A community of shared references, jokes and indiscriminately wasted time

“The people I visited on this short walk are only seven among thousands of artists now living  in Los Angeles. Their lives make me believe that despite L.A.’s famed “isolation”, people here are creating not just the artifacts known as artworks but something much more elusive: a community of shared references, jokes and indiscriminately wasted time that past centuries referred to as “culture.” Yet each walk yields something new, and perhaps you’ll take one of your own.”

Chris Kraus, Social Practices, 2018, from an essay “A walk around the neihgbourhood” from 2005

Reading of Chris Kraus while I ride from one studio visit to another, seeing the artists that currently live and work in Los Angeles, adds a parallel, in time, narrative to my trips and meetings, and some context to the place, history of which I am slowly learning.

Patricia Fernandez was born in Burgos, Spain and is currently living in Los Angeles. We talked about her research in migrant communities here in Los Angeles, as well as her research into the Spanish exile community in Paris, caused by Franco’ s dictatorship.

At the studio of Patricia Fernandez.

Latvian artist Raimonds Staprans was born in Riga in 1926, fled Latvia during the WWII and moved to the US in 1947. Part of the Bay Area figurative movement, he now lives and works in San Francisco.

At the studio of Raimonds Staprans.

Another artist that I am visiting on my trip outside Los Angeles is Latvian-born Bay area funk artist Maija Peeples-Bright. I am enchanted by the world of animals, “beasties” how she calls her combinations of manifold colorful human and animal figures, as well as playful titles such as “buffalo ballerina” or “sheep sheikhs”.

At the house and studio of Maija Peeples-Bright.

Back in Los Angeles, I visit the Colombian-born artist Gala Porras-Kim. She researches museum collections and, mostly, taking a detour from art historical or formal questions, moves towards questioning the reasons and structures behind the museum, asking how certain  artefacts have ended up in the collections in the past.

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From the studio of Gala Porras-Kim.

Located in the same area is the studio of the artist, originally from Texas, Diedrick Brackens. He is a weaver and thus literally weaves into his work contemporary stories of African Americans in the US, myths and different traditions of the craft.

At the studio of Diedrick Brackens.

Candice Lin is an artist whose work I already knew from her exhibition at Betonsalon in Paris, I saw earlier this year. Handmade paper from plants, ink from oak galls, silhouettes patched together from tobacco leaves, all converge to express her interest in the history of migration, trade and materials that have been at the core of those processes.

At the studio of Candice Lin.

The artist Eddie Aparicio takes imprints of trees from the neighbourhoods of where the Central American communities live, researches the history of those neighbourhoods and the resistance of the people living there both in their countries back home, as well as here in Los Angeles, among other things, questioning the perceived notions of native and foreign.

At the studio of Eddie Aparicio.

Theses are just a few of the studio visits I have done during almost a month long journey of getting to know the local art scene I have taken since arriving in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

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Place where dump becomes art

DSC01655How much waste does the average citizen produce? According to statistics average american produces 4.4 pounds of waste every day. With all the population of San Francisco Bay area it roughly turns into 1,5 million tons per year. All these waste is coming to different  facilities operated by Recology the company and community that aims to achieve Zero Waste by the year of 2020.

 It all wouldn’t be possible without high awareness of people in the area who contribute to zero waste on their local neighbourhood level. Building up that awareness is one of the goals of Recology’s art in residence program that was established at the same year when recycling was being implemented in the city and county of San Francisco in 1989. It basically means that at least three generations of people have learned how to recycle from their school age.

For  artists the residence program is  unique chance to get an access to the dump which is an unlimited source of inspiration and resources. Artists create an artwork from materials scavenged from the dump in a workshop and then expose it at Recology’s exhibition space. They also meet with groups of children and adults who come to visit Recology every week and talk to them about their work.

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Things that could sometimes be scavenged from the dump are astounding! Some of them could have been exhibited in a museum. My friend Micah from Recology has recently shown me some of his findings. Among them there was an ancient computer – calculating electric maschine from 1896 that looks exactly like enigma and architectural sketches of the City Hall and some of the main buildings of San Francisco from the late 19th and early  20th century.

