Otis MFA Public Practice Group Project Exhibition, Ni Chana Ti-Juana
‘Ni Chana ni Juana’ is an expression used in Mexico to speak about a condition or situation defined by a lack of resolution: not one or the other, neither here nor there. The exhibition Ni Chana Ti-Juana, opening on November 16 at 18th Street Arts Center, takes this platitude as a conceptual point of departure. Ni Chana Ti-Juana will present work produced during the first-year project in the Otis Graduate Public Practice Program after three trips to Camino Verde, a community in Tijuana, Baja California.
The research projects have been facilitated by Bill Kelley Jr. and Cog•nate Collective, with the assistance of Polen Audiovisual and in collaboration with Centro Comunitario Camino Verde, Casa de las Ideas, and community organizers Don Polo, Alma López, and Tico Orozco.
An opening reception for Ni Chana Ti-Juana will be held on November 16 from 6-9pm. The exhibition will be open through December, culminating in a conversation at the Otis Graduate Public Practice studios on December 7 at 12-1pm- See more at: http://blogs.otis.edu/graduate-public-practice/posts/news/otis-public-practice-group-project-ni-chana-tijuana-opening/#sthash.A9HNWnzL.dpuf
In 2013 the graduating cohort of 2015 of the Public Practice Program at Otis College of Art and Design had the opportunity to partner, explore, and conduct field research in Colonia Camino Verde, a neighborhood in Tijuana, BC, México. Excerpts of students experiences and reflections where curated on the class blog. Here students pondered questions of context, community, relationships, proximity, environment, border crossing, economy, and public practice art.
What culminated from three organized weekend visits throughout the first semester to Camino Verde was the Exposition Ni Chana Tijuana and Taco Talks–Conversations on proximity and Trust.
The research project was facilitated by Bill Kelley Jr., Otis Faculty, Educator, Independent Curator and Theorist, Cog•nate Collective, with the assistance of Polen Audiovisual and in collaboration with Centro Comunitario Camino Verde, Casa de las Ideas, and community organizers Don Polo, Alma López, and Tico Orozco, and community members María Guadalupe Mejía and Jocelyn Jaime.
Exposición Ni Chana Tijuana
The culminating exhibition unpacked the questions of what happens when a group of people enrolled in a Public Practice MFA must, for the first time, develop fieldwork within a community across the border whom they have only previously encountered through theoretical frameworks, methodologies taken from books by specialists, and abstract discussions. What happens when these individuals arrive to that community of flesh and blood, full of knowledges, problems and questions wildly different from their academic abstractions? What types of cross-cultural connections can be created with people who have experienced three decades of issues that are far beyond the understanding of the average social practitioner?
Not one or the other, neither here nor there, ‘ni Chana ni Juana’ is an expression used in México to emphasize the ambiguous nature of a given situation. In that spirit, this exposition deals with the contingent relationship between these artists and Camino Verde.
‘Exposición’, the Spanish term for exhibition, refers both to the idea of exhibition and to the idea of being in an exposed and vulnerable position. This ‘exposición’ focused on the ethical and practical dimensions of artists entering a community. Some of the artists here chose to expose the underlying power structures and their own feelings of vulnerability while others decided to bypass the larger governing structure of the institution. These efforts are focused on small-scale moments of relation that activate a shared human experience across numerous borders.
The ‘exposición’ Ni Chana Tijuana opened at 18th Street Arts Center on November 16 from 6-9 pm and ran through December, culminating in a conversation at the Otis Graduate Public Practice studios on December 7, 12 pm.
About the Artist Collectives
Cog•nate Collective, Amy Sanchez and Misael Díaz, is a binational art collective, currently working in Tijuana, BC and Mexicali, BC. Their mission is to engage the various groups that inhabit the San Diego/ Tijuana border including vendors, both formal and informal, and the thousands crossing between the two nations. Thier projects aim to create conditions for exchange between these groups and activate the site as a space for dialogue and as a public forum.
Polen Audiovisual (Adriana Trujillo and José Inerzia) is a collaborative team that develops artistic projects from the audiovisual media by combining single-channel video, multi-projection, expanded cinema and research at the intersection of ethnographic cinema and contemporary art. Their work has been exhibited in the United States, Mexico, Spain, Argentina, China, Australia and India.
