Thursday, September 7, 2023
Monday, May 8, 2023
|Photography artwork by Arnaldo Drés González|
Documentation by Allan Ginsburg.
From Dust and Air, my Grandmother and a Windmill.
By Arnaldo Drés González
Between popular songs about windmills, thinking about my home, communication from the distance and the migrant feeling, the concept of a physical postcard is multi diverse. The written postcard, with images, moving image or with a voice message, as what we have in contemporaneity, expand the possibilities of continuing to inhabit our memories and remembrances.
The mill element was often used for decades to describe literally or figuratively fictitious texts of folk wisdom and the history of a nation's development. In Spanish culture, for example, sayings, riddles and songs abound, which now survive in printed texts and some audio recordings with different fragments that can be found on the web. Many songs tell us about mills, miller, mill woman, millstones, wind, wheat, corn and stones. Songs that have been sung, covered and reinvented by generations of our ancestors over the years. Our grandparents surely know this very well. It is obvious how important mills were as an integral part of everyday life, and even past life, in a society where everyone went to get something simple like bread. Today, traces of a social, industrial and cultural evolution of the mills remain. Their imaginary being portrayed in postcards for tourist consumption. For some it will be only beautiful images of a place, for others, an image that tells us much more about what we see.
How much can a postcard of the old Buenavista mill in Sa Punta des Molí (1818) in Ibiza portray, narrate or evoke? Is its existence a myth in its own aura? Are the blades of the mill a myth of the temporality of global life? Something like when everything starts and returns to its starting point. Like the migration of my grandmother from the Canary Islands to Venezuela in the fifties due to the serious economic difficulties that Spain was going through since the late forties, and nowadays, the migratory turn of her descendants to their point of origin, like me, who have migrated from Venezuela to Europe while other migratory waves are happening to other parts of the world in the XXI century.
A curious case is that near the Molino de Sa Punta des Molí there is a house where the well-known German philosopher of Jewish origin Walter Benjamin (Berlin, 1892 - Port Bou, Spain, 1940) lived, who reflects in his writings about his life and his history through his collection of postcards, including those missing postcards with which he allowed himself to inhabit those landscapes that his traveling grandmother sent him from her travels around the world. Probably, the same thing happened to my grandmother in Venezuela when she saw photographs of me in the snow in Germany, which I shared with her from a distance by instant messaging from my cell phone. However, this ability to inhabit is also possible from the stories that people tell, sometimes sung in traditional songs and that, like a photography, a drawing or a painting, transmit images to our imagination. It is like a small window that expands like a ray of light when we open it with our heart and emotion.
"There is a secret agreement between past generations and the present one". "The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again".
Fragments of theses 2 and 5. Theses on the philosophy of history, 1940.
"From Dust and Air, my Grandmother and a Windmill" is an artwork presented at the first edition of the contemporary art event ENTRÁNSITO, at Centro Cultural Sa Punta des Molí - San Antoni de Portmany (Ibiza), April 2023.
Click to listen to the Soundscape
Soundscape Description Translation from Spanish (Original) to English
The wind can be heard and maybe some waves from the sea as a group of women try to remember to sing a couplet about a mill:
In the mill no air passes and olé, no air passes and olé, no air passes and olé.
Someone in the group corrects them: Should this be repeated or not?
They sing again: Knead the dust and the sand
A new correction: is Flour!
They begin again:
Knead the dust and the flour that carries the air and olé, that carries the air and olé, that carries the air and olé, olé, that carries the air.
A singer appears:
Because the miller says he has no one to go with him, come with me to the mill and you will be my mill woman. You throw the wheat in the hopper, you throw the wheat in the hopper, while I pick the stone, come with me to the mill and you'll be my mill woman.
A voice message from my grandmother from Venezuela appears:
Hello! A lot of snow, my love, a lot of snow? Oh, be careful! You'll get cold, you know. Hey Arnaldo, how will that be, my love, there with the snow and then drinking a cup of hot coffee, right? Very good.
Look, it gave me a thrill. I don't know how many weeks it's been since I've not seen your brother, but he has to comply with his obligations. Well, my love, God bless you, a big, big hug! And a big kiss! Please give your sister a hug for me, I send it to her. Did you get it? O.K. God bless you.
