inspired me more than I can put into words. The mark of any active participant is that they come away from an experience with new knowledge, but my entire approach to art and creative thinking has been altered. To fully understand my awe at the art world one would have to know my academic past. Not only was I a biology major, but I am going into my second year of teaching middle and high school math. While I do still love these fields, my creative mind is often neglected. Entering this entirely new world this Summer revealed possibilities and passion within me. I went from skeptical to inspired in a matter of months, and I am only starting to uncover the mystery of how I got from there to here.
Uji Venkat is a young artist who graduated in Biology from Reed College, Portland in 2014. She is now teaching Math in middle and high school in Dumas, Arkansas in the' Teach for America' program. She worked as an intern at Southern Exposure, San Francisco in Summer 2015.
"A History of Contemporary Art in Mozambique in 4 Weeks"
Part art residency, part workshop, and part informal art academy, Àsìkò Art School has been attracting young artists from all over Africa for 4 weeks of seminars, classes, exchange and conversation about the changing landscapes of artistic practices and the need for more curatorial initiatives in the African continent. This year in its 5th edition, Àsìkò Art School has been held in Maputo, Mozambique.
Over the course of 28 days the participants have been engaging in critiques, discussions, lectures, and presentations led by guest faculty including artists and curators from Africa and beyond. Using the 40th anniversary of Mozambican independence, celebrated on 25 June 2015, as a starting point, they have engaged the collective histories of the states of Eastern and Southern Africa to explore African and African Diaspora cultural production.
The final project, “28 Words in Maputo”, attempts to engage through sound, installation and performance the period that the artists and curators have spent in Maputo. Using language as a point of departure, the idea of the dictionary is employed to give meaning to the time, experiences and impressions of the participants, through a selection of words, pronunciations and inflections as well as discovered etymologies.
These experiences are articulated through the presentation of a visual playlist consisting of 28 words, an installation that defines the experiences with food and with the sights of Maputo, and a performance that represents the words spoken in the ‘Chapa’, the public transport van used in the city.
'Return to the Kalahari' is part of the 'Heroes Project', a collaboration between the Law+Environment+Design Laboratory (LEDLaboratory) and the organization Natural Justice.
“The usual hero adventure begins with someone from whom something has been taken, or who feels there’s something lacking in the normal experiences available or permitted to the members of his society. This person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to recover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir. It’s usually a cycle, a going and a returning.”- Joseph Campbell, "The Hero With A Thousand Faces".
The hero’s journey as articulated by mythologist Joseph Campbell is what inspired the Heroes Project. After a year and a half of working on the project at the Law+Environment+Design Laboratory (LEDLaboratory), as I reflect on the journey that I set on, it feels like a hero’s journey in itself, a journey of separation, initiation and return. A few back and forth emails became my ‘call to adventure’. I separated from the world that I was familiar with, and entered into an entirely new universe: stories of people I didn’t know, lands I had never seen, and learning from people I had never met was what prepared for the next stage. In September 2013, I set forth on a journey to South Africa, crossing my threshold and setting foot into a new land. And thus began my initiation, and with the help of mentors and guides I was able to navigate my way through this new land, get answers to my many questions and gather stories from the people.
In October 2013 we conducted a workshop to capture stories from youth of the Cape Flats, a neighborhood of Cape Town. Most of these stories were personal, stories that never got talked about, or that get lost in the noise around them. With stories gathered, we had the task to build a narrative. We began the process of character designing for a comic book. These characters started to acquire personalities, visual identities and life stories. After months of writing and illustrating, we had the Origin Story. The graphic narrative “Return to Kalahari” is first of a series of five, titled ‘The Hoerikwaggo Chronicles’. The stories are layered with inspirations from real world issues faced by the youth of the Cape Flats, from Khoi-San mythology, and from historical events and people, all woven with fiction.
