01 – Title:
Metamorphosis, transient identities and hybrid languages in an action/object making practice and their reciprocal constant transformations
02 – Description:
My research interests are Metamorphosis, life changes and transformations through time, translocations and mobility and the impact to and from the language can have to my practice.
I have chosen Nietzsche’s “three metamorphoses” as a poetic point of departure: Nietzsche introduces the three metamorphoses in ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ (1878):
Of the three metamorphoses of the spirit do I tell you: how the spirit becomes a camel, the camel a lion; and the lion finally a child.
There is much that is difficult for the spirit, that would bear much, and kneels down like a camel wanting to be well loaded (…)
All the most difficult things the spirit that would bear much takes upon itself: like the camel that, burdened, speeds into the dessert, thus the spirit speeds into the desert.
In the loneliest desert, however, the second metamorphosis occurs: here the spirit becomes a lion who would conquer his freedom and be master of his own desert. (…)
…the creation of freedom for oneself for new creation-that is within the power of the lion (…)
…what can the child do that even the lion could not do? Why must the preying lion still become a child? The child is innocence and forgetting, a new beginning, a game, a self propelled wheel, a first movement, a sacred “Yes” is needed. For the game of creation, my brothers, a sacred “yes” is needed; the spirit now wills his own will, and he who had been lost to the world now conquers his own world.”
(p. 25 - 28)
In Tim Rayner’s article about Nietzsche’s “three metamorphoses” (2010), he describes them in relation to changes in his personal life and his career transformation into a philosopher. In a similar way I relate Nietzsche’s “Three metamorphoses” to changes in my life as an artist.
“…The metamorphoses describe the process of spiritual transformation that characterizes his vision of the flourishing life (…) the story of the three metamorphoses is nothing if not a saga of spiritual transformation.” (Rayner, p.1)
During my PhD process I hope to become a lion and then a child in order to finally conquer my own world. Conquering my own practice through a rigorous and reflexive research process that would lead me on a new stage in my life and my career. This process of transformation will also be reflected by a shift in my practice toward significant actions; I intend to develop from the object maker I was, closed in my studio to an object maker who performs actions in which the viewer also plays an active role.
What we lose when we transform ourselves, (i.e., what happens to the camel, once we become a lion and to the lion when we transform into a child and so on) will be investigated through my bodily interactions with material during my live actions.
In my sculpture making, I have always focused on the transformations in terms of form, and how different materials’ qualities can shift a raw material’s natural form into a new form/shape. Often I want to see the form in more than one material to see how I react to it., for example, the difference between fiber-wire and fiber-fabric, hard and soft. With both I have employed wrapping technique-gestures - they could be the same form, but different emotions are expressed through the use of different materials. I enjoy the material’s manipulation, solving problems with the material limitations, stretching and discovering its possibilities, having a dialogue with the material, letting it make decisions.
Physical transformations inform my research, but I am also interested in the liminal echo between transformation and translocation. I believe that languages transform behavior and vice versa. Emerging languages are the result of people’s translocations, and how moving (i.e., from country to country) transforms them.
“…In addition to visual symbols of differences such as gender, age, and ethnicity, language plays a critical, and often a primary, role in how people perceive and evaluate their fellow interactants. (…). Because of these structured patterns of language use, linguistic forms can became indexical of speakers’ social identities. In this respect, the use of particular languages, accents (…) and dialects (…) can convey a significant amount of social information about speakers, such as their geographic background, ethnicity, and social class, as well as stereotypes attributed regarding their traits. The tendency to socially stereotype speakers based on their use of language can have significant real world consequences, ranging from prejudice and discrimination…”The Social Meanings of Language, Dialect and Accent: International Perspectives on Speech Styles (Language as Social Action) Howard Giles, Bernadette Watson pg.3
As per Giles & Watson, I believe that prejudice and discrimination are part of the process by which behavior is affected by language, but I do not think that these are the only factors at work. During my research I will, through my actions and interactions with viewers, attempt to find a different understanding of how language affects behavior which goes beyond the sociological explanations.
