We welcome you to the event in Art Space In Between, Chaussée d'Ixelles 211, Brussels on 26th of October!
16:00 Doors open
17:00 - 18:30: Introduction and Stories
18:30 - 19:00 Publications' Launch
19:00 - 21:00 Vernissage with drinks sponsored by the Embassy of Mexico
21:30 Movie-Preview "Memories of Development by Dougald Hine and Nick Stewart at Plateau (rue du Berger 30 Herderstraat, Ixelles)
The exhibition stays open from Oct 27th to 29th 2013, from 12:00 to 18:00.
Two years ago, in Oaxaca, a group of artists and artisans from Europe and Mexico set out on a journey into each other’s worlds. This October, as the cycle of the Euroaxacan Initiative of Transformative Cultures comes to a close, we gather in Brussels to share the fruits of our journeying and to make sense of what we have brought home with us. Our first steps together were taken during the festival of the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and the ongoing presence of the past has shaped our collaborations. Following the invitation of the Mexican thinker and activist Gustavo Esteva, we have tried to find our way ‘back from the future’. The heroic rocket-thrust of modernity becomes the cautionary tale of Laika, the space dog, drifting to a lonely death. In its place, we look for other stories whose heroes know that getting far out is the easy part, it’s finding your way home that is the real challenge. Among the experiences of pilgrimage and economic migration, can we find our own paths home – wherever home might turn out to be – to a place where the exponential projections of industrial time fold back into a more rhythmic sense of temporality? This Homecoming is a chance to gather the fragments and share the memories of the past two years, in the many forms they take. An exhibition of the sculptures and installations made by FoAM, nadine, the Talleres de Zegache and Xaquixe. A launch of The Crossing of Two Lines, the book produced by Dougald Hine and Performing Pictures during the project. A screening of part of Memories of Development, a film centred on a dialogue with Gustavo Esteva. And an evening of stories, ideas and conversations in which the European and Mexican partners reflect on what we have learned together and where it has led us. Join us for Euroaxaca: The Homecoming on Saturday, 26 October, 16.00 onwards.
Participating artists are bartaku (BE), Christina Stadlbauer (BE), Various Artists (BE), Pacome Beru (BE) and Patrick DeKoning (NL), Performing Pictures (SE), Transfer Studio (SE), David Cuartielles (SE) , Dougald Hine (UK/SE), Christian Thornton (MEX), Daniela Porras (MEX), Luis Canseco (MEX) and La Piztola (MEX).
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.
... with a contextualizing word by Alejandro de Ávila Blomberg, director of El Jardin Etnobotánico and a discussion with the audience.
Special thanks to: Talleres Comunitarios de Zegache: Camera- and display box - Salvador Pulido: Nube de Oro Garden Guide & InfoGraphics Alejandro de Ávila Blomberg, director of El Jardin Etnobotánico de Oaxaca de Juarez - La Mezcaloteca: Providing Mezcales.
When Patrick and Pacôme went to fix the mobile growing unit, they discovered a wild colony of honeybees hanging in the tree. Immediate action was required, and the glass sculpture "Capturing the Sun" was removed from its exhibition space. Would the bees move into this room, equipped with some fresh comb and honey? Maybe - if their potential house would be close to them, easy to get to?
A rope was reached around a branch and the exhibition piece hauled high up in the air.
However, the bees did not show any interest, for 2 days.
In a last effort, Patrick wanted to show them the way. He constructed a device with a blue plastic bucket and a Stanley knife attached to a 5 metre long pole. He wanted to cut the leaf where the bees were dwelling into the plastic bucket, using his new contraption.
Some attempts, then corrections of the tool, new attempts - we were invited to join Loes and Trudo to the mountains, to visit the community of weavers who had collaborated for the harvest of Maize at 3000 metres altitude - a unique opportunity.
The bees did not go anywhere. Neither did we.
Capturing the Sun was hung back on the three poles.
Since the beginning of the EITC initiative, FoAM and nadine are researching and exploring the two plants that are deeply embedded in Mexican culture. The plants are versatile in applications, have profound spiritual and mythical value as well as a deep importance in daily life in Mexico. Unfortunately, they face challenges in the near future. Fiesta del Maize Maguey uses the transformative power of art and culture to propose creative alternatives and a re-evaluation of their significance.
The exhibited works are the expression of ongoing processes and investigations, show the momentum of the present and the ongoing defining of their identities.
Exhibition open from Mon-Fri, 9am–3:30pm, Sat 9am–1pm. Guided tours in Spanish at 10:00, 12:00 and 17:00, in English on tue, thu, sat at 11:00.
