Monday, June 2, 2008

Running to the finish line and just noticed the biginning!

May 30th

Back in Praia for the day, picked up my father's Nissan truck and headed out with the residents. Drove down and picked up some people on the way, the polite thing to do. When we got to Praia we went straight to the Palacio Di Cultura. There we met with Jose-Maria, who assisted us with setting up the day for the exhibition, and further then we thought, is also assisting the residency by plugging us in with announcements and interviews. I will be interviewed this coming Monday; big ups for the promotion and forwarding of the residency. The room we will occupy for the exhibition will be in the second floor, two rooms, one small and one large. There we will look to fill all three pieces of work. As of now they seem to be Magaly’s Photoshop, postcard images, Gisela’s performance piece and my sound piece. As it also stands I look to include more work, invitations have been put out for more work which accentuates the critical conversations on art and Cape Verde. I placed this call to Agelo, seeing as he is a Cape Verdean Creative. He feels his position is one of music but I told him that we want work that is of a creative capacity, and he can offer this. With our conversations on critical work in the country and where we feel such works are most needed, I said it would be a shame if he let this opportunity pass. How challenging this would be, for he, who has also been feeling and thinking of the same things, to place such work forward; for discussion mostly. We will see! I will also be placing this call to Abraao and possibly others, but keeping in mind that it is short notice and simplicity may be best. Again, will see!
Gisela and I later rehearsed a highly improvised piece for the exhibition later that night, Texturas Da Cidade. We followed this up with a sit down for some sandes and some pastries. We spoke about may things as we have when alone; positions of lover and residents, professionalism and space, attention and need; essentially conversations that stretch within the frameworks of a working relationship. This is yet another test of how we relate, how we should understand our works, those that both function in creative fields. Still, though this, as I see, we are working together, even collaborating; a chance we did not have before.
The exhibition later that day was positive. We, Gisela and I, did out performance piece to great applauses. We could not have asked for more. We chose to perform a collaborative process. I say process for it was this up until the end. We both favored a kind of improvisation, even though we had run though an idea of it in the space. I had written a piece about the city and characterizations; persons lost in it, evaluating themselves in it and reaching a position of death through apprehension. I wrote in both kreole and English the stanzas were broken in three and the oration were fast and loud, but not too loud. We both wore black, signifying a death of sorts. We started the piece by interrupting the space of the viewers. Gisela sat on the floor and I sat on top of her, rising up to sounds of Praia is hot, Praia Straight, Praia e kenti, Praia Direito. I then made my way to a corner behind a metal stand, and from there I read the spoken work poem. Gisela, upon my reaching the first words on the page, reacted and created a slightly improvised dance, feeding off of what we had spoken about, the meaning of the words on the page. The process felt illuminating. I could not see most of her dance as I was reading; this is the reason for my limited description of her movements and presence. I will look at some form of the event later through Magaly’s documentation later and see how she reacted to the space. The rest of the exhibition I will speak on further through a separate critic I will write. I can now only say that it did not reach the level of engagement that it proclaimed to have done. The works presented were interesting as far as they each had a language particular to an artist, but what was missing was the particularity to the theme. As of the crowed it was a small positive crowed; the usual suspects. I wonder what Angelo’s critic will be, seeing as his main point of contention is how exclusive most events of the such are.

An excerpt from the poem Praia Kenti, Assomada Fresku:

Inka ta podi meshi, poisoned fissures growing inside, di mundu suju, kuru, rudimentary finds, rua duru, comida inta paga, strada, wrota quote in boxed corners, danger happens, afrenti di ora nova, simplicidade ta dizaparesi, it is he who I was, paranoid, deishun in pas, ta anda na rua shuju, who you, wonder who you think you are, karu ta passa ta pedi pun sai di kaminho, bestido dreto, hey you I ask, history did not start yesterday, infinity either, e bo, nha vida ka di oji, nha storia ka di manha, paranoia es kre atakun.

