Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The post affects...

June 6th

And so CICER-08 exhibition is done. Today Gisela and I are waking up in Abraao’s home, not really his, but rented. Great space. Incredible actually. Gisela and I were amazed to find out how much he pays for it. It is one of the reasons why he moved back he said; the prices; home close to the sea, good temperature and accessible living. Sure there’s the occasional shortage of water and electricity, but such things would be more severe if you didn’t know how to deal with it.
I should re-wind to the days before the Expozisao, explain and write about some processes and see where we are, where we’ve come from. If an exhibition is the last act of a residency, then we are done; but are we? When I last left off I was working on the sound piece, “Cidade e un Imaginacao.” I worked on it until it was done, well, as done as it would be for the purpose of exhibition and study. Gisela eventually finished her piece Sombra the day of the exhibition. Magaly had trouble shot her work the day before the exhibition. She was in Praia accessing her work place. She was looking to project onto the street at night time for the exhibition. Having done her set up the previous night she was able to relax and she actually spent the day in and about the city, while Gisela and I ran around putting our pieces in order. We drove down from Assomada earlier that day, bringing with us extra clothing, for we knew we were staying in Praia. We also brought down the sound equipment needed for my sound piece. No, none of this was provided by the museum, not sure I expected it either! Something to keep in mind for future residents, in places like Praia, or Assomada, think practical, challenge yourself on those means; challenges don’t have to be obviously technical, they can be conceptual and relatively informal.
When we arrived to the Palacio di Cultura I had an interview with a television program called Good Morning Cabo Verde. I am not sure if this was the actual name or the name of a future show the producer mentioned they would be doing. Well, this show, the one the interview was for, actually airs in the States, in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. There is a high concentration of Cape Verdeans in those states and the producer travels back and forth to shoot news and events of the islands to show back in the land of Stars and Stripes; he’s a kind of news agent. A young lady interviewed me, asking questions of my practice, my heritage, my background; essentially, most questions that one would predict to be asked, but yet she touched on a closing element I must mention: Why had the kreolu language escaped me till now; in my practices? Though I answered the meaningful way, the honest way, of a mind that has been inside the English language for over twenty years now, I told her Kreolu was a language I would explore further, for there’s a reason why it is so well used in the countries music and its poems. The language’s short words and drum like sounds make for perfect poetry and it wasn’t until I did my first reading in kreolu, Praia Kenti, Assomada Fresku that I noticed that magic. I told her I would be returning to it for sure, but like any good poetry the power’s in the words, the knowing and controlling of the words would take time.
Gisela too was interviewed by this program. She improvised a piece and spoke about why she was here and where she was from. She seemed a bit shy, unsure about how the translation would go. The program is specifically in Kreolu. It did not matter how she answered back, just as long as the questions were asked in the native tongue. This is why I feel she was a bit nervous, but she pulled through and had much to say as she would later tell me.
We ended up getting everything together for the exhibition, but complaints were abundant. I am not sure how many of them are ours, the resident’s and how many are others, but I will discuss them slightly. From Abraao and Angelo position the condition of the space of was unacceptable; wholes on the walls, tape marks, faded paint, plugs which don’t work, workmen which don’t work! But, I was at ease with most of it, not sure if it was the mental notice I had previously given myself, or even that I’ve been used to setting up my own spaces and feeling that such tasks should be partly the artist’s, but I could understand the complaints, for they were just; they had merit, weight. The pressure lays on the director, who at one point came in to see how things were progressing and was upset with his staff for not telling him about ‘things’ that need fixing were mentioned to him. He expressed this anger in front of me and Abraao, but all such disciplines fall on him; he is, after all, the director of the building. Complaints would later come from other seasoned artist, those who too have dealt with this space. They critict over the decay which is currently happening with the site, how is it that is was refurbished less then ten years ago and now ninety percent of the electrical fixtures in the exhibition halls don’t work, along with the lighting in one of the small showing rooms? I too saw these complaints. The lack of institutional infrastructure is clearly evident if one just takes a few days to notice it. The person in charge of exhibition help left early that day and did not return until mid-afternoon; nice young guy, but on a day of exhibition, he should have been there all day, well into the night; but who’s job was it to make sure he was there? Exactly, the directors! I had to buy extension cords and our refreshments for the event, these are things that I will look to have sponsored in the future, but the institution should have a better handle on the situation that arise; the place really is decaying.
The exhibition went well and was well received. We had a good amount of people, from students, to locals, to professionals, but for the level of the event and for the place where it was held, again, complaints falls on the institution. Cesar, as invited guest on the Abraao’s show, 180degrees, commented in this lack of support for contemporary art. He said that had it been some traditionally bases artist, with age, known, and familiar, that the response would have been different. The argument can follow that line of thought, but contemporary art also needs to win audiences, much like those traditionalists did. I support the argument made only so far as there weren’t any persons of the director’s stature, and position, who came, all the ones that came were friends we made, person we’ve engaged or who have been receptive to our residency. This is thanks mostly to Angelo, a person I said is like a supporting patron, for he forwards these contemporary concerns which are full of critical evaluation and dialogue. So, in this respect of peer audiences the institution being the oldest peer did not represent itself; Cesar’s critic is right on. These conversations would later continue at Comet; the after hangout for most people in this side of Praia, and the place with one of the best hamburgers I have ever eaten: a hamburger patty, a fried egg, french-fries, mayo, ketchup in a soft bun with a hard shell, crazy good.
My parents came, father included, this was really positive. They participated having come all the way from Assomada; no hesitation and no complaints. They were in the space they help to create, with support and guidance. Much love.
The exhibition, as we the residents could tell, was a success. Magaly broke ground with her projection on the asphalt street in front of the Palacio di Cultura. Not sure if she had it in mind, but the idea was actually first generated by Abraao. He had once mentioned how interesting it would be to have a compilation of shots, of works from different artists, project on a building over looking the beach, and though this is not new in most parts of the West, it is some what new here. In and off themselves such projections are always new. The way they become architectural and how they visual disrupt the landscape is something that has high level of dependency on where it is actually done. Magaly project a ship which is wrecked in the shores of Praia. She taped it and projected it as is on the street below. Gisela’s piece was also projected, but inside the exhibition space. Thought it was fitting I know she wanted her projections with sound, but seeing as my sound piece was on the same site, she could only hear hers on headphones; some people took the time to hear it, others did not, but as an image, it was strong. Abraao’s work garnered much attention. Capturing Gisela’s movements in abstracted sequences was interesting for those who studied it; there was much to look at, from gradations of blacks and whites to actual physical movements captured in stills. Magaly’s photo manipulations were also a success, they were familiar scenes and objects and their play was accessible; people could relate; such combinations always make for crowed pleasers. My piece was again one of those which had people sounding out phrases. The sounds merged into each other at times, but at others they had to act on their own. Some people paused and listened, focusing on the whole sentence of each speaker; sound work here is new, sound work as art that is, this is why I felt it important; breaking in a dimension of thought and possibilities was part of my program. Words are powerful and they can have a lasting sting, repetition often guides this and utilizing such strengths here in the island would be a strong social and artistic study for artists.
Contemporary exhibitions here are said to be the opening night only, this may be true; follow up views are very rare The residents and I were thinking of taking the show down today, instead of leaving it up until closing time Monday. If it weren’t for the technical side of the pieces the show could stay up, but Gisela’s projection was only for one day, so was Magaly’s, the projectors need to be returned today. I am scared to leave my sound piece equipment in the space. Yesterday night I actually took it all down and placed it in a back room; not sure if I could do that every night! Will see how the thought progresses, it may be that it comes down today!

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