Artists in transcience
Can you tell us about the history of Lapiztola, who you are and what you are doing?
Lapiztola was formed in 2006, starting with Rosario and Roberto who are both graphic designers. Yankel joined us later and he’s an architect. We started out making silkscreen prints for shirts, posters and wallpapers for the street, then we started to make stencils. Now we do both.
In another interview, you mentioned the political unrest in Oaxaca in 2006, how that made you start working together. How has this political conflict influenced your work and the work of other artists in the community?
2006 was a watershed for many of those who lived through the conflict in Oaxaca, because although there were many divisions, this conflict ended a number of older social and cultural schemes. Collectives started to form and this meant that a lot of artists started to share their work and be less individualistic. On the streets, it was not only about signing your work but creating a dialogue with the people, based on images. A lot of the graphic work that was produced at this time was made as a denunciation. Today, it is still in the same line, but about general themes.
How has your work developed between then and now?
We’ve learned a lot from the criticism of people who have seen the images on the streets. When we started creating them, Oaxaca was in a state of ferment. Now that everything is calmer, we try to analyse our work a little more, studying what we really want to say. Our process is a bit slower now, just as it is more difficult for a collective to make a decision than for one. We also look at what other artists are doing when they come to Oaxaca and how we can feed off this.
Where do you find inspiration for your work? From a desire to tell stories?
Part of our work is based on the social, actions, protests and stories of the everyday. Sometimes understandably sometimes not. If the message is understood, that’s good. If not, it is one more image on the road. Can we can talk a little about the techniques you use? The techniques for stencil and screen printing are very similar, but the process is different. We often try to combine the two: we will make a wall paper for the street, then renew the composition by painting a stencil on it. The stencil technique is a bit more basic, while the screen printing is a bit more complex, as it requires some chemical processes for their results. In Mexico, the chemicals are still a bit toxic, compared to the chemicals used in other countrieswhich are more environmentally friendly.
What kind of creative process do you go through before making a piece?
The most difficult thing is to summarise a story with a single image. That's the hardest part of the process, agreeing on how to do the piece. With a stencil, we often shoot some photos, then generate images that help us with the composition. We try to create a piece with the ideas we brought together, then find a technical solution for it.
I have been working lately with the Internet in a way I can translate concepts, aesthetics and imagery from it into objects or activities related to everyday life. For the residency in Zegache I got involved for two weeks as much as I could with the way of living, the food, the people and the activities held in the workshop.
It was impressing for me to witness how the members of the workshop are really good and quick at crafting, wood carving, painting and restoring. The processes for restoration and frame making gave me a nostalgic feeling about the qualities of handcraft where a certain amount of the understanding of shapes and composition is translated into objects and has a unique signature in most of the cases.
I also got involved a little in how life in Zegache is, how people live and what are their ways of communicating. There is not too much internet spots in Zegache. The town (population around 4800 to 5000) only has two Internet-cafeterias-shops usually known as cyber cafés in Mexico. Few people own laptop computers and there is only one Internet provider that got to buy the service to redistribute it and resale it to the people there. Even though they don't surf the Internet that often, many people own and use very updated mobiles. So they are somehow used to the aesthetics and language used in sms, emoticons and shortened messages. Asking a little about what they see when they navigate through the Internet what came first was YouTube. So they use Internet mostly for writing emails and to watch entertainment contents in the net.
My idea was to build an object that could relate entirely to the experience of browsing the Internet but without any screen or computer. The result was to make physical replicas of the most common and used browsers in the present and used them as frames for mirrors. We are often surrounded by screens. Our notion of reading dynamic information is often defined by specific shapes and formats nowadays. The browser window and the mobile screen are some platforms where we enclose motion, information, content and communication. To emulate the act of contemplation of reality, I decided to produce a series of mirror frames where the reflection turns into the content. The shape of the border defines what happens within and the holder or exhibitor decides his/her level of involvement in that reflection.
With the help and collaboration of the workshop members we replicated: a Mozilla Firefox and a Chrome window. The frames were built by hand from scratch and details were carved. The shapes and colors for them were painted also by hand and include some silver-sheet covering technique in some areas inspired by the eighteenth century mirrors made in the workshop.
Thanks to María Benito, Estanislao Chompa, Misael Ventura and Ángel Martín de León for their work for the frames and to Mónica Galván and Antonio Ambrocio for the guidance.
Along with little Dante, Daniela Porras and Luis Canseco are two visual artists based in Oaxaca, Mexico, where they also run an afternoon art school for children up to ten years old. An exhibition of Luis’s work is currently on show at the Musee de los Pintores Oaxaquenos. Both Daniela and Luis actively participated and exhibited at the Fiesta del Maiz y Maguey in Oaxaca in November 2012. As family in residence at FoAM Brussels as the EITC project draws to a close, they explore the cultural impact of the meeting of two continents – Europe and the Americas – nowhere more pronounced than in the contrast between the cities of Oaxaca and Brussels, despite the ongoing process of globalisation.
When I received the invitation to collaborate with project EITC , the words ART, ENVIRONMENT and SCIENCE rang a bell.
This was the opportunity to create a chimera; the development of new art pieces based on the current problems of the future of corn and maguey in Mexico, and our meaning of "home" in the unstable society we live in. So we immerse ourselves in scientific and historical aspects that complemented its importance and meaning.
