November 30, 2009

Human Machine


Another inspiring meeting with my teacher Kathleen...

I have been thinking about the loose ends in my piece and it wasn't till my meeting today that I was able to realize what I was missing. The project has now evolved into a series of steps that will eventually lead to the machine breaking up -or the Human aspect of the employee finally taking over the machine.

I intend to have three levels of response:

1- Fill out form. Basics. Multiple choice.
The response will lead to a more elaborate form.

2- Answer simple questions. Once sentence maybe, no more.
The response will lead to a third form, much more profound and more in touch with Human nature.

3- The response this time will be human. The effort of those who filled out the forms, took time to think, asked questions and went through the process WILL be rewarded. The reward is still being thought of, it does have to point out at the Human condition; what exactly makes us Human and how we can rejoice on it. This idea is brand new so it needs to be further develop.

Summery of the process, so far:

1- The project will be advertised as a marketing campaign. The Machine represents the corporate world as one. Possible names for this made-up corporation IUTU (It's Up To You) Playing also with the reading of the word as: You Too. The company will be promoting a chance of winning freedom of mind. Bring coupon to participate?

2- Machine set up. Line up. Fill out a form and place it on the conveyor belt. Each form will have a reference number to be able to keep track of the process, in case people don't come back till later.

3- Machine's response requires another response. This time the form gets a bit more complex. It is open for people to continue participating or not.

4- To the second response there will be a third and more profound form. Those who respond will obtain the reward.

I will ask for contact information in the first form, in order to keep in touch with those who follow through and are interested in more. This might develop into something else in the future.

November 24, 2009

All at Once


Today's song:
All at Once, by Jack Johnson

All at once the world can't overwhelm me
There's almost nothing that you could tell me
That could ease my mind

Which way will you run
When it's always all around you
And the feelin' lost and found you again
A feeling that we have no control
Around a song some say
There's gonna be the new hell, some say
It's still too early to tell, some say
It really ain't no myth at all

Keep asking ourselves
Are we really strong enough?
There's so many things
That we got too proud of
We're too proud of...
We're too proud of...

I wanna take the preconceived
Out from underneath your feet
We could shake it off

Instead we'll plant some seeds
We'll watch em' as they grow
And with each new beat from your heart
The roots grow deeper
The branches will they reach for what
Nobody really knows
But underneath it all there's this heart
All alone


What about is gone and it really won't be so long
Sometimes it feels like a heart
Is no place to be singing from at all

There's a world we've never seen
There's still hope between the dreams
The weight of it all could blow away with a breeze
If your waitin on the wind
Don't forget to breathe
Cause as the darkness gets deeper
We'll be sinkin
As we reach for love
At least somethin we could hold
But I'll reach to you
From where time
Just can't go

What about is gone
And it really won't be so long
Sometimes it feels like a heart
Is no place to be singing from at all...

Finding the missing links


Definitions of dehumanize

Oxford English Reference Dictionary:

v.tr. (also -ise)
1. deprive of human characteristics.
2. make impersonal or machine-like.
Derivatives:
dehumanization n.

Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner\'s English Dictionary

dehumanize (dehumanizes, dehumanizing, dehumanized) Note: in BRIT, also use 'dehumanise'. If you say that something dehumanizes people, you mean it takes away from them good human qualities such as kindness, generosity, and independence. The years of civil war have dehumanized all of us. VERB: V n

Nov. 26 - Post curatorial group presentation

Today our works were presented by the curatorial group as if they were presented to the media. I separated myself from my own project and tried to understand it from a different angle. The person who presented my piece successfully conveyed the concept and idea behind the machine, however what I heard from her was mostly what I have written in my proposal, so I didn't get a chance to hear her own perspective or interpretation of it. In spite of this, I did take a couple of notes of the missing bits and pieces that would make my piece make sense on it's own:

-how to motivate the question?
-what's the question?
-number?
-performance
-how will people submit questions? typing machine? handwriting?

I need to connect the "Why" of the questions.
missing links.
Ridiculous machine...

MISSING LINKS

Why to ask a question?
what question?
what exactly does the machine represent? CORPORATIONS?

interview people:
-what is a corporation?
-how do you feel about them?
-any personal experience? neg? pos?

performance:
painted smile,robotic attitude.
confront audience.

Offer service? coupons? invite people?
what's the process???

At this point I feel I'm in the right track. The concept is strong and I'm expressing a real concern in a creative way. The problem is that I'm lacking the element that will motivate people to use the machine. To be able to ask a question is not tying the project together; there are still to many broken links. Steve talked about process. What's the process in submitting a complaint? what's expected? what's the outcome? Let's imagine that my machine represents all corporations. I'm not sure I want this to turn into a complaint machine. I'd much rather get people excited about being given the opportunity to ask questions. But which questions and for what purpose? THAT'S THE QUESTION IN QUESTION...

Definitions of corporation

InvestorWords.com:
The most common form of business organization, and one which is chartered by a state and given many legal rights as an entity separate from its owners. This form of business is characterized by the limited liability of its owners, the issuance of shares of easily transferable stock, and existence as a going concern. The process of becoming a corporation, call incorporation, gives the company separate legal standing from its owners and protects those owners from being personally liable in the event that the company is sued (a condition known as limited liability). Incorporation also provides companies with a more flexible way to manage their ownership structure. In addition, there are different tax implications for corporations, although these can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. In these respects, corporations differ from sole proprietorships and limited partnerships.

I read this and I laugh. Basically corporations are allowed by law to screw their customers and not be responsible for it. It all makes sense now!!

The tittle of the piece might need to be changed. DeHuman might be too literal:
-InCorporate
-InCorporation
-Don't sweat it!!!

Response of a response to a response

Yesterday I've received a second response from the ADR office which is basically a copy and paste of the first letter. I'm thinking of responding once again, this time stripping all BS apart. Maybe a more direct and honest question...

November 18, 2009

First Proposal - DeHuman Machine


The DeHuman Machine is a kinetic sculpture/performance piece that reflects the loss of human values required to fulfill specific roles in society. To be more specific, the machine points at the automatization and devalue of the human spirit in order to accommodate the current economic system, oriented towards profit gaining and consumerism.

The structure:

As the idea developed recently, the machine structure is not entirely planned out as of yet. Its structure consists of an office cubicle run through by a crank-activated production line. The worker (performer) is inside the cubicle performing his or her duty; which is answering to written questions from the audience in a semi-automatic manner.

How it works:

The participant will write a question in a piece of paper (provided by the machine) and will place it on the conveyor belt going into the office. To get the paper inside the machine, he or she will have to crank a handle that will activate the "production line". Inside, the worker will receive the question, place it in a box and dispense the automated answer in the same manner as it was submitted -there will be a crank on the inside which runs the conveyor belt going on the opposite direction. No matter what the question is, the answer will be a non-answer and will be the exact same for each question.

Performance:

This piece does not intend to just get people frustrated when realizing they will not receive a straight answer, it is also meant to have the audience experience both sides of the machine. The functional side was mentioned previously but the performance piece is what is going to get the audience BE the machine. At given times, the worker-performer will take breaks and will ask of people passing by to run the machine for the time he or she is gone off duty. The working of the machine would be explained in such a way that will enable the audience to become active participants of the process and inner workings of the machine.

Intention:

The piece was inspired by a set of correspondences between myself and a banking institution, which resulted in merely burocratic responses from the employees I have contacted. After a mistake made by the Royal Bank of Canada, which jeopardized my financial situation, I decided to write an extensive letter in which I asked of the reader to step outside their role as an employee of the institution and give me a response from their "human" perspective. Up to this date, I have not been able to bend the rules and regulations which prevents the employee from being a person. My question can only be answered by a human being who has values and emotions. A human being, by simply fulfilling the role of an employee, is sacrificing their human values and becoming no different than a machine that has been programmed to execute a specific duty.

With this piece I intend to demonstrate that what holds the economic structure together is in fact a person becoming desensitized from human emotions and fulfilling the role for which they have been trained. How much are we willing to sacrifice our moral values in order to do the job? What is our real job as human beings? How far will we get as a civilization by denying our hearts and free will?