Di tudu nta kori, luring from my story, ka ta kre mori, but time is hissing, like smoke sounds in Indian autumns, sima sangue di porku ta tinta pedra mar, even the way love will never be defined, mi bu kata achun na meio di moderno, na meio di inferno. What breaks the wind current from sweeping the brown from the grass, ki ta pega morti frenti di kasa seku, that hides the poverty in sweeping cells of tourism, Frenti di mi jung oja kel tempo, where sharks feed on bated salt waters, na undi ideas ta bendedu sima grogu na kotelu, where afro hairs are faded in memory of old pictures. Pashensha

Oh but life turns and always whispers our future, e ta kanta na ruas Verdi undi sandalnhas ka teni medo, where sugar canes wait you at the door, ripe of taste, cured by fate, nos futuru e un rua simples, returns of everything locomote the train for they do not work, porkaria di modernidade sufrimento soundavel, synchronization wishing fast paced elimination e nos, nu ta salta korda di tempo melhor sopa oja tempo sen kor.

I must rewind a bit, for earlier, before the exhibition, we actually went to Abraao’s home, and studio. There we saw his works, both current and passed. We left the space knowing and feeling that conversations had to be had. We would have to sit with more time and discuss the works. Off hand I saw a lot of reference to a famous young New York artist who died very young, a black figure in the eighties whose works were full of coded languages. Abraao´s works from a distance are works that seem to be in a space of exploration, these positions are reinforced by him; commitment at this moment is something he is not ready to give. I find it to be the best position to be in for a person like him. His involvements in the cultural milieu of Sao Tiago will enforce a language that he is only touching at in this moment. Cementing anything now may complicate an already complicated collection of works.

May 31st

I need to continue to write on yesterday and further more on today. Both days have been active. Yesterday’s continuation resumes with an interview I had with Abraao on his show, 180degrees. The show airs on Friday nights at ten pm on Television Cape Verde. The program seems to be a popular one, this comes with limited surprise, for there aren’t many things aside from the news and novellas on that station. Abraao’s show is a break of tradition, it spaces itself afar by utilizing young persons of cultural interest and asking them to comment and create discourse over the issues that he has a strong hand in bringing up. They can vary in many different directions, but politics are usually central and the ending segments usually include some cultural person. On this day I was that cultural end, brought in to speak about the residency and comment on the arts in the city of Praia. I had only about ten minutes but it ran with the speed of television. I barely had the time to adjust when I was asked to voice an opinion of criticism over the traditional practices and institutions of art in the city. I admit I cautioned in this response for I feel for the residency I need to have connection and support, something that can easily fade in the quarters of attitude, hurt somebody’s feelings and you may be casted ashore. I liked Abraao’s push for critic, it is something I too would push for, but I have learned that working from the inside is a more lasting change, from the outside one, in time, just ends up making noise. I would later find out that my parents watched it, and others, but my mother told me that she could see the slight hint of caution in my responses; it is not as if I was hiding it. Great that she received some calls from her friends congratulating her on her son’s achievements. She deserves it. On we went to the after meets.

We gathered at Comet, the hit place in Praia for those who know that to be seen is to exist, the hang out of the young intellectuals and professionals. There I met with Cesar and another artist whose name escapes me now. It is a name I should get shortly and plant in my memory box, for he too is a young Creative; an architect. In our conversation Cesar continued to place weight on the exhibition he curated. He spoke about its importance and how relevant it was, that it spoke of the Now, and if so, that by just that effort it should be significant. For him the transitory period of city life in Sao Tiago is noted in the exhibition and as such it should be valued and valuated with such respects. It is true that the curator has to work an exhibition’s dialogue outside the space of the exhibition as well, but we should be weary when such talks are happening at levels louder then the exhibition. This is what I felt; but again, I will be writing a stint on this exhibition shortly and will have its full critic. Another topic which arose was more significant in thought, that of documentation in the city, with regards to exhibitions and Happenings. I understood from them that there were none, at which point I suggested they build one. Cesar and the other artist confused over the issue and even relegated such tasks to others, but I pushed the attitude that it was all our works and efforts that would go down untold, if something weren’t done. I suggested that the first form of tangible space they should look to occupy is the public library, that by it being public—and authoritative when it comes to public knowledge—that they should place their objects of information there. That a petition should be carried forward so that a section of the humanities department in the library is devoted to the documentation of contemporary art. That they, themselves, should be the providers of this documentation, that in just ten years a catalogue of events could be compiled that would feed and grow the process of cultural dialogue, and that their attitude towards the country, that of feeling that everything always goes back to zero, would be turned; persons would now have a place to study, to assess the previous creative comments and build from them. I told them that documentation should be done and gathered by persons who have the ability to write, both critically and creatively, for it would be this type of writing that would allow for future shows—which build on previous shows—to be more critical and daring. In time the rest of the crew came, the residents, Agelo, Baluka, Abraao, etc… we finished with a long extended ride home; I say extended for one of the residents inquired about the need to finish a residency physically (her physically needing to be there) if the work for the residency was already done. This question came because the resident wanted to know if it was poignant to wait for the final exhibition, seeing as her work was already done, and to her that was the purpose of the residency (CICER-08 exhibition, Assomada to Praia, Diretu). I explained that a residency exhibition not only brings the works of the residents together, but the residents themselves. It brings them in to a space of evaluation and critic, a space where anyone can access them and ask of their thoughts of/in the residency/country; the works can not do this alone. I asked the resident what residency programs just ask for residents to make work and not participate in some ending process? The conversation left me bitter, more aware of the attitudes of individuals and it made me cautious, again, at what type of access of am giving out, how does appreciation get seen, through what lens, by what efforts, by what direction? But it also made me think of time, how time may function differently for many people, especially if you miss home.