Life transformations, the accompanying loss of identity and the use of emergent languages such as Espanglish all play a role in my practice. As people move around the globe new hybrid languages appear. Reciprocally the interaction between new words and existing grammars may affect people’s thought structures and may in turn affect their behavior.
My actions and interactions with material and viewers are going to be delivered as artist-constructed social experience. My main focus will be on the elderly community (residents of retirement homes etc). I am interested in a dynamic social environment, in finding ways to create a situation, an experience through action, where the viewers may also participate.
Nicolas Bourriaud’s ideas on “Relational Aesthetics” may be of relevance here. Bourriaud describes relational aesthetics as:
“A set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space.” (“Relational Aesthetics”, Nicolas Bourriaud, 1998. pg.113).
In particular I am drawn to the notion of finding new spaces instead of using traditional ones (i.e., art galleries). However Joseph Beuys’ idea of “social sculpture”, in which ‘everybody is an artist’ , 'everything is art’, and ‘life can be approached creatively’ as socially engaged ideas, is perhaps of greater relevance. Mesch & Danto (2007) connect Beuys’ ideas to the Relational Art described by Bourriaud, as Beuys believed that life is a social sculpture that people shape. In my opinion, Joseph Beuys ideas are better related to my work. There is a genuine existence of a deep contradiction of me wanting to socialize and or interact with the public, knowing my own personal limitation in doing so with strangers. The resolution of this contradiction might be productive for both my practice and my research. In this specific point my work does not relate so as much to relational aesthetics as it does with social sculpture, as the action itself, becoming the piece that speaks, relates and hopefully transforms.
I will analyze these ideas in terms of how I present and deliver my actions to/with the ‘active viewer’. At the same time, by delivering my actions in this way I will be able to witness myself in the viewer’s transformations during the experience, which will feed back into my research inquiry into how life is transformed transformations through experience (which I call 'metamorphosis').
The methodology used in my research will be based on Nietzsche’s Triangulation. He proposed the use of diverse approaches in order to increase knowledge, which echoes the often interdisciplinary nature of practice based research:
“Gaining knowledge, requires the resources of many disciplines; no single approach is sufficient. Truth-seekers will have to became more versatile, master many disciplines and methods, learn artistic creativity and balanced judgement” (“Continental Philosophy”, William R. Schroeder, p.118)
Schroeder explains that Nietzsche proposes the usage of the cognitive element to elaborate the way to determine the truth; the cultural reconstruction element to diagnose the present; the legislative for the future and the Educative Element to facilitate the transformation in others. The condition required for the new Philosophers, Schroeder states, is an existential transformation, the three-stage metamorphosis of the spirit, Nietzsche refers to in “Human, All Too Human” and in Thus Spoke Zarathustra” the three Metamorphoses.
I want to conclude my proposal with Deleuze:
“A theory does not totalize; it is an instrument for multiplication and it also multiplies itself…it is in the nature of power to totalize and…Theory is by nature opposed to power” (Deleuze 1977a: p.208)
Additionally, I like Deleuze’s ideas because of the fact that they are in opposition to the concept of “power and totalitarianism”, a view that resonates with my own personal perspectives.
03 – Relevance:
My perspective as an artist, working on the liminal echoes between translocation, transformation and language, is a new point of view for knowledge. My approach is not based on sociological neither psychological analysis on how hybrid-emergent languages, translocation and behavior affect each other in people’s life and my practice. I, the artist, am also material for the research, so my practice becomes a mirror and reflection at the same time. The production of art works with, not only a different point of view, but also visual experimental connotations into social situations and experiences for the viewer-participant.
04 – Research Methods:
‘Each tale has its own technique’ J.L. Borges
My research methods will include actions together with sculpture making and/or manipulating materials. For documentation purposes, I will include the use of video, photographs, recording and writing. Katie McLeod’s ‘seesaw’ method will be fundamental during my practice-based research, and this process has already started. During the course of writing this proposal I did, last week, my first action in this research context and I experienced the ‘seesaw’ process. I embodied the interrelation between the writings I have been working with and my practice. As a result of this, everything has more sense now, the understanding is more profound and I can see evidence of the ‘seesaw’ method in my own research project.