"The mediator between head and hands must be the heart..."
(Metropolis, Fritz Lang - 1927)

November 17, 2009

Reference 855-229516


Yesterday I finally received a response from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada:

"FCAC sympathizes with your concerns; however, please note that FCAC has no
jurisdiction over matters of contract or the day-to-day operations and decisions
of banks. banks determine their own internal policies and guidelines with
respect to the servicing of customers and their accounts"

Really? Is this all you have to say? Is this your humane response? So far I have received a response to three of the four letters I have sent. Not a single response answered my question. I am starting to think that they are not capable, as employees of a bank institution, to respond as human beings. I can't blame them, it's their job. And to work for such institution you most likely need to get rid of all your human instincts. This is exactly what has inspired my performance piece: the de-human machine (still not the official tittle)

November 10, 2009

Zooming in


The responses to the letter, mentioned in my last entry, triggered a chain reaction of thoughts and the development of my installation piece. I came up with the idea of setting up a space full of blind-folded mannequins; each of them in a particular social context. I thought the idea was brilliant, I felt I had actually hit the nail this time. Everything started falling into place nicely, until today.

I first talked to Kathleen, one of my teachers and theoretical support, and her first response was: drop the mannequins. My intial reaction was the though that my piece had just been murdered but after thinking for a while the suggestion started to make sense. The mannequins as they are, have a whole history behind. It would be quite difficult for me to achieve what I want to achieve using objects that have been objectified and de-objectified a thousand times. So I thought: okey, maybe I can just set up the spaces with the blind folds somewhere around each scenario. No manequinns. Leave the spaces open for people to fill them in -either physically or mentally. And then I met with Steve, my production teacher...

After an hour long conversation plus a taxi ride to the Power Plant (my many thanks to Steve) we came to the conclusion that I need to tear apart the global issue and zoom in at one of the many problems. I guess that my way of branching out is only making me lose focus. As Kathleen mentioned in a previous meeting, I need to find ONE or TWO issues or meanings or concepts, rather than trying to generalize. Steve said the same. I am starting to say the same. But the way I develop ideas makes it hard for me to break things down and I understand this is something I am going to have to learn if I want to make significant art pieces. This is my chance to learn it.

The plan now is to sketch a chart and/or algorythm to represent my telephone conversation with a dehumanized bank employee and her relationship with the bank. I will study the procedures that were sent to me from the ADR Chambers and find co-relations between them and I will look for contradictions. After I have the flow chart I would be able to identify relationships and maybe come up with more ideas. Some ideas are already generating in my brain:

-Performace piece:
Me, blind-folded, inside an office cubicule, dehumanized, blurting policies and responding with more policies to any particular question asked by the audience. The CON of this is that I don't want to make an angry piece. I want to find a way to focus in the possible solutions rather than just bitching about the problem.

-Need/want >> give/take:
You want, you take more. You give, you need to give more. How do I show people that the current system is based on wanting/taking which leaves us all VERY unsatisfied? How do I focus on the possitive aspects of giving? Relationship to the present economic system?

I want to thank my teachers for pushing me this far. I hope I can keep pushing myself without going crazy in the process.

Artists to research:
-Mark Lombardi
-Candice Breitz (exhibit at the Power Plant)
-"The Moniac" by Michael Stevenson

November 3, 2009

First responses


Last week I finalized my letter to RBC and sent it out on Friday by registered mail. Monday morning I obtained my first response from the ADR Chambers. "ADR Chambers Banking Ombuds Office (ADRBO) reviews decisions of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Ombudsman when RBC customers are not satisfied with the outcome of the RBC Ombudsman process. An independent ADR Chambers Investigator can advise customers about whether they have been treated fairly. If a complaint requires a full investigation, an investigation will be conducted and the Investigator may make non-binding recommendations." The fact that they responded so quickly makes me think that no one is actually making any complaints...

The response, however, seemed like a joke and I requested a letter so that I could have it in writing. The lady who called me said I needed to send a letter to Royal Bank before they could even look into the complaint. I will try to reproduce the conversation.

ADR lady: We have received your letter and I would like to let you know that before we can even look at it, you need to escalate with Royal Bank first. Only after you have received a response from them, if you are not satisfied with their explanation, you can contact us.

Me: Have you read the letter?

ADR Lady: Yes, but as I said, you need to contact RBC first.

Me: I had.

ADR Lady: Oh, you didn't state that in your letter.

Me: Well, if you've read the letter you'd realize it's not the point. So you mean before I can get a (humane) response from you, first I need a response from RBC.

ADR Lady: That's correct.

Me: Have you read the letter?

The conversation continued for a few minutes and it kept getting more and more ridiculous. That's when I requested I get a letter. Now I have something to use for my final project. I took it with humour...
Then Tuesday morning, I got a call from Client Care. They are investigating what has happened. I say there isn't too much to investigate. I would like a response to my question... is that too much to ask? Apparently, there are no humans working in banks...


This is the letter that was sent out:

To whom I would like to concern;

My name is Agata Ivanna Pogorelsky and have been a “customer” of Royal Bank since 2002. I write this letter as a re-action to a mistake made by your institution that has, quite frankly, jeopardized the balance I seek in my life. I hope this letter will make the reader think and re-consider specific values and the ethical issues behind certain policies and the way these are implemented. As well, I am hoping that my words will inspire a feeling not only of compassion but of responsibility, not for my own benefit but for all of us. I do not expect anything but a humane response to my call for awareness of a very realistic problem, which is affecting many people, in various ways. Allow me to start by briefly mentioning what has occurred.

In February 2009, I personally went to one of your branches in downtown Toronto, to get advice from a financial specialist. As I know little about finances, I trusted your institution to handle “my” money according to my needs and for my best interests. I was then advised to open a tax-free account, which would give me a higher-rate interest and would enable me to put some money aside without being charged for taxes. I followed the financial advisor’s suggestion -I decided that his name would be omitted- fully trusting this was indeed my best option and handed him some cheques. Close to $7000 in total was ought to be deposited and transferred to the new account; this was the money I had just received from OSAP for the winter semester. I must mention that I am currently enrolled in my 4th and last year of University, which not only means I will be graduating very soon, but also, I will have to start re-paying the HUGE debt that I got myself into just so that I could go to school and become “somebody” (I am starting to have my doubts about this last statement)

By the end of my meeting, all my cheques had been deposited and my new tax-free account had been opened with a balance of $5000; with the remaining of the money being deposited into my existing checking account. I did not have to do much except sit on the other side of the desk, hand in the cheques, and express my concerns about my finances and my future. Six months later, I get a phone call from this same person “regretting” to inform me that a mistake had been made and the bank would take away $5000. He explained that during my visit to the branch the money was never actually transferred, so even when I was showing those $5000 in my bank statements, they were not really there and they had never been. I was never given any option or even asked how this action would affect me.

How do I make you understand the financial situation your institution, the Royal Bank of Canada, has put me in? My last year of University, with no income other than the $12,000 the government lends me each year for 8 months of school, with a debt of almost $50,000 eagerly waiting for me to graduate to be re-paid, with $2194.18 of unpaid tuition and almost a $1000 in credit card debts; how am I supposed to give it my very best and my all to my final year of University? The money I assumed I had, the budget I had calculated for the year and the details of what these $5000 entails, have now evaporated. So I ask: am I supposed to NOT finish school so that I can get a job and pay my rent?

This is the question I want to pose to you, the reader of this letter, who I am hoping will not be anonymous by the time he or she finishes reading. In the society we live in, who gets “rewarded”? Is it those who struggle the most to achieve excellence? Or is it those who have the money to buy their way around? As it is, society is pushing people like me to become criminals, to infringe the law, to break the rules; because the rules seem to be fair for only a few: those who have the financial resources to come and go as they please, to buy their status, to change the rules, and to, in a way, abuse those who do not have as much money.

So I ask you, what am I supposed to do? I am an individual, 26 years of age, with a part-time job that leaves me with no more than $200 a month, only because I have the full-time job of being a student. I have no financial support other than a government loan, which I am likely to be re-paying for quite a number of years of my life. What happens then with my dreams? My dreams of growth and freedom, of becoming a better person... What happens then with my desire of helping to build a better world? My concerns for my community and my fellow human beings are realistic, yet I fear I will not be able to pursuit my goals, as I have been ripped off the little “savings” I had –or that I thought I had.