June 1st
Continuing on to yesterday, seems I am always a day behind, but reflections are good after some time. We were reminded of donations we had promised a school teacher we would give. This was in Gisela’s birthday. She is a friend of my mothers and on that day we had told her we would go to the school and donate some footballs. The footballs were a collection of about ninety balls that were donated through a call out process of asking friends for donations, so that I and Gisela may bring something to the kids of Sao Tiago. The call out was well received seeing as I only expected to bring about twenty balls or so. We went to the local primary school and many of the kids were there. Yesterday, Saturday, was the day they chose to celebrate national kids day, June 1st. It was an incredible sight, all these kids hanging out, playing, and being feed, drinking and dressed for a day of festivities. We, Gisela my mother and I, sat down in the teacher’s room, looking at all of the kids taking a lunch break. She gave us some Feijuada and then some cake. The kids looked on to us with gawking eyes, mostly at Gisela. Her pale skin, long black hair and small features are things mostly seen on television, though there are such person that pass by Assomada, most of them are not that close, close enough so that those very features of difference can be seen and studied. We ate and then were introduced to the Head Teacher. We presented the gifts to him and understood that it would be best that the school take the donations, instead of individual kids. We’ve had lessons here with these balls, new things are often seen as prizes not to be touched, worse even they are seen as elements of jealousy. We’ve had to be careful how to hand them out, not for our sake, but more for the recipient of the gift. If it is a small child we have to worry that older kids will take it from her, if they are a group we have to be careful who holds and secures it, usually a grown up. On this day we handed them out the correct way, the way the balls would be best utilized. It has been a slight accent to the way I advertised I would hand them out, but it is the decision that was best for the moment.
Gisela and I later met Beto and his wife, we were doing so for a lunch meeting we had planned earlier, but after the Feijuada our belies were full, coffee and some conversation was all we could muster. Here we met another American, much like Magaly; somewhat like her, he was ‘authentic.’ He was from Virginia and his name is Nick. He is in Assomada as a volunteer worker for the Peace Core. He went to Virginia Tech and studied engineering and alternative building practices. He was here working at the local Technical school. He came off as a very caring guy. We spoke Kreolu and bantered slightly with English, for me it was good to see an American accent on this language I grew up with. He’s a tall guy, blond and very open. He took Gisela and I, Beto and his wife and daughter, to go see the Feijuada, he and some of his students cooked, using a solar oven made out of cardboard, aluminum foil and a glass plate, even some recycled journals for insulation. It was ridiculously incredible how something so simple could go a long way. Yet these are the lessons of a greener world, reality is that simplicity has always been available, but capitalism re-simplifies simplicity and sells it. The product this young man showed us was explained further by one of his students, and there is where one was able to see how easily this world could change, for it could be as simple as that interaction. Along with this product we were shown a water heating system that used broken and discarded glass bottles to heat up water, by placing an elongated tube through it; again the sun to the rescue. All-in-all the presence of this kid was positive. Young men and women who volunteer on a dream and hope, that beyond their countries they can affect change most rapidly, all-the-while the big elephant continues on roaming in the park, stubborn to the changes happening right under its trunk; good all United States. I’ve always said it, that there are two types of Americans. Often in Europe I get hear slack about the States, its politics, its peoples, its history and future. I tell such persons, when they are worth the conversation, that America has always been made up to two citizens; the capitalist sterotype

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