Other women's voices join in singing:
Miller, miller, only my mill knows, how much I love you, Oh my miller! And in the happy moment where the blades of the mill are stirring, there was heard a lament of a divine kiss, of corn and wheat so divine. Miller, miller, only my mill knows, how much I love you, Oh my miller! Singing and dancing and thinking of my poor miller, I go through life without another partner, of corn and pleasant wheat. Miller, miller, only my miller knows, how much I love you, Oh my miller!
|Installation Arnaldo Drés González, photographed by the artist.|
"From Dust and Air, my Grandmother and a Windmill" is part of the project "Resguardo y Presencia/ Shelter and Presence" that explores the appropriation of materials from the urban landscape to recreate the ambiguity of human relationships, social values, tensions and conflicts of everyday life. Based on the allegory of the green fabrics that cover the facades of disintegrating buildings and protect nearby passersby, Arnaldo Drés González turns these functional aesthetic appearances into poetic narratives that together with the intervention of the human body in video and photography generate metaphors of existence, fear, shelter, identity, transit and territory.
Arnaldo Drés González (b. 1986, Caracas - Venezuela). Since 2014 lives and works in Hamburg, Germany. Graduated from the fine arts department of UNEARTE in Caracas (2011) and holds a master's degree from the Hochschule für Künste im Sozialen (HKS) in Ottersberg, Germany (2016). In 2015 he won the honorable mention award at the 17th altonale Art Festival in Hamburg. 2019 was selected as a guest artist for the program "Stadtlabor" at the Performing Arts Festival Berlin. In 2021 he was nominated for the art prize of the Atelierkate Lesun in Bremen and invited to the solo exhibition for emerging artists at the Affordable Art Fair Hamburg. His work has been exhibited in national and international art festivals, galleries and fairs since 2008.
Thursday, May 4, 2023
Caryana Castillo's poem and artworks presented here celebrate her grandmother Carmen Cristina Ferrera Gómez. I had the chance to meet Caryana during the EnTransito Art Festival taking place at Sant Antoni de Portmany in Ibiza; see her work on Instagram
|Carmen Cristina Ferryra Gómez by Caryana Castillo.|
EL FLAMBOYÁN (ÁRBOL DE FUEGO)
La flor de fuego en tu corona humilla
la luz caribe en que tu copa bañas,
y el paisaje antillano se arrodilla
a tu lumbre, hecho de miel, entre las cañas.
De tu destello en el rubí prendidos
púrpura en llama el horizonte hiende
cristales tintos en insolaciones.
Y entre el cielo y la tierra sorprendidos
en la enramada tropical se enciende
la rebelión de esclavos corazones.
Me ha encontrado una palabra, se aferra regia y con garra de mi pecho, combate mi ferocidad, no puedo resistir su influjo, se prende a mi corazón.
Invade todos mis sentidos, embriaga fuerza y voluntad, extingue mi rencor, no quiero resistirme a su influencia, es suyo mi corazón.
¿Cómo puedo expresar este mensaje glorioso en el instante de la ebullición? Borboteo repentino recorriendo los anillos cartilaginosos, abriéndose paso hasta los bronquios principales y sus ramificaciones, alvéolos floridos. Desde la Carina traqueal hasta las pupilas, volcán de lágrimas en erupción.
Rojo, sangre, carmesí, tomate, fresa, frambuesa, manzana, cereza, óxido, vino. Naranja, calabaza, mandarina, melón, amarillo, cadmín, canario, carambola, ocre, dorado, ámbar, ron. Fucsia, rosa, magenta, sandía, cajuilito, cuarzo, ponche, atardecer, sol, llama, flama, flamboyán.
Follaje denso y muy extendido. Flores grandes con cuatro pétalos iguales y un quinto que sobresale como un penacho de ave manchado de blanco y amarillo, luminosas gigantes rojas en la Tierra.
Colocados los colosos de 8 metros de elevación, flamboyanes, uno al lado del otro, en gran número, frente a un espejo incorpóreo que refleja sus pares formando un túnel incandescente. Soy un glóbulo rojo transportado en el caudal de la vena, deseando llegar al corazón. El corazón es una mujer rechoncha y blanda que me abraza y me besa, que huele a talco y a chinola, que se ríe a carcajadas de las palabras inocentes, que cuida de los animales y protege a los niños, una mujer que cose y teje y que guarda dos latas de galletas de mantequilla, una para los hilos y otra para los hijos.
Allí, donde empezó mi vida antes de que yo naciera, es el lugar a donde me han conducido los flamboyanes: Concepción de La Vega, la mina de oro más rica del Caribe, para mí, símbolo de mi feliz infancia.
