tudo bom / muita água – posted in Boulder, Colorado November 19, 2018

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The image above is one of the first images I took with my new Sony RX100 point and shoot upon arriving at the Kaaysá Art Residency in Brazil.

I have been home 2 1/2 weeks now and I am now ready to write more about my artmaking process in Brazil and my experiences at the Kaaysá Art Residency. I am just beginning to look at and produce the performative photographic works and drawings in my studio here. I have not done any final editing of the images and the drawings are also still in process…

Kaaysá Art Residency was an exceptional experience for me as an artist and as a human being. As you know I have been doing international artist residencies the last 4 years, mostly at the Obras Artist Residency in Portugal, but I have also been to the Sanskriti Art Residency in Delhi. I went to Brazil partially because of my connection to Brazilian artist Mira Schendel, and partially to get over my intense connection to Portugal (this did not work), and because Kaaysá and it’s location in the rain forest and near the ocean looked like a potentially awesome environment to work in – and I had never traveled to Brazil…

It was also a very lucky circumstance that I found myself at Kaaysá with an amazing group of artists in a very open and beautiful situation. Kaaysá is a very young artist residency. Lourdina Rabieh and Lucila Mantovani have created a unique and wonderful concept. They are my beloved sisters now. Lourdina, moved from Lebanon to Brazil in the 70’s with her family, she is an incredibly talented energetic woman, running multiple creative projects as well as a gallery in São Paulo. Lucila, a Paulistana, is an equally multi-talented woman – a poet, writer, curator, eco-feminist, activist, yoga teacher and amazing facilitator of multi-dimensional projects.

The residency is housed in a lovely pousada that Lourdina and her brother Tony and family built in the beach town of Boiçucanga, about three hours from São Paulo. It is a couple of kilometers to the praia/beach and literally in the Mata Atlântica/ Atlantic rain forest. The rain forest is a unique environment, luscious and verdant and housing huge biodiversity and it is a rapidly shrinking territory. I found it to be inspiring and overwhelming and beautiful and very wet!

There were 12 of us artists at Kaaysá , some of us were there for the full 4 weeks and some for shorter periods. I set up my drawing table in the group atelier/studio next to Tiago Mestre, a Portuguese (Alentejano) architect and artist who has lived in São Paulo for eight years. Of course I felt immediately comfortable with him. My dear Jorge Medeiros, a Paulistano sculptor and amazing performance artist, became my friend from the first day. Deco Adjiman, a poet and sculptor from São Paulo also set up in the studio at the very beginning.  The beautiful Margherita Isola, an Italian (but has spent a lot of time in Brazil), dancer, activist and artist was mostly working outside the studio. My dear Luciana Magno was not working with us in the studio, but we fell in love immediately. Luciana is an amazing performance video artist from Belém. I call her the 10 x Ana Mendieta (and I don’t mean this as a criticism of Ana Mendieta). Luciana is a remarkably talented artist. My dear Gabriel Nehemy, another Paulistano, joined us in the studio a few days later and produced very hot intense large paintings and drawings. Rafa Alves joined us in the studio, another Paulistano and lovely artist and young man. My dear Sally Sølvstjerne arrived from Denmark a few days in. She is an incredibly talented artist, making drawings that are related to graphic novels and also to sacred geometry, an architect and light designer and just an amazing woman – we became very close… Renata Egreja, a very talented Brazilian painter joined us a week or so in. Then Thato Sbk came from South Africa a couple weeks in, a wonderful young artist from South Africa. And the last artist to arrive was Kitty Paranaguá from Rio – a remarkable photographer and woman. So that just sets the scene – you can look them all up on Instagram…

I followed my research and ritual art making process, surrounded by talented and supportive artists at Kaaysá. My main connection to Brazilian artist Mira Schendel on this trip was my re-initiation of my I Ching practice that relates to my drawing practice and also to my performative photographic works. Schendel and I do have a similar aesthetic in many ways in our drawings and paintings as well. She consulted the I Ching regularly too. The I Ching is the ancient book of Chinese wisdom, composed and compiled over thousands of years. The I Ching configures and forecasts around elemental aspects of nature and humanity – heaven, earth, water, fire, the mountain, the wind, thunder, the lake and many more iconic elements in nature and in human life.   I threw the I Ching every few days while at Kaaysá and integrated it more thoroughly into my drawing and performance practice.

