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Modris Svilans is an artist based in Riga, Latvia. He is in NYC as an apexart New York City Fellow from September 9 - October 9, 2014.
CURRENT NEW YORK CITY FELLOW
 


Damali Abrams is a NYC-based artist traveled to Seoul, South Korea, as an apexart International Fellow from July 1 - 30, 2014.
RECENT INTERNATIONAL FELLOW

Posts tagged with "Loa Bascuñan"

Apr 1

resident-apexart

Start

First day, and the last words I wanted to begin this blog with were “first day”. In any case I can’t help it: I’ve been writing since 6am, when I still was in Santiago, Chile, 15 hours before arriving to this city, while waiting for the flight that would bring me to the perfect location of all the movies I’ve dreamed of. I read what I wrote then and realize that it has nothing to do with this experience, so it’ll be omitted from this entry. Being here is much more than the movies!

Arrival at NY: 10.30pm. Long line, waiting over 40 minutes to get my luggage. I could see them from a distance but couldn’t get them at first: the man in charge of letting me into the country or not was yelling at everyone, asking us to turn of our phones, to not break up the line and a whole bunch of things that must go on only here because they are quite paranoid people (first rate country and whoever gets to be in charge will do their job like a frenetic fanatic!) In my country it’s more relaxed; there are even uncontrolled frontier points, something the US can’t know about, for the authorities are too involved in making strategic alliances throughout the globe… but well, I really do not want to touch that subject, nor the one involving the corrupt taxi driver I met today: if strange things happen even in the “best” families, why wouldn’t they happened ever in the “best” countries?

After all the frenzy I arrived to the apartment, where I found a list with directions that Julia sent me: better than any map. In fact, no map works as well compared to those precise instructions. Thank you Julia! The place is great; I got here quite tired, smoked a cigarette practically hanging out the window and now it’s time to sleep. My adventure began today, at least the one I came to live.

And that’s how it went! I woke up early and began feeling like a caged animal. I wanted to go out, I wanted to eat, I wanted to write, hear music and just couldn’t do anything. I probably need that empowered impulse, that “green light” or simple that “Hello, welcome to New York” that I received a couple of hourse later, giving me courage and spirit to go out and get to know this city. I hope that in a whole month I’ll be able to understand the magnificence of this urban temple, with its noisy streets and the thousands of people that go through it without focusing on anything (surely knowing where they’re going).

I decided to take my first journey following Julia’s instructions, going in and out of every place according to how I was feeling the city. Following her proposals, I began with The Forbers Gallery. It was quite a warm place, classic (and even with a security guard, well, there’s a lot of them around here) and with a high air of solemnity, except for the art: graphic pieces in watercolors with a happily ridiculous thematic. Ronald Searle is a genius and being able to see a selection of magazine originals is a real delight. Starting out with humor is always very stimulating! I was amazed to see so many interesting works: pieces inspired in current yet universal events like “Another day, another dollar”, full of color and of rainbow; a wonderful reference to Fragonar’s “The Swing” (a masterpiece that scholars teach with solemnity and respect) called “The Swingers”, where the scene is made up of pigs and candy; also “Sketch for Lutrec”, inspired in one of the stars of his work, which is part of the collective unconscious: the fair lady that is repeated in most of his paintings.

After Forbes Gallery, not only had I more courage than I had before coming in, I even felt completely and literally more empowered!

Continuing with the instructions (“turn to the right, cross the street…”) I decided to visit The Gross Foundation. I know that I had to begin communicating with others in my precarious English, for Chaim Gross and her daughter Mimi are great friends with Apexart. I gave myself permission to ring the doorbell only if I was up for it, because I still have month to go back and I still had a few other places to visit today. Once outside and after taking a few steps back the first time, in one of those sudden impulses I ran the bell and entered into an incredible place, an oasis of art and collection in the middle of the city. On a guided tour and without a camera (which will make me go back) I began to walk among the artwork and through Chaim Gross’ great vertical house. Every space and every piece is unique, so lively mixed that I didn’t know where to aim my eyes to. Until I figure out how to I’ll just stick to being surprised by Gross’ work, Mimi’s and their wonderful collection of African and Oceanic art, where the diverse materials of their joyful sculptures and their strong and dramatic drawings gave me the sensation that everything wanted to say more than what I was capable of observing. The warmth and beautiful energy of Mimi and everyone there surely made this visit the best part of my first day.

I then decided to skip the other places left for today. I’ll visit them on my next free day or in some unoccupied morning: I preferred to go out and get lost in Manhattan, or at least I tried to - this city is easy and quite tidy, conceptually speaking. So I decided to cool off and observe the people in the city, listen to their voices and let myself be surprised without demanding myself “visits to places of interest”. I feel that the energy in New York is an important part of this residency: trying to be part of the mix and making myself go into places where I have the necessity of communicating is inspiring for my writing as it is also inspiring for this experience!

Apr 2

resident-apexart

Ayyy, NY!


