Urban Codes, Crossings and Migration: A Public Walk

IMG_8797_3 Urban codes, Crossings and Migration is a participatory walk that we created with The Walk Exchange in collaboration with Sitio-Seña. Symbols designed by the artists in Guatemala were dynamically used in the participatory walk to consider the use of visual codes in navigation of the urban landscape in New York City and to reflect on traditional and contemporary symbolism, transmigratory flows, and language.

We have collected our experiences from the walk on a website and we made a video that captures some of the moments from the walk experience.


Novel, Walis, Katerine and Lisa


Final Proposal – Black Banana Programming: UNPACKED


Final Deliverable

Black Banana Programming: UNPACKED

5 day lead time

The Plan: Reflect and share experience from start to finish.

  1. determining program
  2. identifying participants
  3. assessing needs for program
  4. publicizing program
  5. documenting program
  6. archiving – web development

Maira and I will discuss our process, challenges, and hopes for the future of Black Banana.

We will also show a completed video which documents the Black Banana Programming event.

***In addition, I will provide a final reflection essay which covers this experience, as well as my views on curating, contemporary art, race, identity and social inclusion in Latin America.

Final Proposal

Art, Conflict, & Technology

“If history is the disciplined construction of collective memory, art can be the undisciplined expression of collective dreams” Dr Tristram Riley-Smith on why art should matter to policy-makers.

For my final deliverable for this class I would like to write an essay/research paper that would explore Art, Conflict and Technology. I envision this final project to be a

a critical comparative essay about how different types of DIY art invasions (augmented reality being one of these) and invasions of space (like the performance art we have been exposed to this semester) can be used and are used as forms of protest and social activism.

I would also want to further look at how digital interventions contribute and can be employed, while also considering the digital divide and what this mean in terms of artistic interventions. One of the main questions that I want to explore in my paper is how to build peace or seek resolution/transformation from historical conflicts (ie historic memory) through technology while considering the question “by whom, for whom?” that is inherent in the conversation surrounding technology.

This essay would be a way for me to continue to explore where art, personal narrative and public space intersect, which is a personal interest of mine, as well is technology and narrative. This would also be a reflexive paper because in many ways our exhibit was in some aspects a DIY show given our transnational collaboration with curators and artists and it also made use of technology in its production of the actual physical pieces, the organization of the show, the website, our public programming (hosted online), and our digital archive.

Some Resources in addition to Class Texts






Guatemala Después End of the Class Workshop

Co-Lab: Curatorial Design and Media Practices: Guatemala Después

Guatemala Después End of the Class Workshop, April 29, 2015

Developed by Mae Wiskin, Laura Sanchez and Ivana Garcia

Overarching Question(s):

  • Having taken the course, what does Guatemala Después mean to you now?
  • What do you hope public audiences in New York City (and elsewhere who engaged with the project onsite or online) take away from this exhibit?
  • How would you (re)design the exhibition/a curatorial space and/or curatorial approach?

Goal + Intent:

The goal and ultimate intent of this closing session is to provide closure and critically examine any final issues related to the course and exhibition as a whole. Additionally, based on feedback from the survey responses from students in the course, we believe it is important that for everyone to have the opportunity to actively understand the nature of effective spatial design (as it concerns such exhibition projects), and while engaging with curatorial practices of their choosing.

Additional Background:

The purpose of the course was to “bring together students with interests in artistic practices, exhibition design, digital media archives and civic engagement to work collectively on the Guatemala Después exhibition project currently being developed at The New School in partnership with artists and curators in Guatemala. The course involves a process of co-investigation and design with artists, curators, filmmakers, students and community-based creative practitioners in Guatemala and New York City from 2014-2015.“

Mission Statement:

Guatemala Después is a collaborative project that seeks to support site-specific artistic investigations that may reveal, activate, provoke or transform the ways in which we understand historic memory, repression, healing and forms of utopia or dystopia emerging in Guatemala in the past 30 years, and what is happening today. It also critically examines the political, economic and cultural influences (including foreign policy, migration and creative exchange) between the United States and Guatemala. The project uses an experimental, inclusive and participatory approach towards engaging creative practitioners and the general public using multi-disciplinary forms of investigation and expression (including visual, sound, film, performance, poetry and narrative).

Given this, how have your ideas evolved in relation to the course description?