Jardin Ethnobotanico, Reforma s/n esq. Constitución, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca
For more information, please mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or read the article in Spanish in El Jolgorio here: http://issuu.com/eljolgorio/docs/el_jolgorio_cultural_56
The main glass piece will be further sculpted by Christian Thornton (Xaquixe) according to the growth behavior of the maguey plant.
This final event summons the research and explorations done around the two plants that are deeply imbedded in Mexican culture. In a workshop at the beginning of November, graphic translations were explored in co-creation between artists from Europe and Oaxacan visual artists and artisans. In the following weeks, works are produced that combine various techniques, arts and crafts, resulting in installations, graphic works and visual art pieces. The exhibition focuses on the process and the ongoing investigations rather than on finished products and art pieces.
Early in the morning of the opening of the Fiesta, the piece was placed in the garden, close to the water block where many bees often stop to drink.
On the day before the Fiesta del Maize y Maguey exhibition was opened in the Ethnobotanic garden, we went to Don Pablo's apiary, to pick up the glass sculptures. There was a road block - announced already in the morning - due to a strike of teachers from Oaxaca. The obstruction was very local, but it effected precisely the one road leading to Don Pablo's place. Instead of 45 minutes, it took us over 2 hours in a collectivo taxi.
Finally, at the bees, we opened the protective box - and against all odds - they had decided to build! Some fresh, white wax comb on the top of the glass sculpture, and some at the bottom, sticking out through the opening! Fantastic.
The experiment had been successful, the honeybees had accepted the difficult material.
We took the sculpture off, and tried to chase most of the bees out of their newly built housing, but Don Pablo did not have much time, that day. So, we packed up and Don Pablo left us on the street corner to wait for a cab.
Jonathan, the photographer, An from nadine and me decided to wait some more for the last bees to leave and the road block to dissolve.
We sat in a little corner shop and ordered a beer. Not long, and the owner of the shop came with a jerry-can -we should try the Mezcal, a very special product from a friend of his- and poured some into a 0,2 plastic Coca Cola bottle that he had prepared for such occasions.
We tried - excellent stuff - thank you. Meanwhile, the bees slowly left the glass sculpture, the sun went down, and we took little sips of the Mezcal. The shop owner Lauro - meanwhile we learnt his name - drank with us, and had lots of questions. After repeatedly refilling the little plastic bottle from his jerry-can, he knew that we had to take the glass sculpture back to the Botanic Garden in Oaxaca. - No problem, he will close the shop in a few minutes anyways, and we can get a ride with him to town. An liked the Mezcal a lot, but got a bit nervous - Lauro was drinking with us, and would he then be the one driving us?
Some moments later, the sculpture in the trunk, and off we went - with Lauro driving. But he had to stop on the way at a friend's house - disappeared and came back with 2 beer cans and 2 glasses of Mezcal, a different Mezcal with Pericon, for the ladies ... a special one, we had to try.
On we went to the Botanic garden, feeling the strong aguardiente more and more, as we tried the new version, in a glass now.
We arrived safe at the garden, after dark, and quite tipsy. Lauro continued his journey alone, after giving us another little plastic bottle that he had in his jacket - for later.
In order to allow the agave to express his relation to light, and time, the piccolo (piccolo.cc) is used for agave leaf "writing". The simple 'drawing' is based on the data from a hibiscus glass solar cell acting as a light sensor that is transformed via arduino. The power system consists of sixty six natural dye sensitized glass solar cells -shaped after the seeds of teosinte (the mother of maize)- and two supercapacitors.
As soon as the growing agave stalk starts flowering, the agave will start writing on its leaves, as long as the cells provide sufficient power.
We had a delicious lunch on the way to Don Pablo, at a place called TierraNegra, and were warmly welcomed by Santa and Clemencia.
Then, we went to check the progress of the bees work in the glass. The glass was full of bees. However, there was not much building going on, at all. The season seems to be quite advanced, and the production of comb has already decreased. It was disappointing to see what had not happened!
On Wednesday, Ely from Studio Xaquixe came with a pick-up truck and the prepared glass sculptures to see us to Don Pablo, the beekeeper. The pick-up is a 2 seater, and 3 of our delegation of 5 - Patrick and Pacome from nadine and Jonathan the photographer - had to sit on the cargo area, in the back. During the 45 minutes ride, some preparations already happened and Patrick tried to get the solar panel working to feed the ipad. The idea was to use the ipad for a time lapse movie of the bees' work of the next 10 days.
At Don Pablo's house, we inspected the glass sculptures, drilled openings into wooden lids, picked up some suits and veils and went to his apiary. Don Pablo has been a beekeeper for 38 years and has 2 apiaries in the state of Oaxaca. When we explained the idea of putting glass sculptures on top of hives to let the bees build their comb inside it, he wondered how we would manage to place frames inside of the glass. Wildly built comb would not look good, he reckoned. And the impossibility of harvesting the collected honey also felt quite odd to him. But, he agreed to collaborate and he chose 2 good colonies for our experiment. The bees seemed to accept the new medium readily, and moved in.
