ALICIA VELAZQUEZ

What Work Wills

Video, Collaborative Work, SculptureAlicia Velazquez4 Comments

This month While Making It Together started. During the past weeks I have received our first five guests.

I learned so much. And, what was did I have todo to make that happen? Lending my ear. And asking a few colleagues and friends to lend me theirs. Yes, we acted with our hands and bodies. 

There was an object there. One object they brought, to be added to the hybrid object already made.

There was a common action. A shared act of making something with their donated object, wrapping it together to the other objects.

And silence.

I didn’t know what this work was about in the beginning (I am still figuring out what it is about, actually, together with my guests). I knew I had to do it. Or, more precisely, I let the work do me.

What happens when letting the work do you, rather than the other way around?

First lesson on the relevance of this shift came from artist Juan Cañizares, WMIT's guest #2. And with him, the realization of the difference between project and work. As architect, we project - have a goal, a brief, a set of intentions - and create and build towards that plan, within that timeframe and constraints. Solving problems.
Before and after our WMIT session, Juan kept talking about works. And after a while it stroke me. WMIT is not a project, but a work. When changing the nomination in the surface, a long and deep meaning also shifted.

Work is what happens. You make a plan, set a structure, set yourself to work on it, until you - actually, more accurately - until the work considers itself done. There is no up-front result or vision to follow. It is unpredictable and surprising.

This fundamental difference might be already obvious for you. But I tell you, it was a revelation for me last week for the first time, after “working” on “projects” for 20 years! - was also a difference in handling our work together, "visible" during the making sessions with our first 5 guests.

They are, in their current practice, 3 architects and 2 artists. It was my duty, as host of this work, to listen to them and follow their lead during making. The two artists, Juan and Maria (Gil Uldemolins), dug into wrapping, quite quickly not being all about their object but the moment, and the hybrid thing corseted in pink that we had in between us. It was about the rhythm and time shared by our bodies, about the communication between all those objects, about the thoughts we share without talking. It was about our hands touching, when handling the spool from one to the other. It was boring and beautiful. It was one of the most intimate experiences I have shared, and surely the most intimate in a working environment.

My 3 architect guests, colleagues of mine, and very different in their own practices, started centered in their own objects, to end up in the same place, a bit later.

Eric (Guibert, architect and gardener) - our first guest - was delicately wrapping the branch he'd brought, and was horrified when I - following my projection of making a communal sculpture, my project goal - started to squeeze its leaves with the thread, suffocating them already. They were obviously going to dry out and die, but I was killing them already there. After quite a while and observing his reaction, I switched, following his lead and way of wrapping. And, funny enough, we ended up our (long, about 2.5 hours) session with him wrapping as me (fast and quick, around both chair and branch), and me wrapping as him (slowly, delicately, carefully). We switched our “making” identities along the way.

Michael (Wildmann), my guest #5, was the one that took the longest to give in to the fact that both his object and the thread would do whatever the hell they wished, despite his efforts for being precise. Like drawing, Mike was projecting lines over his donated object (a coffee maker), the thin pink thread being his pencil, or his Autocad line. After a while during which, hopelessly, we both tried to wrap the coffee maker's round belly in a symmetrical and precise way to the hybrid bunch, he gave in. And from there on we just wrapped, loop by loop, from side to side, forgetting about precision and projection and letting the material simply do her thing, while both thread and coffee maker winked at each other and smiled (possibly LOL at us :-).

What about you? Have you had experiences of letting go preconceived ideas, and let the work be, rather than projecting a wish or vision? How did that shift happen?

Would love to hear about it in the comments below.

Would you kill it?

Sculpture, Video, NewsAlicia Velazquez4 Comments

Would you kill a beloved object?

While Making It Together.

A project, just kicking-off, in which I invite a small group of people to come, one by one, and make an object together with me. We'll make an object composed by objects, each one brought, killed, sacrificed, by each one of us. A personal object which belongs to their life, with a meaning and history to them, and which they are willing to say good bye to.

I started sacrificing the first object: a green chair

And I say sacrificing because the feeling while starting to wrap it was of killing it, actually. It was quite an emotional moment.

I welcomed the chair into the atelier, in LUCA School of Arts, in Brussels. Unwrapped it from its traveling plastic sleeve. Mounted its legs. Then, said goodbye to it. 

Good bye, thank you for the times together. I remember buying you in the flea market, cleaning you up, moving you from home to home, from Madrid to Zurich. I remember sitting on you, having many friends and family sitting on you too, moving you around, seeing you day after day. Now I have you in Brussels, where I say goodbye to you in your current form and life. Goodbye, and welcome to your new form and life.