Workshop Agenda: (4:00pm – 6:00pm)

Venue: Aronson Gallery, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center (SJDC), 66 Fifth Avenue

  1.   Icebreaker 4:00 – 4:20pm

Go around the room and have each participant write down a message of their choice; it can be a note of hope, encouragement, intention or reflection to send to our Guatemalan counterparts – place each piece of paper in a container.


    2.  Follow up: 4:20 – 4:30pm

Each participant picks a note and reads it aloud.

  1.  Thinking Through Objects: 4:30 – 5:00pm

Participants will explore artworks in the space and examine them from different angles, using the excerpt below to guide thinking:

Excerpt from Martha Fleming, Thinking Through Objects:

As a collection interpretation, its basic assumption was that objects can be subject to multiple interpretations and have an innate capacity therefore to signify concurrently in a number of different and sometimes even conflicting registers: the chronological, the formal, the disciplinary, the aesthetic. If this quality of ambiguity is embraced, and used skillfully with attention to equally multiple contexts, it means that individual objects can become pivots, or hinges, between separate thoughts and even separate modes of thinking: careful juxtaposition of objects can actually produce new thoughts and new ways of thinking.

What then are the techniques of the representational discourse? What are the practices of making exhibitions that convey meaning?

Conceptualizing exhibitions, designing the way those constellations of objects will look to a person other than the person who has configured them as such, involves deploying as many representational techniques as does writing. One can use objects in similar ways to words: objects can be metaphors, partake of metonymy, synecdoche, allegory, allusion, analogy. Also like words, one can string them together in narratives, in causal relations, in antithesis, chronology or diachrony. One can use relational techniques such as Humour, Intimacy, Distantiation. And one can use techniques that are not so easily deployed with words, techniques specific to space:

  • Perspective
  • Sight Lines
  • Scale
  • Color
  • Light
  • Reflections
  • Transparency/Opacity
  • Surfaces/Textures
  • Time
  • Sound
  • Spatial Divisions
  • Between rooms
  • Inside the room volumes
  • Using room heights
  • Floors as well as walls

Examine any 2-3 artworks or artifacts (including the timeline) in the exhibition and consider how their representation engages with the space effectively and in relation to other pieces in the space and the overall space itself. To what extent does it create compelling new meanings and interpretations or allow them to be understood in effective ways?

  1.  Spatial Design Activity 5:00 – 5:30pm

Each participant examines a copy of the original exhibition design, using specific prompts to augment it, taking on the role of “head art director/curator” of the exhibition. This will enable every participant to rethink and reflect upon how they would spatially design an exhibition.


What kinds of new relationships can you find across these artworks?


Do you see any unresolved tensions or issues emerging that should be investigated further?


Are there new opportunities to activate and engage these artworks in dialogue with each other or the themes of the exhibition?


How would you consider reconfiguring these elements differently – either thematically or spatially? Are there changes you would make to any of the language used in the exhibit?


What is one thing you hope the various public(s) (including different kinds of audiences in New York and in Guatemala) will take away from this exhibition?


Spatial Design Activity

  1. Group Reflection 5:30 – 6:00pm

Given this exercise, participants will be asked to reflect on their original intentions and identify any other ideas that they believe will be important to share with the Guatemalan partner organization Ciudad de la Imaginación before their exhibition planned in June 2015.

Reflections on Public Programming 3.22.2014

I looked back to the Zotero for the course to find articles about the discourse surrounding public programming, but could not find any resources to help me contextualize my own reflections, so I delved deeper into Terry Smith’s “Thinking Contemporary Curating”. In the last chapter, “The Infrastructural”, I found some important points that he brings up that I think are worth mentioning here.

He writes, “ The institution is now not just the museum but a whole industry that has grown up around exhibition making’..So has its need to activate infrastructure”. I think what Smith is saying here is that it is important to find ways to utilize other physical spaces, buildings, structures (i.e. infrastructure) to further activate the exhibition. Obviously, this is something that has become an integral part of curating today which is why from the start of the exhibition making public programming was structured then further developed for our class.

However, I take caution when he says that exhibition making has become an entire industry. The implication it has become an industry implies the manufacturing of goods and production. Because of this it is important to create programming around an exhibit that also transcends the infrastructure of an art space or learning institute. Smith write about, Paula Marincola’s provocation: “Can we ever get beyond the essential conservatism of displaying works of art in conventional, dedicated spaces?’ resonates through the exhibitionary complex, shaking the presumption of each kind of venue that it is a special domain for art. When we move inside these structures to the kinds of exhibitions that curators regularly stage, a widespread contemporary impulse is voiced by Obrist’s regular refrain: ‘We must experiment with ways beyond objects’ (250).