After almost a year since my last visit to South Africa, we took the work back to where it all began, for blessings and feedback; this was the point of my ‘return’. The first showing of the book was in the marketplace at the Open Book Comic Fest in Cape Town, one of the World Design Capital 2014 events. Our next stop was the Cumulus Conference in Johannesburg: “Design for the other 90%.” This was the first time such a conference was hosted in the African continent. This gave us an opportunity to look at the really underrated but potent design movement in Africa. Art and design play a significant role in reviving grassroots level economic and social change, and it was encouraging to see people from diverse nationalities and cultures see the potential of the power of storytelling. Storytelling manifests itself in multiple forms and hence can be easily adapted to various media, to address the issues of communities and ecologies. Through these networks and platforms, we hope to collaborate with art and design institutions to extend and expand the work of The 'Heroes Project’.
As the final event of this visit, we hosted a soft launch at the historic District Six Museum, Cape Town. The project was a deep collaboration and each member of team shared what they are most passionate about in this work. I shared my own experiences and the personal journey that I undertook as I developed the graphic narrative, from character design to illustrations. Every event we went to gave us fresh insights. The Open Book Fest gave us a glimpse into the comic lovers’ perspective, the Cumulus Conference provided us the opportunity to connect with the art and design schools and scholars, while the book launch enabled us to reflect deeply. ‘Return to the Kalahari’ marked my return to Africa, to give back to the people of South Africa the work that holds the rich experiences that they gave me. -Abhishek Choudhury
A recent graduate in Art Practice from UC Berkeley volunteers in a community art project.
“The annual Cinco de Mayo parade and festival (in Richmond, California) was started in response to a couple years of violence and destruction in the community. In 2006, a community soccer group, advocates and neighbors decided it was time to create a positive remembrance of the 1862 Battle of Puebla, inspiring the creation of a peace and unity parade where community members are heavily involved in not only participating but volunteering, organizing and donating.”
-Mike Aldax, Editor of the Richmond Standard
Over the past 2 months I had the pleasure of working with Patricia Rodriguez, a renowned Chicana muralist and teaching artist at the Latina Center in Richmond, California. We worked with Rebeca Garcia-Gonzalez, art in the community director for the Richmond Art Center to provide a float building class for the Richmond community to participate in this year’s “Peace and Unity Cinco de Mayo Parade.” Working with the community was a great experience because we got to offer activities for people of all ages, from watercolor to paper machéing chicken wire structures; everyone had something to contribute.
We chose 'conservation' as the topic of the project, and used mostly recycled material to construct everything for the float. During our initial class sessions all participants, from kids to grandparents, made drawings of what they wanted the float to look like. After everyone sketched their vision and talked about their ideas, members voted and decided on building an animal float. The decision was fitting to our theme, considering that human pollution is a great factor in many species becoming endangered.
Over the course of six weeks we made flowers and roses out of recycled paper bags and plastic water bottles, animals such as lizards, horses and monkeys out of recycled newspaper and paper maché, as well as butterflies cut out of cardboard. The float came together beautifully, and everyone’s face reflected the pride in their work as they marched and danced through the parade.
I enjoyed working with Patricia Rodriguez and the families from the 'Latina Center'. They were always excited and enthusiastic about coming to the class and contributing in any way they could. It was a great space for conversation and connections between the families. I believe that we need more community building projects everywhere to bring people together year-round the way that this class did.
Victoria Ayala, our new Programs Assistant at the San Francisco office, graduated from U.C. Berkeley with a degree in Practice of Art in December 2014. She enjoys making art in a variety of media, including oil painting, ceramics, drawing, stenciling and printmaking. She is currently working for Emergent Art Space and looking forward to continuing her work as a Spanish and Art teacher in the Bay Area.
Scribble it Down,founded by Einat Moglad in 2013, is an international, digital collaboration. Through a sequential process artists from around the world work together to create communal works of art. Each artist contributes to a digital file, then transfers the work to the next, until each artists in the group has contributed to each piece. This process allows artists to bring together diverse backgrounds and perspectives. "Scribble It Down" thus becomes a platform for communication and dialogue that encourages tolerance and understanding between different cultures, traditions, and points of view. The project raises questions about our place in society, our work in relation to others, and how we can give and inspire.View past Scribble It Down editions here.