 

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My experience in Recology so far has been amazing from the very first moment. I was literally embraced as a member of a family. After short introduction period which included guided expeditions to some almost sacred areas of Recology like unofficial sculpture park designed by workers and meeting Indigo the falconer (they use falcons to scare off seagulls),  Deborah – the director of the art program introduced me to my schedule which looked pretty tight. She wanted me to see most of the events happening in the area during my residence period. Among some of the must see and visit exhibitions and art events their were Halloween in Castro district and a sunset at the China beach, art students presentations at San Francisco State University and participation at the advisory board  that selected nominees of the Residence program for the next year. I gave a talk about my projects in Siberia and even met Mike Sangiacomo – Recology’s CEO. We found my home town on the map and Mike said that he wants to come and visit!  I was able to get involved into some field work such as painting the workshop and preparation  for brazilian delegation visit.

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 The time flies so quickly here.Things are changing very fast but one thing remains the same. When I go to Recology in the morning through Duboce park (I live between Castro and Haight street) I always see people jogging and walking their dogs. On my way back I see basically the same picture but the color of the sky changes to orange.  Victorian houses in the neighborhood look more like a decoration of the fairy tale movie and I always find a fresh newspaper at my door. Yes, people still read newspapers here and discuss news with each other while they are walking their dogs. There is something magical about San Francisco something that you won’t experience in any other city in the world!

 

Some stacked waters of Venice and the streets to restore

ARCHAEOLOGY AND ROMANCE

Mad Love and Other Stories

 

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF Every Building on the Sunset embodies pure JOY?!

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Photo courtesy of the author

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO with a depressed friend to ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes? There are no restrictions for you. that has something to say about COURAGE.

ARE YOU YOURSELF, FREE AND OPEN? THE WOMEN OF today? Perhaps you are into the pleasures of SLOW… Swimming?

let it cool, freezing does not kill The Totem.

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Photo courtesy of the author

What is your preferred strategy for exploring the black and white panels, memories, voices in history, The building your grandmother might have chosen for her home?

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Photo courtesy of the author

HOW LONG WILL THE NEED TO BOIL THE WATER CONTINUES?

Pools and a Broken Glass, a group of nameless ghosts on a multilingual journey through poems and tales, that reminds you of something in your past. carnal passions, Plus offerings.

NINE GREAT REASONS TO TRY OUT SOME NEW MOVES we hold in our hearts. A PLAN AND NOT QUITE ENOUGH TIME.

LET’S BEGIN!

Part scathing social satire, part romantic comedy, part revenge thriller, with the artifacts of American popular culture, the iconography of the road, and the manufactured romance of Hollywood. WHEREVER THEY MAY BE, ALMOST ALWAYS ABOUT LIFE – interpretations, associations: an issue that concerns you. YOUR OWN PLACE FOR MEMORIES, SUSTENANCE, AND DREAMS.

CAN YOU FIND The Stained Glass Windows instead YOURSELF?

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Photo courtesy of the author

IT is in some way, like you. How long will you spend at the ELECTRIC CHURCH, TAKING political, slow and steady approach to YOURSELF, Slow looking?

visitors enjoy a deeper consideration of A VISUAL HISTORY, a dead art. this exhibit offers a sequence. residents are able to connect to each other and ideas in time and across locations. of course, no exhibit can fully capture an exhaustive look at historical images. how the public confronted the particular themes and moments that remain relevant today in Austin.

(a song not song)

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Untitled (these united states) | by Adrian Aguilera and Betelhem Makonnen

A VOTE depends on the conditions that caused the need to PREPARE FOOD AND BABY FORMULA TODAY.

 

This blog is a reflection about the places, people and atmospheres I have experienced during my residency in Austin, Texas. This text is made through the cut-up technique from the booklets and flyers that I have got during my stay in Texas. It vaguely resembles the issues I am exploring here or vice versa – it resembles me while being here.