My intention is to provide the viewers with written instructions (in different languages and emerging languages) for them to either participate or keep for their own usage.
I also intend to use semi-structured interviews, questionnaires and data collection, as well as observation-based documentation.
05 – Sources:
Thus spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche F., translated by Kaufmann W. 1978, Penguin Books
Continental Philosophy: A Critical Approach, Schroeder W. R., 2005, Blackwell Publishing
Ethics: Subjectivity and truth, Foucault M., Translated by Hurley R. and others, 1994, Edited by Ravinow P.
Relational Aesthetics, Bourriaud N., 2002, Translated by Pleasance S.& Woods F., Les Presses Du Reel Edition
Nomadology: The war Machine, Deleuze G. & Guattari F., 1986, Translated by Massumi B.
Liminal Acts: A critical Overview of Contemporary Performance and Theory, Broadhurst S. 1999, Cassell
The Nomadic Theory, Braidotti R., 2011, Columbia University Press
Metamorphoses, Braidotti R., 1988, Polity
Patterns of Dissonance, Braidotti R., 1991, Polity Press
After Poststructuralism: transitions and transformations, Braidotti R.,
The Doctorate in Fine Art: The importance of Exemplars to the Research Culture, Macleod K., Holdridge L.
Communication at the End of Life (Lifespan Communication: Children, Families, and Aging) Nussbaum J. F., Giles H., Worthington A. K.
Joseph Bueys: the reader, Edited and translated by Mesch C., Michely V.with foreword by Danto A. 2007
Language and Social Psychology (Language in society) Giles H., St.Clair R. N., 1979, Basil Blackwell
The Social Meanings of Language, Dialect and Accent: International Perspectives on Speech Styles (Language as Social Action) Giles H., Watson B.
Runaway Girl, Bourgeois Louise, 2003, Greenberg & Jordan, Adams H. N.
LouiseBourgeois, Berdanac M. L., Flammarion, 1996
LouiseBourgeois, Gardner P., Universe Publishing, 1994
An interview with Louise Borgeois, Kuspit D. 1988 Elizabeth Avedon Editions,
Eva Hesse, Lippard L. First Da Capo Press Edition, 1992, 1st edition 1976
October files Eva Hesse, Nixon M., Editor. 2002, Cambridge MS: MIT Press
Three Artists (three women): modernism and the Art of Hesse, Krasner and O’keeff, Wagner, Middleton A., The Regents of the University of California, 1996.
Where Is Ana Mendieta?: Identity, Performativity, and Exile, February 24, 1999
Mendieta, Ana Manchester E. "Untitled (Silueta Series, Mexico)". TATE, 2009.
English Is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the, by Fusco C., 1995
Dangerous Moves: Politics and Performance in Cuba, Fusco C., 2015
Portable Borders: Performance Art and Politics on the U.S. Frontera since 1984 (Latin American and Caribbean Arts and Culture Publication In), Sheren I.N., 2015
Performance and Technology: Practices of Virtual Embodiment and Interactivity, Broadhurst S. (Editor), Josephine Machon (Editor), 2011
Video Art Theory: A Comparative Approach, Westgeest H., 2016
Contemporary Artistic context & Art practitioners
"I have been carrying out a dialogue between the landscape and the female body (based on my own silhouette). I believe this has been a direct result of my having been torn from my homeland (Cuba) during my adolescence. I am overwhelmed by the feeling of having been cast from the womb (nature). My art is the way I re-establish the bonds that unite me to the universe. It is a return to the maternal source."Mendieta, Ana quoted in Manchester, Elizabeth. "Untitled (Silueta Series, Mexico)". TATE, 2009.
Some artists that are of interest to me: Eva Hesse, Louise Borgeois, Ana Mendieta, and Ana Maria Maiolino. Their work has always struck me very deeply. Coincidentally, and for different reasons they all moved out of the place where they where born, and carried their strong accent all through their life. From different perspectives they have all worked with identity, 3D and/or performances, while their use of materials and the forms of their pieces, i.e. their ability to convey autobiographical or narrative material without doing so literally, has always held my attention.
