Thursday, October 22, 2020

Lux Art Institute On AiR: Episode 30 - A Woman's Diaspora and Liminal Spaces Panel Discussion

Report by Patricia Frischer

Lux Art Insittute On Air, host: Guusje Sanders, who is Dutch posed the following topics for discussion. Use  this link to watch the entire zoom seminar.

Migration is losing identity. The time for those who you left behind and your own time, is very disorienting. How do you address the invisibility of immigrants?  How do you define yourself as bi-cultural?
Please comments on Occupation of domestic spaces and women labor
Please comment on Cultural passing when you give up part of yourself to assimilate.
We labeling even within the art world. Can we stop being outsiders? When do we belong?
Can fragmentation be a source of strength for the art? Is there freedom in free fall?
Is the process of speaking, writing and creating about this subject is healing?

Grace Aneiza  Ali,  author and curator: Liminal Spaces: Migration and Women of the Guyanese Diaspora  Book is available for free as a pdf.

The stories of women’s diaspora are usually  told by other so providing spaces for them to tell their own stories or at least your grandmothers and mothers stories is important. Many would go to work in the fancy house, but go home to a shack. Women use their homes to be entrepreneurs. Your home is where you can feel comfortable. She has accepted that she has a life time struggle with the fragmentation. Now has an American passport and that has made it so much easier to have privileges for example travel. Many that she loves don’t have that freedom. That is very jarring. Fragmentation makes you more empathetic as it applies to lots of other things in our lives. Guyana is very poor. You can’t check out books from the library. You have to read books only in the building. The stories in her book need to be shared with Guyanese people and they need to be accessible. There was a grant to make the book free to read online. The women shared their stories and art freely. Please support this project by buying the book.

Claudia Cano

Claudia Cano artist. She created an alto ego to contain both identity stereotypes - rich lady and cleaning lady. This is still happening, cleaning ladies, nannies, waitresses, child care workers are largest jobs for immigrant women. She uses performance art where she is serving food or cleaning to communicate these messages of underpaid and limited opportunities but they are non-verbally conversations and can be uncomfortable.  Cano was a professor and lost all that when she came to the US. She had to start from scratch and only could define herself through her art and educational projects. She creates spaces for students to be validated. She has two bi-cultural, bi-national children and one born in the US. She has to help them by having conversations on these subjects. Do the other want to be US citizens? Why should they celebrate Thanksgiving? They have stopped. Went back to grad school as an older student and had the realization that her accent was as permanent as her color. But the mask of the pandemic makes this even worse as people can’t read her lips and she struggles more to be understood. She wishes sometimes not to have an accent. She has a fantasy of a mouth spray that would take your accent a way. There is a constant duality in her life because of racial profiling.  Sometimes still she is asked if she is a nanny when children hear her speak.

Suchitra Mattai

Suchitra Mattai  Artist. She has lived in many different places and so has a quest to re-constructs the story that is her past: South Asian, Guyanese and American. She creates using monumental sizes by collecting diaspora objects so large that the work can’t be denied. She also makes mixed media portraits to preserve and encourage stories especially of her family. Her grandmother was a farmworker and mother was seamstresses. She is telling her story through the found domestic objects and sewing. There are three continents in three generations in her family which means the Colonial past meets the contemporary present.  There are many levels of fragmentation involved from all these different cultures. There is a mystery about who she is as it is so compiled. She is not completely Indian or Caribbean or American. She is only really comfortable in her own home but looks for reconciliations within her art. She uses very different items and trying to put them together so their work and pair.  Her parents did not naturally share these stories. She had to delve and ask to connect to the past. You want to be a global citizen and also want to keep all those connections alive. There is a strength in freedom to be a global citizen. It allows her to cherish and dissect each of the cultures. 

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