“All art is political”

The first encounter with his work was back in 2008 at the Mission of Chile to the United Nations at meetings I attended there. “A Logo for America”, a flag of the United States made up of lightbulbs turning on and off and flashing the words “this is not America” within the american flag, displayed like a mantra in Times Square in New York. A few years after I saw “A Logo for America”, it flashed up again at midnight one night in August 2014. I started following Jaar ever since, impressed by his ethic and his aphorisms: “All art is political”, ”All art has a critical dimension; when it doesn’t, it’s decoration”.

Jaar, more than just an artist is a dedicated activist for human rights. One of his more political and conceptual installations is the “Rwanda Project”, first exhibited in New York City in 1998. The project took place during the period of 1994-2000. This work of art evokes the place and the specificity of the deaths in the Rwanda Genocide, like the establishing shots of contemporary landscapes in Claude Lanzmann’s film Shoah. It shows how the genocide occurred and how bodies flowed down rivers. It’s a representation of an ethical and aesthetic project with a very strong emotional charge. The text tells that over a five month period in 1994, more than one million Rwandans, mostly members of the Tutsi minority, were systematically slaughtered as the world closed its eyes to genocide”. This is how the exhibition begins. The text concludes by emphasizing the strong impression made upon the artist by the eyes of this witness, “the eyes of Guetete Emerita”. “Rwanda Project” wanted to create a volume that represented approximately one million slides, in reference to the one million dead in Rwanda. If Jaar’s 35 mm slides were made into a film it would be over 11 hours long.

But the most provocative and memorable work Alfredo Jaar has produced, is the first part of “The Sound of Silence” in 1995. An installation focusing on the life of the South African photojournalist Kevin Carter, a story about an individual photograph and its impact, and also a story about representation and its unequal effects. An astonishingly moving work on all sorts of levels. The New York Times art’s critic said: “using human tragedy as an artistic readymade has definite pros and cons. Relevance is usually guaranteed; the heartstrings are likely to be pulled” , Jaar’s work raises questions about the relationship between photography and representation; between the medium and its political implications. In a context where reality television shows and web-casting purport to democratize the means of representation. Jaar’s practice is a reminder of the growing gulf between actual representation and its fake imitations.

But the artist’s work involves much more than installations. Rather than showing in museums, his public interventions happen in more political and socially engaged contexts. They involve communities, work with other artists in collaborations, such as in Catia, Venezuela. In Catia, the poorest area of the city of Caracas, an area of the city where there are no cultural institutions his camera became a tool to show a reality. He created a protect called “Camera Lucida” in this impoverished neighborhood where he distributed 1,000 disposable cameras and went to thirty-seven different local institutions, like hospitals and schools to distribute the cameras and explain the project that would later become an exhibition of the photos.

Another social and educational project of Jaar’s took place in Finland where he worked with philosophers and intellectuals and put on show their letters all over Helsinki, with ideas about the brilliant educational system employed there.

After studying few of Jaar’s work, I wondered, what are the boundaries between social interventions and art? And as Jaar himself said one time when he quoted Jean Luc Godard: “It might be true that you have to choose between ethics and aesthetics. But it is also true that whichever one you choose, you will always find the other one at the end of the road. Because the definition of the human condition is in the mise en scène itself ” and then added “I don’t see any difference between ethics and aesthetics, I believe everything we do is political”.

Image by photojournalist Kevin Carter
*This is an essay I wrote for the European Graduate School admission.

Brassaï and the underground

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“The real night people, however, live at night not out of necessity, but because they want to. They belong to the world of pleasure, of love, vice, crime, drugs. A secret, suspicious world, closed to the uninitiated….I felt at the time that this underground world represented Paris at its least cosmopolitan, at its most alive, its most authentic, that in these colorful faces of its underworld there had been preserved, from age to age, almost without alteration, the folklore of its most remote past.” brassai 2 brassai brassai36

Play the game *****

PLAY THE GAME.
Endanger your work even more.
Don’t be the top dog.
Seek out the face-off.
But be unmindful.
Have no thoughts in back of your head.
Keen nothing secret.
Be soft and strong.
Be sly, enter the fray but hate to win.
Don’t observe, don’t test, but be ready for signs.
Tremble, quake, shatter, heal.
Show your eyes, wave the others on into the depths,
care for spaces and behold each one in their own picture.
Act only with enthusiasm.
Fail with ease.
First of all, take time and the long way round.
Be addle-brained.
Go on a holiday as it were.
Overhear no tree and no water.
Enter where it pleases your heart and treat yourself to the sun.
Forget your kinfolk, strengthen the strangers, spaces,
a hoot for the tragedy,
spit on misfortune,
laugh conflicts to smithereens.
MOVE IN YOUR OWN COLORS.
until you are in the right
and the leaves’ rustling turns sweet.
Walk about the villages.
I will follow you. –

from: “Passe par les villages”

Peter Hanke

 

Image by Efy Tal
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My Gift To You—–Te regalaré un abismo

My gift to you will be an abyss, she said,
but it will be so subtle you’ll perceive it
only after many years have passed
and you are far from Mexico and me.
You’ll find it when you need it most,
and that won’t be
the happy ending,
but it will be an instant of emptiness and joy.
And maybe then you’ll remember me,
if only just a little.