I “threw” a lot of water, and I was so deeply in the water in this environment. It was raining a lot… and there are the waterfalls… I threw “Ching /The Well” my first session, and “K’an / The Abysmal Water” the second time. This brought me back to some of my work in Portugal with photographer Luís Branco and with the red cloth. Red and black, colors I have been using quite a bit. I have posted some of these drawings on my previous blog posts.

I was at Kaaysá for two weeks before photographer Fernando Lima came to work with me. So I was “ready” to do the performative work – I had explored the environment and chosen certain sites. Fernando and I had talked on the phone and I had sent him images of my performative work with Luís Branco in Portugal, and also some of my ideas for Kaaysá. When Fernando arrived at Kaaysá, the sun came out for several days. We started shooting at the big waterfall first, Pedra Lisa. We got there early in the morning and there was A LOT of water and beautiful light. We shot a large sequence of images with this translucent red chiffon. Rafa Alves assisted us, thank you Rafa. There are many beautiful images from this shoot. We have not done any final editing of these images yet. Here are just two images from this series.

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We shot a large sequence of images in the lower water fall as well, a smaller waterfall. We used large swaths of translucent white fabric in this series. I like these five images together as a sequence, maybe printed smaller. Again I have not finished any final editing on these images.

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We also shot this series of images “In Lourdina’s Garden.” Lourdina has created beautiful gardens at Kaaysá and I discovered this amazing flower, the Bastão do Imperador or emperor’s staff, in this beautiful grove in Lourdina’s garden. We used both a nude fabric and the red chiffon in this series. I think these images relate to my performative “flowers” that I made with a fabric flower in Portugal.

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And finally we shot at the beach. I had not spent a lot of time at the beach because it was raining so much. But I had taken an image with my I phone that I wanted to reproduce with me in it and the blue chair. Chairs have figured a lot in my work before. But I have never been this naked… There is a series of these, but this is the one I like. I have been unsure of this image, because it is very different from my other work.

My dear Deco Adjiman refers to this image at the beach and also the images at the waterfall in this short prose he wrote about me. It is so sweet, I don’t think anyone has ever “seen” me this way in words … Here is the text in Portuguese and English, and my most “naked” picture, it’s Brazil why not…

“então o livro-livro de jogar da senhora do colorado, da menina americana que dança em varanda em cachoeira, da garota que brinca nua equilibrada com uma cadeira azul na linha de fronteira entre mar azul e céu azul e nos explica o oscilar azul do horizonte, da mulher que lembra e sorri, que planeja e sorri e faz e sorri e então nos mira em carinho e nos mira como só fazem as mães e nos mira em abraço” – deco adjiman

“then the book-book of playing of the lady of colorado, of the American girl dancing on the veranda at the waterfall, of the girl playing bare balanced with a blue chair on the border line between blue sea and blue sky and explains the blue oscillate of the horizon, the woman who remembers and smiles, who plans and smiles and does and smiles and then looks at us affectionately and looks at us like only mothers do and looks at us in a hug” – (forgive the google translate)

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I miss all my dear friends I met in Brazil, we became a family of artists and friends, really beautiful….

Still Drawing – posted at Kaaysa Art Residency, Brazil on October 26th, 2018

I am still drawing – I only have one or two more days to work at Kaaysa. Though I am hoping the sun will come out and I can go to the praia 🙂

All of these “sketches” are 10 inches x 16 inches or 16 x 10 inches, which is 25 x 40 centimeters or 40 x 25 centimeters. All India ink and some acrylic ink.

I want to continue these sketches when I get home and perhaps go to a larger size for some of them.

They are all related to the I Ching and also the water and landscapes I have encountered here.

