Friday, June 10, 2016


Chapter I

In this Chapter the reader will find an overview of my research context, methods and methodology at work. Six social sculptures pieces will provide a structure for the reader to understand the interweaving between practice and research writing.

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 judgment”[1]

The form of triangulation that I deploy in my methodology incorporates the following three angles: Philosophy (Theory, Dialogic); Social Sculpture (Social Engaged Art, SEA); and Pedagogy. Pedagogy, more than being the third angle of the triangulation, will be the element that transforms the triangulation methodology into something that is in fact more akin to circulation in its dynamics. Rather than using pedagogy as a separate element in my research, I will use it in an auxiliary role to allow the philosophy and social sculpture elements of the methodology to reciprocally inform one another. Therefore pedagogy is the transmission (transversal?)  element that transforms the triangulation into a circulation methodology. For this reason, throughout the thesis I will speak of “transpedagogy” rather than “pedagogy.”

The methods used are the actions themselves, the documentation of the actions, the participants’ postexperience comments, my reflections during editing, and my writing. At the same time, the writing method plays two roles, first as part of the practice and second as documentation of process and conclusions.

During the doctoral journey, my social sculpture practice has slowly been shifting from the visual arts to philosophy. I am understanding Social Sculpture as the materialization and/or embodiment of philosophy if not the language of it. I came through this realization during editing as I find on the experiences philosophical questions, perhaps archetypes. This questions brought me to Nietzsche “The birth of Tragedy”, Nietzsche’s Doctoral thesis. The tragedy that Nietzsche is analyzing in this book is the Greek tragic theater, performance, what in Greece they called poetry. He claims that tragedy was born on people’s necessity to put a veil onto the reality of life which is to bad to look at it strait. A veil to make softer the human impossibility to look at the truth. That veil is art, that veil is the function of art, which was born from Dionysius (music, inebriation) and Apollo (sculpture, dream, beauty). Apollo and Dionysius as two artistic instincts sometimes opposites sometimes complementary from this union of them Tragedy is born. Nietzsche believes that post Socratian reason, intellectualization, dialectics (based on cause and effect, guilt and punishment, virtue and happiness) killed the Tragedy, he believes that the optimistic view where all the problems can be solved implies the death of tragedy. Tragedy (poetry) exists because no matter how good the acts of the plot’s hero can be; the problem is always there. He believes that this intrinsic pessimism of life nature is matter for creation. Nietzsche writes that when Socrates appeared the Tragedy committed suicide. For him to be optimistic is not to create, is to denied the world or is to see only one part of it. He believes that there are many good things in suffering, it is a ‘must’ to be friendly to our sufferings because that is what occurs in life, and from that we can create and in fact Tragedy was born. When the pleasure for dialectic, he said, had dissolved the Tragedy emerged the Comedy.

Every group of people have their own Tragedy, during the social sculpture experiences Poetry comes to the surface in different ways. Different group of participants relate to each other differently and the relationship between participants and objects as well. When the participants became extra reasonable, looking for intellectual associations the social sculpture in fact reaches the end of the session.
Any person willing to participate in a social sculpture piece is taking an out of ordinary, out of every day life decision, that person is making a choice that takes him/her to do something that is different to their daily routines. For them this paragraph:

[A philosopher] is a person who constantly experiences, sees, hears, suspects, hopes, and dreams extraordinary things; who is struck by his own thoughts as if from outside, from above and below, as if by his type of events and lightning bolts; who is perhaps a storm himself, pregnant with new lightning; a fatal person in whose vicinity things are always rumbling, growling, gaping, and acting in uncanny ways. A philosopher: oh, a being who is frequently running away from himself, frequently afraid of himself, – but too curious not to always come back to himself . . .[2]

I use my practice to convey the complexity and plurality of subjectivities and their transformations during the interactions in my social sculpture making.  I explore this by composing social sculpture pieces with participants from different local communities in Miami. I use language as an aesthetic element and as material together with other more conventional materials. My social sculpture works are constructed through using language, my own body, sound collections of the participants talking and other possible props or materials such as fabric, cotton, clay, and a chair. All construct my social sculpture pieces. At the same time, I am also material for the research, so my practice becomes a mirror and reflection simultaneously. The production of social situations and experiences where the participants create while I take a more passive attitude to let myself be material for the participants.

