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Work Samples

Red in the Desert

Above from: Red in the Desert, myself (lower) and the environmental Egyptian artist/activists, Sarah Rifaat  This image is from the 1st Sites of Passage project between Egypt and the US.
Above from: Red in the Desert, myself (lower) and the environmental Egyptian artist/activist, Sarah Rifaat This image is from the 1st Sites of Passage (SOP) project between Egypt and the US. I have included all 4 in my portfolio. Each project takes 2-3 years to execute. The Egyptian SOP began with the knowledge that the 10th anniversary of 911 was coming. I wanted to create an artistic exchange between a Muslim based country and the US. We embarked on the project pre-revolution. Amidst the exchange-- grew Arab Spring in Egypt and The Occupy Movement here in the States.

Tiresias and the Minotaur

ICARUS AT THE BORDER: a meditation on monstrous appetites
ICARUS AT THE BORDER: a meditation on monstrous appetites. This is an image from the final scene of the play I co-wrote & co-directed with South African artist, Malcolm Purkey. I also designed all the puppets and masks for this workshop production which premiered at Towson University, November 2019.

Dryer Lab- Baltimore perforamnce

Ancient Instincts: Performance meets Auditory Neuroscience
Ancient Instincts: Performance meets Auditory Neuroscience. Above is an image of the performance in Baltimore. Here, one can see the audience perceiving what they are all seeing-- differently-- as they listen to seperate soundscapes which will impact the interpretation of the same performance.

The Lemonade Project

The Lemonade Project is a water quality venture with kids and lemonade stands. But these are no ordinary lemonade stands! These kids have evaluated the water from various socio-economical neighborhoods and priced the lemonade according to the water quality. This is one of my projects from Carnegie Mellon's CREATE Lab, out of the Robotics Institute. And I have now brought The Lemonade Project to Baltimore. See the Facebook site, images and our movie-- coming out soon!

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About Tavia

Baltimore City

Tavia La Follette's picture
Tavia LaFollette, PhD, co-directs an MFA program focused on self-generative/interdisciplinary/process-oriented work.  Towson University also allows her the opportunity to direct undergraduates and teach Ensemble, Theatre for Social Change and Community Outreach. LaFollette is the director/curator of CoLab, based out of The College of Fine Arts.   She is Artist-in-Residence at CREATE Lab, operating out of Carnegie Mellon University. Community Robotics, Education and ... more

The First Site of Passage: Egypt & US

As an ensemble driven artist, I direct, fundraise and curate the Sites of Passage (SOP) projects out of ArtUp, a nonprofit I founded in 2005.

Sites of Passage projects are global interchanges for the migration of ideas across political/cultural borders.

Like the name alludes to, Sites of Passage, asks each artist to take a rite of passage. Exchanges take place between the Unites States and another country, around a topic of contention. The idea is to take the conversation away from the media and the politicians, who often have a very different agenda than the people. SOP gives the conversation to the artists to chew on. Artists spend time together, on the ground in both countries and out of that dialogue a final exhibition and performance series is produced.

I have included each of the SOP projects in my portfolio along with a newsletter that documents the process. I respectfully ask the panel to briefly scan through each newsletter, as it tells the unique tale of each endeavor. Every exchange takes about three years to execute, as one cannot go into these projects in a naïve manner. It takes time to research, travel, fundraise and spend time one the ground with the people, to understand the complexities at hand and select the most appropriate artists to go in this journey with me.

In conjunction with The Mattress Factory Museum (MF), previous exchanges have taken place between Egypt and the US (revolving around the Egyptian Revolution and the Occupy Movement), Israel, Palestine and the US (revolving around the ideas of Borders, Walls and Citizenship) and South Africa and the US (revolving around Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs). These cultural and collaborative dialogues include voices from a variety of artistic practices.

I am currently in the middle of the 4th SOP projects, Pop-Aganda: Revolution & Iconography. This project is between Russia and the US and will open at the MF museum in the summer of 2021.

