Category Archives: Writing

Acting Out

A conversation on the square with Lucy Lippard, chats about the interesting interactions with others regarding performance art with Rebecca Belmore, and numerous talks with other artists who both perform as well as make objects happened Dec 2-4th @”Acting Out:  A Symposium of Indigenous Performance Art” in Santa Fe, NM. See review/story:   Artsy.com

Young artists Anna Tsouhlarakis and Merritt Johnson, both Native, as well as a talk by Dr. Kate Morris on the work of Kent Monkman and his “Casualties of Modernity” project were presented during the symposium. There is something intriguing about Johnson’s Youtube (Exorcising America) addressing otherness, alien, place, space, and longing; along with a wink at the ridiculousness of everyday life and our expectations of others. Check them all out.

Anna Tsouhlarakis        Merritt Johnson

“Performing the Body” a panel and discussion addressed the influence, politics, and impact of using the physical body as a medium for actions, including the associations and perceptions that audiences may have of an artist’s body.unpack the influence, politics, and impact of using the physical body as a medium for actions, including the associations and perceptions that audiences may have of an artist’s body. Panelists were : Lori Blondeau, Artist; Muriel Miguel, Gloria Miguel, Artists and
Co-founders of Spiderwoman Theater; and Adrian Stimson, Artist. Blondo and Stimson, Natives from Canada, make their own work as well as collaborate in projects such as “Canadian Idol No More” and other spoofs that stand as comic yet interventionist works dealing with racism, prejudice, and language. Currently I am searching for ephemera, including images, text, video or reviews of a work entitled ” We Want To Look Like Barbie, That Bitch Has Everything”.  I found an interesting paper here on Van City Art’s website.

The most memorable moment was a performance by Guillermo Gomez-Peña. From Artsy.com: “Guillermo Gomez-Peña, whose performances are characterized by the artist’s freakish charisma, linguistic exuberance, and gender-bending antics, was on hand to lead a radically compressed version of the two dozen workshops he conducts every year throughout the world with his troupe, La Pocha Nostra.” Gomez Peña is known for asking provocative questions about how Native and Chicano lives are represented in the dominant culture while using heavy dollops of satire, pop culture, and absurdism to keep his work accessible to audiences outside the art world. Gómez-Peña has written 10 books, many of which expand his idea of connecting art to active citizenship. “I call it ‘imaginary activism,’ ” he said. “It’s a place where Latinos occupy the center and Anglos are seen as exotic and non-mainstream. It’s a place where there are no passports and no borders. I use multiple languages like English, Spanish, Spanglish, and invented languages as well.”

Otherness, Embodiment, Ritual, Native Practice, Identity, Conflict, Misrepresentation, Marginalization, and the like.

Acting Out

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Much Needed Break and Salads

Back to the blog…six months away from here proved to be one of the best reprieves for me. Learning to flow rather than fight on the things that don’t matter so much to save energy for the things that do.

The first post will be a bit of fluff but beautiful all the same. This blog is an inspiration to me. The blogger is a photographer, artist, and as she mentions in her blog “growing my own vegetables, cooking, writing about food and feeding my friends.”

Find her here: salad

I am currently willing to aspire to grow my own vegetables. For now herbs and simple edible plants that do well mostly taking care of themselves; like “rocket arugula” shown in this pic. Dave’s Garden is one of my go to websites about plants. More information about rocket arugula can be found here:  Dave’s Garden

backyard rocket arugula (early morning before the bees enjoy it)

 

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The Value of Empty Space

Yesterday afternoon I joined several people in the ongoing dialogue on the topic of value, specifically the value of the artist/curator in the art industry. Chagrin I missed the weekly conversations which took place at Central Trak beginning April 18th yet caught up in a way as the walls void of “art objects” such a paintings, drawings, and the like were full of an alternative visual stimulator, text. The words included complaints, desires, and ultimately solutions related to the topic at hand.

problems

wall 3

CTWall4

Thanks to a problem, artist and independent curator Leslie Moody Castro, rather than forcing a curatorial exhibition with objects and artifacts, decided to “produce weekly articles that explore the relationships between value and the visual arts in Dallas, the United States, and even internationally.  Thus, CentralTrak’s exhibition space will be “empty”, and will be a metaphorical and conceptual reflection of the intellectual property, capacity, and the time spent curating an exhibition with little, or no existing budget.” (Central Trak website)

Leslie and Heyd

Thus, conversations began at Central Trak, taking on the role as an incubator for discussions. The public was invited via their website and a variety of social media sites. As far as I understand there have been a core group of people who have attended every conversation while many took part in at least one or two. To catch me up Moddy Castro pointed me toward each wall where thoughts, ideas, rants, complaints, desires, and solutions were given validity. These ephemeral feelings and hopes typically get squelched or even disappear under the weight of everyday life. Yet it seemed to me that this time they did not. There on the wall, as if objects and even artifacts created by a variety of artists in the area an “exhibition” of sorts proclaiming truths often shared yet typically set aside to honor what has always been, a struggle.