This year Scribble it Down edition was done in collaboration with BenGurion University (Beersheba, Israel) and RedLine Residency (Beersheba, Israel). It focused on the creation of art that addresses the relationship between art and science. The collaboration also included the participation of researcher Aviad Hadar, from Ben Gurion University, accompanying the Scribble it Down artists. Aviad joined the Scribble it Down group on Facebook and continuously updated the group on his findings and progress. His presence in the project meshed well with the ongoing methodology of collaboration and mutual contributions in Scribble it Down projects. Scribble it Down also conducted an online interview with Aviad Hadar, discussing his views on the relationship between science and art, and engaging him with the artists and their interpretations of his work. During the conversation, his fellow Scribblers asked him questions live. No small feat, since the Scribble it Down artists were around the globe, with differing time zones. See the interviewhere.
Science and Art
The relationship between science and art is a long and influential one, a relationship that has lasted since the beginning of civilization when cave men continuously experimented with different materials to document their survival story. Early men and women were using both scientific and artistic processes through this endeavor. During the Renaissance artists were also scientists and vice versa. As mankind became more knowledgeable, enough was gathered in each field allowing for further specialization and separation of these two worlds. Each became a whole world onto itself. Art and science went on their separate ways.
Still, scientific advancements have always affected art and generated new methods of expression. Scribble it Down itself utilises new technologies as tools to create a broad range of artworks. This year's Scribble it Down attempted to generate a dialogue between the scientist's laboratory and the artist's studio by turning the science lab into an open arena that the artist can observe and be inspired by. The scientific experience is mostly focused on details and a 'narrow view,' as Aviad Hadar described it (see interview), since the scientist attempts to examine and separate a specific element from our daily lives.
The process continued as Aviad delved deeper and deeper into his current research about “the effect of heavy use of smartphones on our brains.” He was trying to answer his very specific question and share his process while the artists continuously questioned themselves on the ways inventions affect our society and lives. The artists asked questions about the scientific research, but from a different view. The artists wondered about the ways smartphones affect our society, observing the social repercussions of these effects (See Marco- Ronney Leigh - Jayeti- Madeeha process) to create a larger image of the heavy use of smartphones in our everyday lives. (See Madeeha’s link about the repercussions of smartphone users). While each field, art and science, is self-sustaining and may be viewed as separate from the other, combining the artistic and scientific processes may help to shed more light on our world and the human experience. We can clearly see how artists can add questions that are also ethical, moral and social regarding the effect of scientific experiments on a broader scale.
As the process progressed, the brain became the focus of both the Scribblers and the scientific procedure. It became an image, texture, or theme that was placed at the forefront of the different artworks. The brain in the Scribblers process became a material, an object and a bodily feature. The brain isn’t the mind and it isn’t the actual functioning brain. The brain image in this year's Scribble it Down is a symbol all on its own. It is a subliminal image that finds you and lurks after you in different places of the artwork. The brain is a key for the Scribblers, reminding each other and the viewer what this process revolves around. The brain and the mind are like thoughts that connect us all through images.