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Photo courtesy of the author

 

 

Experiencing San Francisco Bay Area

My experience in the Bay Area so far is such a thrill! I live in an artist co-op neighborhood and here I met artists and saw their studios and art. It is such an inspiration to see artists who live off their own creations and have so many stories to share. Local artist Louise Stanley showed me her sketchbooks and her Greco-Roman inspired paintings giving me a special insight into her creative workflow and personal thoughts. Her studio apartment is filled with her and her father’s amazing art, I felt so privileged to see it all up close with all the details explained to me.

 

 

I started to meet members of the queer community as well and their creativity gave me another hit of inspiration. I got to peek inside the workroom of an amazing drag queen named Jader Vision and see him transform. I felt so welcome, as if I lived here and knew him for a long time. I knew I had to experience queer nightlife while I’m here, so I designed and put together a costume and went out to be a part of a queer outing presenting San Francisco my artistry. There I met more people who belong to this community and I very much enjoyed the diversity of creative expressions. If I had more time here, I would definitely work with all these wonderful and talented people.

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Jader’s energy and creativity inspired me to create a watercolor painting of a queen in their workspace where transformations occur. I felt how safe and sacred this place is to him, same as my workspace is to me back home. It made me wonder about how artists create a magical place where all of their thoughts and emotions can surface and be a part of a piece, costume or a performance. This moment of intimacy and losing one’s identity and taking up on another always fascinated me. Probably that is one of the main reasons why I started to create this kind of artwork.

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I had many questions about people’s experiences here regarding being queer and having their voices heard. I wanted to know what is like to live here and be free to create art that represents one’s true artistic identity. But I wasn’t the only one with questions. Talking a lot about my experiences back home, I wished to create a costume and a photo which can represent what inspires me from my own culture. I love myths and ancient stories, and often times I compare queer community to witches because of a similar suppression by the patriarch dominance. I went back to the ancient Slavic stories and created a costume of a pagan witch. Queer scene of San Francisco is well known for it’s liberated, freaky and wild creativity, so I took that energy and expressed my idea in a very horrific but aesthetically pleasing way.

 

 

Relax time is perfect here, I took long hikes alone and with friends and discovered beauties of San Francisco. I felt it was a nice balance between wild nightlife and peaceful activities in nature open for everyone to enjoy.

 

 

 

My stay here is rather short to create art in a way that I am used to, but time spent here will for sure remain an everlasting source of inspiration. Leaving here will be bittersweet. I just got to know everyone and I want to work with such free and creative artists, but at the same time I know I have a part of their creative energy with me when I leave. This is a place I will for sure want to come back to and create art with all these talented people here.

Inbound, Outbound. Journeys in San Francisco and Bay area

          Inbound and outbound are two code words that a traveller must learn to navigate the San Francisco metro system. On my first day, I took a wrong train, having mistakenly assumed that inbound and outbound meant coming in and out of the city centre. Then I realised that San Francisco, a city located at the tip of a peninsula at the edge of the continent, has a different geographical perception: while inbound trains carry passengers to the mainland, outbound trains are directed towards the enchanting and mesmerising vastness, which is the Ocean.

I found it interesting that this terminology not only reflects on the relationship between the city and the country but, intertwined into common language, might also shape people’s sense of belonging throughout their everyday travels to and from. So in this text I would like to focus, first of all, on the journeys that we take, both physical and mental, and in particular my own little journeys in San Francisco in Bay area.

Inbound

One of my goals for this residency is to meet with members of Kazakh diaspora in the United States. Namely I look for people whose family histories trace back to Stalin’s terror in Kazakhstan in the first half of the XX century that provoked an exodus of people who fled the country to escape starvation and oppression. I hope that listening to their stories might help me to understand better the work of individual and collective memory.

