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.

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