About Otis Graduate Public Practice MFA
The only educational program in the Southern California region dedicated exclusively to providing artists with advanced skills for working in the public sphere, the Program focuses on both collaborative and individual art production. Public practice – also called participatory art, community art, public art, situational art or social sculpture – consists of video, performance, drawing, photography, sculpture and web-based projects. The Program, under the leadership of Suzanne Lacy, the renowned author and artist, educator, theorist of socially engaged public art, prepares students to re-invent traditional media-specific ways of thinking about art making.
Additional information can be found at http://www.otis.edu/graduate-public-practice.
Victor Albarracín Llanos
A former artist, a former writer and a former educator and rock band member. Currently he’s just a student struggling with his language limitations.
Graduated in fine arts from the London Metropolitan University, UK. She has attended several fellowship artists’ residencies and exhibited her work internationally. She was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Grant and the Royal British Society of Sculptor Award.
Carol & Estephany
Carol Zou (left)
A compulsive collectivizer and guerilla knitter. She coorganizes the public fiber art collective, Yarn Bombing Los Angeles, whose participatory knit projects engage issues of public/private space, women’s work, wish fulfillment, how to exist in an informal capacity vis à vis the institution, and most recently, gentrification.
Estephany Campos (right)
An artist/mentor born and raised in the heart of South Central Los Angeles. Raised under traditional Mexican-American values, her practice consists of staged photography/mixed media intended to capture ideas about women’s trials in life. She graduated from the University of California Riverside with a BA in Studio Art and is now pursuing her MFA in Public Practice at Otis School of Art and Design. Influenced by her family’s history of community involvement, Campos is interested in bringing art to the masses and raising questions about the art community’s exclusivity.
An artist, writer, and curator. His art deals with public space, urbanism, art history, and the idea of art itself. He writes art reviews of contemporary art in Los Angeles on Platinum Cheese. Since 2012 he has been curator of Nomad Art Project.
A New York University alumna, a Cincinnati native, a Bronx-bred introvert and the author of Growl and Snare. Her poetry has traveled to Ghana, California, Michigan, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., New York, The Literary Bohemian, and Youtube.
An advocate, educator, organizer, and artist. His work explores social constructs of relationships between the personal and community sphere. Formally trained in graphic arts at the University of Oregon, his art encompasses the graphical to the situational, the printed to the curated celebrated event. As a native Oregonian and recent transplant to Los Angeles, his most recent challenge has been getting used to the Southern Californian sun.
Adventures in Tijuana, B.C., México
Victor Albarracín’s Misreadings to Camino Verde / Whom da’ fuck is theory talkin’ (to, on, for, with) inquires about the implementation of theoretical framing in the context of a community based project. This piece constitutes an attempt to collide a series of intellectual abstractions against a noisy and windy neighbourhood.
Claudia Borgna and Jocelyn Jaime, local Tijuananera young guest artist also mentored by Tijuana's video art collective Polen Audiovisual, organized and documented a Camino Verde’s Canal-Clean-Up event that took place on November 2nd, 2013. This joint effort aimed at creating awareness on both environmental issues and social justice that burden the future well-being of local communities affected by the relentless politics and economics of the western consumerist life style.
Tonya Ingram’s poetic photo-journal Forever I Love You documents the mundane yet beautiful happenings of Camino Verde. Each photograph, accompanied by a poem, is inspired by the visually striking graffiti, the sea of brightly-painted homes, and the metaphor of the border. This project focuses on cultural identity through language, while utilizing the elements of storytelling to bring the reader/viewer into a community filled with love.
The Ocean Speaks to the Border
I was wild once.