About Aviad Hadar, Neuroscientist at Ben Gurion University
Aviad completed his PhD in London City University in 2012 focusing on the use of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) for lie detection. He is currently directing a new research project about technological addictions at the Brain Stimulation and Behavior Lab at Ben Gurion University, Israel. In a recent study he has found that intensive usage of smartphones may result in lasting behavioral and neural changes measured by a combination of TMS and electroencephalogram (EEG). Aviad is a great admirer of the arts. He participates regularly in discussions with local artists in Be'er Sheva and is planning a shared arts and neuroscience exhibition.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: MADEEHA > Marco > RONEY LEIGH > JAYETI
Image 1: "When I got the first blank file my mind was influenced by Aviad's research about 'the truth-telling motor cortex' so I used brain images." -Madeeha Iqbai
Marco > Roney Leigh > Jayeti > Madeeha
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From Left To Right: Marco > Roney Leigh > Jayeti > Madeeha
Image 1: "This image is called “Between Truth and Lies.” Two men, one is a liar the other is a truth teller, but the question is who got this right. Who will measure this tiny line? The small man in between is measuring this...or does he just think that he is in control?" -Marco Gavrilovic Image 3: "It is about the connection between the known and unknown––probably the most important part of our project." -Jayeti Bhattacharya image 4: "When I got this file, Marco, Roney Leigh, and Jayeti had already worked on it. I added my own photography of a woman talking on a smartphone and a man tied up with rope, to try to show the positive and negative effects of smartphones." -Madeeha Iqbai
Roney Leigh > Jayeti > Madeeha > Marco
CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGES
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: RONEY LEIGH > JAYETI > MADEEHA > MARCO
Image 3 "When I got this file, Roney Leigh and Jayeti had already worked on it. Aviad shared one of his lab images with us and I just loved that image, so I used it in this file with one symbol, and changed the box to the color of mud to represent the scientist trying to find out the exact reactions in a human’s mind." -Madeeha IqbaImage 4: "This image is called “Science through Nature.” I made two simple faces. One is Aviad’s the other is mine. Aviad represents science and I represent nature. But he is not experimenting only on me. I’m also doing an experiment on him too. So who is the wise guy here? The volcano in the background is having an eruption because we are not doing everything right in our world today, even if we have noble causes." -Marco Gavrilovic
Jayeti > Madeeha > Marco > Roney Leigh
CLICK TO ENLARGE Images
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: JAYETI > MADEEHA > MARCO > RONEY LEIGH
Image 1: (Image 1 combines an image taken from Aviad Hadar's lab with Jayeti's artwork) "When i saw the structure of the head, the first thought that came to me was 'why can't we preserve our memory and thoughts as they fly away from our mind...' in this way this image came to me." -Jayeti Bhattacharya
Image 3: "This image is called “The Scientist Left”? At this stage of the work I was thinking that Aviad left us, as he had some problems with his experiments. But we invested some time in this project so I had to provoke a little. Since I’m an independent artist, I’m not used to have a person guide me through the process and having to wait for the results. That is why 'scientist left...' Is this a question or an answer? The moon is here, but still we don’t have a day. We have trees, but still with no leaves (no results), we have a scientist but maybe we don’t. "-Marco Gavrilovic
Image 4: "In this round, i got this beautiful image that seemed like a deep story with perfect composition - instead of tampering with it, I preferred to just give it the respect it deserves, as a project that has reached its final step and is now displayed nicely, for all to see - much like what I fear is happening with human brains; I think we reached the peak, with development and abilities - from this point on it'll be *devolution*, because of the overuse of technology. I feel we don't use it to help us - we use it to replace us. The people are running away––from thinking, from responsibility, from calculating, from navigating... So, better to freeze this moment in time––frame it, hang it on the wall for the world to see, because it might not get better than this. So, it's a series of 2 images, hung side by side on a random domestic wall, sometime in the near future." –Ronney Leigh Dobnov Raz
These images are currently inspiring young musicians to write sound pieces following the collaborative pattern.
Soon on these pages, stay tuned!
“Working with people without knowing them in the physical space is really wonderful because all the reflection of personality is through works of art” -Jayeti Battecharya “It’s great being in Scribble it Down, especially when I see the final results from each stage – you can really feel the power of collaboration. I think none of us alone would’ve reached such a rich image, so eclectic yet harmonic. It definitely can only happen with a combination of several different minds / perspectives / talents / inspirations." -Roney Leigh Dobnov Raz
About the Participants:
Einat Moglad is a contemporary Israeli artist. She completed a B.A. in Arts and Education cum laude from Hamidrasha Beit-Berl College for Fine Arts in 2011, and a Master's degree in Art Therapy from the Haifa University. Einat has displayed her works in exhibitions and residencies both local and abroad. She is active in the local Israeli art scene as a partner at IArtists organisation. Einat is the curator and founder of the international "Scribble it Down" project, supported by the Emergent Art Space from which she has received a grant for “Best Project” in 2014.
Ronney Leigh Dobnov Raz
Ronney Leigh Dobnov Raz studied Interior Design. During her college years she went to Köln, Germany on a student-exchange program, and discovered her real talent, which is befriending the whole world. She also enjoys sewing, knitting, doodling, and watching shallow movies.