How one may be able to do this is through diverse public programming. I was able to attend some of the earlier public programming events. The first event I attended was the panel discussion we held before the exhibit opening, “Celebrating Contemporary Guatemalan Art: Conversations with Artists & Curators”.

I was happy that at this event we were able to have speakers like Jessica Kaire who was exhibiting a piece in our exhibition and artist Terike Haapoja in direct discussion with curators. The discussion between artist and curator is important because of the ever changing relationship between the two and art and art production today. I was a little confused by Jamie Permuth’s position on the panel, or rather the interaction on the panel with him. He is a Guatemalan artist making contemporary art, many times with Guatemala as it’s subject matter. However, at one point during the discussion it seemed to me as though he indicated that perhaps he would not call what happened in Guatemala a genocide, or at least that he likes to distance his work from this association. My interpretation could most certainly be wrong, but I think that this would have been a great opportunity for someone on the panel to further explore and or clarify this positioning with him and the public since our exhibit takes resurfacing invisible injustices as one of it’s main curatorial threads.

I was unable to attend the performance pieces and wish that I was able to, but with a 6 day work week it was just not possible. These programs are important to our overall public programming strategy because they respond to Marincola’s provocation that I mentioned before, “Can we ever get beyond the essential conservatism of displaying works of art in conventional, dedicated spaces?”. I think that with programs like the Walk Exchange and Regina Galindo’s performance in New York we can in some small ways do this. In these instances the public programming was actually public- outside The New School and the exhibition space, which in and of itself makes a different sort of impact.

I am really looking forward to the public programming on Saturday surrounding New Masculinities because I feel that this event is poised to create continuing, ongoing, important, and divergent conversations about our exhibit. I cannot speak for the other events that I was not able to attend, but I think this event will create more critical thinking and reflection on the actual exhibit that is needed.

Impromptu Interview with Daniel Velasquez at the Gallery

As I stopped by the gallery for our Guatemala Después​ exhibition today, I found a young man intently gazing at the timeline for quite a while. I decided to approach him and ask about why he was there and what he thought of the exhibit. It turns out that he’s a Guatemalan living in New York. You can hear my impromptu interview with Daniel Velasquez here; it was quite moving hearing from him about his experience.

Reflexiones de Guatemala Despues


Now that the exhibition Guatemala Despues opened, I can finally take time to reflect on it.

My favorite piece is Maquina de la Fortuna, from Colectivo Kaqjay Moloj, since it references to the power of words, wishes and community. It is a powerful art piece that combines english, spanish and Kaqchikel, engaging people of all languages and cultures. Another piece that was powerful was Sitio Seña, since its main issued, Migration and materiality, are approached in a nonconventional way, tracing signs and creating forms that translated into creative art work. I could connect to those pieces and in my visits to the gallery I could see many interactions between the audiences and that particular artwork.

Regarding Guatemala Despues, the overall museography of the exhibition feels sloppy, there are several art pieces that are poorly hung, such as El olvido que no sabe que es olvido (Yasmin Hage, Alejandro Flores, and Camilo A. Luin), and there are pieces that go unnoticed such as the 3 D printed piece (since it is white, you can barely see the detail being placed in a white stand -there is no contrast).

Although the timeline explains the Guatemalan historical situation, it does not engage the audience in the Guatemalan conflict mainly because the text is too extensive and people do not read it. As a consequence, most audiences do not have enough context to feel connected to the art work.  In one of my visits to the gallery there was a person using the art piece ¿Me escuchas? (Jessica Kairé and Daniel Perera) as an office, disrespecting the art piece and the artists.

Regarding my personal conection to the exhibition, unfortunately, as a student I never felt like a part of the exhibition beyond doing several translations and writing emails. The interactions we had with the Guatemalan artists were forced and rushed which resulted in a difficult collaboration on both ends. This led to very little learning on my part as to what curatorial practices consist of, primarily I simply learned how to manage my translating skills.

As a general reflexion, I learned a lot from the exhibition, in the conventional and the unconventional way of schooling.