New York cannot be stopped! If the first day this monster-turned-city had me a bit scared, today, with all the respect it deserves, I feel I’m losing the fear I had towards it. Every place is amazing, every person is a character and every subway station is an underworld completely unknown to me. Yes, I’ve been on subways before, of course, like everyone else: but this subway, with its 8000 lines and the different aspects each one has is to me, hallucinatory. I’m accustomed to the subway in my city, subtle and tidy, small and prudish. In New York’s subway, people work concentrated on their computers, Latin-sounding bands play their music (and receive money only from Latinos), some eat and some sleep… it’s universal.

For today I had planned taking two urban tours. I’ve never taken tours before and my only experience with them was when I was working in Chile’s National Fine Arts Museum, where I had to guide on a few of them. I always felt that I didn’t have enough talent to take them on as a guide, and today my feeling all became clear. Peter Laskowich, the guide, is a real master. He managed to keep around twenty people following him almost jogging through Grand Central Neighborhood in rainy weather. Even though I didn’t understand everything he said, I surely passed through the emotional states he wanted us to go through: I became highly emotional, traveled to Woody Allen’s films among others (I couldn’t help getting out a few times), and began to fall in love with Manhattan, a place I sincerely thought wouldn’t move me. Behind that monster there’s a soul, a spirit, beauty in every corner, in every horizontal and vertical view. This city’s built for each and every one of its inhabitants: it’s tidy and respectful, and not only with people and animals, but also with itself. Peter had a phrase for it, “color, line, texture and style”; Manhattan is built under this idea, respect towards itself, its own environment, its past and the great geniuses that began to lift skyscrapers in an articulated and perfect form, the sidewalks, the streets and the neighbors next door. The new buildings did not waste their time being overly creative or by having an extravagant architecture: they kept on to the what was there (related to Peter’s phrase) and used it as a base for a unique urban structure, where every gesture of madness is subtle and smart.

Afterwards I began my own tour, for Mr. Laskowich was not there anymore, and it was time to try to find out where I was standing. I began walking under intuition, going ahead then going back a few blocks until I found to street numbers that crossed and seemed familiar. I then asked a man that works in a kiosk (who looked clearly Latin American) where I had to go: East of West? (with my hands, of course). He pointed towards the right way, and I began to walk through 42nd with 1st until 12th: my destination, Circle Line Tour. I of course passed by Times Square before getting there, obtaining a 200 kilometer smile. I want to go back when it stops raining (though for a New Yorker this rain must be just a drizzle for their May flowers), so I can get the typical photo everyone who’s come to New York has in their living room. Why wouldn’t I?

The Circle Line Tour is by far the most classic existing tour, from the people who take it to the captain that guides it. But how would I get to meet Lady Liberty without it? Impossible (I think). Once immersed in the experience I loved it, really enjoyed it. Every view of the city is spectacular, and I sure would’ve liked to have come 10 years ago. It’s a very intense city from the inside and quite contemplative from the outside, and Lady Liberty is the work of a genius. I became very excited when I say her and got out with all the tourists to get wet and take photos. It’s quite impressive to be in front of an image I’ve seen millions of times through photographs, reproductions and artwork. I remembered the “Cream” book, which has a Lady Liberty dressed as a Muslim woman, as well as a photograph by Patricia Ossa, a Chilean artist that posed with Lady Liberty when I was a little girl. That was probably the first time I saw the image, and today, a cloudy stormy day, I renewed the image in my head by constructing my own.

After seeing the city from a wide view, her perfectly constructed bridges and getting emotional over the greatness of a small city, I went back to the reality of not knowing “where I was standing”. It was strange, but I came out of the tour with a sense of inner security I thought I’d have more trouble obtaining In any case I was soon visited by the non first world country in me, getting stressed over the fact that I was far from my dreamed apartment and that I had to take the subway to get back home. I walked until 8th with 42nd, among theatres, lights and lots of people. Then I went down to the subway, where there were more lines than my head could understand at the moment and more people wearing earphones than I could handle. It was then where I was confronted with a double dilemma: Where do I go? Who do I ask? I began my mission by asking a young lady who looked like one of those persons that know it all. She gave me the instructions, but when I got to where she told me it didn’t seem to be the right place. Asking again, I got another different piece of information, so it became clear to me that I urgently needed a third view as to conciliate the precious. Bingo, it worked! So I began walking and when I seemingly was at the right place I couldn’t find the letters nor the numbers I needed. I thought I was going to begin sweating and that it was maybe a better idea to run back to the streets and walk home no matter what when I see a man without headphones. He was in a bit of a hurry but he managed to give me the information I needed, which he didn’t quite know about at the beginning. After his instructions I decided to get into the subway and not ask for any more opinions, I knew my number and I only had to take the train. Once in the train, understanding the language better, I began to feel very happy. Then outside the subway it felt very calm, after which I went to buy my very first beer in New York, which I now enjoy along my always faithful and easy-to-comprehend Mac.

Apr 4

resident-apexart

It’s America?


Today I remembered the work of a chilean artista, Alfredo Jaar, who has been living in New York for a couple of years and who some time ago did an intervention in the middle of Times Square. In one of the led screens he exposed a map of the US and on it he wrote: “This is not America”. The work was quite polemic, for many thought he was offending their homeland. Jaar did it as a form of protest, because everyone who lives in America is American.