I will start this chapter reviewing my last body of work that started on February 20, 2016 with Imperfect destruction and finished with Mute produced on May 28th, 2016. With the collaboration of Eileen Karakurt, Camila Godoy and Caroline Santos, three students from Miami Beach High School. They contacted me through the Internships program between their school and the Art Center South Florida where I am currently doing my artist-in-residence.
In the following reviews each piece has a paragraph from Nietzsche “The birth of the Tragedy”, then my own description later the internships comments and question, and a conclusion. All of them in the same order. This specific order is a method for me to reflect.
Later I will be interweaving my reflections, their ideas during and after the experiences and situate this body of work in a frame of context from Fredrich Nietzsche “The birth of tragedy” creating a dialogue.


This deification of individuation, if it is thought of in general as commanding and proscriptive, understands only one law, the individual, that is, observing the limits of individualization, moderation in the Greek sense. Apollo, as an ethical divinity, demands moderation from his followers and, so that they can observe self-control, a knowledge of the self. And so alongside the aesthetic necessity of beauty run the demands “Know thyself” and “Nothing too much!”; whereas, arrogance and excess are considered the essentially hostile daemons belonging to the non-Apollonian sphere (…). For the sake of his excessive wisdom, which solved the riddle of the sphinx, Oedipus had to be overthrown inbewildering whirlpool of evil.[3]

This is the final piece from this six social sculptures body of work.
In this experience I asked them to review every of the video documentation and to write three ideas and one question each of them for each video. During the time they were doing it I prepared in another studio the camera, a table with a black cloth and four burlap cones that were part of one of my former Installations. I explained that once they finished with the writings they were going to enter one by one to the other studio, as they enter they were going to find certain materials. After (I didn’t specify what were they going to find), were invited to do anything they wanted with the materials and the space. I also told them to take any time between 10 seconds and 10 minutes. I asked them no to say anything to others as they walk out the room. I did my part first, then Eileen later Caroline and last Camila. During editing was interesting to see what each one did. The different dialogue that each one establish with the materials and the space. Although we enter to the space separately we maintained a dialogue between us through the materials and the space, that dialogue can only be read later from the experience through the video. In this last encounter the video repositions to another role. We have a new experience as we watch at the video and find out what the others did with the same materials few minutes before or after.

1. The bean bag resembled to horns for me so I used them in that way.
2. The props were unusual and random.
3.  This project made us be creative and see what we can do with just a table, blanket, and 4 bean bag horns.
Q: Why did you choose these props?
Eileen Karakurt

1. When I saw the two pieces on top of the table I thought of devil horns like Eileen suggested they were, and I want to change it into something else like building something new from something falling apart.
2. I used the blanket as support to try and keep the pieces together.
3. And I failed haha.
- What did it represent when you pushed the sheets in and out from under the table?
Caroline Santos

1. While I walked in and saw the props I thought back to what Caroline and Eileen did with them and what I could've done that was different.
2. I had to open up to new ideas thinking of what to do with only 3 props.
3. When I placed the props on the table it resembled a body figure.
- What did the beginning of the video mean when you were under the table?
Camila Godoy

Plastic Waves

With those two gods of art, Apollo and Dionysus, we establish our recognition that in the Greek world there exists a huge contrast, in origin and purposes, between the visual arts, the Apollonian, and the non-visual art of music, the Dionysian. These two very different drives go hand in hand, for the most part in open conflict with each other and simultaneously provoking each other all the time to new and more powerful offspring, in order to perpetuate in them the contest of that opposition, which the common word “Art” only seems to bridge, until at last, through a marvellous metaphysical act of the Greek “will,” they appear paired up with each other and, as this pair, finally produce Attic tragedy, as much a Dionysian as an Apollonian work of art.[4]