Madeeha Iqbal is a young practicing visual artist. She has graduated in Visual Arts with A grade from the Institute of Design and Visual Arts, Lahore College for Women, University of Lahore, Pakistan, in 2012. She then joined the National College of Arts and obtained a Professional Diploma in Calligraphy in 2013. She is currently pursuing a M.A HONS in Visual Arts from the National College of Arts. Her work was written about on Guerrilla Art, and is featured on Emergent Art Space.
Jayeti Bhattacharya received a BA from the Indian College of Arts and Draftsman ship and an MA from Kala Bhavan (Institute of Fine Arts). She is represented by Aakritj Art Gallery and has participated in several group exhibitions. She contributed to Scribble It Down 2014, ‘Parallel Lives’, and her work is featured on Emergent Art Space.
Marco Gavrilovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia. After graduating at the Academy of Applied Arts he started to pursue his career exploring the secrets of drawing and painting. He exhibited locally as well as internationally and at the moment he is especially devoted to his latest light sculptures made from Plexiglas. I am happy to be part of the Scribble it Down project. This opportunity has given me the chance to work and collaborate with other international artists on a single digital art piece.
MFA Project Statement: Creating a series of works that give insight into my Mexican American experience.
Being first generation Mexican American, there was no "manual" or clear understanding of the difference between the U.S.A. and Mexico. Little did I know that going to Mexico at the age of 5, I would soon know that I was, "del otro lado".
Through video, photography, and installation I depict my process of investigation. Looking deeper into there differences and the collective of my Mexican American experience thus far.
Looking at the states that compose these two countries through 'Huellas', 2014, portrays a sense of all those that have crossed the embodied border.
'En el otro lado me vi yo' 2014, shows both sides of the border and the reflection many face when deciding to cross or to stay.
'Dressing Up #3', 2013, portrays the feeling of being a chameleon changing the perception of being identified as Mexican or American by those that cross my path.
Lastly, 'Viviendo en dos se convierte en uno', 2015, teleports my viewers to my childhood experience that has manifested the person I have become. Coming and going, from one to the other, having two homes, two languages and two distinct cultures and upbringing that foster the beginnings of this Mexican American exploration.
Venue: Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art in San Bernardino, California.
This artwork takes the form of an interactive HTML website that can be viewed online here.
"I like listening to Warhol and Rothko. I can't listen to Da Vinci or Velasquez because they have closely related tones – they sound like the soundtrack to a horror film" (Harbisson, 2014). Neil Harbisson is color blind (has achromatopsia) and sees the world in tones of grey. Adam Montandon implanted an antenna in Harbisson's head that recognizes light frequencies and reproduces each frequency as a different sound. The antenna helps him hear color that he otherwise cannot see. Harbisson likes to call himself the first 'human cyborg' as the antenna works as a digital synesthesia.
Synesthesia is a rare condition which involves the overlapping of senses. For example, a person with synesthesia might taste chocolate when seeing the colour blue, see orange when hearing an orchestra, associate February with circles or imagine 'Monday' to have a location in a small box on the left side of their periphery. Harbisson's synesthesia is constructed through technology, but he has come to associate different sounds to colours by memory. "Amy Winehouse is red and pink – for me, red isn't the colour of passion as it is for many humans, it's a serene colour. Violet, though, is savage to my ears" (Harbisson, 2014).
I have used Harbisson's visual and sonic experience to create a webpage that mimics Harbisson's experience when viewing an artwork. I have turned four paintings into colored circles and sound. The circles are the colors picked up from each painting and placed in the area where they are on the painting.
Using a virtual piano program for my computer's keyboard I recorded sound by pressing the keys for the words 'blue', 'green', 'red', 'black', 'peach', 'white', 'marroon', 'brown', 'yellow' and 'pink' (according to the colors used in all four paintings). I then recorded the sound for each word. In Textwrangler, I then associated each recorded sound to a circle of a different color.
A letterpress component accompanies the work, contrasting digital and tangible media. I printed the colors used for the webpage project and then linked each color to an associated taste (view bottom right image), making personal this aspect of the project.
Caitlin Mkhasibe is a student studying New Media at the Michaelis School of Fine Art in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a musician (drummer), working primarily in drawing and sound.
