All posts by alicherasia

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


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.

Opening Reflections

Unfortunately, on short notice this week I was not able to visit the gallery with a friend to engage in a discussion.  I will try to do this later on this week, I definitely see the merit in doing this to understand our “museography” because there are some particular items I am curious about and how they are translated by a public that is more distanced from this project than the class and I.  My main question is how the public interacts with the timeline and projected piece in the hallway.  I wonder if it is blatantly obvious that this is a part of our exhibit, particularly the projection as it is located farthest from the entrance to the exhibit.  At the same time, it engages students who naturally flow through the building and are aware that there are often shows exhibited in the space, which I have witnessed with past exhibits and with ours.

I also have some questions that may seem obvious, but have not thought about until the opening. In general, I am curious about how the public at large engages with our exhibit, meaning outside of The New School Community.  The location of our exhibit in the Aronson Gallery is a great location and the window looking in is welcoming and inviting to the public.  However, access to the public in reality seems somewhat limited.  In order to gain access to the exhibit students have to use their ID cards to first enter the building.  I understand why this security check is in place, but also wonder what effect this has on the outside public coming to visit the gallery.  I would think it would be an immediate deterrent and have some logistical questions about whether and how the security guards allow the public into the gallery (especially when there are not specific events going, like the grand opening).

Before the exhibit was installed, I wrote that a major curatorial consideration would be not only how we tell the story of Guatemala after the Genocide, but how we could guarantee that certain projects voices weren’t heard more than others.  This is where the O’Neill reading was particularly helpful, especially his idea of “The Exhibition as Form”, which focuses specifically with group exhibitions, like ours.  I think we were able to address this issue which was difficult- the challenge of having a cohesive exhibition that allowed the works to still speak their individual stories, but would need to hear more feedback from the audience and how the artists who presented work felt that they were understood.

O’Neill’s categorization of spaces within the exhibit as being either background, foreground, and middle ground was helpful to me in understanding our group exhibit.  The background is the structure/architecture of the space, this area was easier to figure out. I mentioned the hallway and window structures before.  I think the window structure was especially helpful and crucial to ensuring that more projects were able to be shown in the foreground and not fall by the wayside.  Pointing the microphones to the street, as if poised to ask a question was a great way to give this piece a more of a headlining position .  If the window was a wall, this piece would be relegated to the farthest corner from the entrance and may have gotten less traffic.

I am interested to observe the public interact with the exhibit and will reflect more when I engage a friend about the exhibit. what do they

Reflections & End of Semester Proposals

The skillset that is most new to me this semester is the curatorial skillset.  Where I found myself struggling the most so far this semester was distinguishing the line between artist and/or curator and authorship, in particular the role that the curator plays in that authorship.  For our midterm presentation I felt uncomfortable putting words in the artist’s mouth.  This feeling eventually assuaged when we were able to communicate directly with the artist and get her feedback (we spoke most directly with Yasmin).  This interaction with the artist made me realize that these relationships with artists and interpersonal skills are essential to the curator being able to do their job correctly.  This seems obvious, but experiencing it firsthand allowed me to learn about the intricacies that curating demands.  I am excited to see how this process develops this semester on such a tight timeline.

This uncomfortableness is already something that has begun to change and I hope that by the end of the semester I will feel more comfortable stepping into a curatorial role  with more confidence.  I believe that more exposure, firsthand experience and education about the art of curating will eventually get me closer and this goal will be attained come May.  One of the best ways for me to do this is by focusing on the themes of memory (both historical and personal), storytelling and narrative which I feel most drawn to in this course and investing in projects like El olvido que no sabe es olvido and Me eschuchas(Can you hear me)? which deal directly with this topic.

Outside of this class I have been extremely interested in studying augmented reality as a medium.  In particular, I have been interested in personally using augmented reality to bring memories and wishes to the visible realm through virtual objects. This semester I am working on a project for another class where I am writing a fictional first person story that is augmented in order to explore memory.  In this story I will reveal my overarching narrative, to be somewhat revisionist.  I am hoping to use narrative and augmented reality to explore the important things that we forget to say, that we may or may not realize we aren’t saying when we tell stories.

By the end of the semester I think I would like to write 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. This essay would be a way for me to continue to explore where art, personal narrative and public space intersect.

Another idea that I had for a media piece about Guatemala Despues would be augmenting our own exhibit.  When we spoke with Radhika and Lydia last week, they mentioned that a critical contextual piece, and one of the more challenging aspects of our exhibit, would be to make connections to the United State’s complicity in the Guatemalan Genocide and silenced history, and our ability stateside to be pretty wholly oblivious to this.