And I have already begun preliminary research for the 5th SOP via another project, First Fulbright (see portfolio). This 5th SOP will link indigenous cultures together. I have found that each project leads to the next. I follow a trail of “Art as Social Practice” bread crumbs, from one project to the next. We are all connected.
www.sitesofpassage.org

  • Sites of Passage - the workshops

    For each Sites of Passage project, artists go through a workshop with me, revolving around the power of image, site and ritual. This give us a basic language to communicate with. This is extremely helpful, especially when there are language,cultural and religious barriers between us. We learn to speak through Metaphor, from Greek, meaning to transport.
  • Passport Agency Final Edit copy

    This is documentation from the opening. It was hard to get Egyptians into the US, when they were have a revolution and we were amidst the Occupy Movement. We had to open the show without them and send all the work digitally. I wanted the audience to get a sense of how difficult it is to get into the US with or without a revolution. So, I created a mock US Embassy at the front of the exhibit, where all viewers were "processed" in some way and gained access to the absurd questions asked during the US visa process. We eventually got all the Egyptians in to the US.
  • US VISA application paperwork.pdf

    This is a page from the VISA application that the Egyptian had to fill out in order to come to the US. This is a sample of the "processing" paperwork that we had the visitors fill out on opening night.

    PDF icon US VISA application paperwork.pdf
  • Amado Al Fadni, Africa as a first world nation

    Amado Al Fadni, Africa as a first world nation
    Amado Al Fadni, designed "TIME MAGAZINE" like covers, which imagine Africa as a first world nation.
  • 1. reduced-Sites of Passage- A revolution.pdf

    This is the first Sites of Passage newsletter and eventually what I wrote my dissertation on, "SITES OF PASSAGE: Art as Action in Egypt and the U.S.—Creating an Auto-ethnography through Performance Writing, Revolution, and Social Practice", defended on January 19th, 2013, Antioch University, Seattle. These newsletters document each one of the SOP projects from beginning to end. After my 5th SOP, between indigenous artists, I would like to put together a book proposal.

    PDF icon 1. reduced-Sites of Passage- A revolution.pdf
  • Instant human installations and learning to document our work, Fayoum, Egypt

    Instant human installations and learning to document our work, Fayoum, Egypt
    Instant human installations and learning to document our work, Fayoum, Egypt
  • Mostafa Sleem, The Sound of Sound

    Mostafa Sleem's first attempt at making a video from our time together in the pre-revolutionary Egypt workshop. He was primarily a painter and never worked digitally before. Part of the reason was lack of access to tools and education. I believe this work taps into some of the deep topics we wrestled with as group, living and working so closely together. “The video depicts what happened with us, all of us in that workshop.
  • Visitors interacting with the work

    Visitors interacting with the work
    Visitors interacting with the work
  • Tahir Square: a revolution for a new Egypt

    Tahir Square: a revolution for a new Egypt
    Tahir Square: a revolution for a new Egypt
  • Raising children is an art

    Raising children is an art
    Raising children is an art. People are surprised to hear I take my children with me to these places of conflict. But there are children everywhere I go. I don't want my kids to be afraid of other humans.

ICARUS AT THE BORDER, a meditation on monstrous appetites

ICARUS AT THE BORDER is a multi-media theatre piece with puppets, masks, projections and a Greek chorus. It is a story that transcends time, generation, myth and the conception and interpretation of reality.

Imagine a monster in a cave, stamping and howling for food. Imagine he is not a monster, has mother queen who loves him madly. Imagine Daedalus in his laboratory, like some early Da Vinci, designing the first flying machines. Imagine a very young Icarus watching.

Imagine the first airplanes and disputed borders.

Imagine Freud with the Mother Queen on his couch.

Imagine Tiresias, a transgender witchdoctor who is blind…but can see everything.

Imagine that same seer, at the Oracle of Delphi, his nose pushed into the magic crack in the Greek mountain, inhaling the sweet, dangerous, addictive and wondrous smoke.

Imagine the monster and Icarus, enamored, dancing to the same smoke. Imagine Icarus, triumphant, riding on the monster at midnight. Imagine the monster howling with burdensome delight.

Imagine the first airmen of the USA air force, in their clumsy biplanes, destroying the hopes of the Mexican revolutionaries.

Imagine flying insects that are subservient to generals, detonating cultures and generations, viewed through a portal in time. Image the sky on fire.

