Wednesday, August 22, 2007

This is a cake, this is a nation, this is a body, this is infiniphonic

I’m off to Barcelona, then to the Can Serrat artist residency in El Bruc, land of the Black Madonna. One of my first stops in Barcelona will be Fundación Tàpies. It's the absolute best to be able to see the actual work. And I always find myself smelling paintings--as if they were books. I have decided to bring my ‘Converses amb Antoni Tàpies’ book, just in case I meet the artist. He is one of my favorite artists and deepest inspirations.

Antoni Tàpies
Cardboard and string, 1959
I am in the midst of packing, figuring out how much thread (can you ever have enough), what paper and how much. I am thinking large-scale drawings will be part of my daily ritual. Drawing is still so scary to me, and beautiful, and a change of scale seems a necessary path to explore. And then there’s performance.
I recently started making a series of performance pieces entitled:

of the black female nude
as told by herself

Still from Preparing for the Masquerade
(Chronicles of the black female nude as told by herself)

I use my body and bundles of thread, measured in fathoms, to talk about our movements, history, memory. I have been thinking a lot about how to encode history in materials. So the colors of the thread hold historical and memorical references:

354 fathoms the color of the deep sea
196 fathoms the color of the water off the coast of Santo Domingo
38 fathoms the color of a memory of blood in water

Thread Palettes

...Thinking of Threads and Ladders...
Artist Youmna Chlala and I have been developing a project entitled:

El movimiento del punto más cerca
The movement of the closest point
Le mouvement du point le plus proche
It is to take place in Southern Spain and Morocco, specifically looking at the Strait of Gibraltar and the cities of Ceuta and Melilla which are contested Spanish enclaves located in Morocco. The Strait of Gibraltar is important for many reasons. At its shortest distance it measures only 8 miles and is a place where many refugees—both from Africa and the Middle East attempt to enter Europe. The cities of Ceuta and Melilla are a way to enter Europe without crossing the Strait, though the high walls, fences and armed soldiers are just as dangerous as these waters. This negotiation of borders and bodies is reflected across the globe: Mexico and the United States, Israel and Palestine, Dominican Republic and Haiti, the list goes on.

Youmna began this project in California at Headlands Center for the Arts, located on cliffs above the bay:

Youmna Chlala
Some of us are made of bone (1)

I used to think that our relationship to land determined everything. Being able to touch or return to ancestral lands, the process of creating homelands, walking on earth, our relationship to food and the dirt. Now I am thinking about our movements. I think of the work of artist Lisa C. Soto. Her work is cartographies of moving lines. She records the globe opening and closing, breathing. And countries in constant motion. In her drawings, the boundaries of countries are always speaking of their own creation and demise. Perspective moves from the microscopic to the infiniphonic* and back again.

*A brief note on the INFINIPHONIC: this just came to me recently (mad props to AL, SB, KH, and a dimly lit car outside of Austin’s Victory Grill). Infiniphonic describes the sensation of listening to multiple sounds, music, stories, to what is heard and yet to be played, it is hyperbolic notes and a playlist of voices and all the beauty and possibility that that implies. You know it when you hear it. SNAP!*

The visual may also be infiniphonic:

Lisa C. Soto
Moth, Hummingbird, Pathways

Lisa C. Soto

Lisa C. Soto
Untitled II

Youmna tells me that the city is becoming the new nation. Rather than talk about countries, people refer to the metropolis as the center. So you live in Day Effé or London or Sao Paulo or Bangkok or Austin (does that count?!). The country itself dissipates and hovers while the metropolis grows.

Youmna Chlala
This is a cake, not a city

And then there’s the body.

I am thinking that perhaps it is the body that is the new nation. It is a place of borders, histories, politics, landscape, spirit. It is sometimes all that we have and all that we bring. And, if the body is the new nation: where does it move, who are its allies, what is its architecture, landscape and geography? How does that nation express desire? How does it survive and is its survival important?

Is it in our bodies where the fall of the nation-state will happen?
Is that where change happens--through our movements and journies and landings?

I find myself pulled to these stories of where we are not allowed to go or not supposed to go.
And go.

Still from Shoes (Chronicles of the black female nude as told by herself)