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more sketches / mais esbocos

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I have been taking more photographs with my new Sony camera in the landscape when the sun comes out. I am developing ideas for performances with different colors of cloth in the forest, in the waterscapes and cachoeira, and in the beautiful gardens here at Kaaysa art residency. I am preparing ideas to work with photographer Fernando Lima. He will be coming, hopefully, this week to work with me – and I am hoping for some good weather. Like I said these are just preperatory sketches in photoshop, I will be using transparent red, white and nude fabrics to cover my body.

Esbocos para performances na photoshop…

Sketches for performances in photoshop…

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practicing for the waterfall in the pool –

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In Lourdina’s garden –

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Flor / Flower, archival digital print, 60 cm x 60 cm, 2015, image by Luis Branco.

Drawing Water / The Abysmal – posted at the Kaaysa Art Residency, Brazil on October 11th, 2018

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Red Canyon 1 / Desfiladeiro Vermelho 1 , archival print 32 inches x 48 inches, 2017, photography by Luis Branco.

I threw the I Ching yesterday. I got the double hexagram of water, which seems to be a theme for me here in the Mata Atlantica at the Kaaysa Art Residency in Brazil with waterfalls and so much rain…. And it has also been a theme for me in my previous work in Portugal in the rivers, lakes and canyons of the Alentejo.

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Drawing – Red Canyon 1 / Desfiladeiro Vermelho 1 , India Ink on watercolor paper, 2018, 20 inches x 16 inches.

The I Ching hexagram is 29. K’an / The Abysmal (Water)

“In man’s world K’an represents the heart, the soul locked up within the body, the principle of light enclosed in the dark – that is, reason. The name of the hexagram, because the trigram is doubled, has the additional meaning, “repetition of danger.” Thus the hexagram is intended to designate an objective situation to which one must become accustomed, not a subjective attitude. For danger due to a subjective attitude means either foolhardiness or guile. Hence too a ravine is used to symbolize danger; it is a situation in which a man is in the same pass as the water in a ravine, and, like the water, he can escape if he behaves correctly.” – pg. 115 The I Ching or Book of Changes (The Richard Wilhelm Translation)

I made the performative photographs of me with the red cloth, called Red Canyon 1 and 2 or Desfiladeiro Vermelho 1 and 2, last October in Portugal in collaboration with photographer Luis Branco. I thought of these images, especially the one below as somehow portraying this elemental aspect of the abysmal (water) or in Portuguese o abysmal (agua).

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Red Canyon 2 / Desfiladeiro Vermelho 2 , archival print 48 inches x 32 inches, 2017, photography by Luis Branco.

So this is something of a meeting point of my continuing work with drawing, photography and performance. I have made 4 simple ink drawings this week, simple but they take some time. They are diagrammatic (of course) and based on my experiences and photographs I have taken here in Brazil with water and waterfalls. They could become still photography performances. I hope to work with a photographer here in the coming days. I also hope to continue drawing water (and other things too). The four new drawings are all small,  they are either 16 inches x 10 or 10 inches by 16.

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Below I am taking the image on my table top in the atelier with my (dirty feet) standing on the chair.

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caichoeira / waterfall

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more too come… it is raining…

 

sketches in the forest and in water – posted at Kaaysa art residency in Brazil, October 8, 2018

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These are very simple sketches in photoshop in the forest and in the water.

They are the beginnings of  ideas for drawings and also for still camera performances.

I am thinking of using fabrics again – transparent red fabric and nude fabric and a white fabric.

 

 

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I am just getting started! There is alot of rain here in the Mata Atlântica !!!!!!

 

looking for Mira / procurando por Mira – posted in São Paulo on September 30th 2018

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Yes / sim I have been in São Paulo for 5 days now – looking for the works of Mira Schendel and also experiencing the vast array of contemporary art and architecture that São Paulo offers. It is strange because I am aware of the big political problems in Brazil and the demonstrations that are going on in São Paulo, but I have not experienced this in the art museums and the hotel that I am staying in. Though I have discussed the politics with some friends of friends I have been introduced to here.  I will be going to the coast to the Kaaysa Art Residency tomorrow and I hope I will learn more about the current situation from Brazilian artists.