He aquí el amor, cayendo como lluvia permanente de pétalos escarlata, como rayitos de luz que se cuelan por los pequeños huecos entre los folíolos primarios y secundarios de las largas hojas del Árbol del Fuego. Cálida oscuridad de ojos cerrados al fulgor del verano. Caricia sincera del sol en la mejilla. Dispongo de tranquilidad para jugar con las partículas de polvo encendidas, chispas que giran y se apagan. Maravillada con cada gota roja que suave se posa ora en mi pelo, ora en mis manos.
Descanso. “…El amor a la naturaleza no da trabajo a las fábricas… Las flores y los paisajes tienen un grave defecto: son gratuitos.”*
En consecuencia, recibo la bendición de mis ancestros, así como de mis familiares del hoy, para pintar, con plena confianza, una flor de pasión y sangre que brota del Santo Cerro, donde venció la traición.
—¡Oh amor mío! ¡Qué maravillosamente hermoso es estar vivos! Con el alma de tu cuerpo, con tu latido…
*Sobre la obra: «Corazón en flamas», año de realización: 2020, serie: “Patrimonio Natural”, tinta sobre papel, 42 cm x 27,9 cm, por Caryana Castillo “Un mundo feliz” – Aldo Huxley. “Quién fuera” “Corazón en fuga” – Silvio Rodríguez . “Sin tu latido” – Luis Eduardo Aute.
THE FLAMBOYÁN (FIRE TREE)
Sensual torch that warms and shines
of violence plains and mountains;
fountain of blood, air of wonder,
heat of summer curdles in your bowels.
The flower of fire in your crown humiliates
the Caribbean light in which your glass bathes,
and the Antillean landscape kneels
to your fire, made of honey, among the reeds.
Of your sparkle in the ruby lit
purple in flame, the horizon cleaves
tinted crystals in insolations.
And between Heaven and Earth, surprised
in the tropical bower lights up
the rebellion of slave hearts.
José Augustin Balseiro
heart on fire
A word has found me; it clings royally, and with a claw to my chest, it fights my ferocity. I cannot resist its influence; it clings to my heart.
It invades all my senses, intoxicates strength and will, extinguishes my rancor; I don't want to resist its influence, my heart is yours.
How can I express this glorious message at the moment of boiling? Sudden gurgling through the cartilaginous rings, making its way to the main bronchi and their ramifications, flowery alveoli. From the tracheal carina to the pupils, a volcano of tears in eruption.
Red, blood, crimson, tomato, strawberry, raspberry, apple, cherry, rust, wine. Orange, pumpkin, tangerine, melon, yellow, carmine, canary, carambola, ochre, gold, amber, rum. Fuchsia, pink, magenta, watermelon, cajuilito, quartz, punch, sunset, sun, flame, flame, flamboyant.
Foliage dense and widely spread. Large flowers with four equal petals and a fifth protruding like a bird's plume spotted with white and yellow, luminous red giants on Earth.
Placed the 8-meter-high flamboyant colossi, one next to the other, in large numbers, in front of a disembodied mirror that reflects their peers, forming an incandescent tunnel. I am a red blood cell transported in the flow of the vein, wanting to reach the heart. The heart is a plump and soft woman who hugs me and kisses me, who smells of talcum powder and chinola, who laughs out loud at innocent words, who cares for animals and protects children, a woman who sews and knits and who keeps two cans of butter cookies, one for the children and one for the children.
There, where my life began before I was born, is the place where the flamboyants have led me: Concepción de La Vega, the richest gold mine in the Caribbean, for me, a symbol of my happy childhood.
Here is love, falling like a permanent rain of scarlet petals, like little rays of light that slip through the small gaps between the primary and secondary leaflets of the long leaves of the Tree of Fire. Warm darkness with eyes closed to the glare of summer. Sincere caress of the sun on the cheek. I have peace of mind to play with the ignited dust particles, sparks that turn and go out. Amazed by each red drop that softly settles now on my hair, now on my hands.
Rest. "…The love of nature does not give work to factories… Flowers and landscapes have a serious defect: they are free."*
Consequently, I receive the blessing of my ancestors, as well as my relatives today, to paint, with full confidence, a flower of passion and blood that sprouts from the Holy Hill, where treason was defeated.
"Oh, my love!" How wonderfully beautiful it is to be alive! With the soul of your body, with your heartbeat...