I think I would like to create a piece that would further reveal this. Using AR to do this would be powerful in the context if the NY exhibit because of the medium’s nature as well as the concept of not only Guatemala’s silencing of the past, but how the US helped silence this past.  Many times DIY tactics and DIY art invasions are employed as subversive tactics.  In the case of our exhibit, which is already seeking to subvert historic memory in the context of Guatemala it would be used to further reveal how it is that we could have so easily silenced the past and ways that we can open up this particular dialogue regarding the US.

Reflections 2.25.15

In reading the supplemental articles that were provided by Brenda Cowen, our guest speaker today, I learned a lot about the different ways that narratives and story forms can be exhibited in different ways, to create different connections with different audiences.  I fell in love with the idea of  Wilson’s, “Mining the Museum” and how he mocked the museum while using the museology as a medium to undertake social justice issues of institutionalized racism.

Of course, all the time while reading for this course I try to draw connections to our project, Guatemala Despues. The setting of his exhibit taking place in a museum, while critiquing museums was critical.  Similarly, I think our location is critical too.

It was noted of Wilson’s exhibit that he, “has formidable narrative skills and a talent for fashioning installations that pack a punch more powerful than the individual components”.  This was a technique that made was crucial for his overarching goal of the exhibit, but seems to be the opposite of ours. This made me consider how we will tell our story, how can we guarantee that certain projects voices aren’t heard more than others.  This is where the O’Neill reading was particularly helpful, especially his idea of “The Exhibition as Form”, which focuses specifically with group exhibitions, like ours.

This is where he introduces the idea of the exhibition space as always being a narrative space and the exhibition as a spatial medium for thought and experimentation.  He further categorized these spaces as being either background, foreground, and middle ground.  The background is is the structure/architecture of the space, this area is easier to figure out for us, I think.  It becomes more difficult when deciding what will be our middle ground-where the audience partially interacts and the foreground- where there is more direct interaction between the viewer and the art.  How we differentiate between our foreground and middle ground elements will be more difficult, and this is where the curatorial process and role of the curator as a storyteller becomes most apparent to me.

Socially Engaged Contemporary Art: Tactical and Strategic Manifestations 

This article introduced two important overarching approaches taken by socially engaged artists, strategic and tactical manifestations.  While reading this material the most obvious connection I was trying to make was to our overall project that we are tackling with Guatemala Despues.  Both manifestations, strategic which aims to bring about structural change and tactical which aims to create interventions (in discourse and popular narrative), have their merits. But on which side of the scale does the Guatemala Despise exhibition fall?

This really made me start to think about the exhibitions, the one in New York and the one in Guatemala, and in my mind I began to sort of separate them and consider them based on their different contexts.  After considering the exhibits separately I have come to the understand that they should not necessarily be interpreted in this way, as being separate entities.  Although, the contexts are different I think that the ultimate goal is the same, although this goal will manifest itself differently based on these two separate contexts.

In light of this reading I reached the conclusion that our ultimate goal is a more tactical one because “tactical projects have a very different relationship to power, and can make more pointed critiques” (Thompson, 12), or at least I momentarily did. Our exhibitions will create  critical discourse about historic memory and repression and disrupt traditional monolithic narratives. Guatemala Despues’s two exhibitions are site specific and short term, but they will continue to live on in our digital archive.  The exhibition is also complimented by public programming, which at this point is not concretely defined .

I would say that yes, our project is an intervention— but there is also something transformative about what the Guatemala Despues team of artists is proposing to do.  I truly believe that these projects have the potential to transform society and it is in that vein that I find it hard to say that our project is not in some ways not structural.  At least from what I gathered from this reading, tactical interventions have a fleeting quality to them and I do not think that Guatemala Despues’s mission is a temporary one.

Ali Cherasia

My name is Ali Cherasia and I am pursuing my Masters in Media Studies. This semester my goal is to tack down what I will tackle as my thesis project so I can begin this process next semester. I have a background in (French) cultural studies and political science. Last semester, I took a participatory research methods class with Nitin in which we were asked to design our own qualitative research projects and employ participatory methods. I chose to research Street Harassment, Sexuality & Public Space. By looking at this daily phenomenon I examined how institutionalized social hierarchies and power relationships are upheld in public space and the effect that this has on how different groups negotiate those public spaces. This research project grew into a personal project that I continued on my own where I became really interested in looking at where art, personal narrative and public space intersect.

I was drawn to this course because of its participatory and collaborative nature. I am also completing a programming production internship at a cultural organization (FIAF) this semester and I think that doing this side by side with this class will allow me to learn about public programming in a fuller scope. I look forward to learning about curating and exhibition design while being able to contribute my skills to this project. I am really interested in continuing to look at where art, personal narrative and public space intersect in a context that I am personally unfamiliar with, Guatemala Despues.