Artist Statement: "I bring drawing (line) and sound into my fine art practice by playing with the idea of linking recorded sounds (taken from every day life in South Africa), or, I create heavy, distorted vibrations through drumming and run the recordings through a program. These sounds become a part of a visual installation in a space. The visuals are photographic moments that have been turned into stop-motion animations. I produce atmospheric moments that do not link to a specific narrative: They are simply experiential.I one day hope to use the city of Cape Town or Johannesburg as visual playgrounds and emotive soundscapes."
Caitlin Mkhasibe would like to thank her lecturers Fabian Saptouw and Niek de Greef from Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town for helping her complete this work.
Handwritten engravings of oral histories in rural Bengali.
“SHEI SHOMOYER KOTHA”
I worked on this project during my residency at the Bachhawat Foundation, in Badu, India, during last November. I wanted to find ways to record the stories of the long time residents of this area, who had witnessed many changes during their lifetime. By listening to their stories and experiences, by trying to see the surroundings through their eyes, I attempted to understand those changes, how they have affected the lives of all the inhabitants, how urbanization has directly or indirectly changed them.
A changing landscape is not only about the growth of a city. It is also about how the changes affect the local people, socially and politically.
My initial conversation was with Khuddus Ali, the gardener at the Bachhawat Foundation estate. He took me to his village, Bagberia in Barasat, where I had the chance to speak to the elders of the village, who have long life experience and remember the past. Through many interviews I recorded their stories, which they narrated and expressed in words with a lot of feelings. Though these people live far from the city of Kolkata, they inevitably become affected by the urban lifestyles through the broad reach of the media and advertisements.
Back in the studio at the residency, I engraved the handwritten texts and stories on iron plates, which I find to have a deep relation with the history of this area. Each of these iron plates is meant to reflect the individual experience of a person, captured and engraved as a historical record.
Khuddus Ali, Bagberia, Bengali
English translation of the text on the left image:
Resident's name: Khuddus Ali
"I came here in 1961. At that time there was no electricity , there were mud roads all around. In the route from Habra to Bagberia there was only one bus, the no.78. I used to earn 2 rupees a day. Now I stay in a thatched hut, and probably 70 families used stay here before. After 1970 the roads were paved with concrete. Now I can use a ‘Below Poverty Level’ card to buy food."
Prasanta Ghosh graduated from the ‘Indian College of Arts & Draftsmanship’ in Kolkata, India, and he is currently pursuing a Master of Arts. Last November he was a resident at Bachhawat Foundation, in Badu, West Bengali.
Original Engravings on Iron Plates
Prasanta Ghosh has been one of the artists selected to participate in the CIMA Awards Show, promoted by the CIMA Gallery, in Kolkata, honoring artists in India between the ages of 25 and 45. The works of all of the selected artists will be exhibited at four venues in Kolkata from March 13th to April 12th, 2015. The venues are CIMA Gallery, Studio 21, Ramdulary Park, and the Academy of Fine Arts.
An ongoing project including documentary photographs, filmed interviews and an upcoming book by artist Jillian Grant
Caminamos La Linea // \\ We Walk the Line explores the multiple truths witnessed by people who occupy the U.S.-Mexico borderlands. The photographs, filmed interviews, and book comprising the exhibition describe my path to understanding what role the physical and psychological borderlands play for those who live in San Diego, CA / Tijuana BC and Nogales, AZ / Nogales SON. As the architect of this compilation of stories, I am building a structure through photography, film, and bookmaking that both represents my grasp on what these multiple realities mean to those participating in the project and myself. The strength and resilience of the participants becomes evident within this framework through their stories.
For two summers I interviewed, photographed, and spent time with friends and co-workers who grew up and live in the borderlands. Twenty-five people volunteered their time, energy, and stories to help me learn about what this border means to them. I interviewed each participant typically for an hour about their life experiences and thoughts on the borderlands, and then I photographed them in a meaningful place of their choosing. A film, book, and large photographs will be exhibited together, layering the stories of the participants in the project and my own personal narrative to create a palimpsest of the histories, experiences, and knowledge of over twenty people who occupy the U.S. - Mexico borderlands.