Imagine the histories of war in the name of gods, and the medicines used to ease those memories.

ICARUS AT THE BORDER was workshopped at Towson University (TU) on the fall of 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland through the COFAC (College of Fine Arts & Communications) new CoLab Initiative. CoLab is a pivot point and a catapult over disciplinary and cultural borders. Designed as a space where fields of study are porous and contemporary cultures are created, the objective is to build new knowledge for an ever-evolving world.

Tavia La Follette is the co-deviser with Malcolm Purkey, South African director and the first CoLab Fellow. Purkey has worked with The Hand Spring Puppet Company and La Follette worked with Bread and Puppet (and associates) since the mid 90s in NYC. Award winning help comes from—the percussionist, Michelle Humphreys (Music); and dramaturgy by Greek Specialist (head of the Masters in Global Humanities program), Jennifer Ballengee, plus Baltimore based artist Katherine Fahey and her shadow puppet projections.

The show was developed/workshopped at the university via the Department of Theatre Arts and CoLab. Through a residency process, guest artists, students and faculty came together to produce this first incarnation.

Ancinet Instincts: Art meets Auditory Neuroscience

Ancient Instincts

WHAT
Performance has the capacity to take shared moments and convert them into a liminal passageway in which communities share a common catharsis. In this project, we are trying to accomplish the opposite. At the endof the performance, having just gone through the very same experience, the aim is to have the audiencedecipher different conclusions, sharing contrasting cognitive responses.

Perception: By isolating the auditory experience through individual headphones, the goal is to design 4 different auditory systems in which to perceive the one visual show. The systems consist of 4 soundscapesthat are in tandem with the images and movements on stage. Traditionally in theatre, sound is one of the lastlayers. In this method, we bring sound into the process at the very beginning, similar to choreography.

Mapping: The project does not want to get lost in a montage of vague experienced moments. We build one movement/object/sound piece at a time:
1. Genesis (or post apocalypse)
2. Separation of Human from Nature
3. Separation of Human from Human
4. Separation of Humanity from Technology (or pro apocalypse).

WHY
Auditory Neuroscience: Inspired by Seth Horowitz’s research* where he argues, “Everything you hear has some sort of impact on you and changes how you respond to the rest of the world. Sound provides context. It is able to give us the basis for a lot of very complex cognitive responses”.

Why Now? This is a first step towards larger research where we invite cultural evolutionists, psychologists, anthropologists and neuroscientist to join us. In a world where science and arts are being ignored because it doesn’t fit a political/economic agenda, this cross-disciplinary work is key.

Vertical Migration of Thought: Horizontal Hierarchy is not of interest to this project. Isolated privileged interpretations defeat the purpose of the research. Therefore, it is critical that voices from those who experience economic apartheid, environmental injustice, critical race, sexuality and gender rights issues come into the conversation.

The aim of this performative research is to investigate systems of institutionalized or cultural perceptions. Every human is shaped by the cultural heritage they are born into. Science, Arts and Imagination allow us to creatively travel beyond that world. However, Media shapes our concept of the world outside our cultural comfort zone. Imagine if your sensory memory is your only guide through the program. Participate in a talk-back where you critique your own neurological filing system—reconsidering the perceiving process of how to comprehend the world around you.

* The Universal Sense-How Hearing Shapes the Mind

ARTISTIC CONSIDERATIONS
Each one of us is a complex atlas of genetic information, mapping out the migration of our ancient ancestors. As humans physically evolve, so does our consciousness and our challenges to exist. Therefore, as scientists begin to piece together humanity’s origin story via DNA/fossils, and old ideas of creation and race are proven false—how do we, as culture and meaning makers play a role in the migration of thought?