I picked you up to make my very first exercise of connection with an inanimate object50 Resting Postures With Chair. That was the beginning of this crazy shift from working with and from concepts into working with and from the body, the start of exploring what happens when giving time and attention to the objects around us

If I wouldn’t kill you, I would let you die a slow death. You would be part of my home and life for a few more years, and one day you would be weary and old, not as bright. I would change you for another pop, and would donate you or put you out in the street. I'd kill you by letting you age and slowly die - as an object, and in my life.

I said goodbye to it, then started wrapping it in bright pink thread. 

 

Which object would you choose to kill?

With a goodbye ritual, and giving it a bright new body.
And sacrifice it to link it to other bodies, unknown bodies. Perhaps awakening it into a new life.

Or, would you rather let it die?

Looking forward to your thoughts in the comments below.

Weaving With Ego

VideoAlicia Velazquez2 Comments

We touch texture, as we are texture.

In a more abstract take, we also build texture. Outside in our relationships, and inside, in our own relationships with our multiple inner selves.

Have you noticed how ego and "true self" have this sort of play, this intermingle, an eternal dance - sometimes fight - to come to the surface? Ego mostly wins. Is freaking stubborn. It is hard work to actually bring the other part to flourish, and the moment you slip out for a tiny second, you put your attention somewhere else or take a short nap - like those transparency effects in the video - the "true self" disappears under layers of bold, bright and shiny power. 

I leave you with this reflection in visual form -  an animated "visual jam" that perhaps helps you to mirror these and your own personal questions.

Hope you dig it, and to hear your comments to have a conversation on this going and growing.

Today Togetherness

Video, Textures PurposeAlicia VelazquezComment

One year leaves, one comes, one day leaves one comes, one face, one body, one story after another. What are we but a seamless stream of moments?

I have been fascinated by different sameness since I started photographing my bed after being used, back in 2002 when I was living in Amsterdam. I thought the story of what happened in it would be perceptible through the image. Seemingly the same bed, yet with so different charge, story, spirit. Can objects be our stories hard drives?

About two years ago I decided to start photographing my face also every day. Clean, no make up. Bare me.

And, starting 2015, I set myself to spend time with thread each and every day of the year, posting our interaction in my Instagram gallery. 

I bring you today togetherness. Of those two bodies - daily thread and daily face - touching each other.

One day worth of stories packed in a one second snap. 

Up to today, 345 days. A 345” video.

It's not important that you guess or I share the real stories (what is real, anyway). 

Use it as a time clock, a visual watch to allow your coming 385 days to unfold in togetherness. With yourself, your objects around, your daily face, your human companions. Wether for a brief moment or for long time strokes, togetherness.

And after you watch it, come tell me below what it brings or awakens for you, I'd love to hear about it.

We All Need To Scream

Video, Textures PurposeAlicia Velazquez2 Comments

I recently finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I agree and love her liberating, celebrating and yet personally demanding belief on inspiration: we don't own ideas, they are not "produced" by us. Ideas are immaterial beings floating around, searching for a way to be manifest in the physical world. And we serve them as "lightning rods".
One of my favorite Big Magic moments was to re-learn about Tom Waits' relationship with inspiration and how he gets ideas for songs: to him some are hard work "like digging potatoes out of the ground".

It moved me to review and recount how ideas reach me. Here's my shortlist:

Some ideas come to me when I just woke up. They surprise me like the hug of a lover, from the back, when I'm still not fully awake.  

Some ideas hit me like a ray of sun, so lightly touching they might get lost without full attention.

Other ideas come to me when walking, alone. I realized this a while ago and I often do it on purpose. As if they have been bored, waiting, dormant for a long time, or perhaps walking with someone else, and when you start moving they join and walk with you. And the more you walk they become closer and louder, and they even call their friends to join. 

Other ideas come when sharing moments and conversations with others. I got to the conclusion that ideas show up wherever and whenever there is connection. They extend invisible cables to plug you and me, through a kind of invisible world wide web of ideas.

And very often lately, ideas come when I am making - or unmaking - something, working (connecting) with the material - normally thread. They embrace us both, happy to see us dancing, and start growing figments of thoughts, like herbs or flowers, and plant a garden in between us.

Here is a narrated video on one latest idea that hit me during the unmaking of a scarf

Perhaps emotions are the mirror beings to inspiration.

Ideas are floating in the ether, they are playful and surprising, and they hit us, searching to get manifested into the physical world.

And emotions are the playful and immaterial beings that live inside of us. Also floating in the ether: of our inner infinite universe. Trying to find ways to go out, points and pores to connect with the outside world, to be physically manifested: by writing, drawing, dancing, performing, laughing, crying, screaming, beating up, punching, running, compulsively shopping.
They are longing to be expressed.

