CIAC Collection is a non-profit organization engaged with the promotion and research of contemporary art. Ever since 2008, the year of its foundation, CIAC Collection has been supporting and developing exhibitions, publications, and research projects centered on contemporary art practices.
Currently, CIAC Collection begun a trial program aiming to develop research and apprenticeship opportunities for artists-in-training through a trip to study artistic scenes of the international context.
For the pilot edition of Journey as a Learning Experience Sofía Olascoaga was invited as a guest consultant on the general strategy design, development and evaluation, so as on the educational and collective approach for the project, which included the group accompaniment throughout the program.
Journey as a Learning Experience took place between May 28th and June 11th, 2022 in New York City and Philadelphia, USA, in conjunction with UAEM’s Master in Artistic Production (MaPAVisual). For this program, a group of students from that course were invited to this journey to be part of the process of collective learning as a complementary experience on their formation for professional research.
This collaboration is structured around the professionalizing approach of MaPAVisual’s practices on contemporary art, understanding by this both the production and circulation processes developed inside the art spheres. Thus, Journey as a Learning Experience is blended with MaPAVisual’s program in the objective to establish the idea that the oeuvre is not concluded in the studio, nor on its production time lapse, rather today’s artists must also know and experience what takes place through the different stages of the circulation sphere.
Journey as a Learning Experience pilot edition holds the formation of a collective working process before, throughout the trip and thereafter. During the journey dialogues, discussions, reflections and exchanges with cultural agents of each context will be nurtured. Therefore, for this purpose, working sessions will be held by means of meetings and touring diverse local scenes, such as: museums, art collections, cultural institutions, independent art spaces, residencies, art collectives, educational projects, among others.
The artists invited on this pilot edition are:
The places visited on this pilot edition were:
Parks/public space projects:
The program’s objective is to promote the journey as an experience for young artists’ expertise development and to generate new nexuses and perspectives to enhance their professional career.
*Sofía Olascoaga is an artist, curator and researcher specialized in the intersections between art and education through the experimentation with meeting formats and spaces for critical thought, learning and collective action.
Tales from a trip to New York
In this set of tales, images and reflections are intertwined, sparked by the experience through the pilot edition of Artists’ Journey program (2022) in New York City coordinated by Sofía Olascoaga and organized by the CIAC Collection in collaboration with Master in Artistic Production (MaPA Visual) by The Autonomous University of the State of Morelos.
In Multitudes my concerns on plastic art are retrieved in relation to the scenes in diverse regions of New York City adding some details of the pieces by other fellow artists I’ve found at the museums we’ve explored. Anhelada Estatua contains various representations of the Statue of Liberty and a tale approaching some concerns and inquiries about one of the most famous monuments with a female representation. In the form of a chronicle, Por fin en Nueva York follows the route through the most stunning aspects of the immersion over fifteen days into the depths of this chaotic, eclectic and hyper-accelerated place that is New York City. Ciudad Juárez es (número uno), Ciudad Juárez es the (number one) evokes the anxieties, the process to obtain a visa for the U.S.A. and the journey through that particular crossborder territory for this goal. Lastly, Souvenirs is a correspondence of images, impressions and desires around the city that stroked my mind shortly after learning about the invitation for this experience as part of MaPA.
Samara Colina Borja
Mexico City, Mexico, 1992
She lives and works in Guanajuato, Guanajuato, Mexico.
Currently studying for the Master in Artistic Production (MaPA Visual) from the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos (2020-2022). She holds a bachelor’s degree in Plastic Arts from the University of Guanajuato.
In 2022 Samara was honored with the acquisition award by the XLII Encuentro Nacional de Arte Joven organized by the Cultural Institute of Aguascalientes. Awarded with the 3rd place in the category Students of the 8th International Biennial of University Visual Art (2021). Recipient of the Program of Incentives to the Creation and Artistic Development in Guanajuato (2021).