Walking down Broadway I remembered the piece, giving it an interpretation I had never given it before: this city is overpopulated with foreigners, belong to everyone as well as to no one; Jaar is right. “This is not America” is a work for every country of the world, for every person I saw today on the street, for the young, for the old, for the white, for black people, Asians and Nordics, belonging to everyone who decides to live here. At some moments I closed my eyes and tried to separate the voices I heard, as to differentiate languages: all together in one place, none imposed over the other, all at the same level at the same time. It could almost be an impressionist piece, full of color, lots of pigmentation, half romantic even. But when you open your eyes and began seeing the faces of it all, you begin to travel through installations, performances, through the universality of this city. Everyone being so different, no one looking like anyone else, no one looking at anyone, except me: observing every detail in everyone that passed by, assuming that New York is not only made of buildings, of great constructions, nor skyscrapers that I’ve been able to watch enthusiastically and puzzlement on every street, every corner as well as today in the Skyscraper Museum. New York is also that unstoppable devotion from its people, that big “hey, here we are” sign… We are part of a world that no one wants to get off of.

I didn’t get lost in the map today, I got lost inside me: inside everything each of those voices said, without me wanting nor being able to understand them. It’s magical to travel alone; the amount of silences, of thoughts, of own views on a same subject, the capacity of letting go and be surprised only by thoughts, that autistic gesture that is always frowned upon and that today is my best allied.

Apr 5

resident-apexart

Williamsburg.

It became clear to me today that I’m just getting to know New York… thank goodness! This morning I felt a bit afraid, under a strange sort of vertigo, that everything is going too fast, that every day is unstoppable and that every new night brings a new adventure to my computer, as to my new best friend: Word. Since I got here I’ve had quite intense days, really fast paced and without pauses, without having been here a week.

Just 4 days in this crazy city, and after my last subway experience yesterday, that made me walk more than 40 inspiring blocks, I decided that before going out I should study the streets I’ll be walking on, as well as the map of the “underworld”. My spoken English keeps being an obstacle for relating with other human beings, separating me from the birth of interesting dialogues and making excessive questions to the New York community. The previous made me go out more prepared for today’s excursion: Williamsburg. I got lost anyway, but my other best friend – the map – was very loyal, helping me find the right coordinates. I believe Julia became to trust me excessively and her references stopped being as punctual as they used to be, but well: it’s part of the journey implied in being here.

After a fun walk through Bowery to Kenmare, I became aware of the crazy change of language in the signs and papers on the street; from English to Chinese. That must be the way to Chinatown, or that popular neighborhood’s marginal area which I refused to visit, for I wish to discover it profoundly, and I really wanted to get to Brooklyn. I then crossed Williamsburg Bridge and got to the most important Jewish area in this part of the territory, a hallucinatory place very different from all I had seen. With the company of an i-Pod Shuffle and a seductive male voice in English, I was told the story of the place, the creation of the community and the present lifestyle of the neighborhood. As expected, I understood only part of what I was hearing, and moving extremely fast I could establish the coordinates, as to go on through the tour on a more personal rhythm that I had ever experimented. I’d sometimes pause it to take photos, to look at the numerous Jewish families and their customs: men among men and scared women sharing only among themselves, not publicly sharing with their men, though in their intimacy they must share a lot… well, hence the “numerous families”. A thing that had caught my attention in New York was the lack of children on the street, and I then I thought: they’re all in Williamsburg! And Jewish! This city still has a chance for salvation. It all depends on if the political powers want this community to reign in the future, for if not: only Obama’s daughters could do something.

After the personalized tour I followed Julia’s proposal for this excursion. With the help of my map it wasn’t very difficult to get to Bedford, the hip street in Williamsburg: full of bars, bookstores, record stores, a few small but good art galleries and lots of people full of style (pleasure for my eyes). To talk about the art spaces I’d like to see a bit more of them. Galleries like Like de Spice and the Pierogi Gallery had extremely different showings: one very figurative, modern but figurative anyway, while the other had drawings and maps that marked the route towards an undetermined point, playing with political and the different powers in this country; both interesting but not too much. I think this city has been such an impact on me that not seeing strong powerful work is not provoking strong powerful sensations in me, nor leading my eyes towards them… This city is the big artwork for me right now.

New York is imposible to escape from. Every reality and every new image make an big impression on me, move me, inspire me, making me feel that the world is moving, that everything that happens is something new, independent from the day before, independent form the reality of my own world: and I like it. It distracts me without making me fly, landing on every corner, every step, every subway station, in the eyes on each and every inhabitant of this city.

Apr 6

resident-apexart

Riverside Drive


Walking by Riverside Park I began to wonder on what makes a first class country. It can’t only be its financial stability, nor the fact that there’s a bigger amount of employed people, nor the quantity of political and social influence the country has over other countries of this world. A first class country must also be one because of the needed implied respect to each and every one of its communities, to the people that inhabit it a in every one of its cities. I’m not sure if immigrants feel respected here, or if the American Dream was more powerful, leading to a kind of human pile-up in where, unfortunately, not everyone fits.