This is the catch 22. It was my choice to go to school. Seven years ago I immigrated with my family to this wonderful country that Canada is; my parents wanted a better future for me and my sister. After seven years spent with people from so many different cultures, learning the many points of view and understanding a bit better the world we live in; I developed a genuine interest in people, in life and in the pursuit of freedom. I immersed myself in a journey of self discovery so that I could start giving and contributing to this country, which has been an example all around the world. This is why I chose to go to school: to develop ethics, get educated, get informed and to learn and push myself to the best I can be. I believe you can give genuinely, only when you know who you are and what you are capable of. I want to give back to the people what I was given as a gift, but I cannot break free of these chains you have put me in.

I write to you, as a representative of one of those chains. I do not expect to live my life without having to pay bills; there will always be bills to pay. But your institution has not only chained me down, it has also cut my wings and any possibility of aiming high, when they took away the little savings I had to get through my final year of school. I quote RBC’s how to make a complaint booklet: “We all stand to gain from open communication” This is my plea for real communication between an institution backed up by the Federal Government of Canada and a self-supporting individual. I would like for you to respond honestly and compassionately to my situation. What am I ought to do? Continue to aim high, strive for excellence and fight for ethics OR find the first job I can and become part of this machinery that is taking us nowhere? I hope to hear from you soon and I thank you in advance for taking the time to read this letter.


Sincerely,

Agata Ivanna Pogorelsky

The Child in Us


Today's song: The Child in Us - Enigma

Who is of smiling face,
bestower of all fortunes,
Whose hands are ready to rescue anyone from fear,
Who is adorned by various ornaments with precious stones...

For to us a child is born,
To us a son is given.
And the government will be
upon his shoulder...

Some day you came
And I knew you were the one
You were the rain,
you were the sun
But I needed both,
cause I needed you.

You were the one
I was dreaming of all my life.
When it is dark you are my light.
But don't forget
Who's always our guide:
it is the child in us.


The days are gradually getting fuller and fuller, everything is manifesting in the most beautiful and organic way. More and more, what I need seems to be presented to me as the day unfolds; everything is happening right here, right now. The less I try to control it, the more opportunities present themselves.

I started my day making Love and that Love kept floating on the air, all around and inside me. The first manifestation occurred when I stopped at a bookstore and saw the book "Men and his symbols" by Carl Jung at the window; mentioned by Gaby only two days ago. While we were hanging out on Sunday -another day full of Love- Gaby suggested I read the book, he even wrote it down on a piece of paper. There it was. Right in front of my eyes. I entered the bookstore to find out what the price was and a black cat with a white spot on the tip of the tail came to greet us. At first he was shy but I'm sure he felt the Love, as he kindly requested to be petted. When I decided it was time to leave, he stood by the door...

At this point, we were heading with Todd to have some lunch and I was wondering what to do for the rest of the day. I could go home or go with him to his audition. I had a "hunch" I should walk with him, so I followed my instinct. We stopped for lunch at a bar called "True Love" on Sherbourne and Queen and we shared a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs while we played an intense game of chess. After a very fulfilling lunch we continued walking towards his audition, turning on random corners, just going South. We weren't very sure where we were or how far it was but when we become aware of this, we were one block away from our destination. We still had 40 minutes before his call time so I suggested we had a coffee. Right there, in front of us, a petite coffee shop. As we entered they said they were actually closing but offered me the coffee that was left, for free. It was an excellent coffee! I left them a tip and walk out the shop feeling very thankful. What else could I possibly need or want? To my surprise, more was coming...

As we arrived at Todd's audition, right there outside the building, I found what I was looking for for my final project. I found in the street three panels to make the office cubicle (part of my installation piece) My final project... There it was. I needed a car to pick them up, so I went inside the building and asked if I could leave them to pick up later. I called my mom to see if she could give me a hand but it was not possible. It's only rarely that I ask for help but when I do, the answer is almost always "no". For the first time in my life I didn't get upset. I realized that the only reason why this happens, is because I can deal with whatever it is by myself. This way, I'm becoming more and more independent, which at the end of the day, it's only for every one's benefit. After Todd's audition we went back to grab the panels; we had decided to carry them all the way back to my place. Todd took two and I took one and with a deep breath, lifted them up over our heads. We hadn't walk a block when we run into Jamie Kastner, a documentary director. The funny thing about this is that yesterday I mentioned to Todd that I hadn't heard back from him but I was sure I would run into him soon. Yes, there he was. I felt I was going to explode... so much was happening completely out of my control, and yet ALL of it was the manifestation of my thoughts!

As we walked home, carrying the panels on our heads, a guy catched up with us and offered his help to carry the third panel for as long as our ways were the same. For a few blocks, which seemed like many, he carried one of the panels on his head. When we got to the corner of Queen and Sherbourne, right in front of "True Love" cafe he put the panel down and said: "This is where I turn left". Todd and I continued walking straight, singing down the street, feeling like those African women who carry heavy stuff on top of their heads, finding how to distribute the weight in a balanced way. Balance and weight. Find the balance and take the weight off. Amazing!

What a fantastic day!! IT IS DEFINITELY HAPPENING...


October 22, 2009

Another turn


(Oct 19th. 2009)

Since my presentation in class of my final project, I’ve found myself going in circles, in cycles. As the conceptual part of it became stronger, the representational aspect of it was becoming weaker. I realized I knew exactly what I wanted to say, but I wasn’t too sure that the way I was intending to do it would get the message across. After the feedback I got from Mark, one of my teachers, I understood I needed to offer the audience a bigger reward if I wanted them to cross the boundaries, to step over their comfort zone. I did come up with what I thought to be a better piece*, but my meeting with Kathleen tonight took me for a ride into the unexpected.

The most important points of my chat with Kathleen were that I needed to narrow my thoughts. Right now, I’m finding all the possible connections between my various concerns, and it’s taking me nowhere but inside my own mind. To materialize my thoughts, it is imperative that I bring it down to the following: What am I trying to say? What’s limiting me from saying it? Is it possible to narrow down my ideas into ONE thing? Each thought I had developed to a point larger than what I can handle in the 4 months I have left. I do want to push myself, I just don’t want to hung me just yet. These are my notes from today’s meeting:

-I need to find resources to put the piece together. Money issues are poking my back once in a while. I try not to get too distracted by my financial situation, but sometimes the ghosts do mellow by to remind me of the huge debt my graduation entails.

-interview people. What’s the “general public” view on art? Expression? Freedom? The current situation worldwide? What worries the “masses”?

-(Kathleen, in response to my financial concern and the money limitations to put my piece together) “You don’t need the metal. You don’t need magnets” I LOVE THE METAPHOR, EVEN WHEN IT WAS NEVER INTENDED TO BE SO.

-Lack of financial resources. To make art, to starve, to make money... What is it going to be? How do I pay my rent? Bank incident (they made a mistake that “cost” me $5000)

-My concerns: FREEDOM // FAIRNESS // THE COLLECTIVE // BALANCE // EVOLUTION

“Art is not a system, is a gesture” (Kathleen)

-Can I comment on the world as a whole? Can I find a way to represent ALL I’m concerned with? How do I break apart the chain into separate links. Focus on one topic. DO NOT GENERALIZE. **Go DEEP into one thing**

-Write a letter to the bank. A personal complaint of what has been imposed that restricts my freedom, and my growth as a human being. Which elements of the system are holding ME back from evolving? Personal experience.

-The bank as a representative entity of this “machine”

-Set of 3 letters. Write to those entities that give me NO choice.
game
write to learn
look for dialogue.

-Take risks!!!

*I thought of hanging a blank canvas, with a steel plate on the back, and have bits and pieces of my art on a magnet sheet, to give people the chance to create something; a collective art piece.

October 12, 2009

One paragraph


"I want to challenge the traditional way we look at Art in the gallery/museum setting. With my piece, I intend to break the boundaries between the work and the audience by making the canvas more of an interactive object rather than something to look at from a certain distance."





