Looking At.

For John Berger

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all the artists, cultural workers, activists, thinkers and comrades I have encountered during my residency. Art works in this gallery are not credited. If you are curious about specific artwork, artist, curator or representational context please write to me. I will be happy to share beyond Looking At.

ArtsLink International Fellowship (New York, October – November 2019) & Jackman Goldwasser International Visiting Artist Residency at Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago, October – November 2019).

Walking in Texas

So my question was walking, and my answer is… walking.
Steve Paxton

For a while now I’ve been exploring different practices of walking; through their historical, poetic, political and choreographic dimensions. From the peripatetic to flânerie and on to the pedestrian, the simple action of placing one foot in front of another maps a cartography of casual strolls, meditations, protest marches, artistic actions and, sometimes, dance choreographies.

So, a month ago, I left my driver’s licence back home and came to Texas and Austin’s incredible Museum of Human Achievement intent on getting everywhere on foot (or using public transport).

And Texas is a big place, Austin a fair-sized city. And they sure love their big trucks here.

Walking allowed me to explore the more pedestrian side of the city…

But also its more untypical itineraries, where I frequently found myself all alone.

But as the days passed walking meant meeting people in the most unusual places, having the most unexpected conversations, many of which challenged me to expand on my own ideas on urban growth, gentrification, access to culture and immigration. Texans are very eager to engage in conversation, they make the time to do so.

So, conversations with bat watchers, bus catchers, exchange students, yoga fans (Austin is the home of the soothing Yoga With Adriene), nurses who are homeless, cooks who walk dogs, musicians who are healthcare activists, library users, Tejano veterans, taco connoisseurs (soooo many breakfast taco recommendations!)… and, unavoidably, football fans.

And when I return to Austin (and I will!), I don’t doubt the only ride I’ll need beside my own two feet will be on CapMetro.

California Gold Rush

I’ve been in California for a month and it’s time to go home, more glad and happy to find what I came for.

But as the time comes to get back, I think about how far and how close we go, about the things we achieve or the things we constantly look for.

The farther we go, the more we understand how close we actually went.

Ivaylo Hristov, Open Studio, DARC, UCSC, Nov 7th 2019.
“Flight” golden foil and text and drawings.

My lecture about travel, about space and our future, was on October 22 at Thimann Lecture Hall 3, University of California Santa Cruz, where I began with the following quote from the NASA`s website about a current mission to the asteroid Bennu:

The OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is traveling to Bennu, a carbonaceous asteroid whose regolith may record the earliest history of our solar system. Bennu may contain the molecular precursors to the origin of life and the Earth’s oceans… asteroids like Bennu contain natural resources such as water, organics, and precious metals. In the future, these asteroids may one day fuel the exploration of the solar system by robotic and manned spacecraft. [asteroidmission.org]

Ivaylo Hristov – Visiting Artist Lecture, Thimann Lecture Hall 3, UCSC.
Photo J. Parker

This text by NASA provoked me to do my golden project right here in California, with the help of a few outstanding people I met.

After my presentation “LIGHTFLIGHT” I was invited to visit the university lab to monitoring Andromeda Galaxy, the only month time window to work with the Hawaiian telescope Keck II.

With Prof. Raja Thakurta we spoke about space and stars, about light and what we learn and what we are still looking for.

Ivaylo and Prof. Raja Thakurta, Depart Of Astronomy And Astrophysic, Lick Observatory, UCSC
Photo: J.Parker

I am grateful to Jennifer, Enrico, Raja, Kyle and many more willingly got involved in my projects and we were able to record great interviews.

Video interview with Prof. Jennifer Parker, Sculpture, Digital Arts/New Media, Founding Director, OpenLab Collaborative Research Center, UCSC

As well as incredibly interesting meetings and talks.

Prof. Kyle McKinley and his time machine in the local Museum of Art and History, Santa Cruz,
before record video interview
Prof. Enrico Ramirez and students, Astronomy & Astrophysics Department, UCSC

For me, it was endlessly inspiring to hear their reflections on the future, the precious things around us, our path, the challenges ahead, the strong connection between art and science.

Talk with Prof. Raja Takurta at opening of my art event, DARC, OpenLab, UCSC

A few days before the end of my artistic stay, we made an open studio with my works in progress – a series of drawings, photos of my travels, a video of an amazing piano performance by Nick Jones in the house I was staying at.

