I have just returned from a residency with La Ira de Dios, and Chela in Argentina, a generous and stimulating program located in a rambling humongous warehouse with spectacular light, in a working class neighborhood, in the most crazy and beautiful city of Buenos Aires. We were a dozen artists and curators from all over the world, digging through the poetics of visual and conceptual investigations for one month.
I worked on 3 interrelated projects during the month – The first and a constant throughout was in the studio carving and building a disquieting domestic scene, tools made strange; human hair erupting from spoons, pillows and potatoes, inventions and possibilities; dishcloths from the local chino tinted with coffee, tea and red dye.
The second project began during an Argentine summer storm, with thunder, lighting and rain pounding on the roof. I curled up to read Crisis of Imagination: Capitalism, Creativity and the Commons, written by Max Haiven, I crafted a long list of questions, investigating imaginaries, past present and future, within the framework that Max lays out. With the help of deep bilingual thinkers, we meticulously translated the questions to Spanish savoring the further cultural, linguistic and historic dilemmas that arose in translation. The question eventually boiled down to a single metaphor :
“Imagine this is a giganto ball that we are filling with ideas for the collective future, and we are taking this ball of the collective imaginary to the border of Mexico and the US , throwing it up over the border into the US and the sky and maybe it bursts creating a fantastic rain of possibility: WHAT WOULD YOU PUT IN THE BALL?
This became the question and an interchange : an empanada for ideas of our collective future. We made 150 empanadas and went to important places in the neighborhood, including Parque Patricios, the Recycling Center, The Infectious Disease Hospital, and the residency program, asking people the question in exchange for an empanada.
Empanadas have a nomadic history, originating in India as samosas, brought to Galicia and then to Latin America, the perfect food for a travelers pocket. Cooking them in Argentina, where everyones grandma makes them and there are passionate regional empanada battles: very interactive territory! We found though that people wanted to answer a question, and contribute ideas for the future collective with or without an empanada; the engagement of ideas was punctuated but not dependent on an exchange.
The third project was a video of rolling a giant ball through the barrio surrounding Parque Patricios, the neighborhood of the residency (and into the future)