Over six individual exhibitions these stand out: Almanera in Casa Equis, Mexico City (2020); Uno más uno the Jesús Gallardo Gallery of the University of Guanajuato (2019) and De Ygnacio a Franklin in the Indigenous Roots Cultural Arts Center, Minnesota, U.S.A. (2018).
Has been part of over more than twenty national and international collective exhibitions, these are some that stand out: XLII Encuentro Nacional de Arte Joven, Casa de la Cultura Víctor Sandoval, Aguascalientes and National Center of Art, Mexico City (2022); Acciones de gravedad, La Tallera, Cuernavaca, Morelos (2021); 8th International Biennial of University Visual Art, Casa de la Mora, Toluca, State of Mexico (2021); V Bienal de Pintura José Anastasio Monroy, University Center of the South Coast, Autlán de Navarro, Jalisco; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Ateneo de Yucatán (MACAY), Mérida, Yucatán and State Art Center, Tijuana, Baja California (2020); 3rd edition of FAMA Monterrey, Monterrey, Nuevo León (2020); XL Encuentro Nacional de Arte Joven, Casa de la Cultura Víctor Sandoval, Aguascalientes and National Center of Art, Mexico City (2020); 1st edition of FAIN (Feria de Arte Independiente), Mexico City (2019); Bienal Nacional Monterrey ARTEMERGENTE, Art Center, Monterrey, Nuevo León (2019); International Visual Art Competition “Spring 2019”, Cajicá, Colombia (2019); Salón Acme no.5, Mexico City (2017).
Log of a journey to New York
On the seventh out of fifteen days on this journey, on which six artists, a curator and an art historian took part, Pablo Helguera told us this: “People in New York are like a collective oneness, they all come here to develop a project bounded to their most inner goals and ambitions.” So there we were, either by fate or destiny, attached to some kind of trial.
What have you dreamt about New York? What can be dreamed about a place is what reminisces. The island and us. Us and the island. From which we tend to forget its nature, due to the vertical madness. Vertical vertigo, bewildering horizontality. Thoroughly recorded travels of our busy agenda.
The meeting with the city is also the discovery of our fellows, on walking our surroundings we identify each other. The conversations intersect, occasionally, remembering impressions of scenes from some films and other sources, evoking our personal imagery of the city. I let a sort of intuition drive me, so the unforeseen unveils, slowly.
We wove compositions on our way to the subway, through our walks, on the intersection of “what’s-left-to-see”, on our little ball-playing across an abandoned isle and throughout paused conversations to search on the maps or check the subway stations.
Because of the city we discover ourselves: on the pursuit for seeds on a public park, aboard a ferry to Governor’s Island, in a photography shop, in a historic cafe, getting lost in silence wandering through museum halls that hold what can’t be touched. We drift towards our paths, our tales.
Did you see yourself in a painting, in the flux of people, in the little pauses to reaffirm beauty or awe? Or did you find yourself in what you wanted to solve, in what you’ve never imagined getting done or in your favorite piece (Winter Fields by Andrew Wyeth), or in the most profound discomfort like Thomas Heartherwick’s The Vessel? So numerous are the worlds reached in such a short time! The wonder lies everywhere: in the variety of faces, in people’s walking with certainty of their destiny, at least in appearance, in the little coffee maker of our kitchen, in the moody Chinese woman, restaurant manager, in each wall and enclosure of the museums. Everything is rhythm, color, smell, and form. Everything can be drawn. We surrendered to sensibility.
Each time we left a museum, the desire to look at each other and share the experience remained: “Did you see the video of Calder performing in a circus?” “Did you notice the illustrations by Pamela Colman Smith?” “Did you find the Tamayo and the Siqueiros alongside Francis Bacon?” “Walking into the hall for Hopper was the Crows by Andrew Wyeth.” “How great are the pieces by Michael Heizer!” “Where did you stop in the exhibition of Joan Jonas?” We found pieces which reclaimed our existence as an organization of signifiers. What should we do here? We sought to find meaning and reach invisible realities.
