Report by Patricia Frischer
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
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 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.