*About the work: "Corazón en flamas," year of completion: 2020, series: "Natural Heritage," ink on paper, 42 cm x 27.9 cm, by Caryana Castillo References and sources of inspiration: "A happy world" –Aldo Huxley. "Who was" "Heart on the Run" – Silvio Rodríguez. "Without your heartbeat" - Luis Eduardo Aute.
|Caryana's portraits of her family and her grandmother.|
Thursday, March 30, 2023
Last night, trying to thread a needle to sew a button back on a shirt, memories of my grandmother came flooding in. As a child, if I wasn't brushing her long, white hair, I was also engaged in helping her thread needles for her sewing projects, as seeing small detail close-up was a challenge to her older eyes. I can relate to that now.
She was my only grandmother and, actually, she was my step-grandmother. My family history is too complicated to go into now, except for the fact that I am the only child of an only child who was a single working mother. We lived in San Francisco, but as my mother needed childcare help when I had long breaks from school, I spent much of my summer school vacation with my grandparents in Los Angeles. When I came to stay with them, my grandmother, who I called Mommo, would bake and have it ready for my arrival, my favorite cookies. They were very thick, round, heavy cookies of flour, butter, and sugar. Her cookie cutter was the top rim of a drinking glass. They were very plain but sprinkled on top with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. I loved them. They were much like my grandmother herself, who was also stocky, plain, gruff, and from the "old country." But like the mixture of cinnamon and sugar, her fierce love for me had the toughness of spice and the sweetness of sugar. I loved her. She was, indeed, my favorite grandmother.
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Artists in Solidarity with Ukraine
One year since the start of Russia's unprovoked, illegal aggression against Ukraine, we're acknowledging the resilience of the Ukrainian people and the solidarity shown by Romania and the rest of the peace-loving world through a project that demonstrates the power of visual art and the spoken word to denounce the ordeals and preserve the memory of these tragic times. Presented in partnership with the Ukrainian Institute of America (UIA), "SHATTERED: SYMBOLIC GESTURE" is a large-scale international collaboration that consists of a multimedia exhibition conceived by the Romanian-Canadian visual artist and polymath Oana Maria Cajal, accompanied by a series of video-poems and poetry readings offered by U.S.-based Romanian and Ukrainian poets.
The event took place at the Romanian Cultural Institute in the presence of artist Oana Maria Cajal along with readings of poetry written in reaction to the war in Ukraine offered by Adina Dabija, Olena Jennings, Mihaela Moscaliuc, Claudia Serea, Adela Sinclair, Vera Sirota, and an opening remarks by Kathy Nalywajko, the President of the Ukrainian Institute of America.
The multimedia exhibition included 24 collages – "picto-impulses" by Oana Maria Cajal and a video made by Ștefan Cajal with music by American composer and pianist Michael Roth.
The following poem by Vera Sirota honors the strength of a woman in dire circumstances.
Despite All Odds
by Vera Sirota
When the air raid siren blares
in my bed
on the top floor of my home.
I dare a Moscow missile to find me.
I am 99 years old.
I survived the Nazi invasion.
I survived Stalin’s terror.
I survived Soviet oppressors.
I will survive Putin’s pillagers.
Hope animates my heart
because this is a national trait –
a pride that propels us
a song that sustains us.
We bow to no one
and never will.
|Vera Sirota reading her poem at the exhibition, Shattered: Symbolic Gesture, hosted by The Romanian Cultural Institute.|
|Oana Maria Cajal's Babusya inspired Vera to read Despite all Odds at the event.|
Ukrainian American Poets Respond anthology edited by
Olena Jennings and Virlana Tkacz (2022).
SHATTERED: SYMBOLIC GESTURE edited by Claudia Serea (forthcoming fall 2023).
Vera Sirota is the proud granddaughter of Ukrainian immigrants.
Vera serves as a mentor for Girls Write Now, a creative writing organization for high school girls and gender-expansive youth in NYC. Vera’s poems have been featured or are forthcoming in the Armstrong Literary, Dark Onus Lit, Music of Hope: a benefit concert in support of Ukraine, Poetry Distillery, SHATTERED: SYMBOLIC GESTURE, exhibition, Stories by Girls Write Now, and Ukrainian American Poets Respond.
Vera is a 2022 Martha Award Finalist for the David Wade Hogue Scholarship. She is a co-founder of the West of Willow poetry and music collective in Hoboken.
Saturday, March 18, 2023
The SHATTERED PROJECT is the brainchild of visual artist Oana Maria Cajal and the result of a complex international collaboration.
Inspired by Oana Cajal’s artistic vision, poets from Ukraine, Romania, the United States and Canada contributed poems, and several musicians composed instrumental or vocal pieces, all reacting viscerally against the atrocities of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The concept is simple but original: artists respond to Oana's artwork with new creations while protesting the war at the same time. Here as part of this project is a poem by Claudia Serea in response to Oana Maria Cajal's painting BABUSYA.
|BABUSYA by Oana Maria Cajal|
My Grandmother Set Her Ladder Against the Moon
by Claudia Serea
She kept all her belongings in a small wooden trunk
where she hid her despair among linens.