The walkarounds through the museums take us to the painting. In its presence the whole body dances in the search for details: you recoil, look from the sideways, you crouch to see the cracklings, the dull red tones, trimmed scenarios of El Greco, Goya, Tiziano, Rembrandt. And after 2,619 miles, the finding of A Maid Asleep by Johannes Vermeer, a 34.25×29.92inches painting, from 633 years ago, only there is real. It is by finding your path that you feel like a traveler; could there be a way to find a route in a painting? A painting on which you have to get lost, stop the efforts to understand it and just gaze at it as a witness. The emotion emanated from the time-to-behold changes when I return in this time-to-think. No moment rests the same, and all these emotional times and all the thoughts, memories and feelings evoked on its motivation are contained within the painting. Each painting holds a memory of what I am, a trace of thought, feeling and form. My gaze goes through sensations awakened by the memory of watching a painting. And it is by gazing that we believe we can approach, foresee and caress the mighty act of knowing.
Like hypnotized, I go from one painting to another, contending to seduce me, feeling some sort of satisfaction gathering the pieces I need to build the imagery of my truth; cautious of missing the plasticity of the paintings: Degas combines energy and detail; Vuillard is contre-jour and impasto; the silklike pastels of Rosalba Carriera; in Louise Bourgeois’ paintings the horizons are deployed in all directions, it is the familiar, an inverted house, a house with organs, the desire to sway in their colors, to get confused in their phased out lines. In Nicole Eisenman’s work, what would seem an unfinished painting turns in a whole universe yet to discover, everything fits in her narrative, it does not hide, there can be an impasto as there can be vacuum, it shivers me, it invites me into audacity, it is a monument.
Museums have windows to help us remember the city, remember that there are a trillion other windows and sometimes that fugitive gaze transforms the landscape into a painting. It is the buildings obstructing the lights that makes us see an unknown scenery. We go from one museum to another passing through bridges and tunnels to find A Contextual Retrospective, Chelsea Galleries, Spiritual Family, the lights of Dan Flavin, the twenty tons of Richard Serra, the desk of Donald Judd, our reflections on the gigantic windows of the skyscrapers, Zoe Beloff’s cardboards, a T-Rex dinosaur multiplying our bodies, the ultramarine-red trees outside Dia:Beacon, messages on the sidewalks reading “Smile, it’s not over yet”, the boardroom of a gallery in Soho.
Tell me a story worth remembering.
Relax! Look around, look around!
Every space transform into memories. The taste of seven hundred tongues in a sleepless city oozing steam and marijuana breath. Heterotopy is real. The Dakota building looked more sinister. New York deliriums: the city and its litter calls us to scavenge. Necklaces, books, tapes, paintings, cigarettes are the gifts from a consumer life.
Everyone of us went with an individual project which we registered and translated into logs and pocket-photos. I see them as the city rearranges us. Which is your favorite building?
Why are you using that on a piece? How did you make friends on the subway? How would you carry a rainbow generator in a bag? How can you be everywhere? I see me and I see us in the distance, in the photo I took walking through Central Park, longing, for I do not know if New York was New York, or was it us?
31st July 2022
Mexico City, Mexico, 1983
Based in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.