By Ivana Garcia


Image References: Guatemala Despues, Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/131191651@N07/16972985850/

Después de Guatemala Después: Three Questions Post-Launch

1. What does the visitor take away?

In a recent interview with Radhika for a different class project she mentioned (wildly paraphrasing here) that when she plans exhibitions she is constantly looking for that “thing” that lingers. She used the metaphor of a burr that you might find tucked away in your sock at the end of a long day. It is the “thing” that follows you around without having even realized it.

After the Guatemala Después launch, I’m still not entirely sure what that thing is. The works in the exhibit are more or less impactful in their own ways but I’m not sure together what they have to say about memory, healing, or trauma. This may be because there is no one thing– people are still struggling to negotiate the past in their own unique and different ways. This is a fair, and yet as curators I wonder how we could have better assembled these disparate elements into a coherent whole that offers something larger than any one art work could have done alone.

How could we have created a stronger presence for the exhibit?

Due to time/communication constraints I don’t think we really got to take advantage of the huge window facing fifth avenue. If our exhibit was about trying to make these issues more visible and engage a wider audience I think it was a missed opportunity not to consider how we would draw in visitors from the outside.

This street and the interior hallway get a lot of foot traffic but in my observations, few people actually lingered or attempted to understand what was in front of them. Or on the other hand if they did try to engage they were often confused or bewildered. Sitting in the hallway for our design symposium this past weekend, I had quite a few individuals approach me to ask what this work was and why the video was being projected. This was both a tactical problem as the sign for the video was not easy to distinguish, as well as a conceptual problem as people couldn’t easily draw associations and connections between the curatorial statement and the art works in front of them.

Furthermore, in my time at the gallery I saw almost no one (outside of opening night) attempting to truly engage with the timeline. This was likely because the text was quite small but also because reading a heavy amount of text in such a transient space is difficult. So again, how could we have created a more dynamic and magnetic presence?

How can performance art retain it’s performativity?

La Máquina de la Fortuna and Hipnosis are both pieces that draw heavily on this notion of an “intervention.” Their pieces look at the enunciative possibilities of words and language to change our relationships with past, present and future. A challenge for most pieces like this is how to bring their messages to life in the exhibition space. La Máquina de la Fortuna encourages interaction, and provides an interesting form of engagement as the visitor must press a button to receive their fortune. It’s a simple gesture that could likely be expanded in more nuanced ways but this tactile experience is still enjoyable.

This is in more of a contrast to work like Regina Galindo’s, whose intervention exists solely in video and photographic evidence from the event. Her process is captured in the documentation from that day and yet this doesn’t fully reveal the complexities of this work. I really enjoyed the “Take a Photo, Tell a Story” project at the Prison Obscura exhibition– the ways it blended, audio, image and space to create a more visceral experience. Perhaps it would be worth exploring other models like this that effectively translate public interventions into more sensorial representations.

Exhibition reflection

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 16.20.28

The gallery space at The New School is currently occupied with artworks from emerging and established Guatemalan and US-based artists. In the hallway outside the gallery space you are introduced to a timeline that serves as a backdrop to Guatemalan history and art. The timeline is informative and helpful to give a context to an audience that might not be familiar with Guatemalan history and art. The amount of text seems to be overwhelming to some of its viewers, as they quickly continue to the exhibition space. However, some of its viewers are more patient with the content, and spent more time on the timeline. I noticed the same interaction with the text accompanying the artwork; the audience that was at the gallery space the opening night did not invest much time to read about the artworks.

Inside the gallery space a given amount of art pieces have been curated and collected, and the various artwork unfolds organically in the space. The gallery space is small, but the room manages to hold the artwork without the artwork cancelling out each other. As you walk through the space the textiles made by Sitio-Sena are an aesthetically strong contribution to the space, as well as the piece by Daniel Hernández-Salazar.

One piece that stands out in the room is the large table with the red and black traditional Guatemalan woven tablecloth. The table is a part of Jessica Kaire and Daniel Perera’s contribution to the exhibition. On Saturday, April 11th, they lead a televisual gathering via Skype, where a conversation between one group in New York and one group in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, took place. In two identical scenarios in two different locations, the two groups shared a meal. The conversation was in Spanish, so for non-Spanish speaking viewers, such as myself, the concept was a bit confusing at first. However, during the course of the meal, it started to make sense. A different way of being “together”, across cultures and counties, was playfully performed at the gallery for a few hours.

Lisa-Mari Stenhaug

NMDS 5296 / CRN 7227, Spring 2015, School of Media Studies, The New School