Monday, May 9, 2011

Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla

Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla  have been collaborating artists since 1995. They experiment with many ideas; many of those ideas consist of nationality, borders, and democracy in our consumerist society. They do sculpture, photography, performance, sound, and video, and sometimes combine them. The enjoy exploring the “complex associations between an object and its meaning” with historical, cultural, and political metaphors that are often made out of basic materials for a medium.

“Hope Hippo”
2005. Mud, whistle, daily newspaper, and live person.

Here they have made a giant hippo; in this installation piece, they invite people and volunteers to read the daily newspaper while sitting on top of the hippo. This piece has got me stumped, and I am willing to admit that. I do not know what a hippo has to do with daily newspaper or hope.

“Returning a Sound”
2004. Single channel video with sound, 5 minutes 42 seconds.

This video was made in Vieques, Puerto Rico; this island has been used for the past 60 years by the U.S. Military and NATO forces to practice military bombing exercises. The background information is important when understanding the purpose of this piece; there has been local civil disobedience movements that are trying to stop the bombing and are wishing for the removal of the U.S. Military forces. This video is addressing the landscape of this place and also it’s sound. Sound is important to the residents of this island because they are “marked by the memories of the sonic violence of the bombing.” The man who rides this around the island is a civil disobedient and an activist; there is a trumpet that has been welded to the muffler of this motorcycle. The noise that comes from it has been transformed, and it now sounds like a call to attention. “it becomes a counter-instrument whose emissions follow not from a preconceived score, but from the jolts of the road and the discontinuous acceleration of the bike’s engine as [the man] acoustically reterritorialzes areas of the island formerly exposed to ear-splitting detonations.”

This much meaning put into an almost six minute video is important when knowing the story behind it. The artists were very specific in hitting home to a political problem in these peoples’ lives.

Land Mark #1, 2001

(Foot Prints); digital C-print

19 1/5 x 23 7/9 inches

I think this title is really important in informing this piece. Footprints symbolize people, and I feel this is saying that wherever people step, they are making a mark in this world. I can’t quite see the detail all that well in these footprints, but one can tell that there are pictures, words, people, etc in each print that the artists have probably carved into the bottom of a shoe. Landmarks and successes in the world are made by people, and that is what this piece represents.

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