Searching for gold high and low, Ivaylo Hristov Open Studio, DARC, OpenLab, UCSC, Nov 2019
“Golden tones” Video – Piano playing, Nik Jone.
Opening: Searching for gold high and low, Ivaylo Hristov Open Studio
DARC, OpenLab, UCSC, Nov 7th 2019
Opening: Searching for gold high and low, Ivaylo Hristov Open Studio
DARC, OpenLab, UCSC, Nov 7th 2019
Opening: Searching for gold high and low, Ivaylo Hristov Open Studio
DARC, OpenLab, UCSC, Nov 7th 2019
Opening: Searching for gold high and low, Ivaylo Hristov Open Studio
DARC, OpenLab, UCSC, Nov 7th 2019
Opening: Searching for gold high and low, Ivaylo Hristov Open Studio
DARC, OpenLab, UCSC, Nov 7th 2019
Workflow, Santa Cruz, CA

I am very impressed and glad of positivity and commitment of everyone to get involved, to talk about ideas, help me to develop my project, which I sincerely thank them.

The “Searching for gold high and low” continues.

Ivaylo Hristov, CEC ArtsLink Fellowship 2019

Field studies

A travel report to Morovis village where Taino Indians still live. The Taíno were an indigenous people of the Caribbean to be encountered by Columbus during his voyage. In his diary, he wrote about these people: “They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will. they took great delight in pleasing us. They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal. Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people.” It is difficult to disagree with these words. These are really wonderful people.

Also, during the trip, I got acquainted with the culture and traditions of Taíno community and also learned how these people are currently fighting for equality and for recognition as being part of the oldest living culture on the island of Borikén (Puerto Rico).

Traces of butterflies on the windshield of my car

supported by CEC ArtsLink, supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department

November 2 2019 is the last day of the installation “Traces of butterflies on the windshield of my car” at Museum of Human Achievements in Austin, Texas.  I was lucky to have a residency at Museum of Human Achievements in Austin, Texas, USA in October 2018. I have been editing my documentary film there and through it reflecting about the broad notions like identity, borders, home, migration. There I had a chance to encounter those ideas again from different perspective, to discover similarities and differences while being thousands miles away from home.

Of course, while being in Texas, I could not avoid the temptation to visit the USA/Mexico border. I love exploring margins, how conditional they are and how they shape our lives through dividing or uniting lands and families. Thanks to Zac Traeger, Leslie Moody Castro and wonderful people I have met in Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, this trip was unforgettable and precious. Being also from the divided identity context, living in the Republic of Georgia, while being half Georgian and half Abkhaz (unrecognized state bordering Georgia) I could relate to so many things that people would share: emotions, stories, challenges, even some figures.

Before crossing the border to Mexico, I have noticed a telephone booth, I could not remember for how many years I have not seen them. It looked sad, dysfunctional and useless. Therefore, It took me to my childhood, reminding me the beginning of the war in Abkhazia. I was there with my grandparents for summer holidays. At that point, my grandfather was in other city. All the telephone lines were cut off and he could not reach us, so he walked miles to be with us. I never checked whether the payphone I saw in Laredo worked. Probably nobody uses them anymore; neither in Georgia nor in USA or Mexico. They somehow became repositories of the words we used to tell to other people.

While contemplating, I realized how much I would loved to listen to the conversations that these receivers embody. Probably all public phones keep different stories, so maybe the payphones standing near the border tell the stories of migration? about children waiting to be reconnected with parents, or some secrets of lovers that miss each other dearly, or jokes of friends not being able to meet anymore? Or just describing the routine of borderline cities. Conversations that are sad and funny, sometimes boring, short or never-ending, monologues that are not listened, or just long pauses between the words.

I want to re-use these “useless” telephone booths in order to evoke those talks: old or new. Those sounds that vibrate through boundaries and infiltrate borders. I want these phones to ring constantly, to remind us to listen.

I have found old soviet coin-operated public telephone and carried it from Georgia as an artifact of my personal memory. This also was a symbolic act; before reaching Austin, we had crossed several borders, being constantly checked and observed for the suspicious looks. Talking about the symbols, on my way to Laredo, where I encountered the lonely payphone, the huge amount of colorful butterflies constantly bumped on the windshield of my rented car. Only later I have discovered they were Monarch butterflies in their migration period from USA to MEXICO.

#CecArtsLink, #SocialPractice, #ArtsLinkInternationalFellowships  #Museumofhumanachievements #Unlistedprojects


If Art is Politics!

Last week was an extremely busy week. My host, The Vera List Center for Art and Politics organized the eventful VLC Forum 2019 dedicated to art as a political practice. The Forum highlighted Pan-African collective Chimurenga, recipient of the 2018-2020 Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice who installed its Pan African Space Station (PASS) at The New School. PASS landed at The New School from October 23–25 for a three-day broadcast that explored the participation of African American artists, activists, and intellectuals in FESTAC ’77, the 2nd World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture held in January-February 1977 in Lagos Nigeria. On Friday, October 25, Chimurenga presented a rare performance of composer and trombonist Craig Harris‘ suite titled FESTAC ’77 at The New School’s Tishman Auditorium.

