Sounds of Cultura (SOC): Performance in the Borderlands/Ana Teresa Fernandez

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Performance in the Borderlands, is an Arizona State University initiative addressing the intersection of arts and culture with border-related issues. Mary Stephens, producing director for Performance in the Borderlands at ASU will talk about what to expect for the 2016-17 season. Artist Ana Teresa Fernandez will talk about “Oasis” her newest public art installation. The work focuses on land displacement, immigration, water usage in the desert.

JOSE: PERFORMANCE AT THE BORDERLANDS IS AN ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY INITIATIVE WHICH LOOKS AT THE INTERSECTION OF ARTS AND CULTURE WITH BORDER RELATED ISSUES. THE INITIATIVE JUST KICKED OFF THEIR 2016/2017 SEASON. JOINING ME NOW IS ONE OF THE EXHIBITIONS IS HEATHER LINEBERRY, SENIOR CURATOR AND ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR THE ASU ART MUSEUM AND ANTONIA WRIGHT ONE THE FEATURED ARTISTS. TELL US ABOUT THE EXHIBITION AND I UNDERSTAND IT IS A COLLABORATION WITH BORDERLANDS BUT GIVE US AN OVERVIEW INCLUDING WHEN IT IS GOING TO BE AVAILABLE FOR VIEWING.

HEATHER LINEBERRY: THIS IS AN EXHIBITION AT THE ASU ART MUSEUM WITH SIX ARTISTS AND THE EXHIBITION IS LOOKING AT AN IMPORTANT ARTIST FROM THE 1970S AND IMPORTANT INNOVATIONS SHE MADE AT THE TIME. SHE DREW BROADWAY ACROSS A VARIETY OF INNOVATIVE AND EXPERIMENTAL ART FORMS LIKE PERFORMANCE, AND PERFORMANCE BASED PROCESS, AND FILM AND LAND ART AND SHE ADDED HER OWN PERSONAL CONTENT. SHE HAD A VERY POWERFUL STORY OF IMMIGRATION.

JOSE: SHE WAS CUBAN BORN.

HEATHER LINEBERRY: THAT IS RIGHT. SHE IS A CUBAN BORN AMERICAN ARTIST. SHE CAME OVER IN 1961 AS PART OF OPERATION PEDRO PAN.

JOSE: PETER PAN FOR OUR ENGLISH SPEAKERS VIEWERS.

HEATHER LINEBERRY: MANY CHILDREN CAME OVER AFTER THE REVOLUTION WERE SENT OVER BY THEIR PARENTS. SHE WAS 12 AT THE TIME, CAME TO THE U.S., DIDN'T HAVE ANY FAMILY. CAME WITH HER 15 YEAR OLD SISTER. THEY WERE EVENTUALLY SENT BY THE CATHOLIC CHARITIES WHO RAN THE PROGRAM TO IOWA. SO A PLACE WHERE SHE DIDN'T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE, THE CLIMATE WAS DIFFERENT, THE LANDSCAPE WAS DIFFERENT. SHE HAD THIS VERY POWERFUL PERSONAL STORY OF BEING RIPPED FROM HER HOMELAND.

JOSE: IT IS REFLECTED IN HER PIECES.

HEATHER LINEBERRY: MOST DEFINITELY. WE WERE LOOKING AT A NUMBER OF INNOVATIONS SHE MADE IN HER WORK. SHE PASSED AWAY IN 1985 AND WE FELT A NUMBER OF ARTISTS WHO WERE WORKING IN A SIMILAR WAY. THERE WAS A CONVERSATION WITH HER WORK, THEY WERE EXTENDING HER WORK AND WE SELECTED FIVE WOMEN ARTISTS WHO WE FEEL ARE IN CONVERSATION WITH THE WORK. WHEN WE REACHED OUT TO THESE ARTISTS THREE OF THEM SAID ABSOLUTELY. SHE WAS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME AND MY THINKING. THE SHOW OPENS FRIDAY 6:30 8:30. IT IS FREE AND THERE WILL BE SPECIAL PERFORMANCES AND ACTIVITIES ON FRIDAY NIGHT.

JOSE: AND THAT IS THE ONLY NIGHT PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO SEE THEM?

HEATHER LINEBERRY: THAT IS RIGHT. THERE IS A PERFORMANCE BY ONE OF THE ARTISTS AT 7:00 AND THEN WE WILL BE LIGHTING A SPECIAL PIECE THAT WAS CREATED WITH THE WAX OF CANDLES. THE CANDLES BURN AND CREATE THE IMAGE AND WE WILL LIGHT THAT EVERY OTHER WEEK. WE WILL LIGHT IT FOR THE FIRST TIME WITH HER NIECE AT THE OPENING ON FRIDAY NIGHT.

JOSE: AND TELL ME HOW LONG THE EXHIBITION RUNS?

HEATHER LINEBERRY: THROUGH THE END OF DECEMBER.

JOSE: WE HAVE ONE OF THE ARTISTS WITH US TONIGHT. ANTONIA WRIGHT, THANK YOU FOR COMING. WE WILL PUT UP A COUPLE OF YOUR ARTWORK AND TELL US WHAT WE ARE LOOKING AT.