Held nicotine-aged lovers to my waist.
and said, bailar conmigo.
but when i met you, there was reason to
to unlearn the open.
sparks of fence, tower like boundary-crazed giants
your metal, a cut into the way i say love/amor and mean it
darling, are you not tired of standing?
you are watch guard for a land that is a glutton
you are prison wall for no good
the shore has yet to find rest in this frenzy, in this big hand bully
you must know the cold touch of the living
their constant trying to push through
to feel the other side of vacant
the prying mouth of air, it whispers
you don't belong here
its steel tongue, a lullaby singing
do not cross
you will never know the meaning of wild
for surveillance is your god
you were not created to witness love that can stretch
its wide-eyed wonder, its miracle that cannot be contained
you will only know the brass lie
the repetition of stay
the distant laughter
the people and their speak of you
the false meaning of protection
the creation of lines
and the greed that draw them
A Woman and Her House/Una Mujer y Su Casa
In Camino Verde, there is a woman and and there is her house. Her house is its own map. The map is a saving of sacred things. A sacred thing is not letting go. Letting go is another way of dying.
Her house looks like a burial ground. People say words like "crazy", "hoarder". People say words without knowing the meaning. People say a lot, but do very little. The woman and her house are silent and loud, simultaneously. The house is a garden of loose objects. The woman is a keeper of the disposable .
Once, the people of Camino Verde helped the woman remove her sacred things from the house. Once, the woman undid the work of the people. Once, she stood alone, looking out of a window that reveals the holiness of living with your imperfection.
There is a man who says, there is not much help for the woman. There is a man who wears a pleated frown that rests like a coat hanger. I am sure, the woman can see this from her house. I am sure she can see a lot of things.
Mario Mesquita’s dialogical experiment was inspired by talking with local Camino Verde community leaders, such as Alma Teresa, who stated “Ni nos conocemos los vecinos” (“We don’t even know our neighbors”). Camino Verde has built much of its recent infrastructure with the backing of the community. Yet as that concept was explored beyond the surface, implied or assumed connections presumely binding the neighborhood fell apart. Mario created Getting to Know Your Neighbor: Experiment #1 to explore dialogue as a foundational gesture to allow people to exchange ideas, common notions, and understandings involved in creating community.
Noé Gaytán’s Conceptual Framework is an investigation into conceptions of art in Camino Verde. What social, political, or cultural factors are involved? How is an interest in art generated and cultivated? What role does art serve in this community? From grassroots organizations with radical pedagogical approaches that seek to empower a community through the arts to monolithic federally funded institutions ensuring that culture be part of every child’s education, there are many agents at play. This installation provides a window into the thoughts of the people operating under the context, influences, and ideas that make up the conceptual framework for art in Camino Verde.
Estephany Campos and Carol Zou’s Taller Día de los Muertos, documented by videographer and editor Joel Villegas, was a workshop developed for Casa de las Ideas, a local cultural institution that offers free visual and performing arts workshops. The workshops are used as a tool for raising consciousness within the community of Camino Verde. Taller Día de los Muertos focused on costuming as a form of identity construction. Workshop participants engaged in discussion about the role of traditions in Camino Verde and the challenges of maintaining tradition in a binational, migratory city.
18th Street Art Center Opening of 'Exposición’ Ni Chana Tijuana
November 16th, 2013
‘Exposición’ Ni Chana Tijuana opened at 18th Street Arts Center on November 16, 2013 to a crowd of supporters and curious art goers. The Exposition ran through December that ended in Taco Talks on December 7, 2013.
Culmination of Ni Chana Tijuana
December 7th, 2013
The Public Practice graduating cohort of 2015 invited guests from the 'Exposición' and others interested in learning what we had experienced in Camino Verde to come, create, and enjoy tacos over a facilitated conversation. Within a convivial experience, the cohort engaged in a critical dialogue that aimed to explore relationships based on proximity and trust. It was with great joy that special guest, María Guadalupe Mejía (Lupita), long-time resident and community member of Camino Verde, who inspired the cohort with her warmth and generosity, joined in on the dialogue.
18th Street Arts Center
Casa de las Ideas
(América Cortez, Francisco Orozco,
Luis Garzón, Rocío Sánchez)
Centro Comunitario de Camino Verde
(Amy Sanchez and Misael Diaz)
Otis College of Art & Design
(Adriana Trujillo and José Inerzia)
Unión de Colonos de Camino Verde
(Héctor García Esqueda)
Bill Kelley, Jr.
Ma. Guadalupe Mejía
Consuelo Velasco Montoya