However, the time lapse idea had to be dropped - the car charger that we found in a little shop in Oaxaca centre had too little of an output and the ipad could not be charged with solar power. The device was depleted within the first few hours after placing the glass.
The intensity of colours in Mexico is startling, and to no surprise it is reflected in the beekeeping outfits as well. Green and orange veils with very colourful hives.
The veils are kept on while driving as well - safety first!
Next visit at the bees is planned for Monday - to check how the building proceeds.
The concept of the piece is to capture the power of the sun by the work of honeybees in a vessel of glass, and once captured, there is no way out.
6 different glass sculptures were modeled in 2 afternoons. Some carry the stamp "Capturado", some are plain transparent quartz glass. The manufacturing consists of blowing, deforming and poking glass when it is 2000°C hot. Stamped panels are being attached and fused into the bubble before it gets its final shape, resulting in organically deformed and stretched letters. Then the piece goes into the cooling furnace overnight. Some sprinkles of beeswax at the inside make the material look immediately less cold and give it a culinary appearance like white chocolate.
The wax helps the insects to adapt to the material and appropriate it as their own.
Past, present and future of Maize and Maguey - translated into graphics
After visiting Oaxaca, Mexico in November 2011 for the kickoff of the project EITC; we realized there are a lot of artists/ graphic designers that spread their ideas, political thoughts, etc. through graphic prints with a specific visual language. Our main focus in EITC is on Maize and Maguey, and investigates the past, present and future of those plants. Results and findings are as well surprising as shocking.
The data visualization workshop want to try to translate all this information into speaking images that carry the powerful message drawn from the research. The workshop deals with questions like: how can we translate or visualize data into image? which visual (and or textual) language should be developed? how do people read these prints? what should our message be?
The workshop wants to tie together textual research and artistic practice. In the academic world data visualization is used as a way to structure and clearly visualize written texts. this workshop wants to take these figures a step further. The graphic prints are not only a representation of the research, but also an artistic interpretation/ translation.
Aim of workshop:
Transformation is ongoing - and creatives/the arts have a role on commenting on this.
The future is being shaped now and the role of arts is to shed light upon what is going on and upon what is being planned. This situation and transformation can be used as inspiration. The arts can become a platform that comments and proposes creative alternatives.
Contributions to new insights, methods, perspectives, approaches, within a local context, Oaxaca and further.
As means to understand these new futures we choose aesthetics, visualization, graphics, artistic expressions. Both the methods and tools, as well as the materials used can enhance the weight of the message.
With 'Nube de Oro' Christian Thornton and Bartaku investigate the subtle energetic and communicative properties of the agave power plant. This project brings glass and natural dye-based solar technology into relationship with the agave's living system. The agave has had a long and fragile relationship with humans, who have used almost all parts of the plant in some form - for textiles, paper, shelter, sowing, cooking and, most famously, for drinking (mezcal/'tequila') - and more recently as a biofuel. A distinctive feature of agaves is the dramatic way they end their lives. Depending on the species, they can live for anywhere between six and fifty years, and sometimes more. As agaves near the end of their lifespans, they sprout large stalks that grow from the core of the plant up to eight meters high. Powered by energy stored throughout their lives, adorned with flowers and seeds, this dramatic flowering can sometimes spark the same process in neighbouring agaves as well. After having transformed the landscape in this epic outburst of virility, the stalks collapse onto the now-shrunken and depleted leaves.
In the research gathering at FoAM Brussels, the ongoing explorations are presented together with first results of the marriage of glass work and photovoltaic cells. In a further step, the energetic sculpture will meet an agave at the plant garden in Meise, Belgium.
Some reflections that arise during the process, and related images in the gallery.
A distinctive feature of agaves is the dramatic way they end their lives. Depending on the variety, they can live for anywhere from six to fifty years, and sometimes more. As the agave near the end of their lifespans, within few months, they sprout large stalks -powered by energy stored throughout their lives- that grow from the core of the plant up to eight meters high. (From the Research Gathering invitation, sent on Sept. 11, 2012_5:55pm)
The surface of a top glass plate needs to touch the surface of a bottom glass plate. In between there is a medium that keeps the energy going for a while. This medium is called an electrolyte, a strong salt solution without additives, such as an anit-diarrea solution for children. The studio glass plates are not smooth, so a typical liquid electrolyte used in the scientific/commercial world of natural dye sensitized solar cell technology, is not an option. The commercial electrolyte is very 'thin' and evaporates too quickly, reducing the life span of the cell an in turn creating nothing more that symbolic value. Hence, experiments with gel/paste type electrolytes that were started in Xaquixe studio in March 2012, have been repeated and enhanced.