Visual artist. Her work combines painting, drawing and collaborations in scenography. She has organized several individual exhibitions: Memoria Residual, at the Art Center of Morelos, 2022; Visión Quimérica, at the Cultural Center Jardín Borda, 2009; La Sonrisa de Ofelia, at the Museo de la Ciudad de Cuernavaca, 2014. Participated in collective exhibitions, some of them are: Acciones de gravedad, at SAPS, La Tallera, 2021; Yo era muy bueno tirando piedras, SAPS, La Tallera; Latitud, at the Museo Morelense de Arte Contemporáneo, 2019. In 2019 Itziar was selected for the 5th edition of the Escuela de Crítica y Arte, a school committed with the feminist critique as part of Proyecto Siqueiros: La Tallera. She has received important distinctions, such as: the XVI Artistic and Literary Contest award by The Friends of UNESCO, Girona, Spain, 2011. Selected for the II Bienal de Autorretrato Rubén Herrera, Saltillo, 2019; the XXIX Encuentro Nacional de Arte Joven Aguascalientes, 2009. In 2007 she received the funding for artistic production from Fondo Estatal para la Cultura y las Artes. Made a collaboration for Festival Cervantino XLIII and for the plays Ecos Silenciosos and Lídy, la inmolación del yo displayed at Palacio de Bellas Artes, in 2015. She cofounded Escuela de Iniciación Artística in Cuernavaca, Morelos where she taught drawing for more than ten years, as at Centro Cultural Infantil La Vecindad; on this period of time she taught anatomical drawing at the Art Center of Morelos and the Instituto para el Arte y la Restauración Botticelli. On this day she teaches the subject Drawing and Representation at the Art Center of Morelos. She has a Master in Artistic Production (MaPA Visual) by The Autonomous University of the State of Morelos.
New York comes by my city
In Peregrino a Oriente, José Ricardo Chaves reflects this about travel: “The best traveler is the motionless one. His body resting like a contemplating stone in a distant cave or in a city apartment; or, more like a Rolling Stone, it could be moving through the geography, for motion and immobility are not in conflict. Though, there is a condition that during translations his mind shall stay still in the transparent otherness, revealed when the observing eye quiets, without blinking, avoiding judgements and categorizations –this may be achieved later–, but on his transitions the eye becomes lidless, letting the Other talk and everything else in silence.”
About the traveler’s immobility, Antonio Porchia wrote: “Before I traveled my road I was my own road.” Perhaps that’s the reason why we remarked in class: “The journey has already begun.” It was a stage in which, immobiles on our homes, we were our roads and the travel itself. Some of us anxious sailors, sailing in a sea of hope clicking, searching for the little miracle that’d compelle the gravitational forces of the embassy to open its doors before 2023. And the others, searching for the new geopolitical-medicine-passport –the vaccine.
Briefly, motionless bodies sketching a-non-walkin’, drawing a non-plan –or at least that’s the intention. The non-plan to visit a city, still unknown for some of us, but not completely for we have been flooded with its images, so we have an idea of what is there, what it is and how it is. Re-thinking Benjamin, we could say New York visited us first by the mechanical reproduction of the images containing the city. Thus, this journey will help us see what hasn’t been shown, what has been hidden, undisclosed and what we haven’t been told about New York.
Thinking about the meme picturing the Canadian mining companies’ invasion, gigantic transnationals manipulated by Yankees, and inscripted in the meme this legend: “When you visit Canada. When Canada visits you”; now, going further I question how many times and on how many ways New York has visited me. It travels through me, its geographic space is within me, in my imagery. How many times has New York knocked on my door and I have opened? How many times has New York come through the darkened glass reproducing images recorded on its streets? Or how many written words, inspired by the city?
I see you everywhere, New York. On an oil painting in a department store, paintings of big buildings, yellow cabs or neon signs. On the little keychain with black letters reading “I Love New York” of the man selling tamales; I would have asked if he really loves New York, but my craving for a guajolota was greater than my curiosity about his professed love for the city. Or on the omnipresent black and white t-shirts and the classic abbreviation “I RED HEART NY”; or caps with a juxtaposed “NY” at the stores, etc. Now, I see the meaning behind its name: New York is a city perpetually renovating itself, colonizing, gentrifying our streets, overflowing its geography, always new in new spaces. And from all those places which one is New York? Which New York from all the new-New-Yorks are we going to see?
Fabio Morábito tells us: “We travel only to find there is no need for movement. Yet, it is because we traveled that we’ve arrived at this knowledge.” Yes, and maybe we are making a no-plan for a no-journey to a place that is always present around us, always meeting us, even in immobility. It’s the cosmopolitan cities overflowing us, with a Starbucks on every corner to remind it so. Beyond doubt the journey has already begun, it wasn’t hard to realize that. The hardest, I think, is to know since when we’ve been on this journey.