Passive viewer vs. active participant

The difference between traditional gallery space and my piece is not only the distance between audience and art work being breached, but also what's presented as final piece. While in the gallery we are presented with a final version of a process, I intend to present the process itself to pose the question of originality and finality.

CONTENT:

Every where I look I see signs of fear and discontent. There's a lack of faith for the future, in the air; nothing but hopelessness in people's faces. Every corner I turn, I come across some sign warning us about the end of the world... is this the apocalypse? People walk around the city in a completely inward motion. Once in a while, someone will smile back at me, but it doesn't happen often. I look for eye contact as I walk down the street but most people are either looking down, or immersed in their cell phones or staring right ahead, into nothingness.

Fear, indifference, ignorance... all of these are holding human beings back from self-awareness (which eventually turns into AWARENESS of what surrounds us) We need to become aware to understand the world we live in and those who live in this world with us. We need to grow out of our shells to be able to take responsibility for our own actions, therefore for our own fate.

As it is, it seems we are indeed at the verge of civilization's collapse. Every notion we have established as the "true grounds" for human evolution, is now being shaken from its core. Every social concept established in the last 100 years needs to be re-thought, needs to be broken up, cause I think it no longer applies to modern times. The system imposed is falling apart, crumbling into a pile of dust. It's like an aging tree that has now died and needs to be removed entirely from its roots, in order to allow the recovery of a malnourished soil and the planting of new seeds. Chopping the tree down in pieces is doing nothing but further poisoning every possibility of re-birth; every possibility of a new Earth emerging from its ashes. We need to BE the change before we are consumed by our own fire.

The imagery used in my final piece will simbolize the changes we are going through, both physically and spiritually. I plan not to think what I draw, but rather allow for the illustration to manifest itself. These are the first sketches:



October 4, 2009

Thesis Project

The time has come for me to show what I've got. Yes, it might sound strange, but it's absolutly true. I've made it to my 4th and final year of University and it's now the time for me to get on stage. What is the show going to be about? Who will be the audience? What is it that I need to get through and how am I going to achieve the spreading of the message?

I have been thinking about my final project from the first day of class in my first year, 3 years ago. Since then, I have come up with all sorts of ideas and concepts but nothing really quite developed into something that fully excited me. This year, after my exchange experience and having had the opportunity to travel around quite a bit, I came back to Toronto deeply inspired. The piece just popped in my head one afternoon, hunging out at Todd's place, while sketching one of my cyclical drawings. From that day, a seed was planted in my brain and started to rapidly grow into a more sophisticated branch of ideas and concepts. I know it's still not a fully grown tree, but I'm sure that with a little more watering and some pruning this might turn into something solid, rooted yet high.

Project

The piece, untitled so far, consists of a set of five canvasses -same size- hunging next to each other on the wall, very much like a painting exhibit. I'm currently considering the possibility of having the typical museum velvet rope around the space, with a sign that instead of keeping the audience away from the paintings, invites them to get closer. The number of canvasses is still not set on stone but so far this is what I have established:

Canvas 1 - Printed Proposal
This canvas will present the project proposal as it is. I haven't yet decided if it will be printed on the canvas, painted (less likely) or glued -more like a collage. This canvas represents the concepts and ideas behind the piece, as well as the burocratic side of Art.

Canvas 2 - Sketch
This canvas will be the first sketch, the skeleton of the painting. It represents the "making of" the art work and the raw state of a painting.

Canvas 3 - Watercolor Painting
This canvas most likely will be painted with watercolor. I chose this medium because it's water based and it's translucent quality will help me incorporate color not too abruptly.

Canvas 4 - Acrylic Painting
This canvas will be one of the biggest challanges for me. I do not feel confident enough that I will be able to keep the nature of the drawing using such an opaque medium. However, the reason why I have chosen to play with different mediums is to see the changes and constraints the same drawing will go under.

Canvas 5 - Blank canvas (painting itself - animation)
This one is the BIG question mark. The idea with this canvas is to have a projection of a stop-motion animation of how canvas #4 was painted. If I were to set up a camera while I paint, I would then have an animation of the painting itself, which then would be projected on this blank canvas. There are many questions still regarding this one, which I believe is the most important of them all, maybe even being the one making THE statement. Will the artist's hands (my hands) be shown? Is this video or film? How to set up the projector to avoid shadows being casted on the canvas?

Another important point is that all the canvasses must be able to be rotated. The anture of my drawings is that they are a string of continuing, transforming and interconected images. They can be turned around to catch a different angle and therefore a different image. This is the main reason why I want the canvasses to be hunged in a way that with enable manipulation. I'm also trying to break the barrier, that has been established for centuries, of painting-audience interaction. The painting has always been something to look at from a certain distance, usually hunging from a very white and immaculate wall, with a velvet rope delimiting a certain distance. What if you were able to no only observe but touch and change the direction in which the painting is hung?

Brainstorming of Ideas

-Ever-changing Art:
Art through time (e.g. canvas worn out from hand manipulation)
Time as an art and as the artist
Medium (how it affects the drawing and what each medium represents)
Continuity > cyclical drawings (movement vs. dimension or movement AND dimension)

-Art through senses. How is it perceived through touch and/or visually
Expectator (passive viewer) vs. Participant (active audience)

-Technology (New Media) vs. Organic (Old Media)

-Audience (?) - Canada > multicultural

"The world in which you were born is just one model of reality.
Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique
manifestations of the human spirit"
(Wade Davis)

*FIND THE ONE VOICE THAT SPEAKS AN UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE*
-Material vs. Ephimeral
-String theory

Challanges

-Lack of technical skills (painting)
-How to keep the drawing organic and flowing when it has been reproduced 4 times?
-Canvas rotation: manually? crank? electronically?
-animation? will the projected canvas be turning? will my hand be on it? YES: the artist behind the drawing. NO: self-painting canvas
-How to get audience to interact with the paintings (specially with the mind set of gallery exhibits)

Artists Research

Maria Lassnig
Ian Carrharris
Tim Hawkinson (illustrations)
Richard Reeves
Joseph Kosuth
Glen Ligon
Andy Goldsworthy (concept of time)
William Kentridge
Peter Callesen (paper > ephemeral?)

September 18, 2009

Wait until tomorrow goes away


I know... I know... It's been so long since my last entry... But come on!! so much has been happening... is quite hard to keep up with EVERYTHING I need, want or have to do. However, I do have a lot of writings that have not yet been transcribed, therefore even when it may seem that I haven't actually sat down and write in 3 months, that is definetely not the case. With my return to Toronto, and everything that Toronto entails, I haven't made the time to seat down and type what I've written on my book. I will do that soon. It's a promise to myself...

In the meantime, there's something I really want to put down TODAY. It's the lyrics of a song by Delta Spirit, and it's very much what's going on with me at this very moment. It goes like this:

Every time I see you
it gets a little worse
Perhaps things are getting better,

but how can one be so sure?
So I will take it slowly

so that I can rest assure
Wait until tomorrow goes away.

In the evening when I wake up

I would love to hear you say,
Ooooh, oooh, oooooh
Wait until tomorrow goes away.
Oh, wait until tomorrow goes away.
Wait until tomorrow goes away.

What does this mean?
I think that it refers to letting go of the notion of tomorrow. Cause when you let go of "tomorrow" you can live freely and fully TODAY...