Central Trak Director, Heyd Fontenot, served as moderator and collaborator alongside Moody Castro. Intelligent, honest, vulnerable, thoughtful, and with years of experience in working with others as liaison, agent, curator, and leader/supporter both created an atmosphere which allowed me to feel comfortable and willing to share my thoughts openly and equally as honestly. It seemed to me others must have experienced a similar sense as most in attendance pressed thoughts of particular passion and desire for the arts in Dallas.

Several big ideas regarding how to create change in the dynamic of art venue, patrons, and the artists, especially local artists. Discussions revolving around the Dallas Art Fair and how to respond to its success and it failures. Do we ride on the coat-tails of the fair or do we create works or a dialogue of criticism of the venue/event. Someone brought up the reality of differing opinions about venues such as the fair many don’t see the fair as extravagant or unrealistic while many do, stating that some of that expense could go to scholarships, grants or support for local artists. A response to this was the statement I won’t forget, “this isn’t a competition is about ecosystem”.

A woman sitting in the back with her adorable dog pressed the idea of making one thing happen so that all these efforts, thoughts, ideas, and energy don’t fall flat one more time. Needing to leave the gathering early, this long time supporter of Central Trak, reiterated please don’t conclude the time together without scheduling one action.  Discussing a few possibilities both Darryl Ratcliff and an artist he has been working with brought us to an understanding of how much a casual gathering around a meal is worth. Ratcliff reminded us that the issue of our need to build trust among one another – artists, gallerists, collectors, patrons- is one of the most important steps to building community. Another valuable thought related to the idea of a meal or pot-luck was made by Central Trak artist-in-residence K Yoland, meet in a variety of locations to help others feel included.  So it was set, Ratcliff and artist friend will take on this first gathering around the table, a pot-luck, Sunday, June 7th. A Facebook event will soon be posted.

After a few disappointments following grad school, this has given me some hope. Thanks guys.

Read more detail about the conversations here:

Leslie Moody Castro Interview       By Leslie Moody Castro      Witness To Change

The Conversations on Youtube:

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In Support of Artist’s Freedom of Expression

 Gavin Delahunty, Contemporary Art Curator at the DMA

Gavin Delahunty, Contemporary Art Curator at the DMA

On Monday, April 13, from 12:30-2PM, the Dallas Arts District Museums collectively re-staged Cuban artist Tania Bruguera’s participatory artwork, Tatlin’s Whisper #6. Members of the general public including staff from surrounding museums were provided a platform to step up and speak freely. Most who spoke, did so for the artist. Bruguera faces  potential incarceration by the Cuban government. In December 2014 Burgera was arrested when she attempted to stage Tatlin’s Whisper #6 in Cuba. Now the government marks her as a “counter revolutionary” and dangerous to the country. She faces sentencing of no less than three years of imprisonment.

Museums, art organizations, and other art related venues restaged Bruguera’s performance piece in response to a call for action by Creative Time director Anne Pasternak.  The directors urged us all to  join in support of Bruguera and other artists around the world who face criminal charges and violence for exercising their basic human right to free expression.

#YoTambienExijo ” a civil platform for peaceful promotion of civil, political, economic and cultural rights in Cuba, from an open and plural civil society” (https://www.facebook.com/YoTambienExijo/timeline) was created to collectively aide in ” the promotion, respect and peaceful restoration of civil rights of the Cuban people through public actions concrete in different fields: artistic, cultural, civil, among others, driven from a civil society open without exclusion for political, religious affiliation or any other”. Through this collective effort there is hope for change not only in Cuba but in all other countries where the basic human right to free expression is repressed. The call to action on behalf of Bruguera and others is one way to address the issues of oppression and any political rule that suppresses the freedom of speech.

A group of no less than 20 people gathered at the Nasher like many others around the world. Most of those who spoke out at the Nasher read from several texts that Bruguera’s sister, Deborah, sent me to hand out for reading. My reading came from this text:

ON BEHALF OF CUAUTHEMOC MEDINA:

“Tania Bruguera’s intervention at the beginning of January 2015, was a bid to restore the voice of civil society and art in the process of transition that Cuba will partake in the near future. However, a loss of an important historical opportunity resulted from the defensive reaction of the Cuban authorities, to her wish of creating a moment of public freedom. The artistic community from the continent and, in particular, those who recognize themselves with the traditions of the left, should support, as a basic element of the verve of our societies, the artistic activism stemming from artists as Bruguera. In a complex context of political views and considerations over the future of the continent, it is reasonable that her performance could be controversial: that is the nature of all artistic action. But, above divisions and sectarianism, we share the common basis to think that a free culture is essential for the development of our societies. Please, support this letter to ask the Cuban authorities to rectify their position concerning Tania Bruguera. So that the discussion about her work, belong to only to the realm of critics’ debates.”

Many took to the platform provided by the Nasher and spoke honestly, fervently, and directly. There was a Cuban artist who spoke from her heart about the problems she has experienced herself in her native Cuba. She shared a few stories related to the ways in which the Cuban government continues to suppress artists voices. Her hope is that as a result of President Obama’s desire to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba things will change; that her people will gain possession of their country, own lives, and all the rights that humans inherently possess.