This project was made possible by The Ruby Award and the help of CoLab (directed by La Follette) and its CALL TO KNOWLEDGE: https://www.towson.edu/cofac/centers/colab/

To view Ancient Instincts via the soundscapes (designed by Scott Patterson) visit:
https://ancient-instincts.wixsite.com/ancientinstincts

  • Ancient Instincts Dryer Lab- Baltimore performance

    Ancient Instincts Dryer Lab- Baltimore performance
    Here, one can see the audience viewing the performance wearing headphones.
  • ANCIENTINSTINCTS postcard

    ANCIENTINSTINCTS postcard
    This is the postcard used to invite people to the Baltimore show.
  • Ancient Instincts talk-back, Baltimore

    Ancient Instincts talk-back, Baltimore
    Here is an image of the audience during the talk back sharing their individual interpretations of the experience. All the artists were in the room, including the performers and Scott Patterson, who deseigned the soundscapes.
  • Ancient Instincts in Pittsburgh

    Ancient Instincts in Pittsburgh
    Ancient Instincts was able to travel to Pittsburgh, PA and be performed & installed at the Mattress Factory Museum.
  • Ancient Instincts- performers finally hear!

    Ancient Instincts- performers finally hear!
    The performance that happened in Baltimore, was documented and installed in Pittsburgh with the various sound tracks. I didn't let the performers hear the sound track until they were finished with all the performances. This is a picture of the performers hearing the various soundscapes that they have been working on-- for the first time.
  • Ancinet Instincts sample no sound

    This is a section of the project with no sound. This is just to give the panel a sense of the performance. The website allows one to chose a sound scape and watch the whole performance: https://ancient-instincts.wixsite.com/ancientinstincts

The Lemonade Project

The Lemonade Project is a water quality initiative based in Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

The Lemonade Project not only brews citizen scientists, it cultivates future environmental leaders and educators. The goal is to put up as many stands as possible throughout Baltimore to promote the project and water quality. We have built community partners to work with and from that documentation, a video will be made.

Environmental Engagement: The Lemonade Project utilizes the CATTFISH to measure the quality of water in different neighborhoods. We work with kids in different communities to create lemonade stands. But these are no ordinary lemonade stands! These kids have evaluated the water from various socio-economical regions (including their own) and the pricing of the lemonade will be set accordingly. Carafes of lemonade organized by regions (similar to wine), will be on display as a teach tool. Naïve passerbys who come to support a child’s financial endeavor—will instead receive a lecture on the environmental state of their surrounding neighborhoods!

The mission of the project is to enlighten and empower youth through the tools of science and art. Through a workshop/camp at Dr. Bernard Harris, Sr. Elementary School and The Refugee Youth Project, Towson University students worked with kids by researching, designing and constructing site specific, action art projects, which are driven by digital data collected with CREATE Lab tools (www.createlab.org ).

The Refugee Youth Project (RYP), an educational program housed under Baltimore City Community College, partners with Soccer Without Borders to run a full day International Summer Academy (ISA) from June 25th-August 5th. Since 2003, the RYP has served more than 5,000 newcomers through after-school, summer school, and mentoring programs.

Dr. Bernard Harris, Sr. Elementary School (http://www.baltimorecityschools.org) Serves the students and parents of the Oliver Community: 1400 N Caroline St, Baltimore, MD 21213

We have also worked with Port Discovery, Baltimore's Children’s' Museum and Towson University’s Center for STEM Excellence in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thelemonadeproject/

Sites of Passage- BORDERS, WALLS & CITIZENSHIP: Palestine, Israel and US

Sites of Passage- BORDERS, WALLS & CITIZENSHIP: Palestine, Israel and US

This 2nd Sites of Passage takes artists from three countries: Palestine, Israel, and the United States and places them together to discuss BORDERS, WALLS and CITIZENSHIP. These three words are charged and resonate in all three regions.

The artistic dialogue occurs through a virtual and tangible art exchange process. The physical and web-based points of intersection are key to the methodology of the exchange. The practice of placing these artists in a shared space assures that 1) physical, emotional, and psychological boarders will be crossed, 2) they will have gone through a shared/common experience, and finally 3) that an artistic dialogue will take place around the above issues.

Sites of Passage- CIVIL WRONGS & CIVIL RIGHTS: South Africa and US

Civil Rights and Civil Wrongs is the third project in the Sites of Passage series or SOP (www.sitesofpassage.org). In tandem from 2017-2018, artists from South Africa (Johannesburg/Cape Town) and the U.S. (Pittsburgh), will probe the concept of Civil Rights & Civil Wrongs through social practice, community workshops, exhibition and performance.

As with the other SOP projects, the work builds a virtual and tangible laboratory between artists in South Africa and artists in Pittsburgh. Artists spend time together on the ground in both counties.