The three components of this project will represent a space that deconstructs the perceived dichotomy of the U.S.-Mexico border. The raw footage and audio in the film reveal the multiple truths and experiences of people who live in the borderlands. The narrative addresses issues of race, displacement, injustice, and provides a space for participants to share their opinions and stories about what role the U.S.-Mexico border plays in their lives. The book is an accessible and portable object encompassing the audio and photographic narratives of the project. The contents of the book reveal my aesthetic and analytical process in making sense of the stories and experiences I have witnessed. Each person involved in the project has their own designated section in the book where they fill their pages with artifacts and writings that help tell their story.
The content of the project—in the film, photographs, and book—manifests in layers of stories, images, and documents that explore the participant’s relationship with the U.S.-Mexico border and other borderlands they face within their identity. This notion demonstrates itself in the photographs as they expose a fragment of the participant’s story and in the film where they are actually telling parts of their story. The raw, layered, and chaotic aesthetic in the book and film reflect how the borderlands actually affect people’s lives as told in their stories.
Two interviews in the film consist of a mother and daughter—Reyna Delgado Montano and Reyna Delgado Adán—explaining in Spanish how they identifythemselves. Reyna Montano explains that she identifies as Chicana because she comes from Mexican parents and she was born in the United States. Her mother begins by saying that she identifies as Mexican because she was born in Mexico to Mexican parents, but then continues and says that she is also American because the country [U.S.] adopted her. She concludes by identifying as Mexican-American. These accounts parallel each other as the mother and daughter address their respective identities in the photographs below:
Playing the interviews in Spanish and English makes the film only fully accessible to people who know both languages. This decision is purposeful—the people who were interviewed were given the choice of responding in Spanish or English; whatever they felt most comfortable speaking. This enables self-determination and autonomy over how the audience will hear and understand their story. Because most people in the film know both languages, and often had to learn them simultaneously, the viewer is invited to share the same difficult experience of navigating and transgressing language barriers so that they may be more deeply exposed to the participant’s embodied experience.
Jillian Grant is a photographer based in San Diego and Massachusetts. She attends the University of San Diego where she is majoring in Photography and minoring in Ethnic Studies and Spanish. Check out a previous project by Jillian Grant on EAS here and view more of her work on her website.
Excerpts from Guillermo Echeveste's 'Arquitopías', an e-book about historical and contemporary architecture in Tijuana.
Architecture is an essential component to the cultural heritage of a community. It gives people the opportunity to develop in every aspect of their life. You can say that architecture is the more democratic of the fine arts. Whether it is an opulent, modest or poor construction, it still fulfills its function: to shelter. Tijuana is no exception: the architecture has developed its own characteristics and personality throughout the city. This personality is rather eclectic. A survey of this remarkable mix of architectural styles is the main object of this project, focused specifically on the downtown area of Tijuana.
Archture is an essential component to the cultural heritage of a community. It gives people the opportunity to develop in every aspect of their life. You can say that architecture is the more democratic of the fine arts. Whether it is an opulent, modest or poor construction, it still fulfills its function: to shelter. Tijuana is no exception: the architecture has developed its own characteristics and personality throughout the city. This personality is rather eclectic. A survey of this remarkable mix of architectural styles is the main object of this project, focused specifically on the downtown area of Tijuana.
Based on the concern for a visible continuum of this city’s history, this investigation aims to remind the community of the city center’s architectural heritage. This is why this project is titled ARQUITOPÍAS, a newly coined term that results from the words architecture and heterotopias.
Michel Foucault describes “heterotopia” as a complexly space opposite to ‘utopia’ (an unreal space). A ‘heterotopia’ is for Foucault a real space, physically created by the people. It is a locatable site in the city, but where all spaces of a society are represented, invested in and/or answered to. It is a space that can be used to understand what can no be perceived at first glance.
The result of these two concepts is “Arquitopias”: architectures, “real spaces” that are easily detectable in the city, and individually understood. They recall other places, times and memories, where identity is strengthened and its present and past are reflected or evoked in the architecture.