Nevertheless, crossing the contrast of this beautiful mark I could reaffirm many things that I like that I don’t see in my country: great open parks for everyone, free, with sports facilities, as well as recreational and first class cultural areas: all giving a sense of confidence to the community, which is told “I give you this for you to enjoy and you will take care of it because it’s yours, because it belongs to everyone”. I remembered the cement courts constructed by poor buildings in Santiago’s marginal area, full of garbage and in really poor conditions. I remembered our native communities and everything being done to abolish their culture, without any possibility of doing so: there is not even a drop of power capable of doing so. I saw young people, children and adults of all ages enjoying their sportive activities in a harmonious communion, a dignified example that must be imitated!

Later, walking through the park from the important monuments, the landscape began to change. The immigrant’s buildings started transforming into beautiful apartment buildings, owned by Manhattan’s high class. Small parks were full of children, where Latin American, Asian and North American began to interact: colors and accents mixed and filled the public spaces, generated an unusual harmony. Under this scenario is where I thought that this is where you can notice the difference between countries I was wondering about before: in the insured trust within the community, that capacity everyone has of living together with others in harmony, respecting their integrity amidst public space.

Apr 7

resident-apexart

Apexart


I am slowly feeling more comfortable in this city. I have stopped observing with fear, and that excessive respect I had towards it the first days. I’m assimilating the reasons for which I am here: to learn from experience by growing transversally, getting in touch with a new reality and new forms of art management, and life; to live a creative and methodic process through writing, accompanied by endless sensations given on a daily basis, by being alone in this universe so different from mine. I believe there is a sane adapting period, where one is not only shocked with the impressive architecture and the New Yorkers way of life, the subway and our first difficult encounters. I feel that everything has been going on so fast that my behavior and southern vision are quickly staying behind, and that I’m beginning to let go, little by little, and to live the Apexart experience.

I had a delicious lunch with the Apexart people today: Steven, Cybele and Julia. I felt them very close to me, and very concerned with my needs, with me living every day towards my personal growth and professional development: to find new motors that inspire me on the next part of my projects in Chile. New networks, ideas and forms of connecting, which for us is very difficult: the growth and the strengthening of art and artists, of each and every piece of artwork that manage to mobilize our local culture.

This residence is just beginning and I’m quickly living new adventures, new lessons, feeling that my “autism” is living its final days.

Apr 7

resident-apexart

Bronx


As I was walking through the Bronx today (in what was definitely my first visit, where I couldn’t even do half the things I had planned) I saw a destroyed car, park and turned into a bunch of useless junk. That image might have been trying to tell me to leave and to go find stories somewhere else. My intuition had been sending me similar thoughts, because when I got out of the subway station that brought me to the Bronx, it began raining without intermission: after a very nice sunny and even warm morning. I was obviously not prepared for the rain. The first thing I did and definitely the only thing I should’ve done was visit the Longwood Art Gallery, which had two good showings that I couldn’t fully appreciate because it was full (another reason to come back) of members of the community waiting for the Bronx Culture Trolley, which I chose not to take even though it was free. I did not only want to pass through places: I wanted to stop wherever and whenever I wanted. Because of this I thought that the best thing to do was to take visit around by foot. Time wasn’t on my side, for at 6.30pm I was to be in the “Museo del Barrio” to watch a documentary called “The Faces Behind the Dolls”: a tribute to Madame Alexander Doll Company, a company dedicated to the creation and fabrication of art collection dolls.

After observing the showing at Longwood Art as much as I could, I began walking to my next stop: the Haven Art Gallery. After 20 blocks, 10 vulcanizations, 1 bridge, 1 destroyed car, 1 cigarette and lots of water falling on me, I arrived to find that the gallery was closed. More than feeling bad about it I laughed, and since I’m usually optimistic y quickly directed my path towards the other side of Bronx, hoping to be able to make it to the Bronx Museum. After 30 blocks, the same crashed car, the same 10 vulcanizations, the bridge, a lot more people than before and no cigarette, I decided to look at the map, realizing that I had at least 10 blocks to go, and that nor the humidity of my outfit nor the available time were going to allow me to get there and enjoy my moments there. I decided to go back to my starting point: the subway station.
I knew that for my next stop, on 103 Street and 5th Avenue, I wasn’t able to catch the train from where I was. On the contrary, I’d have to go back to line 6 walking. After 5 more vulcanization spots I decided to risk it and take on a new adventure on the Manhattan underground.

After getting off and not knowing where to go, I found myself standing by the entrance, asking for directions to everyone I saw. No one was going Downtown from there: the key was to have a bit of patience, or try to understand the African American policeman that did not speak Spanish. While he was trying to answer my doubts as I was telling him “please more slowly”, a Russian-faced woman asks me in an Argentinean accent if I was Chilean. I told her I was and asked her if she was going Down Town, if she wanted to go with me until my combination point, as to help me see where it was. I think I bombed her with questions, though she was very happy: she loved Chile because she lived in Valparaíso, my country’s principal port, before coming to live here illegally in 1996. She love Chile and its people, but defended the US with her life, saying it was a better place for her children, that not having come she would have never learnt English, and that living illegally in the US is almost the same as living the opposite. It was another experience with the same thousand-faced story. We could only talk for two stations, for then she indicated my combination point.