Why Now?
As the U.S. moved past its 50th year of the Civil/Voters Rights Act and South Africa moves past its 20th year of democracy/post-apartheid, the project reflects on what we can learn from one another. What is the difference between legal apartheid and economically driven apartheid? What have we done wrong and what have we done right? What has changed? How do our governments, communities and societies discern and apply our past to our present? Are environmental rights the same as human rights? What language do we use to talk about these issues? By meeting with civil rights activists, artist and historians from both countries, the aim is to use art as a platform to expose and address environmental racism and corruption.

Why These Artists?
All the artists confront racial politics via different mediums:

Pittsburgh: We have a sound artist who archives the world around him, a filmmaker who addresses gentrification, and a multimedia artist who brings together myth and futurism to build a new present.

South Africa: We have a choreographer who considers himself a community developer, a print maker/painter who captures the mining towns and uprisings, and a formerly incarcerated drug dealer turned art teacher who is a superhero and role model to the children in the township around him.

Sites of Passage-POP-AGANDA: Revolution & Iconography, Russia and US

Pop-Aganda: Revolution & Iconography (project in process)
After three research trips to Russia, I have selected six multidisciplinary, social practice-oriented artists in Russia and the U.S. I am currently researching and doing studio visits to add two more artists to this SOP. One from Russia and one from Pittsburgh, PA where the MF museum is located.

All of whom identify as female or are on the gender spectrum.

The curatorial themes, which become the title of the final exhibition and performance series, are left open enough, so that each artist can interpret it as they see fit. Sites of Passage projects are always about gleaning perspectives—both for the artists and the audience.

Propaganda comes from the verb to propagate—to breed or cultivate. However, in the context of the word propaganda, it is about breeding or cultivating an idea to the masses. Cultures, countries, religion and ideologies have been using forms of propaganda since ancient times to disseminate modes of belief.

In an age of disinformation, it is hard to ignore various “realities” spread, bred and cultivated in the name of facts. Propaganda images often proliferate into icons, even defining an entire aesthetic movement. Artists play an important instigative role in this process. For example, Agitprop (from agitate and propaganda) from Soviet Russia, was a visual and simple way of communicating ideologies to the masses. It moved from two-dimensional art to performance. Agitprop theater and the aesthetic spread to Europe and the US. Over time, it became a label for politicized art.

Pop art, similar to propaganda, is designed for the masses. However, unlike the moral ideas that are connected to propaganda, pop art is about the cultural context of the object itself. Both can be considered revolutionary.

The artists will consider the following:

When does revolutionary iconography become pop art, or Agitprop? How does an idea become an icon? When does the spread of an idea reach revolutionary status and who defines this tipping point? How does an idea become a fact?

ARTISTS THUS FAR….

RUSSIA
ANASTASYA KIZILOVA, A researcher, artist, science-fiction writer, was born in 1986. She began her artistic career in 2001 started her education at Stieglitz St. Petersburg State Academy of Art and Industry. In 2013, Anastasya presented the project The Artist Uniform, the aim of which was to interact with the participants of the professional art system. In 2015 she co-organized the horizontal initiative, Flying Cooperation, which unites multi-skilled young artists, who were born in the Post-Soviet space (Belarus, Russia, Ukraine). Since 2016 she has collected an archive of unrealized artists’ ideas entitled Found Project: authors share their ideas for free, so other people who need ideas can realize them. At the moment she works in the field of environmental communication, which focuses on posthumanist and nonhumanist ways of interacting, bringing together theoretical approaches such as queer-ecology, cyberfeminism, bioanarchism and practical methods such as performative creation of an interspecific collective body.
www.anastasyakizilova.com

LERA LERNER, Artist, curator and founder of the Imaginary Museum of Displaced Faces, practices socially engaged art. She researches the processes and ethics of spontaneous communication in an urban environment through performance and installation. Lera
graduated from the Pro Arte Program for contemporary artists and completed the MA program in Curatorial Studies at the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of St. Petersburg State University. She participated in the Manifesta 10 International Biennial, IV and V Moscow International Biennial of Young Art, 4th and 5th Art Prospect Festival, V International Baltic Biennial of Contemporary Art, VI Ural Industrial Biennial, and the 14th Contemporary Art in the Traditional Museum Festival, and was nominated for the Innovation X prize.
www.cargocollective.com/leralerner