José Chaves states: “With a romantic allure and deceiving melancholy we laud the traveler, opposed to the vulgar tourist; the first one is sacred, the second is profane. Say, one is profound, shallow the other; but I still don’t get it, were not the postmodernists proclaiming “all depth is not more than an illusion and shallowness empties the code of the hyperreal”? Instead, I believe they correspond to different times. The traveler is from the XIXth century and wonders as a colonialist; the tourist is from the XXth century, democratic fauna bred in the farms of travel agencies.”
On that matter I question myself: what kind of traveler am I? What kind of journey will we make? How do travelers/tourists visit New York after 11/09? Plus, how does someone visit New York during an ongoing pandemic? Finally, is it essential to visit a place for the XXIst traveler? I wonder about the dystopias, reterritorialization and deterritorialization, a common phenomenon on a daily basis: modern nomads working in New York yet living in the town of Zacatlán de las Manzanas.
It is likely that the age of travel since the XIXth century has not been over yet, rather, it has been transformed. Restrictions build up: the visa, the passport, the vaccine certificate; even more, an imaginary passport, based on politics and invented enemies.
A-walkin’ from here to there
The Travels of a Seed is a work detached from my current project The Flowers of Evil, a visual/organic exploration and analysis of the structures in nature. For this, I engaged in generating a dialogue between techniques, concerns and processes in different practices and knowledge such as alchemy, agriculture, agronomy, ecology; focusing on the relations of political and poetical order inherent to the morphology and behavior of natural structures like flowers, plants and seeds. Finally, putting all this under the glass to understand its relation with the social phenomenon, consequence of the hyperaccelerated production of floriculture in the context and region where I was raised: Villa Guerrero, State of Mexico.
I began this project in the first week of December 2021, when I was invited to take part on a journey to New York City, Philadelphia and Beacon between the months of May and June of 2022; which was focused on the investigation, dialogue and artistic practice for in-training-artists.
From this experience, motivation, and these reflections a logbook was born, which consists of a series of boxes containing ideas, archives, texts, images, objects and different organic materials collected during the planning process and on the journey. My interest is to use the act of travel itself and the transportation of the content on these boxes as a medium to analyze and rethink the geopolitical situation and dynamics between two nations, in this case The United States of America and Mexico.
To this moment these reflections, analogies and poetic/visual explorations are in a phase of experimentation, for the journey does not end with the return home, rather we are transformed into the journey, as experience. These boxes are the result unleashed by traveling: a certain way of decomposing, implosions, an imbalanced day-to-day. From this, ideas grow, intertwined and arboreal. The journey is rhizome.
The boxes are the aftermath of the noise, the chaos, the rhizomatic…Rhizomes stocked in the state of potencies, energies, ideas, disturbances, tranquility, and a thoughtful search for alchemical lightness with an air of Marcel Duchamp and Paul Auster in the city of desire.
Villa Guerrero, State of Mexico, Mexico, 1995
Lives and works in Villa Guerrero.
He has a college degree in Plastic Arts on the speciality of Contemporary Art and a Master in Artistic Production (MaPA Visual) by The Autonomous University of the State of Morelos (UAEM). Beneficiary of the Incentive for the Creation and Artistic Development Program PECDA, State of Mexico, 2018-2019; the incentive Jóvenes Creadores by the CONACyT, 2020-2022; and the Patronage Contemporary Art, PAC with the independent project Espacio Doble A: Anexos Artísticos.
He has participated in more than thirty collective exhibitions in countries like Colombia, Germany, Spain; and the interior states of Mexico: Veracruz, Campeche, Yucatán, State of Mexico, Mexico City: Jornadas de Reapropiación, Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico, 2014; ¡Ya te cayó el chahuixtle! Atlachinolli, Kunstverein, Gauting, Germany, 2015; México transgeneracional, Facultad de Artes de Cuenca, Sala larga, Cuenca, Spain, 2016; Biotopo Gráfico, Universidad de Valencia, Spain, 2019; Trazo Múltiple, gráfica contemporánea desde México, Universidad de Bellas Artes, Pereira, Colombia, 2020; Edith, Zwischen Fanzine und Künstler innen Buch, Muenchner Kuenstlerhaus, München, Germany, 2022.