Diaspora is an interesting phenomenon. It presupposes that the person holds on to attributes of their culture of origin; they carry and nurture its symbols and messages within themselves. It is a continuous mental journey inbound. People bring from their homelands little messengers of cultural identity – sounds of a traditional musical instrument, taste of favourite tea, an ornamented headscarf, a line from a poem that they learnt by heart, a language… I have been told that in San Francisco, there are bakeries where people from Russian diaspora who moved to the US in the 1980-s bake delicious pastries with recipes from the late USSR. In this case, the pastry becomes the point of belonging, a stable station in the flow of time where one can always return.

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BART train station in Berkeley. Photo courtesy of the author

Outbound

In Berkeley, there is a Silk Road house, an organisation that promotes Kazakh and Central Asian culture in the region. It is a small, cosy and friendly place that I loved from the first sight. On my first visit, there was a screening of a documentary film ‘In the footsteps of Marco Polo’ that told a story of two American guys who decided to repeat in 1993 the journey of Marco Polo to China through inner Asia. The film showed their adventures in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia among other places, but what I found interesting was their enthusiasm about the very idea of a remote land – this exotic place of unknown, that kept them going.

Last week, my host Prof. Jeanne Finley and I watched the newly released film ‘First Man’, a biopic of Neil Armstrong, the American astronaut who became the first man to step on the surface of the Moon. The film focused on Armstrong’s personal life while narrating the story of “the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked”.1 The Moon is the most remote land that human eye can see, and its presence on the sky teases the human mind with the desire to explore it, to reach beyond own limits.

What we see as the unknown – the other continent, the other planet, the sky or the ocean – directs our gaze outwards and gives an impulse for departures, including artistic departures. For me, each new art project becomes an encounter with the unknown, with the chance. But what I find important is the very existence at this border. The land that is now known as San Francisco used to be the land of Yelamu Ohlone, a native American tribe. They had a song that had a line that I find very beautiful: I am dancing, dancing at the Edge of the World. This is a dance at the border between the stable land that gives the sense of belonging, and the unknown that excites the mind. And not necessarily one should live at the Ocean beach to perform this dance.

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Sunset at China beach. Photo courtesy of the author

Everything is a sunflower if you’re brave enough

Hi everyone!

My art residency of CEC Arts Link Fellowship is in University of Kansas, Lawrence. It’s a small town near Kansas City. (Don’t think it’s a middle of nowhere, it’s a very cool place!)

Some parts of it seem unreal – it looks like a decoration on an American dream.

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And everything is named after sunflower here))

But it’s a very progressive city and very famous for its college life, arts, and sports. And hills. Kansas, in general, is “flat like a pancake”, but Lawrence has its hills and its own spirit. I think that it’s art community is bigger than in my hometown, which is 20 times bigger than Lawrence.

Lawrence campus is big and beautiful,

and some modern buildings are extremely inspiring!

 

I’m having 2 in 1 in my residency:

I’m hosted by the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and they are organizing all public events and lectures for the students. I’ve already given two lectures for the students of Eurasian studies, some interviews for their projects, the poetry readings in the city Public Library, the poetry seminar, and also I brought some hard-to-get books for the department’s libraries: self-published poetry, some gender studies, journalist investigations, etc. And I’m going to have more – at least a meeting with a Russian literature class, a brownbag talk on my art projects, and probably some informal meeting with art students. They say they’d like me to stay longer)

and the rest of my time I spend at the Department of Visual Arts, learning ceramics.

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I use different mediums in my projects, and I always wanted to try using something crafty&cozy. But it demands special skills end equipment! And in this residency, I got a very precious opportunity to learn clay arts. It’s an amazing new world, and they have everything in this place, really! I’m learning and experimenting a lot.

Continue reading

New installation for Laumeier Sculpture Park, St.Louis.

This year for the first time in the history, Laumeier Sculpture Park will be open to the public after the sunset. For this occasion I’m preparing site-specific light installation in one of the Park shelters. The work is called Cloud Square and is designed to create an immersive experience for the collective public.

 

More information about the event: http://www.laumeiersculpturepark.org/laumeier-after-dark/?fbclid=IwAR0_vsY0esZJrHTN7Es6lSgBTepwWDFiO5WB-MKsd4qXI-4rcUvFIUDu50U

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