As I waited for the next train, I enjoyed a drummer’s music that played and sounded like a Mini Vanilli song, with a young dancer that did everything he could to get a tip. I gave him something and took some photos of what was going on. I walked as fast as I could to the “Museo del Barrio”, got there but couldn’t get in: the movie had begun and I had surpassed the time limit.

Amazing Space


In this universe filled with people and information on every single corner, today, in a neighborhood where you can find many designer clothes stores and commercial art galleries (that without doubt have very good works), something happened to me that is very uncommon for a Chilean: to come across a Damien Hirst exposition, with art by Keith Harring, Warhol or Lichtenstein, by Frank Stella and Chagall, works that I sure appreciated with enthusiasm in the different galleries in Soho. I was happy though always conscious of where I was and why the works I mentioned are in that circuit.
I will not particularly embrace a few galleries just because they have works from different artists that belong to this place, to this great Art industry.
In this gallery circuit, that is constantly oozing New York, I could visit two spaces that brought to me something that I felt didn’t exist in this city: spirituality; an instant of silence, a gift to the mind, to imagination and a small instant of reflection and meditation among chaos.
In 1979, and in two parallel spaces of the Dia Art Foundation, Walter de María mounted two exhibitions that cannot live the one without the other. In fact, they are one since 1977, when De María inserted, for the first time, underground and with a depth of one thousand meters, two inch bars of solid polished tin. Of this I could only see a photograph, a beautiful image that helps in understanding the spaces and the work that has been exhibited without alterations for 32 years.
The first space, The Earth Room, is a space on an apartment on the second floor of a building right in the middle of Soho, silent and austere, in which, once you get there, you encounter 22 inches of earth covering the totality of the apartment’s surface. It’s astonishing, strangely beautiful and solemn. One can only look through the entrance, separated by a glass that keeps you away from the work in a practical and subtle way, for you don’t need to be on it. It’s a space to observe inside one’s own self, amidst the silence and a humid earth surface which is as organic as the spectator. The work continues visiting the second space, The Broker Kilometer, a couple of blocks away, in which, align on the floor, are 500 golden and bright polished tin bars, installed in five parallel lines: inside an enormous space, where the fit perfectly like the most beautiful of puzzles. You also observe them from a distance, without touching, nor photographing: just one and the artwork, for the time that the visit lasts, in the strange inner journey trigged by just being there.

MoMA

After visiting the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) and submerge myself in my first museum experience, I have ravenous sense of appetite. It all begins before getting to the artwork, with the imposing space, able to receive an enormous amount of people. It really was like a tireless machine that produced every kind of human being that transited restlessly through each of the spaces. And even though visiting a museum among so many people can’t be the best scenario, I enjoyed watching the important gathering generated by the formal spaces of exhibition. See that they’re active in a transversal form, from the public to the Museum. The scene changes when you begin to look around the rooms and every space transports you to an intimate encounter with the work. When you manage to silence the masses and introduce yourself to such a personal world, in which, no matter how many people there are, they do not intervene in your visit. One is alone with the work, that idealized object. It’s just that, being in front of a historical referent, which you hadn’t been able to dimension in its real size until now, its texture and it strength, is surely one of the most indefinable sensations I’ve faced. It’s all a constant game with emotion, mental integrity and the years of a vulnerable gathering of information and images, versus the reality that will never come out of your head. Standing in front of Pollock’s powerful work, observing every stoke and chronological process in his development as an artist, the wonderful silence of Rothko, that made me go back to make sure it was real, the tireless imagination of Picasso, his skill and his delirious Demoiselles d’Avignon, gigantic and dramatic, Cézanne, that I’d see in a book of no more than 20x20 when I was a girl, Man Ray subtle and delicate, so distant as I had intuited, Wesselmann and Irving Penn en a hallucinatory space only destined to the kitchen, the utensils and artifacts produced the best of the domestic scenes and the artwork made me reopen the pages of my favorite Contemporary Art books and feel that that instant was not a dream, Dalí and that surrealism that I don’t like but that gave me emotion, it’s just that it’s not only strokes and shapes, it’s what’s there and that through reproductions I had never been able to admire, the Jasper Johns flag, wonderful, powerful, I went through every line and every star trying to get soaked from it. A whole floor dedicated to photography, Cindy Sherman, Rineke Dijkstra, Barbara KRuger, Helen Levitt, Robert Frank among so many others, that is like a neverending bath of emotion. Of course there was Warhol, Linschenstein, Lauri Anderson, Keel, Monet, Modigdliani and an eternal list of names and works that completed the six floors of a gigantic museum. Among them the only Chilean representative of that world is Roberto Matta and other two works that make you feel proud and give you a gigantic desire to incorporate others. Being able to see pieces that are a historical referent, live, allows you to grow and comprehend art from the beginnings of a work, to understand the creative process of an artist, to open an area of exploration, to begin a new endless process of seeing more, of learning more. It’s opening the appetite to the learning of history, of materials, of every pigment and every object that participates in the construction of the work and the spaces.