Has been in five individual exhibitions in Mexico and Germany: Veintidós [101-215], El Museo, Sala Blanca, Toluca, Mexico, 2017; Tiempo-Espacio, Baluarte S.Rosa, Campeche, México, 2017; Ensayar el ensayo, ensayar lo visual, main gallery, Facultad de Artes, Ciudad Universitaria, Toluca, 2019; Historia en Ruinas, Instituto Nacional de Antropología del Estacionamiento, Toluca, Mexico, 2020; Transformación y diseminación, Not Another White Cube, München, Germany, 2022. He has been part of various biennial forums and artistic meetings of international and national repercussion: International Encounter of Graphic and Art Edition, 2018; 5th Int’l Festival of Land Art, 2016; 1st International Biennial of the Interventional Book, 2017.
Notes on a trip to New York
This logbook is comprehended by a series of notes on the construction of value of the objects under the context and framework of their representation, determining their worth as pieces of art. In general, my interest is working structures that give meaning to the objects, specially those objects we determine artifacts, art-factum: made of art; the objects inside art institutions: museums, galleries, books, frames, pedestal, certificates.
The notes made during the journey through these institutions look to approach through the images to the questions around those themes, wanting to trigger other possibilities based on the capabilities of association of the beholder and separating form and meaning.
I’m working on photography using different strategies, in the attempt of making visible the structures which the museum neutralizes, inverting the roll artifact-frame and questioning the determining forms under which we see an artifact.
My matter is the physical weight of the images and the ways in which we associate with the object-image, impressed photographs at the reach of touch, a handleable object. With that purpose I’ve gathered a sort of logbook and a portable exhibition of no-pieces; the content of this inverted Boîte-en-valise are notes, rather than concrete reproductions like in Marcel Duchamp’s box.
Rodrigo Mazari Armida
Mexico City, Mexico, 1993
Lives and works in in Mexico City.
Holds a Master in Artistic Production (MaPA Visual) by The Autonomous University of the State of Morelos, and a bachelor’s degree in Architecture by The Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Mazari has been fully committed to his artistic work since 2018. He has a scholarship of the program Jóvenes Creadores by the SACP (2021-2022). In 2019 he partly attended the Master in Arts by RMIT, Melbourne, Australia. During 2017 he went on a research residency in The Alhambra, Granada, Spain. He has done internships in SEP, UNAM, CONACyT and SACP.
Rodrigo has been part of national collective exhibitions: Acciones de gravedad, SAPS-La Tallera, Morelos, 2021; Yacimientos, Guadalajara 90210, Jalisco, 2022; Maroma Colectivo I y II, Maroma Gallery, Mexico, 2021, 2022; Contrastes contemporáneos, Centro Cultural Minero, Mexico City, 2018. He has collaborations on architectonic interventions in museums in Mexico and USA: Pabellón fonográfico (collaboration with Mauricio Rocha), ExTeresa Arte Actual, Mexico City, 2018 and Weaving the Courtyard (collaboration with Escobedo Solís), MoMA PS1, New York City, 2016.
Since 2017 he has been teaching in the Architecture Department of the UNAM. He has been part of conversational meetings: Conversación de casas-estudio con contenedores de memoria cultural, Casa-estudio Diego Rivera/Frida Kahlo, Mexico City, 2021 and Arena Podcast 2021. His work has been published on Acciones de gravedad, Suter, Gerardo Editor, UAEM, 2021, also is co-author with Gonzalo Mendoza Morfín of Campus central CU. Lecturas de un patrimonio vivo published by UNAM, 2019.