Once they are manifested, they rest peacefully, even inside of us, we make friends with them. Or enemies. 

But, if we don't let them out or don't allow them to manifest outside they keep hanging around, lost in there, until they find themselves their own way to physically come out - perhaps through physical pain or illness.

  • How would your relationship with emotions change if you believe that, as ideas, they are simply trying to be expressed?

Do share your thoughts here below, or hit me in private.

Stupid Structure

Textures Purpose, VideoAlicia Velazquez2 Comments

Things happen. Without even noticing, you find yourself one day in the middle of a storm, or battlefield. 

Me these days, I'm having a weekly back and forth between two cities. And I came to realize that, what seemed to be a matter of organization, has deeper and more complex consequences that what you can fix using time management tools.

After a month of traveling between Zurich and Brussels, living in two places, working in two studios (and even a third one as I take my transition time as an atelier space), one thing resonated with me a few days ago. This phrase by John Cage, shown by my colleague Eric Guibert during his PhD in progress presentation:

"Structure without life is dead, but life without structure is unseen.
Pure life expresses itself within and through structure"

The moment I saw this quote, I captured it and put it on my iPad's desktop. It resonated and I knew I had to place it where I could face it - until making some sense of it. 

Then, a few days later, this started to hit me. The image of being in the middle of shaking water, with little control from my part - basically enough control so as not to drown. 

How can I learn how to hold balance when everything around and under is in motion? And, more importantly, how do I make a surfboard?

I grabbed texture to try make sense of this. And started to connect the dots, literally. Because when in doubt or in storm, the mundane, daily small routines may give a basic skeleton from which to navigate bigger complexity. Kind of the surf board to help us balance on wavy waters. 

I'd love to hear about your thoughts, reflections and experience:

  • What kind of structure do you hold on to when in the middle of shaky life moments? an how do you materialize your stupid structure?

Being In Between

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I love being in between. Taking planes and trains, and road trips. Being part of that changing landscape brings me into a meditative state, into a place of high potential to be, to become and to transform. It's an experience filled with expectancy and desire, with fear and excitement.

Because you are passing by you are both an inhabitant and a viewer. You cannot be a tourist of the in between, as you are also living there, even if for a short time.

At this moment I have the opportunity to bring the "being in between" into a professional reality. As I recently became an Adapt-r fellow (Marie Curie ITN funding) I will be for a one-year period working in Zurich, in Brussels and in the in between. 

As a first reaction to this weekly motion, I started a series of material actions. To take a better look at these three places, and see myself in them. 

We forget about our time in between because we do forgettable things. We try to pass our time as quickly as possible. We read, write and look out of the window. We play cards or games. Sometimes we have great encounters and conversations, we read a book we have been wanting to for long time, or we get a very much needed sleep and silence moment to ourselves. We tend to fill our time there, rather than to "feel" our time. 

I love being in between. We take it as being in transit, expecting the upcoming or longing for what we left behind. But in between is also a destination. It's also a place. When we accept that, we will also "live" there.   

How do you experience being in between?

Lifescapes

Textures Purpose, Being In BetweenAlicia VelazquezComment

On the train from Brussels Nord towards Leuven, I look at all of us seating on the brown-leathered yellow-tabled car. We are all part of this material landscape. We - humans - move, we are alive, we emit sounds. Yet we are also mass, skin and form, and next to the other material forms we make this landscape of the now. Them and us, a temporary, dynamic landscape. A lifescape

Perhaps the mistake is to look at us and space as separate entities - us and materials, us and the train car. Perhaps it is now the moment when we should look at all of us as one thing.

Because part of this landscape remains - the material environment. But this landscape I am living in right now, this lifescape, exactly composed of the same mass, form and material as it is now only belongs to this very moment. There will not be another one like this, never. Never again there will be rain outside of this train wetting the windows. Never again this light. Nor are we train companions going to be in the same wagon, sitting in the same places at the same moment, wearing these clothes, having these conversations and getting these phone calls. The woman falling asleep in front of me, the business man looking at his mobile screen, the young guy in front of him with sleepy face looking now out the window, now at his phone. Never ever.

We are wrong. We have been wrong all along. We build and inhabit these material worlds believing that they never change, that we simply take our life in and out of them. But we overlook that our world is the combination of us and them. Us "and" the material world form a unique landscape every time. 

We are part of a dynamic lifescape. It is up to us to grasp it or not, to "be" inside it. We are not just watching it. Or experiencing it. We are part of it, indivisible part of it. It exists because of us. We give it meaning and life. 

Have you experienced yourself as indivisible part of your lifescape? Where, how?

I'd love to hear your experience in the comments below, or if you rather, send me a message.