I am really happy to announce that my proposal In the Land of the Timid was selected to receive the 2013 CPPC Travel Award for Central America and the Caribbean. It is truly an amazing opportunity and I will conduct interviews and do site visits to four countries; Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Suriname. Through this website I will put updates on the research travel online and somewhere around the end of 2013 I publish a more comprehensive result of the research. At this point I don’t know what that will be, look or feel like.
Below is an outline of the proposal:
In the Land of the Timid is a series of research travels to Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Suriname attempting to sketch an incomplete map and library of female activist practices from Central, South America and the Caribbean by focusing on complex influences they had within social active reality and the capability to go beyond by copying their ambition to artistic practices. Oscillating somewhere between known and unknown histories, these voices and practices dispute an existing art historical and social canon and can become capable of functioning outside their activist merits were they have been leaving collective traces such as building up art academies, libraries, schools and political parties from 1950 until today.
In the Land of the Timid takes its title from the recordings of Le Corbusier’s travels to South America in the early 1920’s, in essence a counter modernist movement by disregarding North America as the center for culture and life. Without building much, Le Corbusier left South America with a wealth of revolutionary ideas on scale, social architecture and a keen philosophical eye on the development in the Americas. The account of the lectures he gave in Argentina and Brazil record one of the first post-colonial anthropological moves made by a culture maker hoping to reverse the center of the world.
When thinking about this counter modernist move, in the heart of the rise of modernism at the same time, we cannot go beyond making a parallel with other forms of society and cultural life. Whilst producing my publication around border practices in Suriname called ‘Too Little, Too Late’, I stumbled more and more on independent women heavily active in changing their environments through counter moves, turning their largely political activist ‘careers’ into a flexible practice able to seek urgent attention for issues beyond their political reality alone, inventing new systems, ways to work and operating between the ‘timid’ and the ‘radical’.
In the Land of the Timid takes four different activist practices from, Guatemala Jamaica, Nicaragua and Suriname as a departing point to research a transformation from ‘the timid’ into ‘the radical’. By visiting the places that take account of their historical and contemporary traces I hope to find information and new questions that allow me to get a better understanding of their motives, historical relevance and geographical significance, in order for it also to open up their practices and efforts to contemporary context within artistic moves.
Each of the countries visited present a specific era of turmoil, from the 1950’s postcolonial independence struggle in Jamaica by setting up an art academy by Edna Manley, through Nicaraguan Sandinista graffiti movement in the 1970’s with a large role for women, to Guatemalan indigenous controversies and human right atrocities in the 1990’s, as well as Suriname’s Nola Hatterman, actress and painter setting up an art academy throughout the widely unknown revolution taking place in the 1980’s.
The research for this project was made possible by the generous support of ICI and CPPC
through the CPPC Travel Award for Central America and the Caribbean.
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