July 3, 2009

Rain

Silence.
I search for you, but I can't find you.
I call for you in my dreams,
but there's no response.
There is just silence.
Thunder.
My heart is beating fast,
I feel like crying
but I'm dry inside.
Where are you?
Why did you leave?
Have you forgotten your own words?
our words?
Did you let go of me?
I need to sleep,
I'm tired of thinking.
Thinking why,
thinking how,
thinking what for...
It rains inside,
as much as it's raining outside.
I wish you called...
I need to hear your voice,
if only for an instant.
I'm feeling lonely,
I need you to hold my hand,
tell me everything will be alright,
even when the world seems so fucked up.
Where are you?
Why have you left?
When did we forget the love we promised each other?
I'm feeling stupid.
I'm feeling sad.
Everything seems to have fallen off center.
I'm twisted,
overwhelmed.
I want to shut the world off,
and forget about everything for a couple of days,
or months... or however long it takes
for me to forget about you,
to let you go...
to set you free from my
sometimes
jailer heart.
Mischievous mind.
Selfish ego.
Both play tricks on me,
the same way the play with you...
Don't believe in what I say,
believe in what I do.
Look into my eyes,
see beyond.
Can you see me?
The real me...
Sometimes I become confused.
Things get distorted.
My own reality becomes obscure,
and I feel so tiny,
so small...
I can't ask you to save me.
I can't really ask you to be there, either.
"Sooner or later is over"
and
"nothing lasts forever"
The rain is coming down fiercely,
but it suits my mood.
Be the sunshine that comes after,
please be there when this rain stops.
Please...

I understand the metaphor... I really do. When I was coming out of lunch, the sun was shinning... what a beautiful day IT WAS an hour ago. Media night is over... presentation is over... the semester is over... "Let's go seat on the grass and have some beers" Joonas said. Awesome! "I'll go print some stuff and meet you guys in half an hour, behind my building" I said. So I went...
I get to school, get my files ready to print, look for my card to print them... first obstacle: my card is not where it should be. Where is it? Fuck, I took it out my purse this morning, to print our presentation and in the midst of the "last minute preparations" I must have left it behind. Fuck. I'm annoyed, I really don't need this right now... I'm about to leave the computer room, when I see a guy looking at something on the table. Hey! My card! Good timing, I wouldn't have noticed it otherwise. First obstacle sorted.

I now go to the printer, put my card in, select the files to be printed... second obstacle: the printer is not printing. Fuck, fuck. Okey, going to a different printer now. I go downstairs, find the printer but the screen says something in German I do not comprehend. I go inside the library and ask for help. A very nice girl comes to my rescue but after several attempts she finally says "Sorry, I don't know why it's not working" Fuck! Okey, I will find someone with a printer. As I'm leaving the school, I walk by one of the student's building and somebody yells from a window "Che boluda!" It's Roi, he's at Laura's. I briefly explain my situation and Laura smiles at me and says "come upstairs, I have a printer" Second obstacle sorted.

As I leave her house, eager to seat on the grass, enjoy my beer and the sunshine, I see a monstrous black cloud approaching... I rush to the meeting spot and I see nobody. I have no phone, so it's quite impossible to get hold of someone by this mean. I walk to Joonas house and ring his bell. No answer. I walk to Yeray's house and ring his bell. No answer. I walk to Ana's house, ring her bell. No answer. I walked by Aldo's window, the curtains are closed. He's sleeping. Aghhh! Fine, I will come home and be in a bad mood for a while...

As soon as I get in, the sky starts crying before I do. I lay down on my bed, feel the tears accumulated from the stress of this past week trying hard to come out, but they don't. It starts raining harder. I seat on my desk and watch the thunderstorm. It's beautiful... I start writing the poem you just read... it's flowing with the rain... it's as blurry as my window... I end it with the following:

"The rain is coming down fiercely,
but it suits my mood.
Be the sunshine that comes after,
please be there when this rain stops.
Please?"

And then I think... Do I really need someone to be my sunshine? If I can't find my own sunshine how is anyone supposed to find it and be it for me? What am I really asking for? Suddenly the rain felt good... and now that I have written my thoughts, let them out and transformed them into a poem... now that the tears have come out in word-form and not in tears, I feel a bit better... There may not be sunshine, but I swear to God it just stopped raining...

And the most incredible things of all is that every single time I feel like this, I'm going on a trip right on the following day... Tomorrow: Paris!

June 29, 2009

Feel the Love


June 13 @ Sharm El Sheikh

Okey, I have not yet finished writing my last entry but I have to write about last night...

June 15 @ the airport - back to Stutti

As you can see from the last two entries, I never actually sat down to write. The truth is that I couldn't, and still can't, find the proper words to describe my time here. I'm now at the airport waiting for the boarding call back to Stuttgart and I'm still processing everything lived in the past six days. How to describe the generosity and respect I have been offered by all of Meda's friends? I'm on a state of trance... of ecstasy... split between Heaven and Earth. I'm fascinated by the beauty of these guys and the magic of this place. I'm being objective here. I intend to write facts, not feelings, cause if I were to even try to transcribe my feelings into words, I would probably end up with an incomprehensible display of disarranged letters. My heart is beating fast and I'm split between trying to control these heavy emotions and spilling my heart out into tears, to cry this harsh farewell Egypt...

At this very moment I realize that I can chose to think two ways. For one, I could melt away in deep emotions, feeling all the love I received from these amazing people. I feel that I could cry forever, as once again I met someone with whom, in no time, I shared everything that can be shared with another person. Someone with whom I connected deeply from the second we met. This someone loved me silently and held my hand on the back seat of the car, when no one was watching, before we even shared a kiss. Someone who was willing to take his mask off to kiss me passionately, 10m underwater... my first one. He took care of me when I got sick like only my grandmother does, by putting compresses on my forehead and holding my hand... till I fell asleep. This someone gave me his soul with each kiss and opened his heart to me from the moment he said to me his first "hello".

And here is where I'm disjointed... I could go on and on describing how amazing this guy was to me and to his friends. I could write for hours defining each gesture, each given smile, each act of generosity or beautiful madness... but by doing this, I can feel my heart beating faster with sadness. And because I have experienced this in the past, once in Cuba and once in the Yukon, I know how terribly wrong it feels to say goodbye, how heart-breaking a farewell between two lovers can be... But because I know, I can try to consciously choose not to feel the heartache, cause I've learnt to be lighter... I CAN TRY... to treasure inside my heart the moments lived together, letting go of the "feeling"; cause the feeling becomes heavier and heavier the more one thinks about it.

To be completely honest with myself, part of me wants to dwell in the feeling. The old habit is kicking in... I feel like a recovered addict being tempted by the same poisonous but beautiful drug that made him so high and so miserable in the past. I think that being "depressed" or "unhappy" gives most people -me including- some sort of incomprehensible high; the lowest of the highs... This is why we get so hooked up to the heavy feelings. If you think carefully, you'd realize that being "happy" or feeling fulfilled, is not that difficult. Actually, I believe it can be easily achieved. And if you consider the possibilities, you can't help but wonder why most of us always seem to be so negative... so heavy... so attached to moments, people, possessions, relationships... when the truth is that these things are nothing but ephemeral, temporary, transitory. Hey people, think about it and save yourself the heartache...

But you might wonder... will I miss him? YES, I will... of course. Will he miss me? I'm pretty sure he will. But HOW we miss each other is what will make all the difference. I'm smiling... "My heart is smiling, Agata" he said. That's all, that's what matters. Not that it might be over. Not the expectations of seeing each other again. Not how terribly cruel it is to have to say good-bye under the circumstances that we did. All that matters is that we existed. That we were one for a while. We enjoyed every single moment spent together. We rejoiced in each other as if there was no tomorrow -cause there really wasn't. And the truth is that we will love each other openly and fearlessly for as long as we can. If the love is eventually gone, we will always have the memories... THIS IS ALL THAT MATTERS...

So why be sad? Really... sad about what? what for? I do feel the tears and the pain surfacing, but it doesn't appeal to me... I've recovered from a long term addiction and it feels beautiful. I'm free! I feel free and more ALIVE than ever!! I honestly can choose to not feel miserable. Instead, I choose to be happy that it happened... I'm thankful to have lived the time of my life, surrounded by warmth-hearted people, who showed me nothing but generosity, endless affection and an amazing sense of humour...

The plane is about to take off now... I'm leaving this magnificent place and a bit of my heart is staying here... I might have to come back soon and pick it up... For now, Shokran!! Egypt... See you soon...

June 21, 2009

Singing a Love song


Almost simultaneously...