Through these experiences, the community reinforces its identity and attachment to the city. Appreciating these buildings and knowing their historical and architectural value in turn ensures their protection, maintenance and future life through the community’s efforts. With the recognition and knowledge of both physical and temporal spaces within downtown Tijuana, the new generations can strengthen their self-recognition of the site. Recognizing these spaces as witnesses and participants in small or big histories has shaped its inhabitants, and therefore the history and culture of Tijuana.
Guillermo Echeveste is a young artist living and working in Tijuana, Mexico.He received a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts from the Autonomous University of Baja California (UABC) and is currently enrolled at UABC as a Graduate of the Arts. His work ‘I Am Not This Body’ was part of the international show ‘Cruzando Fornteras’ at IMAC, Tijuana, in the Summer 2014.
"Icons of the Polish language" is a photography-based project that focuses on one particular aspect of everyday communication: the extensive usage, and even abuse, of curse words. This phenomenon in Poland has reached the point where it is possible to express almost every emotion or idea with the appropriate form of such words, which are numerous in our language. Not only has this habit become more and more common in mainstream culture, but it has spread among the so-called élites as well.
In 2011, a study titled "Słownik polszczyzny rzeczywistej (siłą rzeczy fragment)" [which can be translated in English to Real English Dictionary (Inevitably a fragment) "] was published on this topic by a collaboration between several linguists from two universities. The most peculiar outcome of their research was that in order to take an active part in a ‘conversation’ in Polish, only four vulgar words (and their forms) are needed. All of them have sexual meanings, or refer in particular to one part of the male body, but they can be used in almost every context. Since my main fields of interest are the relationships between words and images, nonverbal communication, and different ways of understanding a spoken language, this study was highly inspirational to me. I felt compelled to offer an answer to it. With a help of a friend, who became my model, I did two photo sessions in a studio.
The first set of photographs attempts to catch a decisive moment in the facial and body expressions of a cursing person. I called these portraits "Four magic words" in reference to the popular three "magic words" (please, thank you, and sorry).
"Icons of the Polish language" is the second group. It contains photographs portraying a person's emotionless face while he or she is pronouncing certain vowels and consonants, or showing them in Polish Sign Language. These portraits also bear a resemblance to religious iconography in art history. The subject is the same as in the "Four magic words" photographs, but the approach is very different.
Finally, I confronted four series of hand signs with images of a 'speaking face,' but in an inverted order. It is possible to observe such combinations during conversations among different groups of people with and without hearing problems.
Based on the results of the project, it is clear that it is incomparably easier to understand a message when you know the meaning of the hand signs. However, for the overall effect of communication, the best option is to receive all of the elements of a message. Lacking even one of them (sound for example), makes the message barely understandable to the majority of its receivers.
In regards to the theme of ‘Translations,' I came to the conclusion that every attempt to modify or exclude even the smallest part of a message affects it more than we are inclined to think - to the point of changing its entire meaning. That is why translating can be so problematic, and why it is sometimes better not to attempt do it at all.
Kamil Baś is an artist working primarily in the mediums of photography and relief printing, and is currently earning a PHD in Art at the Pedagogical University in Krackow, Poland.
InMexican American Sequence #1, I decided to portray myself through Mexican American mosaic photographs. This is the first body of work I have done that explores my Mexican American Identity.
My photographic background played a role in using photography as the medium. But the mosaic tiling came from looking at the long Mexican history of utilizing tile. It also speaks to my identity being fragmented and put together by these two cultures which compose me.
I compared my Mexican culture and heritage with my American nationality and the reinvention of a hybrid culture. What I mean by a hybrid culture is the way in which the strong foundation of my Mexican culture "translates" to and is embedded within my American identity. The mosaic portraits give me the freedom to portray both sides individually and united as one. I want the viewer to be engulfed by the colors while beginning a dialogue with themselves through the work.
Born in Southern California, Mayte Escobar is a first generation Mexican American. She has been intertwined with the Mexican American border as a child and creates work that deals with her dual identity. She explores the cultural and political issues surrounding the border. She is currently earning her MFA at California State University in San Bernardino, California.
View more images from the series and recent work by Mayte Escboar on her website and heck out her EAS profile here.