VERONIKA RUDYEVE-RYAZANTSEVA is an observer artist. She belongs to the generation of “children of perestroika”. Brought up on a commune in Siberia, Rudyeva-Ryazantseva was educated via Art College, pedagogy department, St. Petersburg’s Academy of Applied Art and Josef Bakshtain Summer Conceptualism School. She is interested in “man”, issues of identification and everyday absurdity, the connection of the past and present. The heroes of her work are people who become symbols: time, place, generation, event. Rudyeva-Ryazantseva believes art is a territory of experimentation, transgression and does not limit herself to one media, combing video, painting, installation and drawing. Some of her exhibition highlights include, Kurehin Prize 2012, St. Petersburgh, Industrial Biennial of Ekaterinburg 2017 and Waterfront, an eco-project in 2017.
www.veronikarrudye.wixsite.com/mysite

USA
LIZ COHEN is a Photographer and performance artist who (Colombian-American, b. 1973) is best known for her project BODYWORK, in which she transformed an aging East German Trabant into an American El Camino lowrider, and herself into a car customizer and bikini model. Cohen’s earlier work CANAL, a series of black and white photographs and performances, documents sex workers on the fringe of the Panama Canal Zone. In her more recent work, HIM, she depicts an ostracized poet through black and white photographs, weavings, and collaged textiles. Cohen’s work has been characterized as examining immigration, nonconformity, and resistance. Cohen has received awards from the MacDowell Colony, Akademie Schloss Solitude, the Creative Capital Foundation, and the Kresge Foundation. She has exhibited work at Site Santa Fe, Ballroom Marfa, the Cranbrook Art Museum, Färgfabriken, and Museum Tinguely. Her projects have been written about in the New York Times, Art in America and Lowrider Magazine. Cohen received her MFA degree in Photography from the California College of the Arts. She holds a BFA in Studio Art from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and a BA in Philosophy from Tufts University. She is currently a professor at Arizona State University’s School of Art.

www.salon94.com/artists/liz-cohen

SONYA KELLIHER-COMBS was raised in the Northwest Alaska community of Nome. Her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Master of Fine Arts is from Arizona State University. Through her mixed media painting and sculpture, Kelliher-Combs offers a chronicle of the ongoing struggle for self-definition and identity in the Alaskan context. Her combination of shared iconography with intensely personal imagery demonstrates the generative power that each vocabulary has over the other. Similarly, her use of synthetic, organic, traditional and modern materials moves beyond oppositions between Western/Native culture, self/other and man/nature, to examine their interrelationships and interdependence while also questioning accepted notions of beauty. Kelliher-Combs' process dialogues the relationship of her work to skin, the surface by which an individual is mediated in culture. Kelliher-Combs' work has been shown in numerous individual and group exhibitions in Alaska, the United States and internationally, including the national exhibition Changing Hands 2: Art without Reservation and SITELINES: Much Wider Than a Line. She is a recipient of the prestigious United States Arts Fellowship, Joan Mitchell Fellowship, Eiteljorg Fellowship for Native American Fine Art, Rasmuson Fellowship and is a recipient of the 2005 Anchorage Mayors Arts Award and 2010 Alaska Governor's Individual Artist Award.
www.sonyakellihercombs.com
EMILY NEWMAN was born in Singapore in 1977, raised in the UK and is currently based between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and St Petersburg, Russia. She received her MFA from CalArts in 2004 and has shown internationally including at the Taylor De Cordoba gallery in Los Angeles, the Anna Akhmatova Museum in St Petersburg and the Klaus Von Nitchtssagend Gallery in New York where she has been represented since 2004. Her work has been critically reviewed in publications such as Art Review, The Los Angeles Times and Artforum Intl, where she has contributed reviews since 2007. Her latest works draw from her time spent in Russia and explore methods of attaining historical and self-knowledge through model-building and imaginative reconstruction. She received a Fulbright in 2006 and spent three years teaching at The Finnish Academy of Fine Arts and at St Petersburg University, where she headed a fledgling a program in Contemporary Art at Smolny College. She is currently the director of TOKAMAK, a structured residency for artists which takes place every summer on the island of Suomenlinna, within the framework of the Helsinki International Artists’ Exchange Program (HIAP).
www.emilynewmanartist.com

Documenting the Journey
Director/Curator, Tavia La Follette, has ask Susanne Slavick to travel with the group. Slavick, who traveled to Egypt, Israel and Palestine via previous Sites of Passage projects has a great understanding of the process and has seen all of the various incarnations.