From him to me:

Here I am
Starting over
Once again
I lost my place
The edges frayed
The story ended
And its still so hard to face

I wanna cry on your shoulder
But I'll smile and try to find my way

Seasons come and go
Nothing lasts forever
We're all on borrowed time
And love's not set in stone
But life is now or never
You and I can make the world our own

So here we are
Pushing forward
Pulled apart
And turned around
The ties untied
The world wide open
The ever-after here and now

I wanna cry on your shoulder
But I'll smile
I know I'll be okay

Seasons come and go
Nothing lasts forever
We're all on borrowed time
And love's not set in stone
But life is now or never
You and I can make the world our own

Now is our time to shine
Now is our time to stand up tall
We can have it all
All the stars realigned
Every ending turned around
Cuz it's our time
Starting now

(Now or Never - DJ Shah)

From me to him:

And I'd give up forever to touch you
Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
And I don't want to go home right now

And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
Cause sooner or later it's over
I just don't want to miss you tonight

And I don't want the world to see me
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything seems like the movies
Yeah you bleed just to know your alive

And I don't want the world to see me
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

I don't want the world to see me
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

I just want you to know who I am
I just want you to know who I am
I just want you to know who I am
I just want you to know who I am

(Iris - Goo Goo Dolls)

June 19, 2009

In Cairo


June 11 @ Pension Roma

I still can't believe the day I had yesterday. I'm so thankful I feel extremely humble... and vulnerable. I'm so blessed... I am.

I was picked up at the airport by Seif -Meda's friend. I think we recognized each other immediately, maybe from another life... maybe from the pictures that were sent to each of us. We greeted each other like old friends and began a non-stop conversation. The first thing he said to me on the car was that Meda had said we would get along perfectly because we were both out of our minds. I laughed when he said this, but it didn't take long for me to learn it was true. As we were leaving the airport's parking lot, either he read my mind or I read his "I have a surprise for you" he said. Let the journey begin.

How to describe the city? Chaos might be the right word. As we drove down the busy streets, I couldn't believe my eyes. I'm in Egypt! I'm in Cairo! From the moment I woke up from my sleep, on the plane, and saw the pyramids of Giza from the window, I've been in some sort of trance... like dreaming... being fully awake. The city smells like Buenos Aires: a mixture of laundry powder, dust from construction sites, street meat and car's exhausts. Nah... it's quite impossible to describe this smell, specially because it's quite a personal experience, impossible to reproduce in words. The streets are crazy busy with cars and people here drive like maniacs, including my driver. But I guess you have to go with the flow of cars if you want to avoid accidents. But this flow is not a stream of water, is more like the break of a water fall, it has no particular order and it is fierce whichever way you look. Now, there's people everywhere. I understand now what Brandon meant when he said this place is crazy busy... The architecture is extraordinary. I'm truly mesmerized by the contrasts, specially alongside the Nile's shores.

As we drove to Seif's house -he wanted to switch cars- all of a sudden the car stops in the middle of a busy street, on the streetcar rails and with the traffic honking at us like animals on heat. No more gas. High as a kite, it was pretty hard to tell what was going on. Was this a joke? This guy looks like someone who would pull one of these jokes, just for the fun of it... I'm not quite sure. So Seif got off the car and started pushing. I attempted to do the same but he ordered me to stay inside. Silently, I begged for someone to come help cause the incoming traffic was getting quite aggravated. Out of the blue, a guy came to help with Seif's struggle. Finally, we crossed the busy street, parked in the nearest spot available and walked five minutes to his house, where we switched to a more "elegant" car. I was quite confused the entire time, but this guy is quite nice, constantly asking me what I want, paying for everything and telling me it was "non-sense" when I said I would pay for my stuff. After driving around and exchanging some euros to EP, we went to meet up with Psycho. This is the guy I've been in touch with before coming to Egypt, and the one who was originally supposed to pick me up at the airport. However, he just got a new job... not being able to come greet me, he made sure someone would. So, after picking him up, we went to contemplate the Nile River for a while and when I had enough "quality time", we went for lunch.

After some good pizza at Thomas, we decided to go drop off my luggage. On the way to Pension Roma, Psycho pulls out a cell phone from his bag and gives it to me "I got you this so you can call us. It will be easier to be in touch" Wow. Wooow. Speechless. Not even my closest friends are so considerate. These guys are unbelievable! So nice, so thoughtful, so welcoming, so generous... I truly don't know how to express my gratitude at this point. Can this get any cooler? Well, it did... but I just finished my breakfast and I want to get going. Walking alone around Cairo... exciting, eh?

2pm @ Cairo Museum

Sitting outside the Cairo Museum, a bit overwhelmed by so much. I seem to get exhausted inside museums reached a certain point, but I still feel a sense of ease. I want to learn, I want to comprehend history a bit better, to understand how is it that we reached this point as a civilization. How did it all start? If you think about it, there's connections everywhere you look, amongst different cultures. For example, the throne of Tutankhamen was decorated with many symbols, including two winged-snakes. Mayan's highest deity, Quetzalcoatl, was indeed a feathered-serpent. The Egyptians and the Mayans were probably the biggest and most mysterious ancient civilizations on the planet, on opposite sides of the world. How do you explain their symbols being almost identical?

It's hot, maybe 35C, I can't really theorize in these conditions, I just don't feel like doing it right now... but I'll leave it as a thought, maybe to come back to it later. So, as I wait for Seif to pick me up and drive me to the Pyramids, I will continue where I left at breakfast...

While we were on the car, on our way to drop off my stuff, Meda called to check how I was doing. For a person I hardly know, this is a huge gesture. I feel quite protected and I'm aware of how much I'm being taking care of... like never before. When I got off the phone Seif tells me he had booked a room for me at Sharm el Sheikh, so that I could go diving with them. Half an hour prior to my conversation with Meda, I expressed how much I would love to do so, knowing that Seif was going to go on a diving trip on Friday. "All it took was two phone calls" he says. Apparently, while I was on the phone, he made sure my wish was granted. So YES! Friday morning I leave till Sunday to dive in the Red Sea... these guys are AMAZING!!!

Now another surprise was awaiting downtown: the hotel. Well, it's actually more like a pension, with shared washrooms and single rooms. Antique and cozy, my room has a sink, two mirrors, a bed with a hard mattress -I did sleep like a baby, however- an old wardrobe, a night table, shelves, a desk and a cute coffee table. I could live here... There's also a common living room, a kitchen, a diner -where I had breakfast this morning- and a reading room. To access Pension Roma, you have to go up to the 4th floor of the building, on a very old elevator; the kind that has double doors which open manually. I love these kind, the way they are built allows you to see all around as you ride it. In Buenos Aires, there are very common in the old buildings and getting inside it here in Cairo, is bringing back memories from my childhood. The staff is very welcoming. Last night, I chatted for a bit with Nehal, the front desk person during the night shift; he truly made me feel at home and because of his warmth, I went to bed with a big smile on my face.

Once in the hotel, I had a quick shower while Seif and Psycho waited for me at some coffee place near by. When I was ready, I called and they picked me up. We drove for half an hour away from downtown and into a very different part of the city...

June 17, 2009

To fulfill my dream...


June 10 @ the airport on my way to Cairo

"The fastest way to find yourself is to STAND STILL"

Five minutes. That's all it took for me to get off the subway, find the Air Swiss desk, check in and drop off the luggage and go through security. Five minutes. I love Stutti's airport. It's so efficient! Really... five minutes. Fascinating. But anyhow... I'm about to board a plane to Egypt, to fulfill one of my biggest dreams. It's hard to believe that it's actually happening... And this trip seems to, once again, come at a perfect time, as I have been quite melancholic in the past few days, specially after returning from Rock am Ring. I've been thinking too much about the passing of time and I got scared, petrified of how quickly moments come and go and life passes you by while blinking. I had quite a long chat with my friend Aldo, when we got back from RAR. I was feeling quite heavy on my chest just thinking it felt like yesterday when I was buying the tickets for the festival... and now it had already passed. I felt the huge weight of emptiness and it's the fear you feel after jumping to the abyss: you've already made the decision to jump, there's no turning back. You feel free but scared at the same time. You are trapped in your own weight, trapped inside your body.