My Gift To You, Roberto Bolaño

Photo: Henry Cartier Bresson- Hyeres France, 1932

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Te regalaré un abismo, dijo ella,
pero de tan sutil manera que sólo lo percibirás
cuando hayan pasado muchos años
y estés lejos de México y de mí.
Cuando más lo necesites lo descubrirás,
y ese no será
el final feliz,
pero sí un instante de vacío y de felicidad
Y tal vez entonces te acuerdes de mí,
aunque no mucho.

 Te regalaré un abismo – Roberto Bolaño

Possesion in the dream – Eunice Odio

 

Come

Beloved

I will savor you with joy.

You will dream of me tonight.

…….

Come

We shall dine at the site of my soul.

An extract of the poem by Eunice Odio, “Possesion in the dream”

——————————————

Ven

Amado

Te probaré con alegría.

Tu soñarás conmigo esta noche.

……….

Ven
Comeremos en el sitio de mi alma.

Extracto de un poema de Eunice Odio  “Posesión en el sueño” de los Elementos Terrestres”

 

foto de / photo by: Henri Cartier-Bresson

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Christopher Wool at Guggenheim

Worth sharing just a few images of a great show at the Guggenheim. Using mostly Painting as a medium, here he represents the human environment and cultural references.
This paintings, photographs and works in paper are mainly monochrome and large.
His work is passionate and very inspiring; he is definitely one of the great painters of this era.

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Libertad

Nos gusta la buena música y ningún silencio nos asusta.
Cuando salimos de ride, la conversación y la risa nunca cansan, uffff y nos encanta sentir el viento cuando el carro avanza.
Tenemos 30 o 40 pero niñas en el alma, poco plan, mucha emoción, oh oh oh…las bebidas no cabían en el cajón.
La lluvia llego el primer día para quedarse, para las chicas magnífica excusa, más placeres, más diversión.
Mujeres de universos paralelos, el vino o el humo, lluvia o fuego, celajes o estrellas, de fijo nos gusta la profunda dimensión.
Pasa el tiempo pero no cambia nada, sólo el corazón que se ensancha de saber lo que tenemos, esa sensación, que cabemos todas en el mismo órgano, que vibra con cada historia, esa amistad, esa exaltación, estrógeno; amigas! que rica LIBERTAD, es nuestra máxima expresión.

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Twilight – Crepúsculo

These nights I have slept without smoke and without fear.
No thunders, no lightning, just a twilight that persists, with extreme colors.
A sunset shot ended the light blue and artificial smoke in the sky, no one could stop it.
Today, I will write poems for myself, I said, like birds establishing their own flight.
But that sunset persists, neutral, without descriptions, full of heat and kisses.

Estas noches he dormido sin humo y sin miedo. Ningún estruendo, ningún rayo, solo un crepúsculo que persiste con colores extremos.
Un atardecer disparado que acabó con el azul y con el humo en el cielo, nadie lo pudo detener.
Hoy escribiré poemas para mi misma, digo, como los pájaros que establecen su propio vuelo.
Pero ese atardecer persiste, neutro, sin descripciones, lleno de calores y de besos.

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Party vs ART : PS-1 on a Sunday afternoon –

Yes, the MOMA PS- 1 located Long Island City, Queens it’s a fantastic place to appreciate art when there’s not a party. M Wells food + not so many people + good company and – any noise these installations made even better my last Sunday. First and best stop: Olafur Eliasson “Your waste of time” 2013. Ice, cooling system, Styrofoam, wood. The artist have been working with many elements throughout his career. This work is with massive centuries-old ice pieces of ice from Iceland’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull, can be dated around AD 1200. They are presented as sculptures that are refrigerated with a temperature below freezing.

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LAST STOP: James Turrell, Meeting 1986. Long term installation. Meeting is an installation that focuses on light and perception. Its part of Turrell’s series of “skyspaces,” which involves enclosed spaces with rectangular or rounded holes cut into the ceiling exposing the open sky. You can see the intensity of a blue or a pink sky during sunset.

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OTHER: Charles Ray. Man Holding Egg, 2007. 20130513-142057.jpg

Blancos y negros

Despierto en una habitación extraña, una cama blanca de hotel que contrasta con el cielo gris.  El día oscuro despierta alguna angustia o más bien una nostalgia. Nostalgia de aquellos días luminosos. Nostalgia de esos días cuando estaba viva y soñaba. No sé sí era diciembre o enero pero sé que sentía el viento helado en la cara.  Hoy siento tus risas tan lejanas, hoy los sueños son opacos. Por la tarde busco tu sombra, hoy estoy perdida en esta ciudad oscura.  
*foto por Ansel AdamsRails and Jet Trails, Roseville, California, 1953

José Parlá and JR – Wrinkles of the City

The exhibit started in the streets of Habana, Cuba. The Bienal had the most amazing street art ever done in the streets of Havana. Now, they brought us some of the images to the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery in New Yor City, for us to have a hint of this astonishing work. Please look at the wall outside the gallery. Bravo !!!!!

