Dukkha is the follow up of project Piertopolis. For the works in Dukkha, I use Nkondi, an animistic fetish manifestation from the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Congolese rituals, the Nkondi nails protect homes and towns from destruction or social segregation. In Dukkha I use Nkondi essentially to investigate the underlying causes of our postcolonial traumas. A major aspect of Dukkha is on researching the rather violent clash of cultures as an inevitable result of our former colonial times; as well as to analyze the contradictory relationship of colonial aesthetics to the formerly colonized countries, its population, cultures and vice versa.
Consequently each Nkondi in Dukkha is a unique creation that allows the viewer to re-enact with the idea of decolonization. The use of different materials and iron nails in the photo-sculptures enhances its ability to be seen in different ways and angles, while simultaneously augmenting its visual intricacy. Nails, threads, marine ropes, bits of cloth, beads, even miniature photo carvings have all been added to literally and figuratively load the figures with threaded spiritual installations, forming dark clouds of criss crossed black across the imaginary. Decolonization is a process of change, destruction and, in the first place, an attempt to regain power.
In all the projects of Antonio Jose Guzman there is a relationship with the location at which he presents the project. He calls this “Sociological mapping”. In all his projects he is looking for cultural connection, for opportunities for communication, for an open confrontation with other cultures.
When presenting his projects he chooses spaces for the installation that have been erected from scrap materials and where the human contribution is provided through photos and videos. These spaces offer ample room for reaction and interaction. They create a context in which the viewer can ponder the questions raised, unhindered by an ‘architecture’ that is imposing itself upon him.
The ‘El Organo Oriental. Transillumination Sequence #1’ (ELOO) project, which he has developed especially for this biennale, is a logical extension of these principles.
It highlights the significance of the organ in Cuban culture and the rich tradition of the organ in Amsterdam, the city in which Guzman lives and works. He places an original Cuban organ in a large space so that the sound is given free rein. The organ plays music that has been composed using the information elements from the artist’s DNA. The enlarged sheets of the unique organ score fill the space. This makes the DNA not only audible but also visible. The air currents in the space give the composition a physical animation similar to the ‘dancing’ notes on a stave. Related photographic works complete the whole. Text by Rob Perree – The 12th Havana Biennial.
A collaborative site-specific installation following a residency at Windward School in Los Angeles, California. Produced with a grant from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation.
The project was one of the most intricate undertakings in the history of the program, developed with contributions from more than a hundred participating students. The project maps the critical topographies of Los Angeles from the 70′s to now, by focusing on the cultural politics of space, time, and segregated neighborhoods. The result of Los Angeles Mapping Project was a large installation composed of photos, drawings, light boxes, objects and sculptures that illustrates how racial segregation still plays a major role in everyday American life.
Looking at Los Angeles Mapping Project it is very apparent that the city is a four race area, it’s not just about black – white and Latino – white relationships, but also about all the complex relationships among Latinos, blacks and Asians as well as class relationships within these communities.
In Piertopolis I use my Panamanian – Indigenous, African and Sephardic Jewish background to create a multidisciplinary installation. Piertopolis is inspired by the ever changing rural and urban archipelago network and the visual landscapes of the modern world. The project and installations has been inspired by The New Babylon project of COBRA artist Constant, Piertopolis features an architectural design for an installation of a life-size landscape made out of piers and walking bridges.
The Piertopolis constitute a record of my journeys to spaces that are related to my DNA ancestry and my own existence. The series incorporate influences of the documentary the Powers of Ten and by the book Cosmic View (1957) from the Dutch writer Kees Boeke, which presents a seminal view of the universe, from the galactic to the microscopic scale. The images takes us on an adventure in magnitudes, we see piers, mountains and cities from Google earth perspective, images taken in different piers around the globe, microscopic images of water and sand taken with a microscope and finally the outer edges of the universe, courtesy of the NASA database.
I intend the photo series and installations of Piertopolis as a meeting place, a transit point, a public performance center, a refuge. Piertopolis is a welcome space to memories, real or imagined and a mapping loop into new worlds and images.
Migration, or the condition of being a subject beyond borders, has always represented one of the most productive resources of aesthetic practices, contributing to the changing of settled cultures.
My Pan African symbiotic research focuses on the issue of Pan Africanism, Post colonialism, Afro Futurism, space and migration from very different perspectives, in order to explore what Mieke Bal defined as “migratory aesthetics”. The State of L3 is a project that connects three continents, in search of the African identity and the relationship between distance relatives in those continents. The State of L3 as Collective is aware that our decolonization is a process of change, destruction and an attempt to regain and lose power.
While countries still had to learn how to put independence into practice, colonial powers had to accept the loss of power over foreign countries. However, both sides have to deal with their past as suppressor and suppressed. This complicated relationship mainly developed from the Eurocentric perspective from which the former colonial powers saw themselves made the process of decolonization rather tense and emotional.
Reconstructed Landscapes are a series of monumental projects that challenge the traditional notion of space and time by transforming the aesthetics and perception of natural and artificial spaces. In contemporary society we perceive time differently that our ancestors, our relation with time is different depending on the society, culture, and the communities we live in.
Reconstructed landscapes intend to perceive time in imagined spaces and structures; This series of earth works and sculptures try to conceive the causes and results of human displacement, creating diverse ambiguous and unfamiliar land art installations.
D.A.T.E.D and Chain Diary (The Transoceanic Series), were digital storytelling projects for transcultural oral traditions, interdisciplinary research on migratory networks and the black Atlantic. They constitute a chain reaction of multiple identities with interactive multimedia installations and performances in different European cities. D.A.T.E.D was produced together with singer song writer Aurora Adams. The concept was developed with the non-profit multidisciplinary arts association Dimanche Rouge, during a residency at La Cité internationale des Arts in Paris, France. Chain Diary was commissioned by the European Cultural Foundation & The One Minutes Organization. Produced in collaboration with Kosmopolis Rotterdam and Imagine IC.