The purpose of this blog is to develop a schizophrenic research model where loss of identity, language, fragmentation of memory and personal relationships, will function as means to find a methodology of interpretation of reality and history. For this I have been collecting a series of postcards, prints, annotations, friendships, graffiti, murals, bones, signs, glimpses and revealing coincidences that channel the inaccurate memories with which I reconstruct the world and that have appeared by magic during the rehearsal. The image and the word conceal the truth.When one says the truth nobody listens. If the brain were simple enough to understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t do it. (I read inside a fortune cookie). Something smells bad and as in every good detective film there must be an exquisite corpse and the more dead the better. The narration becomes a listing of memories, objects, sensations, which extend over the natural borders of our unconscious beings. The images are assembled in binomials that create alternating leaks of thought, in this way the channeling of them creates inverted dialogues and complex readings that are reflected in a ghost image developed from the relation of the opposites.
Pablo Vigil Osorio
(Mexico, Mexico City, 1984)
He studied Visual Arts at the Centro Morelense de las Artes. In 2010 he held his first solo exhibition in the same institution, entitled La jauría se anochece and in 2017 he mounted an individual exhibition with more than 60 pieces, including drawings and ceramics in the Borda Garden of Cuernavaca Morelos, entitled Serpentinata Tremenda. He has had multiple collective exhibitions, has concentrated his work on graphics and sculpture. He has now completed his Master’s degree in Artistic Production at the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos.
According to him, before he was born he went around with a Chinese family although he definitely does not believe in past or future lives. He bathes in cold water because he’s afraid of the boiler. Only once he managed to stay in someone else’s brain for a long time and she asked him not to do it again. He has been considered a mediocre painter, excellent archer and is rumored to love to dance alone. He is almost 6.30 ft. (tiptoe) and lately he has had very strange dreams. His last symphony will be written in 2044 and will deal with ultramarine moss in the memories of a tree.
In New York, I saw myself
Recently I had the chance to be a guest in the pilot edition of the program Artists Trip (2022). A trip for development and research which took place in New York, organized by CIAC Collection in collaboration with the Master in Artistic Production program (MaPA Visual) of the UAEM, and coordinated by the curator Sofía Olascoaga.
With all certainty, one’s decision, intention and inner strength has been tested by the world of art in New York and the ideas proposed by others seem to dictate our path, for great difficulties to ignore them has been proven. How not to be dragged by all the impressive museums, the neatness of their showcases, the economic and cultural worth of the pieces? I write “New York’s world of art” because I wouldn’t be able to say I’ve met New York; all I saw was but a little fragment. Always with eyes wide open like seizing everything on my way as we did months earlier from the screen, but all I met was behind a display case; the imaginary barrier was always there, so it was impossible to pass further in so little time with our schedule full of visits to museums and other spaces. There were several layers of information, one over the other coexisting at the same time. The vision I have of the city has been building up in little pieces by the experiences, interpretations, the eyes of others and my own from those days between May and June. Although I had already been there I’ve never truly met New York, but while I was walking on its streets I thought about the spirit of the city and how it has changed accompanying those who navigate through.
A series of visions are the result of this logbook, images of different sources (from the technical approach but also from the affections) deploying the mindscape formed from my remote exploration and from witnessing New York. The layers of images joining these words work as layers of knowledge, layers of reality or both, as masks of all that is behind those symbols, giving life to a space completely corrupted with my subjectiveness: a landscape. Previous to the trip to the city and the days I was actually there, searching for a landscape of the place was also another journey: from home I’ve moved through 3D models developed by strangers, I’ve navigated the Google Maps synthetic cartographies, always collecting images on my way. From my deepest and most confusing inner images I re-imagine the story of the History of Cinema I tell every year to my students, remembering the days I passed there, remembering the form of the stairs outside the houses, the striped streets, the view from the train crossing the river to New Jersey. Once in the city, I’ve walked through the oldest places of New York and in my mind I’ve tried to recreate the vision of those who once lived there, obsessed with the times, always. I’ve walked (as if I could turn back time like in a boardgame on the land of Lenape) over the #1 Broad St., the street that intersects Pearl St. for which I had special interest in for being the first street with electric lighting. In the National Museum of American Indian, from an aesthetic which I felt warmly familiar I stumbled upon a concept echoing my concerns on the worth, not only in the financial aspect but in the representation of other values, like the wampum: a belt made of little stones knitted together that made me think in the market’s modern practices with NFT’s.