Nightgown billowing in the wind,
she climbed to the sky each evening
on her thin ladder:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.
Why did you make my world bruised
Thy kingdom comes; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Why did you allow brothers
to butcher each other?
Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses.
Why did you give this burden to me?
I can’t carry it.
As we forgive those who trespass against us
Here it is, translucent,
quivering like the egg
still unformed inside the hen:
with no protective shell.
And lead us not into temptation.
But deliver us from evil.
And I’ll only keep this prayer
for my family’s return,
Oana Maria Cajal is an award-winning visual artist, playwright, screenwriter, and poet. She was born in Bucharest and immigrated to the United States in 1980 with a grant from the American Theatre Association. She attended the Ph.D. Theatre Criticism program at New York's City University and obtained her M.F.A. in Playwriting from University of California San Diego (UCSD). Cajal has written plays that have had successful performances in cities across North America. She returned to graphic art in 2007, with her volume of Picto Poems, Solenodon, and had numerous solo exhibitions in Canada, America, and Romania.
Oana Maria Cajal is a Fulbright scholar and a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Playwriting Fellowship, as well as many art prizes. She is also a member of Dramatists Guild of America, Writers Union of Romania, Theater Union of Romania (UNITER), the Union of Fine Artists of Romania, Playwrights Workshop Montreal, and Playwrights Guild of Canada. Her play, The Last Pact, was voted “Best Play of 2011” by UNITER. Her screenplay for the feature film The White Gate was nominated for the Gopo Awards, 2015.
Claudia Serea is a Romanian-American poet, translator, and editor. Her poems and translations are published in Field, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, The Malahat Review, The Puritan, Oxford Poetry, among others. She is the recipient of the Joanne Scott Kennedy Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of Virginia, the New Letters Readers Award, and the Franklin-Christoph Merit Award. Her poems have been translated in Russian, French, Italian, Arabic, and Farsi, and have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac.
She is the author of seven poetry collections and four chapbooks, most recently In Those Years. No one Slept. (Broadstone Books, 2023) and Writing on the Walls at Night (Unsolicited Press, 2022).
Serea is a founding editor of National Translation Month, and she co-edited and co-translated The Vanishing Point That Whistles, an Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry. (Talisman House Publishing, 2011). She also translated from Romanian Adina Dabija’s Beautybeast (Northshore Press, 2012) and Iulia Militaru’s The Seizure of the Beast. A Post-research (Guernica Editions, 2023).
Claudia Serea serves on the editorial board of The Red Wheelbarrow Poets and is one of the curators of the Red Wheelbarrow Poetry Readings in Rutherford, New Jersey.
The SHATTERED PROJECT multi-sensory exhibition was featured at La MaMa Umbria International in Italy in June 2022, at the National Museum of Romanian Literature in Bucharest, part of the International Poetry Festival in September 2022, at the Metropolitan State University in Denver, Colorado, part of the Ukraine-Freedom Showcase in December 2022, at the National Theater from Craiova, Romania, in early February 2023; at the Ukrainian Institute Open House ; and at the Romanian Cultural Institute . We are also planning to publish an anthology including all the writing and visuals created so far.
Many of us have reacted as soon as news of the war broke out, offering material support and donations to help the refugees and different organizations who are on the ground in Romania and Ukraine.
The SHATTERED PROJECT offers another kind of support—support for the soul: a direct connection with our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. Because we are far away from the war, but we feel very close. Personally, I feel like the war could have happened in Moldova or in Romania, as it did in the past. So we offer this symbolic gesture of solidarity, a metaphorical holding of our hands together channeling strength and hope. We hope that the SHATTERED PROJECT will inspire you, reaffirming the power of culture to connect us across borders and to ensure the survival of our shared humanity.
18 poets participating in the project: Ana Blandiana, Angela Baciu, Cristina A. Bejan, Magda Carneci, Adina Dabija, Catalina Florescu, Ioana Ieronim, Nora Iuga, Olena Jennings, Ruth Margraff, Mihaela Moscaliuc, Dzvinia Orlowsky, Ksenia Rychtycka, Claudia Serea, Adela Sinclair, Sylvie Simmons, Vera Sirota, Gabriela Toma.
Composer, pianist: Michael Roth
Video director: Stefan Cajal