Independent Movement


Checking out the Gallery Guide, and realizing the gigantic amount of commercial exhibit spaces in this city, I began to ask myself a series of questions related to the diffusion and commercialization circuit in art. Are there so many artist for all these galleries? Is it the only way of distributing and covering local art? Are there even more spaces? How does the youth mobilize in such a big market, apparently very competitive? As I’d think about it more and more, new questions arose, which I have slowly began to give an answer to.

Visiting Brooklyn again, as well as some galleries, I could solve some of these mysteries, as for example that there are more spaces than I could find in the Gallery Guide, that there parallel young art circuits, emerging, organized and active, that manage to mobilize not only artist, but also the community, and they’re not just one or two, destined to die, but sufficient as to generate a circuit.

Getting to know spaces like Regina Rex, English Kills, Storefront, Microscope Gallery and Yashar Gallery helps me observe a bit of the alternative scenario, artist that are exposing their work in their own circuits, own artists, and those involved in art management work to show their work and the work of their pairs, in self administrated spaces, close to the artists’ workshops, where dialogue quickly begins to flow.

This in some way is what repeats itself in the younger generations over the world. The context here is different, sometimes the language as well, but I can observe that it’s a common scenario, a universal one. Art managers such as Laura Braslow, who works in taking art and its experience to the community, to the neighborhood, generating festivals with those who manage to gather hundreds, not only artist, but also creative neighbors with good ideas, which they take their take to create. Artists that open and close exhibition halls to show their work, people that work without economic profit.

I believe that the subject has more to do with a matter of attitude than of possibilities, of general culture regarding visual, dramatic and literary arts. From my perspective not every space I visited had good artwork, but they are all good spaces, that take their risks and bet on their work, sensible to cultural movements, active and open to dialogue and development. The community in general is involved, and that is probably one of the main differences that New York and Chile’s art world have, because art is part of daily life, though of course here is “The Art Industry” where NY figures as the official distributor, but beyond that idea it is something that also has to do with the way of life, with losing fear of culture, of new exhibitions, of new spaces. That is the attitude that is exceeding here, and that we in Chile lack and need.

… So NY

Something that has come to my attention by being in NY is that this city blooms culture from every one of its pores, in every corner and in every situation that you get into, and the best of all is that there’s not only one way to live and to experiment art: there are as many ways as people and personalities to focus and live it in their own way.

As the cold, fast wind blew outside, in the NYFA Gallery a group of women organized a tea party in the purest 50’s manner, “A Feminist Tea Party” to talk about feminism related to diverse subjects. Young artists have organized these experiences for years, remembering the old fashioned tea parties, to talk about current issues, dressed in period costumes and in a stage worthy of their clothing, openly calling out to participate of comfortable gatherings, enjoying delicious teas and different sweet pastries that remember, from a contemporary place, what one was a scene where only was talked of husbands, sons and families; now situating women where they belong, with opinions, ideas, ideologies, and autonomous thought.

Somewhere else in the night, a group of Literature lovers conducted a Poetry Slam in the interior of the Bowery Poetry Club, where, as in every competition, the best one. Stage, microphone, lights, incidental music, a host, a respectable audience that takes the place of a jury, and a group of literary creators that confront themselves in a hallucinatory slam. Only words count, the stories and what each one has to say, in the way they have of saying it. After a previous introduction by the host, the poets, one by one, get on stage, and an audience that is practically on fire participates in each of the presentations generating dialogue, empathy, and in my personal case, admiration for each of the brave artist and for the experience that they repeat week to week, keeping their world individual and collective world active.

Both “performatic” experiences represent for me, up to today, what NY is: culture and inclusion.

http://caitlinrueter.com/01/events/a-feminist-tea-party-at-the-nyfa-gallery/

http://www.bowerypoetry.com/#Event/99031

Washington, D.C.


While I was having my breakfast this morning in the hotel, I began to think about the enormous differences between two of the most important cities in this country. I got the sensation, from the 4 hours on the train, that I had crossed an abyss, appearing in a totally different world, passing abruptly from chaos to order, from overflowing exaggeration to elegance and sophistication, from popular desires to the political universe.

Both cities have their charm and both lack what the other has too much of. But after 14 days in NY I want to enjoy Washington and this showy peace, filled with culture, public spaces and art… many scenarios repeat in this country.

After walking through the Mall Park almost completely, surprising myself with its museum, buildings and memorials; of entering DC’s downtown with a map in my hand, of course, but clear and sure of the steps I was taking, I began to feel the invitation to go around and take advantage of each and every one of the hours I’ll be here. The morning began with a fun outing with Casey, a poet and Art History professor at Corcoran Gallery & College of Art and Design. We talk while looking for coffee, a search we quit before getting to the Faculty, where we had something to drink in the pleasant space we were in: the Main Hall. We walked by the White House first, a place much smaller than I imagined and full of different kinds of people protesting for many motives that they sure are entitled to have. It’s funny in any case, they’re not more than 5 or 7, including one person for each protest, like good examples of the principles they firmly believe in.