Susanne Slavick is an artist, curator and the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Art. Slavick’s work pursues empathic unsettlement through images that remind us of what we stand to lose after what we have lost already. She has exhibited internationally, with more recent solo shows at the Chicago Cultural Center, McDonough Museum in Youngstown, Accola Griefen Gallery in New York, and Bernstein Gallery at Princeton University. She studied at Yale University, Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and Tyler School of Art in Rome and Philadelphia. Her work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts and through four awards from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.


When & Where
La Follette has been invited back to the MF to curate this 4th Sites of Passage project, scheduled to open in May 2021.

The Mattress Factory (MF) is a museum of contemporary art that exhibits room-sized works called installations. MF houses the artists, co-produces the installations and performances with ArtUp. More information at www.mattress.org

Each project takes about 2-3 years to execute. One cannot go into these exchanges in a naïve manner. This time that is needed to research, curate and fundraise. SOP is funded via the non-profit, ArtUp, www.artup.org.

Smoking Marx

Burning Das Kapital
As we passed the 150th anniversary of Das Kapital and as we marked the bi-centennial of Karl Marx’s life, I asked great smokers and thinkers to contemplate Marx.

Burning has both positive and negative connotations. It is used in ritual, prayer and can be a spiritual threshold. Ash is often used symbolically to mark a transformation—as in marking one’s body through ceremony.

Burning also has harmful and violent implications; the burning of books, effigy’s and people.

When asked to participate in this show, I reflected on the way we meditate on text. Reflection often happens in spaces that are designed for the purpose of rumination. As a former smoker, I know some of my best thinking happened while inhaling. I asked friends to smoke Marx. It didn’t matter if they liked Marx or not—as Marx has gravity in our existence. He is and icon and something to ruminate on.

Smokers from all over the word participated in the exercise. I asked them to think about where they should smoke Marx. Is it while sitting on the toilet? Or in a dark pub? Or on the steps of a government building? The space and place needed to be as relevant as the ritual.

The participants asked someone to video them smoking Marx. High quality was not needed. A phone with a camera would work. I edited the images together as part of the final installation at SPACE Gallery in Pittsburgh, celebrating Marx @ 200. We had everything from a Chicano performance artist siting on a toilet in San Francisco’s Mission District to a Russian theater director waiting for a bus in Siberia.

I provided:
- Hand organic printed pure hemp rolling papers with Das Kapital text
- Peter Stokkebye Premium Turkish tobacco
- A smoking tin

  • Smoking Marx, a tin of hand rolled cig.

    Smoking Marx, a tin of hand rolled cig.
    Each participating artist got instructions and hand rolled cigarettes in a tin. The paper has segments od Marx's Das Kaptial printed on it. Therefore, they are actually smoking Marx.
  • Smoking Marx 2018

    This is the various smokers all put together into a video that is looped and about 12 minutes. I don't expect the panel to watch the whole thing (unless they smoke -smile and wink-), but it gives one a sense of the variety. We have everything from a performance artist in the mission in San Francisco, to a Russian theatre director in Siberia, to a political cartoonist smoking on the steps of Trump Towers.
  • And the smoking begins! Opening Night

    And the smoking begins!  Opening Night
    And the smoking begins! Opening Night
  • Viewing Smoking Marx at the gallery home theatre

    Viewing Smoking Marx at the gallery home theatre
    Viewing Smoking Marx at the gallery home theatre
  • standing with Marx @ 200

    standing with Marx @ 200
    standing with Marx @ 200

First Fulbright

Two summers ago, I began research for The First Fulbright.
I began, where my family began, washing up on the shores of someone else’s land…. Massachusetts.