Sometimes I question this drive I have to go to the territory of these artists that I admire, to travel long distances and try to connect with art in a “foreign” land. Once I am in the experience, in the new territory, I do not question it. It is incredibly stimulating to do this “embodied research” as my friend Sandra Firmin has described this part of my artistic process. Other friends have likened this search to a “treasure hunt.” But there is also the aspect of a strange land that I do not understand. Perhaps this is a little bit similar to Mira Schendel’s experience many years ago.

Mira Schendel (1919-1988) was born in Switzerland and immigrated to Brazil in 1949, a refugee of WWII. Schendel was raised Roman Catholic, though she had Jewish heritage. Mira had studied philosophy in Italy and maintained her interests in philosophy her whole life. Her artistic production began in Brazil – she was self-taught as an artist. Mira worked over a period of 4 decades across many mediums in Brazil. She was a prolific artist. Her work is collected by museums, of course, but it is also in many private collections so it is not always easy to find.

Please excuse me if I do not date and title all the works of Mira Schendel in this blog post. Many of her works are untitled. And I do not have access right now to the information on all the works.

Before coming to São Paulo I had researched the museums and galleries that hold collections of Mira’s work and are actively exhibiting her work. There were two recent exhibitions in São Paulo, both of which I missed but which I wanted to find out more about.

One was at MAM-SP (The São Paulo Museum of Modern Art) curated by Paulo Venancio Filho titled “Sinais / Signals.” It looks like it was a small but vital exhibit of Mira’s graphic works. I have the beautiful catalogue as well. Here are two images from this exhibition below.

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MAM-SP holds the largest collection of Mira Schendels’ work (I think this is true). So I contacted the collections department at MAM – SP and communicated that since I had missed the exhibition “Sinais / Signals” I would like to see some of Mira Schendel’s work in person that is in the permanent collection of MAM- SP. Two wonderful women from the collections department met with me on Friday to talk to me about the possibility of seeing Mira’s works in person. This is a difficult request the works are in storage… However I might get to see some works in person on my way back through São Paulo at the end of October. They printed a document for me of every piece in the collection. They also took me to the library to look at the many catalogues of Mira Schendel’s work.

Here are a few of the pieces I would like to see if the museum can arrange it. I am very grateful to the hospitality that the staff of MAM-SP has shown me.

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I went to Bergamin & Gomide Gallery yesterday and was able to see a few of Mira’s works in person. It is a beautiful gallery in the Jardins district of São Paulo – small but more museum like then gallery like in its curation and presentation. Here are a few of my “experiences” with Mira’s work… thank you for the hospitality shown me at Bergamin & Gomide and please excuse my bad I phone images too…

I think this is one of her early paintings. The texture and quality of the surface is subtle and beautiful – I think it is green tempera paint and then gold vertical stripes on the sides….

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Here is another small painting at Bergomine & Gomide. I think this is tempera as well and you can see the burlap canvas texture.

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Below is the back, you see her name on the burlap.

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I was able to see two of the monotypes, one mounted In acrylic, the other mounted on paper. She she produced thousands of these monotypes on Japanese rice paper, so spare and beautiful…

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Today, my last day in São Paulo, I went to the wonderful Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo. It is one of the most important art museums in Brazil. I found three more works of Mira’s along with other wonderful art works.

This collage with tempera was kind of a surprise to me, I had never seen anything like this. It is untitled from 1964.

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Also this very formal painting of Mira’s from 1962, untitled. It is tempera on canvas which I believe a lot of her early paintings are.

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Finally I love the quality of this colorful little collage on paper, untitled, from 1976. Seeing this up close was wonderful. The small gold inscriptions and characters are beautiful and it reminds me of something like Tantric symbols and has some similarities with some of my works on paper.

 

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So I am off to the Kaaysa Art Residency tomorrow on the coast at Praia de Boicucanga for the month of October. I will be posting about the residency and my work from there. I am so happy that I have had these experiences in São Paulo looking for Mira and also seeing other wonderful art and architecture. I am also excited about a more “grounded” experience at Kaaysa, by the ocean and in the rainforest with other artists from Brazil (and around the world) with whom I hope to meet and get to know. Vamos ver… we will see…

Link to the Kaaysa Art Residency:

https://www.kaaysa.com.br/