I relate differently to Regina Jose Galindo as I like the manly aesthetics of her work, even though her art is more recognized for her political statements, however what touches me the most is her particular use of her own body in juxtapostion with her chosen material as well as the light quality of her practice.
I admire Joseph Bueys work for many reasons but primarily for his educational approaches - many of his pieces were not about the piece itself but about the pedagogical outcome of the process.
With Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Coco Fusco and La Pocha Nostra, even though I dislike Guillermo Gomez Pena and Coco Fusco from an aesthetic point of view I admire their strong political position: their message, their authentic guerrilla approach that to me is strong and honest. Together with that sincerity there is suffering - it is not a superficial posture but rather an authentic form of protest.
My residency studio at South Florida Art Center
Day cares for elderly
Residential homes for Elderly
06 – Research questions:
How does my material based studio practice mirror the loss of identity experienced during life transformations (metamorphosis)?
What is the relationship between the hybrid/emerging languages (i.e. Espanglish) and experimental gestures making in my creative practice?
How can I best present and disseminate my findings and my practice to the communities which I feel my work may be of relevance to? (elders, academia)
07 – Project results:
The result will be an exhibition, a book, documented actions and new gained knowledge. But the most important outcome, perhaps, is to bring the contemporary art experience, the artist constructed experience, to the elderly.
08 – Intended audience:
My interest is in the elderly as I always am intrigued to discover their thinking. I believe that bringing my contemporary performances/actions to them and interacting with them during the actions will open my practice to new approaches. I will be observing, documenting and also interviewing them about their transformations during their lives and how they perceive/experience my practice. I will bring a simple plan in several languages with instructions on how to participate in my action and leave them with another instruction so they can do the action themselves at any time.
09 – Statement:
I grew up spending a lot of time with my Nonna, she imbued me with a deep appreciation for homemade food and handcraft materials. I learned to sew; learning all kind of stitches with many types of strings and fabrics. Form here my attraction of working with texture and fibers was born. I was good at crochet at age seven. Soon I could even create shoes, weave, interlace, braid and knit, and also tackle the machinations of a Singer sewing machine. From working with utilitarian objects, flour and water to make dough, fabric to make clothes, came my appreciation for raw materials. I transform materials into forms. During all this years living outside the place were I was born, I have come to realize that I have more connections with my grandmother than I had previously thought: these connections have to do with me growing up with her. She had left the place where she was born as well, and carried her deep Italian accent while speaking Spanish until she died. Because she was from a little town in the Alps, she spoke Italian, French, Piedmonts and Kitch (her town dialect). I grew up listening to them all.
10 – 2-3 Sentences summarizing project:
My object of inquiry is the role of metamorphosis in language-behavior-practice, how they affect to each other, and are enacted in my performances/actions/object making practice.
11 – Technical description and production process:
The main focus of this work is my personal interaction with a specific material during every performance. All of the work will be always documented in HD digital video and/or photography. During last week’s first performance (in this present and new PhD research context) I had a colleague artist who provided help with the video’s documentation and also assisted with wrapping me on the burlap. Due to the position of my arms inside the wrap, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her collaboration. Each action will be different in its production. Furthermore, writing and passing the instructions to the viewer will probably be executed by me. However, since I’m currently doing my Residency at the South Florida Art Center I will have many options of collaborative or interchanged work. In addition to this, in order to accomplish some Actions inside my studio, I will be shooting self –directed images. I am also still in the process of considering the use of semi-structured interviews, in case I need them to discover more about the thoughts of the audience.
12 – Short description (50-100 words):
Metamorphosis - My interest is in how languages transform behavior and vice versa. Emerging languages are the result of people’s geographical-cultural translocation, and can echo in the liminal area between translocation and transformation. During my sculpture making, I have always focused on the transformations of materials’ qualities and how they can change natural-raw forms into new shapes. I work with my own body to be part of the piece during these actions, interacting with the material. In addition, body transformations are part of my interest as well. Furthermore, how life transformations, lost of identity and emerging languages affect my performances/actions/pieces and ways of disseminating my findings into the community.