check their website http://www.joseparla.com —– http://www.jr-art.net/

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Peace and Security

I’ve been assigned on difficult tasks before. One time resolving the situation of a humanitarian disaster like the case of Somalia a few years ago in the United Nations, where I used to work. Some other time, the case of Afghanistan where thousands of civilians were and still are dying but then we, as a country part of the Security Council at the UN had to take part on a vote in a resolution with important sanctions or mandates. Other cases were for the poorest and the more vulnerable populations in the world, like those affected not only economically but morally by the Financial Crisis.
Some other duties I have now are as Consul of Costa Rica in NY, where I have seen cases of inmigrants sick and dying in this country and wanting to go to their country of origin but they can’t even get on a plane anymore and/or they haven’t seen their mothers for decades and want to say goodbye. But this time, I had to go and search for Costarricans in hospitals, or on the phone with hotels finding out with their relatives if they were alive. I just testified the horror of a Police State in the US. A country where now people can’t even celebrate a sport with the freedom and dynamism they’ve always done it with. Today, we accomplished our mission at the moment I heard a young student thank me on the phone when she felt protected and grateful by our presence there in Boston just a few hours after she left the exact scene of the bombing just because a friend told her she needed to go study.
Here just a few of the scenarios:

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Road trip

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The streets were damp and gray; those were the streets where no one lived. Deep dark clouds were moving at high speed. It was a special day. I was restless and wanted some signals. It was Friday; we went out on a trip despite the weather conditions and time. In front of us, a big black cloud threatened with a storm. It started to rain. Any hope of sun vanished away. We got into a bar and ordered two drinks. Mezcal for you and Rum for me. “That’s what we needed”, we said, then we left. With the rain, the grass got greener and the blue mountains stood out from the gray lamped landscape. I saw strangers walking and riding through the streets in silence. I drove in silence too. The soundtrack in the car played “my little girl, drive anywhere, do what you want, I don’t care”. It was near nightfall and a little bit of sunlight emerged. It lit up the sky. We parked on a bridge. We had to park to appreciate this. On my right side there was a giant moon rising reflecting its own light on the lake. What a strong feeling of serenity and calm!. I was standing there in awe. On my left side, the volcano was erupting and the sun falling. How much power and inspiration! Tears came out of my eyes. It was a discovery. “Yes, it’s possible!” I repeated. I got the message.

José Parlá

The Brooklyn contemporary artist José Parlá, has now and until March 28th his first solo exhibition at the Haunch of Venison in London, after one he had back in 2008. “Broken Language” includes paintings, sculptures and photographs.

This work is a vivid resemblance of his life: movement, rites of passage and documented travels then expressed through very diverse mediums. Stories are captured through marking and calligraphy, emotions with layers of paint and textures, and rhythms through lively and deep combination of colors that reflect his Cuban roots.

“Broken Language” proves the logical analogy between colour and sound, between forms and rhythm of beat. These striking pieces give to those observers capable of feeling them, lofty emotions beyond the reach of words.

Part of his latest projects include “Wrinkles of the City”, a collaboration with JR the French artist, for the 11th Havana Biennial in Cuba, a public mural commissioned by the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn and a mural painting commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the new BAM FISHER Theatre in Brooklyn.

Photos courtesy of the artist.

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*****How much do I owe you? at “No Longer Empty” in Queens *****

I visited “How Much Do I Owe You?” at “No Longer Empty” now located at the Clock Tower in Long Island City, Queens. The former Bank of Manhattan building opened its doors, vaults and even illuminated The Clock Tower to host an ambitious site-specific exhibition.

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This exhibit explores the new iterations of currency, value and exchange at this time of financial flux, growing debt and job insecurity.Inspired by the Bank building and the surrounding neighborhood, 26 artists from 15 countries confront these issues and how they are negotiated in the workforce, housing market, and in the every day.

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GHOST OF A DREAM -GUERRA DE LA PAZ. (WAR OF PEACE IN ENGLISH) The handshake symbolized a convey, a pact without weapons, in times where ethic is in question.

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Excellently curated by Manon Slome, this exhibition has a variety of media: from sound installations, projections, and film to installations and large scale sculptures.

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THE PRICE OF HAPPINESS – Made with discarded US and Chinese lottery tickets and Buddhist afterworld money. Created after long deliberation and research about what people dream if they win the lottery.

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Isamu Noguchi

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Isamu Noguchi, born in Los Angeles, was one the the most acclaimed sculptor of the 20th Century. I had the pleassure to see his work at his museum and former studio yesterday with my friend Iside, located in Long Island City.
He created the most amazing scultures made out of the most diverse materials: bronze, stainless steel, marble, cast iron, basalt, granite, water and more.
His pieces have a modern and abstract air infused with lyrical expressions and a mystery aura. He did many collaborations in the world of art including dance/coreographers Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, composer John Cage, and architect Louis Kahn. He created playgrounds, furniture, lightning designs and public works woldwide.