As I continue to peel layers of skin off, I slowly learn what it means to not want, to surrender to the circumstances and most importantly, to look at the chain of events rather than to stress to much on an event itself. I'm learning that one of the reasons why we tend to be so unhappy is because we get stuck in a particular situation or moment. If it was a "good" thing, we are happy to re-live the moment in our head, over and over again. If it was a "bad" situation, we analyze it and over analyze as if by doing so, we would be able to change the facts. Instead, I think, we should look at what that particular moment or event has unfolded into. An example of this is what happened at the festival. After my wallet was stolen, I had a little... let's call it "misunderstanding" with Aldo. I was angry first, but then it turned into a bit of... mhmmm.. pain. I was hurt, honestly. How could it be? After all we share... we are like an old married couple. And after what happened, he was a stranger to me, for some frightening 10 hours or so. But, I will not write too much about how I felt because it's pointless. I choose to MOVE ON further into the story, to prove my point. Anyhow, when we talked yesterday he said he regretted what happened and he would do different if he had the chance. I said "don't regret anything, just look at all that has came out of this, both for you and me. Look at the entire chain reaction, look at the bright side. Things are neither good or bad, they just are. It is only when we categorize them as such that we get so confused, so uneasy with life. And it certainly doesn't need to be that way."

Moco, I hope you know how much I love you. You are one of the greatest things that happened to me in this Erasmus experience. I'm grateful to have you so close, even when sometimes I want to kill you -and it's probably reciprocal- you know that a piece of my heart will be forever yours. Just keep in mind that you will be sharing it with some other people. I hope you don't mind...

My relationship with Aldo is an example of what it means to love without wanting. For the longest time, I wanted something else. I wasn't quite sure what it was, but I wanted different than what I had. Interesting... didn't know what, just something OTHER than what I had. Even when our relationship seems to sometimes not make sense at all, I accept things as they are and this sets me free. But freedom, at this very moment, is becoming something I'm scared of. It feels like I've gone up a million steps and now I'm looking down and feeling vertigo... and the sensation is crawling up my stomach like a poisonous spider. I have climbed a huge mountain. I'm still climbing and I know I have a long way up to the top -if I ever reach it during this lifetime. I know this is just a phase. Fear has taken over and I can't help but look down and be scared. What happens when you stop wanting? What propels you forward?

Once I've opened my eyes, I can't chose to close them. Once I've seen the mountain, I can't stop my legs from climbing. Once I've taken off, I can't jump off the plane... and at this very moment, I'm taking off... PERFECT TIMING... as always. Cairo, here I come!!

May 27, 2009

Can it get ANY better??


May 10 @ the subway

I'm on the subway on my way to the cemetery where Mr. Mozart and Mr. Bethoveen live. Blaaaah! I'm kind of tired, might be because I slept two hours only AGAIN. I went out till 7am but it was completely worth it, obviously... Allow me to rewind a bit. After the inspiring visit to the MOMUK, I was on my way to feed myself when I hearda familiar beat playing loudly near by. It is my nature to be attracted to Electrohouse, so I let my ear guide me through the streets of Vienna until the sound became louder and louder, just around the corner. I turned that corner, driven by curiosity and excitement and I see, a hundred meters away, what appears to be a caravan of colorful trucks, the ones used for parades with big speakers and people dancing on them. I got closer, looked at the crowd and found my kind of people dancing to the beat. A street party! Yes! How fantastic! Dreadlocks, Hindu skirts, tattoos, sunglasses and beer cans. Some few tourists –you can always identify them amongst the crowd, wearing their cameras as necklaces. Police surrounding the area, to keep the crowd in one specific area. As I get inside the "party zone" I see signs everywhere "Legalize it" Wait, is it April 20? What's going on here? My pocket camera was on my hand, asking to be used, so I filmed a bit. Twenty minutes earlier I decided to put away my Canon cause it was demanding too much attention. But hell, this was truly deserving of it. On one of the trucks I see people smoking from a giant, collective joint. The thing was huge. Maybe 60cm long by 5cm in diameter, approximately. I’m not sure. Keep in mind I arrived when the party was almost over, so I have no idea what its original dimensions could have been. Yes, I took some amazing pictures, put the camera away and became part of it all. I danced till the trucks honked goodbye.

May 11 @ some Platz - noon

So as not to confuse the reader, I will clarify that I had to get off the subway, so I couldn’t really finish my last entry. I’m currently sitting at a nice bench, in the botanical gardens and was hoping to have some quiet time and catch up with my writing. However, two women just sat down next to me and they DO NOT stop talking!! "shazenjazen shitzee warten guten abend suban empujen estrujen bajen... bla bla blaaa"* I guess I will continue walking, I only have 4 more hours left before going to the airport. So maybe I could have some nice lunch, somewhere around Stephenplatz and hopefully write some more.*this is what German sounds like to me.

Around 4pm

Now I’m at a park next to the Opera. Lots of "bohemios" which means I’m once again amongst my kind. I recognize some faces from the "Hemp Parade". Nah, seriously... this is the same crowd. Now let me write about the thought-driven occurrence of the day. The interesting thing is that a week or so ago, I thought of the butterfly house my grandmother used to take my cousins and I on a regular basis. I loved that place! I was always fascinated by their beauty and now that I'm older, by the metaphoric state of being of the "Schmetterling" -I have to use my German, right?- So a week ago, I kind of wished I could go once again to this place and well... if you know me a bit by now, you can imagine what has happened. Yes, during my last hours in Vienna, walking around without a specific direction, I found this park, walked through it and on the other side I see a big sign that reads: Schmetterlinghaus. I went in, happy as a child, full of excitement and joy as my wish was being granted. I could have definitely stayed in there the whole afternoon. Butterflies, so many of them. Making the most beautiful dances on mid air with each other. They truly fill me with joy and I can't help but smiling each time I see butterflies...I can't really write properly right now, there's too much going on around me at the moment. But there is one thought I do need to put down NOW, before it goes away or changes into something else... I feel energized. This trip was exactly what I needed. I feel that some of my life objectives, if not THE life objective, are clearer now. I think I've figured it out... It's not discipline that I lack; it's not even the fact that I'm too inconsistent and I get bored quite easily. What I need to set straight is my sense of priority. No, that's not even the right word. It's how I use my energy; where and how I focus it. How I use my time, what do I focus my mind on. I begin to understand that what occupies my mind constantly can no longer be. I'd be a fool if having realized what I did this weekend, I throw it all away when I get back to Stuttgart. This is what I propose myself to do: LESS PARTY, LESS ROMANTICISM AND MORE USE OF MY TALENT. Hold on a minute. Don't I have talent for parties and flirting? Well, maybe tone it down a bit. Some is good, too much can be addictive. And I think it's time for me to do rehab.

To create... To live of NOW... To imagine a future, but without expectations... To be... pure... as light... To be me, even when it feels terribly wrong... Just be... Just breathe...

May 25, 2009

My inspiration


May 9 @ Italian Restaurant
, Vienna

Today I spent six hours at two different museums. Two hours at the Kunsthalle, where the name of the exhibit definitely caught my attention. "Porn Identity" -porn as an art (?) concept or something approximate. To be looking at porn, of all sorts, at an art gallery, was quite an experience. I always thought this is something you watch alone or with your partner to get "in the mood". But to watch anal sex on a big screen, or videos from a hidden camera in a public toilet, where guys go to fuck each other... well, I'm not sure about it. It was definitely interesting. But I couldn't help but feel uncomfortable if a man was around, watching the same installation than me.

*I found an interesting article about this exhibition, you can read it at: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-fg-vienna-porn25-2009mar25,1,4208246.story.*

The one piece I found quite original and inspiring was an installation titled "Dolores" (por Katrina Daschner) The space is divided into rooms, not by walls but by markings on the floor, simulation an architectonic plan. It took me some time to figure this out and to understand that you are supposed to enter the rooms in order, to understand the story. The interesting thing about this, is that it was an experiential installation, as you could break the narrative and enter whichever room you please. Floor Plan as follows:

Room #1:
Introduction of characters. Three television sets, with headphones. Each TV shows the three women involved in the story: Dolores, a 17 year old girl who had lost her father in a car accident at age 4 and who is dating the woman in TV #2. She's a 40 something year old artist "with beautiful breasts" -as Dolores describes her. TV#3 depicts Dolores mom, getting dressed and getting ready to leave the house. All three intros are narrated by Dolores and each loop begins exactly when the previous one ends, which means you can transition from one TV to the other with the sense of continuity.

