Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Emanation (2009)

Over the course of four weeks, 250 Hanoi residents captured their “breath” by blowing- up balloons. The balloons were used to construct a column for an installation at Nha San Studio. The participants are members of various community groups in Hanoi including: Action for the City, Nha San Studio artists, and the people who live and work in the Thuy Khue district of Hanoi near the Studio.

The balloon-breath column echoes the structural stilts of the Nha San Studio building, an example of the vernacular architectural form, nha san, (house on stilts), in which Emanation was installed.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ambulatory (2009)

While in residence in Hanoi, Vietnam, I asked four local artists to paint a portrait of my feet. Each artist (Nguyen Quoc Hung, Nguyen Nam Dong, Nguyen Cao Thang, and Nguyen Tat Long) was given the same photo of my feet walking. I encouraged each of them to use their own artistic license in the interpretation of the subject.

Hanoi has many businesses that specialize in re-creating copies of highly regarded original paintings. I took each of the finished feet portraits to four different Hanoi businesses that specialize in the “reproduction of the world’s masterpieces” I asked the owner to have a copy made of one of the original I gave them. Subsequently, I directed the owner of each shop to have the copy they had made reproduced by a different copy artists that they employ. The second copy was then reproduced by yet another one of their copy artists I continued this process until a total of five copies were made. The fifth copy was, in fact, a copy of the copy of the copy of the copy of the original.

The “copy” asserts the significant importance of the “original” and at the same time implies that an aspect of its full potential is not realized without it being reproduced. Displayed as a group together with the original paintings, my feet are animated. I walk…

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Harlem Expressions: Made In Harlem (2008-09)

Harlem Expressions is a series of community-based art projects involving the youth organization TRUCE (The Renaissance University of Community Education) a division of Harlem Children’s Zone located in central Harlem, New York City. These projects were collaboratively designed with TRUCE’s students and staff, and reflect its mission to educate and empower youth. TRUCE aims to support youth in becoming agents of positive personal and social change through the arts, academics and activism. Each term the students and staff of TRUCE identifies a topic that becomes the thematic focus of their programming. That fall the theme was “Made in Harlem”, and intended to focus the youth on the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Harlem.

Through a series of biographical examinations focused on experiential reflections of themselves as Harlem residents, participants developed a life-sized “personal shape” that became the basis for further collective work.
These shapes were constructed from transparent acrylic sheets, available as surplus from Material For the Arts, a local public re-use center. Each participant incorporated on their constructed shape text, images, and textures that reflect aspects of having been “Made In Harlem”. Though discussion and research, participants identified a neighborhood site, and evolved a collective public sitework in response to that site, using their acrylic shapes. This work was subsequently reinstalled for an exhibition of this work at Macy Gallery, Teachers College, Columbia University in March, 2009.

Harlem Expressions aimed to utilize social, collective and material investigation strategies to reveal the way each of us shapes and is shaped by each other over time in our community.