Others spoke out similarly giving their support and proclaiming their desire for change and reformation in Cuba. My hope is that this isn’t the only means we take to affirm our backing not only for Cuban artists but for the citizens of their nation.

Update from Deborah:

She tells me that there is comfort in knowing that at least the government feels the pressure and they know what the movement in support of Tania is doing.  Deborah so hopes this will finish soon and is happy to report that there are forty European Deputies who have signed a letter of support.

 Stand up and speak out in support of artist’s freedom of expression.

Noah Simblist

Noah Simblist, writer, curator, artist and an Associate Professor of Art at Southern Methodist University.

Leigh Arnold, Assistant Curator, Nasher Sculpture Center

Leigh Arnold, Assistant Curator, Nasher Sculpture Center

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PERFORMANCE

Usually people say that a truly artistic show will always be unique, impossible to be repeated: never will the same actors,

in the same play, produce the same show.
Theatre is Life.

People also say that, in life, we never really do anything for the first time, always repeating
past experiences, habits, rituals, conventions.
Life is Theatre.

Richard Schechner, with his sensibility and intelligence, leads us to explore the limits between Life and Theatre, which he calls Performance. With his knowledge,
he allows us to discover other thinkers,

stimulating us to have our own thoughts.

Augusto Boal

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Remembering and Commemorating

“…Dead, deadly, is death. Time is counted, let us not count the weightlessness of the love we experienced. When and why are altogether another matter. Is there any light ahead, any sky which would lift itself and not fear the sun?…” Etel Adnan (There)

Today we will all join to remember Leslie Kemp. I’ve been very numb over the past year after graduating from a three year MFA program. The pace, challenge, critiques, research, exhibitions, competition, rigor, and push has ended leaving me post-spin and in a daze. Grateful, yet battling the uncertainty of whether or not the sacrifice has been of value to my marriage, friendships, family, and to myself. Much self-doubt these days in spite of how things may appear on the outside. PerformanceSW bringing internationally recognized Cuban artist, Carlos Martiel for an exhibition at Central Trak and talk both there and at the Latino Cultural Center. And then my month long feat of curating exhibition at BEEFHAUS addressing the changing nature of performance art drawing on theater, dance, music, and more. Working with twenty artists, including dancers, musicians, video artists, art students, and a PhD. candidate in African Studies, the rigor was a challenge but rewarding.

Off that tangent…

Today is Leslie Kemp’s funeral. Leslie is a love and a lioness. As a social worker her work stretched over the metroplex pushing boundaries and watching families come together and mostly fall apart. She saw some of the worst neglect and abuse in both family and in the organizations with which she worked. When we met she had already retired from that particular work to join her husband, Charles, in working with refugees from Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and later Iraq, Central America and elsewhere. My work with Charles introduced me to Leslie. Charles worked at Baylor’s School of Nursing and brought nursing students out to work with refugees in the area in which they and I lived. Their suspicion of me was founded yet as Charles tells others it ended the instant I brought fruit and sodas to the home of a dying Cambodian woman on day.

Leslie and I became fast friends. We are very different and similar simultaneously. This drew us close. Her real strength inspired me as mine was mostly a “fake it till you make it” type. The day things changed drastically in our friendship was the day I called her for help when I discovered that two of the Cambodian refugee children attending our after school program were being sexually abused by an adult male neighbor who was “befriending” their family. Police were called and it was a whirl of activity with Child Protective Services. After a month of being placed with a foster family CPS approached me to see if I’d act as an aunt, deeming me eligible to care for the children in my home. Yes absolutely! At 38, never being married or having my own children I had no idea what that meant. But Leslie, Charles and many others stepped in to support me in whatever way they were able. Leslie gave of herself like non other. My life is forever changed as a result.

Not only has Leslie supported me in my endeavors as a refugee worker but also as a woman, a person, and now as an artist. It was she who primarily reached out to set up lunch dates. She called to ask about my art life, and when I might have exhibitions, as well as sent me articles she thought I might find interesting or informative. This from a self -proclaimed non-artist. I love her.

In the middle of the night she’d pick me up and we’d quietly drive up to a ramshackle home and transport abused wives and children to safety. We’d take turns working on cases of severe to minor injury making sure the clinics and hospitals took care of those who had no or little idea of how to maneuver the monstrous health care systems. We were some team: Leslie a stalwart +  me a novice, loving others and one another along the way.

Leslie, I miss you deeply. I want to have more adventure lunches at the Thai Temple and those hole in the wall restaurants like Nalinh and the tiny places in those grocery market mall-like places in Garland. I want to go to Laos or Cambodia with you like we planned. Or even just San Francisco. We never did that. I was so wrapped up in becoming an artist. No trips to Southeast Asia, or Garland, not even Irving. If I decide to go though I will take you. We will be there together and though our conversation will be determined by me. I will still listen. You are still with me. You will always be.

I remember you today. Rest my sweet friend.

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