The Forum also included Global Voices, conversations on art and politics with Jane Lombard Fellows hailing from four continents: Liz Johnson ArturTiffany ChungDar Yusuf Nasri Jacir for Art and ResearchNaine Terena de Jesus, and Jasmeen Patheja on Saturday, October 26.

The program also included a meting with NYC’s curator and also a special tour by curator Siliva Rocciolo to see the New School Art Collection.

The Dar Yusuf Jacir project- Palestine
An inspiring talk by Tiffany Chung

Pan African Space Station – The New School
Art Work- The New School (I wonder if the kids who go to school know how lucky they are!)
More art work

Gumbo in Lafayette

Stephanie Patton, Lafaeytte based artist who is a master of hospitality and bringing art community together for fun times. Stephanie’s house is almost a museum, – the best place where to see her amazing artwork.
Lala Raščič’s performance as part of her exhibition GORGO which took place at Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafaeytte
Studio visit with Shawne Major – art in progress
Studio visit with Ralph Bourque

Lafaeytte is located along the Vermillion River in the southwestern part of Louisiana. It takes about 2,5 hour drive from New Orleans. It’s a very different city from New Orleans, – smaller, compact and more of a countryside feeling that resembled of my hometown Kuldīga – little cute wooden houses, green flat fields and amazing artist community that lives there. My host Amy from Parse Nola and I made the trip to see the work and the performance by Serbian artist Lala Raščič, who for years have been closely involved with the art community of New Orleans. Her solo exhibition is at the moment shown at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafaeytte – a community-supported nonprofit organization that fosters art and culture in Acadiana.

Lafaeytte gave me plenty of warm memories and insight into the community culture that is so important here in the South. Stephanie Pathon, an artist who lives and works there, and who is also well known in New Orleans, showed a truly Southern hospitality – her house is usually a place where people gather for laugh, fun and food. Gumbo was my first discovery of the food fetishes of the South – a mash up of things that is cooked slowly and then eaten with for example potato salad (also common here). Gumbo’s yummy texture is something that very much characterizes the culture here – mixture of influences from around the world, uniqueness and passion for life.

NYC: Reclaiming Public Space

Buchra Khalili: The Tempest Society: Screening and Conversation with Bouchra Khalili , a 2019 Soros Arts Fellow, screened The Tempest Society (2017) and discussed her film along with her new book by the same title with curator and writer Omar Berrada. Commissioned by documenta 14 (Athens), the film explores the legacy of the agitprop theater group Al-Assifa, active in the 1970s in Paris, and its relevance to humanitarian struggles today.

Monument Lab– You see in the photo Eriola Pira from VLC as a speaker

Emily Jacir: It was a great surprise to see the art work in front of me. I have seen it before in Beirut. A work of art by my dear friend Emily Jacir in Chelsea . She will be in NY next week. Her project was short listed for the Vera List award this cycle. She will be in NYC next week. She is from Palestine

The Metropolitan Museum: A visit to the Met Museum (In the photos an ancient Egyptian temple that was gifted to the USA by President Nassir in appreciation to the USA’s role in supporting the UNESCO appeal to saved monuments drowned when building the Nassir Dam in the late 60s)

Zaha Hadid: A building by the late renounced brilliant Iraqi Zaha Hadid

Emel Mathlouthi: A brilliant female musician from Tunisia now living in NYC. She sang for her country in the day post its second free election post the Arab Uprising. She always sang to the Kurds.

So finally I am settled in my hipster mixed neighborhood in Brooklyn-NYC as a fellow through the CEC ArstLink Fellowship program hosted by the Vera List Center for Art and Politics- the New school. This fellowship is of extreme significance e both on the professional and on the personal level. I lived in the USA from the year 1993 until 1997. Since then, I have been back to the USA once back in 1998 as a part of a tour to speak about Palestine and the Israel Occupation of my homeland. Coming back is extremely important as a step, at always me an onward reflective look at my past. Professional and due to complex political contexts, I have had rare moments to collaborations between American colleagues and counterparts.  Perhaps this fellowship will act as an interlude to new trails!

Since my arrival, I have not sit still, working a lot, meetings different interesting and important initiatives walking a lot and sleeping very little. I am inspired and eager to enjoy all that NYC has to offer. I am pleasantly surprised at the knowledge of Palestine and its arts and culture landscape by many artistic and curators who are engaged in social justice issues. Sometimes even huge NYC

I am also diligently working on my curated platform on public art and citizen participation in Palestine, which over this weekend go also turned into a book with an initial title of “Reclaiming Public Space for Palestinians through the Arts”. The book will commission Palestinian and non-Palestinian (but working with Palestine as theme) writers, thinkers, artists and curators to together explore the topic of reclaiming public space by Palestinians through the arts, regardless of their location thus offering a kaleidoscope of different perceptions to the meaning of “public space” to all contributors.