Two women of different generations--the older woman is the artist (myself), and the younger woman is a high school student- are acting and reacting to one another and also to an object. They are uncertain about what movement they will make next. Their performance in this social sculpture piece is focused on their interactions with any item of their choosing from my studio. In this case, the student chose a plastic sheet. They are acting spontaneously, but they trust one another’s actions and in their own decisions. The piece develops based on this relationship. During this process nothing is pre established except the choice of the material, the space and the camera’s point of view. These two women establish a dialogue that has no beginning or end. The points of departure for the dialogue are the ideas that the participants simply need to make it through to the end of the performance and that they need to do so while being aware that they are being filmed. It is a dialogue full of uncertainties, and one that is perhaps guided by the participants’ gender and the generation gap between them.
This piece writes itself during those minutes and in that particular space through the manipulation of the simple material and our own bodies in a spontaneous process in which the bodies move as a reaction of themselves and the material and vice versa.
On the video the sound creates another space, an autonomous space that situates the spectator inside the piece. The space created between the images and the sound is now where the spectator is located, centralizing him/her making her/him part of it.

The noise is great choice for this video.
I liked how the plastic was wrapped around me and as I was walking back and forth I was unraveling myself.
The making of this video was very random and calming.
Q: How did we end up making a video like this without planning it?
Eileen Karakurt.

As Eileen enravelled herself she was looking more free, like in life it takes time to let yourself go, but as soon as you MOVE on and continue putting effort to free yourself.
Q: how did you feel when you were wrapped around the plastic?
Camila Godoy (Camila was not present on this social sculpture experience she writes it by looking at the documentation)

The way the plastic moved and made waves reminded me of a child moving in the sand as air pushes it.
As Veronica wrapped herself and hid in a cubby hole it reminded me of someone trying to hide from their true self and looking for shelter.
Q: why did you decide to hide in the hole and wrap yourself?
Caroline Santos
(Caroline was not present on this social sculpture experience she writes it by looking at the document)

Emotions, a social sculpture in 3 parts.

That striving for the infinite, the wing beat of longing, associated with the highest delight in clearly perceived reality, reminds us that in both states we must recognize a Dionysian phenomenon, which always reveals to us all over again the playful cracking apart and destruction of the world of the individual as the discharge of primordial delight, in a manner similar to the one in which gloomy Heraclitus compares the force constructing the world to a child who playfully sets stones here and there, builds sand piles and then knocks them down again. [5]

I asked Camila and Eileen, fifteen and sixteen years old high school students with whom I am currently working with, to walk around my studio and pick some objects that they felt either attraction or rejection to. During that time I left them by themselves while I went to the other studio, where we knew we will be filming the work's process. It was with the materials that the came back with that we started filming what in the editing session ended up being "Part I", where they drew each other's faces and then got close to the camera with the drawing of their friend's face.
During "Part II" we threw the orange and we follow it one by one parallel to the camera.
In "Part III" they decided that they wanted to paint the orange golden, converting it into another object and later destroying it. We used the restroom to film this part.
At the end of the session they described the experience as parallel to their life experiences during three periods of their lives: childhood, adolescence and adulthood. It is because of this that this film is divided in three parts.
When I reflected on it, I found out that the dialogue with the materials chosen is directly related with their age and the gender.
Would have man chosen the same materials? And if they did, would have them interacted with them in the same form? The answer could be as simple as to say that nobody would have done the same, that each individual would have chosen and acted in different ways without paying attention to age or gender.
However, I want to focus on the difference of generations between us. All of us women, them in their adolescence and me in my forties. I tend to take care of objects and relate to them with respect, trying to understand their simplest sense. I create an space for the object, in which I enter in a dialogue with it, reacting to what I perceive it "asks" me to do. They, instead, tend to dominate the object, changing and destroying it, like in the case of the orange; in which they first wanted to change the color and when they couldn't accomplish that, they ended up destroying it. The dialogue that they have with the object is aggressive and authoritarian.
On the contrary, the relationship that they establish with me (older than them) is one based on submission. It is difficult for me to establish a dialogue of actions with them because I perceive that they loose spontaneity when I appear on the scene. As a result of my appearance, they wait to see what I do to then follow me.
When it comes to the objects, they feel empowered, almost to the point of abusing them, but when it comes to me, they submit to my ideas. My guess is that it might have to do with the age difference.

I have no idea why we destroy an orange…I felt bad though I don’t eat oranges.
Now that I look back on this video I really don’t know why we destroyed an orange.
The part where we kept throwing the orange was very calm and collected.
Q: Why did you edit it backwards instead of the way we did it in order?
Eileen Karakurt.