WHAT
The purpose of First Fulbright is to 1) build a relationship with a Nation within the United States that has reciprocal benefits, 2) through that relationship, bring attention to the Indigenous people's struggle with made up perimeters imposed upon them by a settler’s government, 3) to take responsibility and approved steps towards reconciliation for my forefathers’ history, and lastly, 4) to work at the US/Mexico border, so that Nations there might acquire similar rights as exercised via Canada’s J Treaty.

"Since 1794, Aboriginal Peoples have been guaranteed the right to trade and travel between the United States and Canada, which was then a territory of Great Britain. This right is recognized in Article III of the Jay Treaty, also known as the Treaty of Amity, Commerce and Navigation of 1794 and subsequent laws that stem from the Jay Treaty."
https://www.ptla.org/border-crossing-rights-jay-treaty

Although I understand that Indigenous People of the Americas don’t recognize the U.S. borders, I am confident this project can bring attention to the struggle of these imposed and imaginary perimeters.

FORM
The final form of the project is impossible to envision at this point but I imagine that it will take on many different manifestations with ripple effects. Information gathered throughout the project, will determine the final form that is taken. I imagine site-specific work plus a performative documentary with written text and installation. It will have a digital living life. The act itself is a form of performance and social practice.

This first step towards a form, follows the architecture of the Academic Academy and the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Through performative documentation, I will build a mock Fulbright program via an invitation into one of the US Native Nation Tribes, as guest and international scholar.

WHY “FULBRIGHT”?
The irony of using the Fulbright model, brings an invented gravitas that I believe media (social and formal) will grab ahold of. It challenges old thinking and recognizes First Nations (Canadian language), are indeed Nations (in the USA as well), with their own cultures and systems. This project is a vehicle to keep testing societal-norms.

The Fulbright program was designed for “mutual understanding”. There is no record of “mutual understanding” with the Indigenous Peoples of this land.

The act of turning an authoritative academic regulated process into art-as-social practice work—is unique and highlights the absurdity of a manmade wall between “countries”. The ecological and environmental aspects of a wall that separates land and natural migration of ALL living things is farcical.

This will be the basis of the 5th Sites of Passage project and the first one to happen within and around the United States perimeters.

  • June takes me to Aquinnah

    June takes me to Aquinnah
    June Manning, a Wampanoag Native from Martha’s Vineyard, takes me to Aquinnah, the federally recognized tribe’s village. She is an old friend of one of ArtUp’s board members, who grew up on the Vineyard and is from a fishing community there.
  • Red Cliffs with June

    Red Cliffs with June
    Aquinnah is based on top of the red cliffs of clay, whre the Wampanoag people have been living for over 10,000 years. Wampanoag mean’s the people of first light. They are the first to see the sun as it rises.
  • Moshup

    Moshup
    Moshup was the giant/god who lived in the caves of the red cliffs. It was Moshup, who would fling the whales up against the shore and leave them for the Wampanoag. The blood from the whales stained the clay cliffs red.
  • Wampum

    Wampum
    I gather wampum from the beach on Nantucket, where my family has been going for over 150 years. Jane explains to me how Wampum was and is still used as a currency. The more purple, the more valuable.
  • Entering Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation

    Entering Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation
    I visit the Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation on the mainland to do more research.
  • Mother Little Bear

    Mother Little Bear
    In Mashpee I meet Mother Little Bear who generously helps me to understand the weight of the settlers on the Wampanoag.
  • Slow Turtle Little Bear’s grandfather and medicine man

    Slow Turtle Little Bear’s grandfather and medicine man
    I am blown away by how much Little Bear looks like her grandfather. She definitely hold his sprit close!
  • New Bedford's Whaling Museum, installation on King Philip's War

    New Bedford's Whaling Museum, installation on King Philip's War
    New Bedford's Whaling Museum, installation on King Philip's War named after Metacomet who took the name after his father (Massasoit) was so friendly with the Pilgrims. However, Metacomet (also known as Metacomet's War) when he inherited the chiefdom did not want to keep the peace and could see where the Wampanoag were losing land and rights. My 9th grandfather, born in Yorkshire, England, Samuel Broklebank, was killed in this war.

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