Room #2:
A series of photos of the mother, as she goes out to the street and gets hit by a car.

Room #3:
Dolores and her girlfriend on a car. You see the internal dialogue of each character as a subtitle. Music is being played but the characters remain silent. The subtitles are coloured differently for each woman. The music -in Spanish- is quite touching.

Room #4:
Two photographs. A set of headphones for each of them. You hear a version from each character about what happened after the car ride.

Room #5:
A dialogue between Dolores girlfriend and her husband is written on the floor, inside the room plan.

Room #6:
Facing each other, two TV sets. One portrays Dolores being intimate with another woman. The other, installed on a door, portrays her girlfriend's head looking at them with her eyes tearing up.
*http://www.katrinadaschner.net/www/index.html*

I really liked this work and it gave me some ideas for my Thesis. But I have too many ideas now... however, it could be regarded as future work. Everything I've seen so far, has stayed with me one way or the other...

After two hours at the Porn exhibit, feeling a bit too horny, I made my way to MUMOK -the Museum of Modern Art. In the first floor there was a full exhibit of Nam June Paik, whom I've been studying for the last three years. That was extraordinary, of course... but the best was yet to come...

Maria Lassnig, born in Austria in 1919. She reminded me of my grandmother and myself. Yes, it sounds as strange as it is to explain it. But I did feel deeply identified with this amazing woman. Her works touched me deeply, specially her animated autobiographies. Painting one frame at a time, she made a series of animations which were installed at the museum. "Kantate" and "Self-portrait" were direct references to her life and thoughts and it felt so good to know that my feelings are thoughts were shared with an artist of this caliber. I left the museum feeling that I indeed was on the right path, even when compared to the rest of the world, feels so wrong at times. I am convinced now, more than ever, that I am an ARTIST, even when the word alone seems to be so heavy when pronounced. But it's true. I understand why I think the way I do, why I seem to always be swimming upstream like the salmon, only to get to the other side and die. Then I'm reborn in all the eggs laid along my path. It's the never ending cycle of life. As an artist I'm constantly recycling what I see, hear or feel, by making those into art. I'm not good at relationships, cause that would take time off my work, cause artists need to be very generous and extremely selfish. I still need to learn how to be selfish... but it's a good thing... I'm slowly learning to truly take care of my needs first. Her painting above PERFECTLY describes what I'm saying. It's called "Dich oder Mich" -You or Me-

I am an artist, even when it hurts so much... and I thank my grandmother for this gift. I thought of her so much while at the museum, both because Lassnig is now an elder woman (still painting) and because I made my very first painting next to her and under her kind "instructions". She also took me to more museums and art galleries than no one ever did. I admire and respect my grandmother Clara -her name actually means "clear" or "light" as "someone being..."- in a way that is inspiring on it's own. I just wish I had her here to visit museums with her. GRACIAS ABUE POR HACERME QUIEN SOY, UNA VERDADERA ARTISTA... AUNQUE EL MUNDO ENTERO NO LO ENTIENDA, VOS Y TODOS LOS ARTISTAS EN EL MUNDO COMPARTEN MI SENTIR. QUE HARIA SIN EL ARTE? As Picasso said "Art is the lie that make us realize the Truth..."

Relationships, material goods and dedicating my life to taking care of a house and raising a family doesn't seem to have any appeal on my life. I always wondered why, but now I know for sure. Even when it gets lonely, I know there's a bigger purpose, or better said, a different purpose for me than these. Making art, expressing what many feel but ONLY a few can tell. "Loving all mankind, even when they let me down" -as Lassnig would say. Forgetting yourself and expressing life beyond your body through a painting, a photograph or an animated drawing...

So I give up relationships. I do. Now sex, that I can't give up. It makes me feel good. Something opens inside me and the release of energy changes each time. It's like a ritual. No, I won't give up sex but I do wonder how much time and energy, and the gift I have, I waste thinking about sex and men. The things I could do if I dedicated the same amount of time I do thinking "insignificant" things, or obsessing over trivialities, to creating. The day I'm able to put these words into actions, that day I would have taken the biggest step.

Something called me here. It was necessary for me to come to Europe, to Germany, to detach from my mother, to suffer because of doing so, to need to escape, to come to Vienna, to see a poster of "Dich oder Mich" on a street lamp, take a picture of it to remember, to find the museum, see Lassnig's exhibition, to realize who I am, more than ever before. Life is a constant chain reaction, cause and effect. You turn a corner and all of a sudden you are facing your destiny. But how did you get to that corner?

So thank you mom... for driving me crazy. If it wasn't because of you, I would have not gone to Vienna at the right time. Well, it's always the right time... I forgive you...

May 13, 2009

Oh Vienna


May 8 @ Schönbrunner, Vienna

Once again I have hopped on a plane to escape my thoughts. I find travelling one of the best forms of meditation there are. I'm now sitting on a bench, looking at the Royal Gardens and imagining what life here would have been like...

It hasn't been more than 8 hours in this city and already I have some interesting stuff to write about. I haven't slept much. Well, actually I've slept for 2 hours last night, cause I went to see my friends' band and I ended up singing with them till 1am. I got up at 4am to catch my flight at 6am and I have been walking since 8 in the morning. It's now 4 in the afternoon...

When I arrived at the airport, my instinct put me on a bus to Westbahnhof which was only two blocks away from my Hostel. BEAUTIFUL!! (both the hostel and my instinct as travelling guide) I left my bags and went for breakfast at a small but cute little Cafe, Vienna style. After enjoying my coffee, I walked following the wind. I walked straight, turned corners. I stopped, looked around, took photographs and continued walking until I found a park and a guy playing guitar. I got close to him and took pictures, only to discover that he was pretty cute. And well, those who know my nature can guess what happened next. Yes, conversation. I find it irresistible to talk to cute guys, specially if there's a guitar under their arms and they are singing beautifully. So we talked. He's name was Daniel. "I'm a composer and play the piano. I'm learning now how to play guitar" -he said- "Sing one of your songs" -I asked. He sang for me and I listened. We talked some more and then asked me if I didn't mind if he smoked his joint, which was sitting next to me waiting patiently on the bench. He offered me a cigarette and we chatted for a while, like old time friends. Then he offered me a toke and told me some more about his interesting life. Also a traveller... No wonder... I always feel very comfortable around artists and world wanderers - as if an invisible bond joining us together is waiting to be revealed- and this guy was BOTH.

Forty minutes later he stood up, looked at me carefully and quietly said he needed to get going, as he had his guitar lesson. We looked at each other, almost examining the inside of our eyes; silently thanking each other for the moment just shared. Those were some awkwardly nice couple of minutes. "Now what?" I thought. "Now nothing" I said to myself. Let the moment go when it has to. Stop trying to save them or make them longer. It never works. "See you around" I said. I could have asked for his number, I could have told him to meet somewhere later. I could have extended the moment in many ways if I wanted to, and I kind of did. But it wasn't what I needed, so I didn't... I'm learning and it felt good to let go. No future plans, no expectations. Just the moment... "It was a pleasure to meet you"-he said. He gave me his joint as a gift and I gave him a small baggy I brought from Amsterdam, as a souvenir. He then turned around and walked away. He looked back once and waved. I smiled and continued walking feeling a bit fuller... a bit happier and very grateful for the existence of such people.

I walked straight for half an hour until my stomach made me stop in front of a food stand at the entrance of the park where I now am. I had lunch soaking in sunlight and felt like I was in a dream as I entered Schönbrunner. I find no proper words to describe this place. The park, the palace and it's gardens are something I've never seen before except in movies. So much green... colourful flowers... birds... trees... I could spend days here. I also went to one of those labyrinths made of tall bushes, perfectly pruned. I can picture those Epoque women running around, laughing... I don't know, I'm thinking of Amadeus (the film) Well, after all I am in Vienna, right? Oops, interruption. I'll be back later...