In part III I peed the orange apart. The orange just represented our openness to play around it.
Part II we were drawing each other, acting like kids with no care we were just laughing and relieving the anger portrayed in destrying the orange.
Part I seemed like a complete charge where we simply threw and picked up the orange. Much like in real life how we let go of anger and child like behavior and goes through maturity in the simplicity of life.
Q: why did we have to walk around and pick up the orange so many times in part I?
Camila Godoy

I think in part III the oranges represented their inner emotions they were able to let out because they had a tool to do so.
In part I the oranges represent emotions and feelings they are not able to let out, like the peel is a type of boundary.
In part II when they drew each other it seemed like were at first trying really hard to make it look like each other.
Q: what made you chose these materials for this video?
Caroline Santos
(Caroline was not present on this social sculpture experience she writes this comment by looking at the documentation)


There is an old legend that king Midas for a long time hunted the wise Silenus, the companion of Dionysus, in the forests, without catching him. When Silenus finally fell into the king’s hands, the king asked what was the best thing of all for men, the very finest. The daemon remained silent, motionless and inflexible, until, compelled by the king, he finally broke out into shrill laughter and said these words, “Suffering creature, born for a day, child of accident and toil, why are you forcing me to say what would give you the greatest pleasure not to hear? The very best thing for you is totally unreachable: not to have been born, not to exist, to be nothing. The second best thing for you, however, is this — to die soon.” [6]

In the previous social sculpture “Strings attached” the idea of hair started coming naturaly during the experince and edition and originated the first idea for Trenzadas. Trenzadas means embreided. I wanted to embreid their hair toghether and exposed them to the experience of being  phisycally contected. I started embroiding their hair while they were sitting in a triangle back to back, once I finished I left the scene. For each movement they did they had to communicate to the other to avoid hurting or falling. I see them having fun and moving through the studio with this “condition” of being connected. They decided to call me and they instructed me to sit on the chair. With a black fabric the wrapped me up. During the coversation we have after the experience they told me that more than wrapping me up they were putting hair on me, for them the black fabric became my hair.

The music noise in the beginning reminds of the radios in the old times when you scrolled through the chanels.
I felt like I couldn’t do anything I wanted when I was attached.
The end when we wrapped Veronica in the black cloth it represented hair being wrapped around her.
Q: how do people who are permanently attached to one another do this everything?
Eileen karakurt

It was hard to move along when attached with the other girls through the braids.
You realize how dependent you become when you have to rely on others to do your own thing.
As soon as we let go and we were all free from each other, it felt like a weight upon me, that I can be my own person.
Q: how did you feel when you were wrapped around the cloth?
Camila Godoy

When Veronica braided our hairs together I felt really connected to the other girls.
I also felt like I grew a dependency on them because everything I was going to do was dictated by what they were going to do.
It made me realize that I do not like to depend on other people, because it felt like unnecesary weight on our backs.
When we wrapped Veronica with the black cloth it represented our hair and how heavy it felt to be connected to Eileen and Camila.
Q: How did it feel when we wrapped you with the cloth?
Caroline santos.

Strings attached

In order to be able to live, the Greeks must have created these gods out of the deepest necessity. We can readily imagine the sequential development of these gods: through that Apollonian drive for beauty there developed, by a slow transition out of the primordial titanic divine order of terror, the Olympian divine order of joy, just as roses break forth out of thorny bushes. How else could a people so emotionally sensitive, so spontaneously desiring, so singularly capable of suffering, have been able to endure their existence, unless the same qualities, with a loftier glory flowing round them, manifested themselves in their gods. The same impulse which summons art into life as the seductive replenishment for further living and the completion of existence also gave rise to the Olympian world, in which the Hellenic “Will” held before itself a transfiguring mirror.[7]

This social sculpture is a feminine piece, the girls’ hair and the material selected that has hair characteristics itself. They decided to hung the material from the ceiling of the studio and letting it fall in a natural way which recalls long hair as well. The colours of the lights they picked add to the feeling of femininity to the piece. During this experience I left the building for half an hour because I wanted to know what could change without my presence. During the video editing I saw Eileen dancing on front of the camera, their attitude in general was much more spontaneous when I was not there. They explored the studio and did not limit themselves to a personal space instead they took over the studio in a social space approach with a natural attitude leaving a feminine Installation that is also connected their own bodies.