The interesting thing about these two years of work in the making of EITC is that it has been a very thorough process, teamwork has been wonderful, and also building such a network of diverse proposals with the same axis. The seminars and talks allowed the speech to be created by the reaction of each of the artists involved. It was a continuous learning in the technical side and in the concept development. The future of these plants and the changes that take place in our homes are uncertain so it is ones work to raise awareness of the present situation to adjust the imbalance while we motion
The research during the stay in Brussels consisted on understanding that a residency is not only a place were an artist (out of his natural environment) stays for a period of time.
Our residence was foremost an experience that transcended the walls that provide us shelter. It expanded our universe and the way we perceive everyday life.
I managed to take up new challenges within a constantly changing context in which quick responses were required. I believe that one of the pillars of this model is the creation and maintenance of exchange networks and collaboration with different people with different cultures that marked clearly the different contributions to my vision.
The installation " home sweet home " describes how my home was transformed in a matter of weeks , because I traveled not only as an artist but at the same time as a mother and wife. My everyday life turned into a art piece.
The piece consists of a native blouse from Oaxaca called "huipil" that I wear regularly. Its rectangular shape allowed me to make a poetic action were I unfolded and unstitch the "huipil" as a symbol of mental and emotional openness to the present circumstances. The aim of reflecting on the theme of home, allowed every spectator to be involved and participate in the piece. When taking time to write a letter that details the emotions towards our homes, each of us create a very different an unique meaning.
My pieces are always looking for a playful dialogue with a ludic outcome. So I also created a card memory game as a small travel journal with almost imperceptible details of the city that become important when linking cultures and strengthening ties. Differences and similarities are the two most important motifs in the watercolors on each card of the game and they depict everyday scenes of Mexico and Oaxaca. In summary this project achieves its goals by changing the vision of an artist from Oaxaca immersed in the cosmopolitan Brussels.
Legacy is a poetic project where a machete is decontextualized and reused with an aesthetic and artistic meaning.
Time plays a fundamental role in the installation since in both objects: framework and machete, one can see life represented by lines made with the body in movement. There are links between concepts like time, life, strength, body, wealth, struggle and search.
These connections and the machete movement create the feeling of cutting, and in turn it makes the machete as if it were a pencil drawing strokes caused by its glaze graphite powder, that is how subtle or complex compositions are achieved with tremendous pictorial value.
The use of the graphite in the installation creates a clearer atmosphere with traces of time, this is how the object is highlighted by enhancing the beauty of its details.
The absence of color makes a neutral and honest harmony without any conceptual or visual distractions that could change the piece if color was used.
Furthermore the antique frame with nineteenth-century details, frames the piece and breaks entirely with the rustic appearance of the machete, making a contrast of two objects separated by utility and beauty, a critique of the society of the rich and the poor, in which the bourgeoisie never would stand out the peasant class.
The history of the machete is another important factor for contemplation and understanding of the work from its manufacture in the U.S. -approximately in the 40s- and the fact that it took a journey to Mexico City to Oaxaca where it stayed more than half a century in constant use, (as a record says) in which metaphor is played between life, history and being.
Attrition is noticeable on the handle as its shape deteriorates and was replaced before by a handmade piece of material out of context as it is a car tire. These strange details make a deeper meaning of this simple tool that happens to be something ordinary, into a piece of contemplation that puts emphasis over time and over legacy.
Might shop was a residency of the designers collective Überknackig that questioned the role of commercial and non-commercial spaces. The shop space in Schaarbeek served as a meeting space and room for exchange. Local artisan were invited to exchange their homemade craftwork with other people. Überknackig used the commercial set-up of a shop to trigger cultural exchange.
Artist Bram Borloo developed during his shop residency a temporary artistic intervention in Schaarbeek with a creative program for children and adults in the neighbourhood. The vitrine of the shop acted as the border between in- and outside. The open studio became public space where Borloo wanted to engage and exchange his cultural practice with the highly populated 'quarter'. He invited people for presentations, music concerts and workshops.
If perspective is a manifestation of human control, of mastering the unknown and of limiting the immesurable, than how shall we call the introduction of the unknown into the familiar, of the infinite into the limited?
We could call it "travel", for example. Because travel is not about geography and distance, it's about desire, about a loss and about movement.
In the Shop at Galaitstraat Effi&Amir opened a Travel Agency. It's a place where travel can begin, as a Travel Agency is simply a set-up that makes travel a possibility. The Travel Agency tried to enable travel without physical displacement.
We set forth with some questions:
- What's the minimal space needed for a travel?
- What is the difference between here and there?
- Can "elsewhere" be rediscover in the "here"?
- Our destination is not yet defined.
Within this casestudy about the past, present and future of corn, Various Artists developed a datagraphic that abstractly visualises the research and raw data he collected of the past years. The drawing serves as a design for a carpet that is made by a group of weavers of La Vida Nueva. Patricia Tovar bridges the work of the weavers with the artistic work of Various Artists and as an anthropologist does her own research on the story of the milpa and corn in the lives of the weavers.
During the residency of nadine and Various Artists in Oaxaca and March and April 2012, we organised meetings with the weavers, a visit to the milpa and researched the presentation possibilities of the drawing and the carpet in the future.