ANTONIA WRIGHT: THIS IS VERY MUCH WHAT HER WORK LOOKS LIKE. IT IS HER BODY OR A FIGURE OR SYMBOL FOR HER BODY IN NATURE OFTEN TIMES. THIS IS FROM MEXICO. SHE IS LAYING IN FLOWERS AND MAKES BEAUTIFUL PHOTOS OR VIDEOS OF HER WORK.

JOSE: AND SHE TOUCHES ON ASPECTS OF MEXICAN CULTURE. THAT WOULD PERSON WOULD BE A TREE OF LIFE. IS THAT A DAY OF THE DEAD SYMBOL?

HEATHER LINEBERRY: SHE IS DEFINITELY USING PIGMENT THAT REFERENCES VARIOUS RITUALS. AFRO CUBAN RITUALS HERE. BUT IN 1973 SHE STARTED TRAVELING TO MEXICO IN THE SUMMERS AND SHE FELT A KIN WITH A DAILY LIFE, ANCIENT, COLONIAL, THE CATHOLIC CEREMONIES AND DREW HEAVILY FROM THE DAY OF THE DEAD AND TREE OF LIFE AND PULLING THESE THINGS TOGETHER POWERFULLY IN HER WORK.

JOSE: ANTONIA, WHAT IS YOUR KINSHIP TO HER WORK AND WHAT IS IT ABOUT HER WORK THAT INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR WORK?

HEATHER LINEBERRY: I LOVED HER WORK MOST OF MY LIFE.

JOSE: YOU ARE CUBAN ALSO?

ANTONIA WRIGHT: YES, SHE IS A BIG INSPIRATION. SHE USES HER BODY IN THE LANDSCAPE. SHE PUSHES WHAT I THINK PERFORMANCE IS. I THINK IT IS SO POIGNANT ESPECIALLY BECAUSE SHE LEFT CUBA AND IT IS LIKE HER BODY GETTING REINTRODUCED TO THE ENVIRONMENT AND BECOMING ONE. THROUGHOUT OR WHOLE CAREER I FELT LIKE SHE BECAME BETTER AND BETTER.

JOSE: WE HAVE PICTURES OF TWO MORE PIECES IN THE SHOW AND I THINK HEATHER YOU WILL TALK ABOUT THIS ONE.

HEATHER LINEBERRY: THIS IS ONE OF THE OTHER ARTISTS IN THE EXHIBITION. SHE IS ORIGINALLY FROM MEXICO. SHE LIVES AND WORKS IN SAN FRANCISCO AND SHE DID A BODY OF WORK CALLED ERASURE AND IS LOOKING AT A POLITICAL EVENT, WHICH IS THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE 43 UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN MEXICO IN 2014. THE CONTEMPORARY ARTIST ARE OFTEN REFERRING TO VERY SPECIFIC GLOBAL EVENTS WHEREAS THIS IS BROADER AND POLITICAL SOCIAL STATEMENTS AT THE TIME IN THE '70S. THIS IS AN INTERESTING SHIFT IN THE WORK.

JOSE: IT IS A VERY POWERFUL PIECE. SO ON THIS ONE?

HEATHER LINEBERRY: THIS IS KATE GILMORE WHO DOES PRIVATE PERFORMANCES AND SHE FILMS THEM AS WELL. THEY ARE OFTEN DEALING WITH ISSUES OF GENDER. YOU CAN SEE THESE WOMEN IN THESE GENDER SPECIFIC OUTFITS. BASICALLY THEY SLOWLY PULL APART THIS HUGE MOUND OF CLAY.

JOSE: SO, I WANT TO MAKE SURE WE GET IN THIS ONE LAST PIECE BECAUSE IT IS ONE OF YOURS, ANTONIA. I THINK WE HAVE A PICTURE OR VIDEO OF THAT PERFORMANCE ART YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT. AND TELL US ABOUT THIS. IT IS IN HAVANA.

ANTONIA WRIGHT: IT IS CALLED "ARE YOU OKAY? "AND IT IS AN ONGOING PERFORMANCE PIECE WHERE I GO INTO THE STREET AND CRY AND I CAPTURE PEOPLE IF THEY DO OR DO NOT ASK ME IF I AM OKAY. I DID IT IN NEW YORK, MIAMI, PARIS, AND LAST SUMMER IN HAVANA.

JOSE: ARE THE REACTIONS DIFFERENT?

ANTONIA WRIGHT: COMPLETELY. IN HAVANA, MEN APPROACHED ME. IN NEW YORK CITY, ONLY WOMEN APPROACHED ME.

JOSE: THIS LOOKS LIKE A WONDERFUL SHOW. ONE LAST QUESTION. THE INSPIRATION FOR DOING THIS?

HEATHER LINEBERRY: LIKE MOST LARGE SCALE EXHIBITIONS WE HAVE BEEN WORKING ON THIS FOR THREE YEARS AND INSPIRED INITIALLY BY SEEING A PIECE OF HER WORK ALONG WITH OTHER'S WORK IN A CONJUNCT SETTING.

JOSE: I HOPE EVERYONE GETS A CHANCE TO SEE. THAT IS OUR SHOW. THANK YOU FOR WATCHING. FROM ALL OF US HERE AT YOUR AZ PBS STATION AND FROM HORIZONTE, HAVE A GOOD NIGHT.

Producing Director, Mary Stephens

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