The string fabric was hair to us.
We used colourful lights to make the room more vibrant and like a type of “jungle” scene including the hair.
This one has for sure my favourite out of all the videos we’ve done.
It was so awesome.
Q: How long did you take to edit this awesome video?
Eileen Karakurt

In the making of the video, Caroline, Eileen and I were enjoying ourselves because we noticed how much time it was taking to attached the thick hair like strings to the ceilings and walls.
Attaching all the strings was making it harder for us to go through or walk to the other side like obstacles.
After stepping back and looking at what we did we realized how interesting the room looked in the art we made.
Q: what did you feel about the room?
Camila Godoy.

The effort it took to put the strings up upon the ceiling to me felt like the effort it takes to take care of our hair.
The strings represented our hair.
Also the effort and strength it took to put the strings up felt how heavy our hair feels to us.
Q: what did the strings represented to you?
Caroline Santos.

Imperfect Destruction

Greek tragedy above all checked the destruction of myth; people had to destroy them in order to be able to live detached from their home soil, unrestrained in a wilderness of thought, custom, and action.[8]

This social sculpture was made in the first encounter between the three students and myself. I first explained to them the idea of social sculpture and social engaged art. I told them that we were going to make a series of social sculpture experiences. I also explained that all this work was going to be part of my research based practice and I made them signed a simple consent form. Later I asked them to walk around my studio, to look at everything and to pick anything they liked, or they don’t like. They were walking very insecure not knowing what to do. I proposed them to destroy one of my sculptures, I told them that I needed more space and that anyways I was thinking to take it out. I was also interested in the idea of braking one of my “traditional” sculptures as a symbol of my own practice transformation tors my present interest in social sculpture. They liked the idea, we prepared a table with tools. We picked a point of view for the camera, I explained how the camera was there for a documentation purpose.
It was a profound moment for me and full of symbolisms, I left the studio while listening to the noise of destruction, the hits. I knew there was no return, I didn’t want to go back. It was affecting my body roughly. I knew I needed to do it and I would never have done it by myself, I wouldn’t be able. This destruction for me was a beginning and an end.

Angry vibe.
I loved when we all tried to put it back together because I felt loving that day instead of anger.
I love the creepy music in the background.
Q: Why did you let us destroy the sculpture you built?
Eileen Karakurt

Watching the video makes me realize how long it took to destruct the sculpture.
While making the video, as in breaking the sculpture I felt myself be free because I usually don’t break things using tools. It felt different.
After watching the video I notice how it was taking so much effort to break something…as if breaking something requires dreadful effort rather than building something new.
Q: how did we look when we were destroying the sculpture?
Camila Godoy

This video makes me sad because we destroyed a imperfect sculpture. It showed me that it makes as much time to destroy something as it does to build  something. The music goes very well with the video but it gives me a sad and haunting vibe because it shows me how dangerous these objects we were using are and how incorrectly we were using them.
Q: what made you decided to change the colour of the video and put that music as the background?
Caroline Santos.

[1] Schroeder, W. Continental Philosophy – A Critical Approach, Wiley Blackwell, London, 2004, pg.118

[2] Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, Edited by Rolf-Peter Horstmann Humboldt-Universitat, Berlin, translated by Judith Norman, Cambridge texts in the history of philosophy, Cambridge University press 2002. Aphorism 292, pg. 174

[3] Friedrich Nietzsche The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music, Translated by Ian Johnston Vancouver Island University Nanaimo, British Columbia Canada, pg.19

[4] Friedrich Nietzsche The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music, Translated by Ian Johnston Vancouver Island University Nanaimo, British Columbia Canada, pg. 11

[5] Friedrich Nietzsche The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music, Translated by Ian Johnston Vancouver Island University Nanaimo, British Columbia Canada, pg. 83

[6] Friedrich Nietzsche The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music, Translated by Ian Johnston Vancouver Island University Nanaimo, British Columbia Canada, pg. 16

[7] Friedrich Nietzsche The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music, Translated by Ian Johnston Vancouver Island University Nanaimo, British Columbia Canada, pg. 16

[8] Friedrich Nietzsche The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music, Translated by Ian Johnston Vancouver Island University Nanaimo, British Columbia Canada, pg. 80

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