After quenching our respective thirst, we began a fun tour around the University, begining by the exhibition halls and the museum. I imagined what it would feel for a Chilean art or design student to study with painting by Rothko or Rauschenberg around, which you can see whenever you want, surrounded by incredible photography, artwork and big spaces destined for the exhibition of their work. The tour didn’t end there, though, because for my surprise it was just beginning and all my anxiety of visiting the museum that surround the big park faded when Casey opened doors that took us to different corners of this University, places I love like the ones destined to storage or artwork, with cold treatment for photographs, workshops where the students work: I’ve always loved these places, with tools, smells of pigmentation, metal, wood, photograph chemicals; that B side to art that fascinated me. We passed through offices and the library, and in every space we met very kind people and were involved in University moments. When I felt I took little treasures, of hope in important artists of the future.

After a little stroll through the park, I began to satisfy the hunger related to visiting the interiors of the museums, an appetite than began in the MoMa. I began my visits with observing the works generation by generation, among Contemporary Art in the Hishhor Museum and the National Gallery of Art, and of Classic Art as well, where I got to see for the first time in my life a work by Fragonard: an artist that I profoundly admire and that today, after laughing and being touched by his work, I declare my most absolute love to. Every museum here is special and coherent, from their architecture to the artwork in it. This gives me the sensation that nothing is here by chance, that everything is planned out to enlighten and respect every piece, as well as welcoming each visitor that fills up the museums’ space.

During my visits, and after travelling through Art History, I decided to play by taking by stay in DC according to different themes, taking on a new journey, now through US history: visiting the Museum of Indian Culture, with its very attractive architecture, soft to the eyes, interesting and well placed in the circuit, a place where everyone involved in creating this big particular universe called The United States of America is shown without discrimination nor determination (interesting mix); and the Air and Space Museum, where I felt like an absolute tourist, feeling constantly non-moved by what I was seeing, and where being among a human mass did bother me: like the lady that wasn’t allowed to take photos because she was in the way of someone else. I didn’t take photos, and that is definitely my mistake. Well, I might not be made for that kind of adventure, where airplanes and big transport constructions do not seem more attractive than the rest: that are in any case an artwork by themselves, as the space suits worn throughout history (fabulous), even though they remembered me of the Dharma Project in “Lost” than of the excitement of the first man on the moon.

Leaving this experience, I went for my almost mandatory stop on the green grass of Mall Park, to stop a minute, rest my legs and look at the sky. I knew I couldn’t finish my “thematic” tour without visiting the Lincoln Memorial, so I began walking there, and though the excessive amount of people going in the same direction invited me to stop, I knew it was my only chance: and that even though I couldn’t have a private conversation with him, I’d at least get a glance of him and enjoy the beautiful view of the park from there. Lincoln’s image is a powerful one, imposing and absolute, solemn, looking and taking care of this city that would seem to owe him everything. I then went to the Vietnam Veteran Memorial, as to be consequent with the circuit. It’s an interesting place, and extremely intense; you get to feel what these men felt.

Closing the tour at nighttime and with a sensation of being impossibly more tired than I was, I walked to the hotel by streets I didn’t know, enjoying every corner and thinking in how to make the most of my next and last morning in DC; a city that showed me its two faces: first a radiant sun and today an intense rain which didn’t stop me from walking. I even stopped for the mandatory photos, and also got to know the subway (modern, clean and tidier than the one in NY)

I’m now in Union Station, waiting for my train in a coffee shop, hoping to get back soon to the city that this month has become my home and my school.

Transmitter / Receiver


I’ve realized that there are situations where it’s really not that important to understand what is being said, because the context and the message are universal, and the way the message comes is a pleasure to the senses, leaving details underneath, making comprehension something that exclusively depends on the speed of the transmitter’s interpretation and of the receiver’s attention.

In Theater 80 a play is currently shown, entitled “The Church of Earthalujah”, where 3 musicians, 1 choir director, 35 excellent singers and 1 reverend, during two fast paced hours, send a Gospel-style message, saying no to consumerism, no to the big corporate machine, no to the misuse of our natural resources and yes to reutilization, to simple living as to stop natural disasters. In this part of the planet they speak of tornados and fires; I remembered our earthquake and the miners, for example, where a group of businessmen wanted to make more money by reduced safety measures, which translated into 33 men trapped 800 meters underground. What I intend to say is that the local problems may be part of the structure of this play, but the message is universal and can adapt to every corner of our planet.

Back in New York I was once again surprised, full of admiration, of the big amount of spaces, voices and public you can find for each different message and for each way of transmitting them. Though the theatre wasn’t full, everyone there was part of the spectacle in a magical way. What is finally important is not the amount of people going to see a show, the amount of people reading a newspaper, a pamphlet or a blog, or the people visiting an art exhibit. What matters it the existence of this space, so that anyone who wants to make the most of it can.

Staten Island.


All was going well, I had taken the subway to the Ferry; a situation that lead to me a dialogue with a Newyorker, who would go talking to me, all the way, about how the Ferry is different during the day than during the night. The scene for me was very family friendly and touristic; at night it must be rougher, dark and scary.