Over Ado(r)ne > Aesthetics-On-The-Side
Let's keep focussed, when things get out of hand.
Another on the side, linking to the Venerative Artefacts Case Study -an sudden encounter during the Quest for Gas- with the 'Lower Countries Agave Patron Saint'. A male 'Virgen de Juquila' of the Lower Countries.
As for functionality of the experimental glass solar pieces with natural dyes as the active agent (in TiO2), multimeter testings are carried out.
Best results are obtained using a blueberry_hibiscus mix, with graphite/bee-wax carbon as a catalyst and most importantly an agar agar gelatine_children's electrolyte/mix (a mix that is used in the Temporary photoElectric Digestopians Labs). The gelatine has two consequences: one is to enlarge the life span of the cells (as opposed to liquid iodine used in most documented diy ndsc experiments). Second, two connect the two often uneven self-made glass pieces with less chance for empty space.
Top voltage value measured was 0,633 Volts (4-5pm, Sept 09). Three days after still 0,26V was measuredd. Amps in short circuit was approx. 0,03.
The other day, I came across a little booklet called "Beekeeping with the stingless bee, Melipona". Some thoughts that I find remarkable:
In Mexico the native, stingless bee - Melipona - has been kept since pre-historic times, especially by the Mayans. The honey that she produces tastes very different from the honey we know from our honeybees, and is highly esteemed for its medicinal value. The honey is watery in consistency and tastes lemony. A colony of Melipona only produces about a kilo of honey per season - not much compared to Apis mellifera. The melipona bee is much smaller than apis and the colonies are not so populated.
The Melipona bee is affectionately called colecab - lady bee - and holds a special place in people's belief, only topped by maize. Melipona is regarded as a holy animal, she has her own gods and distinctive ceremonies are connected with these bees.
The traditional way of handling the bees is intertwined with religious and spiritual rituals. The actual work with bees cannot be separated from the rituals that accompany it. These include making cords from sisal (agave sisalana) to hang little gourd bowls and preparing Saca, a gruel made from maize and water that will be sweetened with the first honey from the bees and hung into the gourd bowls.
The ancient ceremonies are performed with calling Maya bee gods to bless the bees in the presence of a shaman priest. The ceremony inlcudes preparing saca, balche (a mead in which the bark of the balche tree is soaked) and 13 cigarettes made by wrapping tobacco in husks of maize that had been soaked in balche. Hens have to be sacrificed, who first had to drink some balche and are then drowned. Masa seca is prepared with walnuts and made into tortillas, 9 stacked up and bound together with sisal. While smoking the 13 cigarettes, balche and soup is poured into each of the hives of colecab for blessing. The shamans are saying prayers 7 times and singing to invoke Maya god and 2 goddesses. The whole ceremony takes about 24 hours.
Beliefs have it that when a beekeeper dies, the bees have to be informed immediately of the death and be assured that they will be taken care of, otherwise, they will leave. Bees themselves must never be harmed and by no means killed!
Ceremonies are only performed for colecab, the stingless bee, and not for apis, the European honeybee, because only colecab is watched over by Mayan gods. However, when the first European honeybees came to Mexico, they caused a great deal of excitement. In comparison, they were so large, the colonies were so populous and they gathered so much honey that people were convinced that these were in fact the gods of colecab.
. Flor de Jamaica aka Hibiscus Flower
* same recipe at academic UNAM-source, but manduca is called 'ma'nduya'
According to the same source, The chatina language is related to the Zapotec, and is spoken in the South-East of Oaxaca state.
Between March x anz z 2012, a number of experiments are executed at enviroglas studio Xaquixe, 15km from Oaxaca city - between a burned down pencil factory and a newly built corn processing plant.
The experimental architecture for the light to electrical energy conversion in glass:
Glass plates, cut at different sizes, from 4x2cm min to 4x6cm max. are coated with various conductive materials for acceptable results. Silver is used, with gold, or selenium a.o. Also the most known formula using tin oxide is applied.
Most (stable) conversion of light into electrical energy is observed with a triple tin oxide coating of a 5x2cm piece of basic window glass.
Fiesta de Maguey November take-off with Oaxaca-observaciones and encounters, towards the multi-facet acknowledgement of the Maguey plant.
There are also legends which say that this Virgin (or another female Saint, e.g. the Virgen de Juquila in some cases) manifested herself; appearing on top of a maguey plant. Jansen, M.; Van Der Loo, P.; Manning, R. (1988) Continuity and identity in Native America: essays in honor of Benedikt Hartmann
Brill Academic Pub. p. 185
FoAM is a network of transdisciplinary labs for speculative culture > http://fo.am