My searching reflects on the combination of moments that signal my path. In my composition several layers are embedded: one of film photography which I consider relevant because of the amount of time and concentration required to achieve the frame; one of photos taken with a cellphone, with the specific object to be shared on the Internet; another layer of texts from the streets (graffiti, protest or greeting); and another more of landscape paintings from the Hudson River School, one of my first references to imagine the landscapes of that space. From these paintings I’ve taken great interest in the rainbows in skies of violet and pink of Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt, I’ve found a stronger resemblance to a digital frame from a science-fiction film than to the Real images in the city. The composition that sketches my imagination has the objective to mirror the clash of visions from different times yet capable of co-exist. Now, from this collision specific and broad questions will arise, or maybe just mere souvenirs of our experiences on the game of symbolic and universal language.
After the voracious work of observation, regarding the concrete realm of nature, the sea was like the sea, the sun and sky were like the sun and sky. What do we see in those multiple layers of information? The glaze gets so bright that it could turn into a screen or a mirror and, what do we see there? We see our own reflection.
I recognized my research and glimpsed some of the answers for still unknown questions in the pool of my own reflection; a reflection in the water like the one in that Turner’s painting I’ve got to see in the Frick Collection’s room 20: British Landscapes, having to burn the vision in my mind for it was not allowed to take photographs. I saw a fiery glimmer in a painting from Fragonard’s series The Progress of Love. I saw the composition notes and studies of Lee Lozano reflected in the density of forms she painted. I saw Nam June Paik’s time transformed into a metal airplane hanging on the white cube. I saw the blending of 2D and 3D on so many pieces and the combination of colors, textures, patterns and materials. In the American Museum of Natural History I saw an exhibition of precious stones shining more than a screen with the luring strength of one thousand lamps. The desire to see is such an impressive sensation.
I could say that thereafter the desire to see still holds strong in me, but now I have the will to see within in order to process the images I tell. Life is a collaborative wonder and it is likely that we only exist in the dream of the other. The challenge is to sail the moment, to be the creator of all around us and exploit the fiction. We can be focused on the rhythm of life, on our breakthroughs and recoils, or I should say our goings and comings, transforming every space in a propitious place to deploy our self-knowledge. In that matter it is fundamental to live seizing the present, without seeking testimony of a destiny, but rather seek for places for life to happen in this fleeting time and to find a place where the real, the imaginary and the desired can be wove. I am certain that the eyes are to see beyond them.
Carolina Villanueva Lucero
Sonora, Mexico, 1989
Lives and works in Mexico City, Mexico.
Carolina has a bachelor ‘s degree in Plastic Arts by Escuela Nacional de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado (ENPEG “La Esmeralda”) where she works as a professor in the Technological and Bidimensional Art Department. Currently pursuing the Master in Artistic Production (MaPA Visual) of the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos. Has been part of collective exhibitions in public and private spaces, such as Centro de Cultura Digital, Mexico City, Mexico, 2019 and Mana Contemporary, 2019; two individual exhibitions in Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico City, Mexico, 2018 and Salón Silicón, Mexico City, Mexico, 2019. She won the first price in the Bienal de Arte Emergente de Nuevo León 2019. She has received both individual and collective fundings by the FONCA.
Her work is developed around the relations between digital images and paintings of landscapes of the imaginary and the ethereal, exploring the correspondences of the virtual life and the concrete world and how these two intersect and nurture each other. The use of bright colors and light develop a sense of the artificial, inviting the spectators to explore their inner landscapes.