When I got off in Staten Island it was very easy to get to my first stop: the museum, a local cultural space, quite special and miscellaneous, where you travel through the history of the Ferry, the Island and its environment, in a very educational and didactic way on the first floor, where there was also a temporary exhibition of art by Andrea Phillips. On the second floor, the artwork was interesting. The first impression was of naïf and decorative pieces, but once you got close you could see perfect collages, fun ones, that invited you to travel through the story behind each piece. Characters and scenes created only with pieces of paper and some paint, interesting yet not fabulous.

I left the museum wanting to continue the excursion around this island that was completely unknown to me. But then I thought, that since the first day, everything has been unknown at the beginning, making me feel a special confidence regarding the adventure of this new place: without prejudice, without fear.

I took the bus that would take me to the Buddhist temple: The Staten Island Buddhist Vihara. After talking with the bus driver we managed to agree on which would be my stop, and he promised to tell me when the time came. I sat on a strategic position that would not allow him to forget about me; the rear-view mirror connected us.

When the bus began its transit around the island, I inevitably began observing the characters that surrounded me. Buses here have a different distribution than the ones in Chile, making it impossible not to look at some people in the face, and my strategic position would make me look at two characters that seemed to be extracted from a movie, or even from the criminal pages in a newspaper. He, a small man whose feet didn’t reach the floor, with a big shaved head, fat short hands and an unhappy/psychotic look, reminded me of America’s 10 Most Wanted, or of one of the real evil characters from Prison Break: with a madman’s face and a guttural voice emerging from his messy teeth. With him: She, very strange as well and with an unhappy look, playing with her phone without paying attention to her companion. I began to feel a strange kind of fear, to experiment sensations I had never had, not even here, where no human being is more powerful than the city he’s in: except for them, more powerful than any of us, breathing a halo of evilness, making them stronger, crazy and strong.

Near them it didn’t take long for me to feel a strange nausea, where my stomach was seemingly about to devour me and my throat avoided letting a fearful cry of help out of it. A small while later, a woman got on the bus with here three small children, who generated a smile and excessive happiness on this man. The woman he was with turned her back on him, while he seductively invited the small girl, four years old or so, to sit with him. As she sat, charmed by this smiling monster, he’d caress her leg. A woman that was seeing what I was, got up and gave the mother her seat, taking the girls hand in a subtle way, leading her to the place she should be seating.

As if that wasn’t enough, and trying to stand the present situation, a woman of about 40 (she probably was around 35, looking worn out from life, a hard one for sure) got on the bus accompanied by a young man, who also had a shaved head and a scar that went all around his head. She cried as he took her to the far end of the bed, grabbing her arm tight. Suddenly I began hearing violent sounds, without any cry for help: he’d beat her and no one would do anything. I felt that I had to do something, every single minute, but the language and the fear stopped me. Then I looked at my paradoxical situation from a distance: sitting in a bus surrounded by people extracted from a strange world on the way to a Buddhist temple.

This lead me to get off the bus, trying to take a deep breath and standing straight again: I had been curved as part of a defense mechanism. I crossed the street and waited for the bus that would take me back to the ferry and the Manhattan I knew.

Homes.


After taking line 7 to Queens and getting off in 103, I began to feel a Latino flavor. Being there was like being in no one’s land, as like no frontiers between countries existed, all united for the same cause and paying the same price for it. I could only hear Sanish around me, in different accents and slang; my Latino ego grew with every step I took towards the place of destination. It’s just that we Latinos have that hot thing that the North American doesn’t have, that gallant and seductive spirit that those born in this northern hemisphere lack. It’s as if we had conquest and seduction incorporated in our organism.

I got to the place with an overflowing feedback: the museum house of Louis Armstrong. Since it was lunchtime, I was the only person in the 2pm tour, which was a good thing. Every tour to important homes I had taken in the area were with groups of Londoners or North Americans touring New York, making the guide’s English fast and fluent, leaving me with moments of not understanding details, decorative decisions and the how the distribution of the house’s inhabitants worked, the protagonists of the story. Because of this I was lost in the best parts, at least in the one were the group would laugh, and my face of not understanding the situation would make the guide reject my presence. This tour wasn’t like this. With a personalized guide, Paul, an elderly man that, though it was hard for him to walk and breathe at the same time, loved his job so much, as well as the Musician’s life. He wanted me to comprehend every detail of the house, of its life and the way that he and his beloved fourth wife had turned this house in Queens into a home for themselves and for all the children that went to their garden for music lessons, filling the parental necessity they could never concretize. Among the houses I’ve visited through this system, it’s by far the coziest, comfortable and human. Now, in some places, like the bathroom, there was an excess of golden colors, but the mirrors on the walls and the roof forgave the ostentatious details, though visually multiplying them. Every corner and every detail were full of joy and good humor. Maybe that’s why his music has been transmitted through generations, laying out groundbreaking work for present day music, because he lived, breathed and felt musical chords.

Enjoying intímate spaces and personal universes, of important icons, entering unexplored worlds in a didactic way, helps understanding, from the intimacy of a home, whe so many people chose to live o leave cities, in this case NY; opening our eyes to history from the place of its protagonists, of the old Newyorkers. Maybe that’s why every time I leave this homes I believe in giving a chance to every corner, park, and avenue in this city.