el es frida kahlo will be on view at the Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis, MO from 1/22-3/6. In conjunction with the exhibition, I am offering a FREE embeddable animated el es frida kahlo gif on mayaescobar.com.
Here are some behind the scenes images from the many Acciones Plásticas プリクラ photo shoots.
The Latina Hipster
The Homegirl putting on fake nails (lovin’ the shabbos candlesticks and theory books in the background)
The Avodah Girl
goodness. I’ve been thinking a lot about the intersections between new media and traditional forms of knowledge and how these intersections can be ways of supporting tradition, innovation, resistance and liberation. As a media-maker, I’ve thought a lot about non-traditional forms of telling stories and the value of stories to allow us as individuals and communities to grow and remain in movement. I want to both honor our traditions and create space for challenge in order to support growth. This is particularly challenging when, as indigenos, we are usually FORCED into the frozen stance (as my sister Whisper says) of the “American Imaginary”. Born out of a flat analysis, the “American Imaginary” boxes us into specific archetypes and narratives that, though perhaps grounded in truth, metaphorically and at times literally “freeze” us and immobilize us from engaging in healthy movement and LIFE. As a guatemalan-born/ mixed -id’d/ mayan-adoptee I’ve dreamed about new and innovative ways to create forums and craft form that embodies the intersections of say, mayan id, transracial queer, working class, single teen mama id. For example, as a queerasfuck femme I’ve LITERALLY dreamed of beginning a series of corsets created out of huipil’s with stories attached to each… though I have yet to begin work on that. I am so excited by the thoughts of spaces for dialogue, beauty, challenge & examination of the COMPLEX identities embodies by the our contemporary indigena communities. . Fierce and phenomenal chicana and radical latina artists have had HUGE impacts on me but I’ve been hungry to see this come from other guatemelan/ mayan artists. Today, I got a taste of a contemporary and GUATEMALAN artist who is actively engaged in a similar examination! I came across this blog (and art work) and it was as if an answer was given to me in the form of possibilities. A sweet affirmation that this form of mayan/guatemalan art CAN and DOES exist.
a guest post by seeNoga.
As you doggedly pursue, chase, and snap at the heels of your Self, you do so knowing there is no chance you will ever catch up. For each of us, throughout our individual lives, we will be ever distant from knowing our own selves. When a person pursues his or her Self in an aggressive, determined way, the resulting hyperactive sensibility allows for a greater adaptability and sensitivity. This flexibility can be useful in contemporary human life, but only to a certain extent. It is also due to the fast-paced nature of today’s engineered environments, that there is a strong tendency (especially among young people) to go to extreme lengths in order to sustain within their own lives the hyperactivity and intensity they witness in popular culture and media. Consider the called-for constant reachability via cell-phones and laptops, as well as many other forms of expedition in our ‘lived-in’ world. These accommodations range from aerodynamics to ATMs. As many workers in today’s professional world simultaneously lament and extol their parasitic relationships with a Blackberry or other such Pocket God, I, too, have at many times felt chained to my laptop (i.e. the Internet), fearing I would miss something absolutely critical. Unfortunately, the fact that missing anything important has not happened for the most part, hardly affects the worry and anxiety that it might happen.
Yet still, it seems, this once motivating anxiety is becoming a repressed urge, one which is less and less a bother, the more my environment becomes one seamless, semi-omniscient “news” feed. On the evening of President Barack Obama’s Address to the Nation, Maya Escobar recorded “Obama Tweet: How a New Generation Gets Their Information.” In this video Escobar documented a particular event, an important cultural event, one which incidentally brought the use of Twitter to the fore in popular culture.
Obama Tweet: How a New Generation Gets Their Information, 2008
I was with Escobar on this evening and was struck by the depth of her interaction with the digital realm. She was sitting in front of a T.V. broadcast of the speech, while she was also further mediating that media via her computer, on which she was following Twitter and CNN.com’s coverage of the event. Beyond all that, Escobar was creating her own real-time, indexical document of the event on television along with CNN and Twitter as instantaneous forms of annotations to the President’s speech. Escobar was watching, sitting one more stage removed, behind the lens of a video camera. Because of the way in which she layered the television screen the computer screen and then the interface of any viewer’s monitor, Escobar has effortlessly choreographed a multi-layered, engagement with the very most current of events. However, though I may have somewhat qualified and rationalized instant-communication tools, I still believe there must be a deliberate effort to complement those socially-prescribed media with other, independent forms of digital exchanges. While I do believe in the great social potential of our rapidly advancing communications media, my work seeks to push and pull on parts of these evolving global ‘informachines,’ in an effort to challenge the omnipresence of commercial media.
Look Out, 2008
That sort of layering of non-dimensional spaces is unique to the contemporary world, with the inception of digital technologies, and this collage-like aesthetic is of great interest to the work of Maya Escobar, as much as it is to my own. Although, unlike the deceptively referential works of my counter-part, in many of my works, I use and refer to popular media sources and specific Internet sites indirectly and rarely with any superficial visibility. It is with great deliberation and much hypothesizing that I curate my works in the manner in which I do. I intend my works to avoid specificity and leave wide-open their readings to a much more self-guided analysis by viewers. In the piece “Look Out,” the projected video came directly from YouTube. I simply cut off the last second of the original video, thus shortening it to 17 seconds. I then prepared it as a video-loop for its installation underneath a staircase at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. Because of its placement, where it fills a theretofore, unaddressed space, it is as though the rolling image is part of the museum structure itself. The particular clip, which I chose after viewing dozens of similarly tagged videos (‘storm,’ ‘tree,’ ‘willow,’ and ‘weeping’), was selected for very specific compositional reasons; reasons which are the very same principles of design taught to anyone working in commercial design or the visual arts: complimentary colors, rule of thirds, dynamic composition and varied textures, to name a few. Because of my focused selection process, this video, although created for very different (and unknown) reasons, still fits very well into the installation space as a deliberately designed, and potentially permanent use of what is otherwise a neglected space. The video became part of the stairwell. By existing within a predetermined, architectural frame, it became part of the space, as opposed to sitting on the surface as a painting does. This projection did not exist in the way that many (most) installations do: as obvious alterations or obtrusive interjections into a space. This work asserts itself as a physical part of the space, as the projector beams through from behind the scrim in the stairwell. It also assumes a living presence, as it reiterates itself, by many reflections and refractions, split and scattered, bouncing around the main hall of the museum. The video functioned as a decorative element but also an illusory window to an outside world, whereas, the space without that piece is simply a pane of glass that looks into the shadowy crotch of a stairwell. I do not mean every square inch should be taken up for some sort of visual activity or illusionary window. Simply, this work proposes how our constructed spaces, in this case a venue for art viewing, might be reinterpreted. Insofar as, a corner can conceivably become a window, as illusory and impermanent as my particular interpretation may be.
no sos frida kahlo, 2007
My newest partner in crime is the talented, witty, godzilla and pikapika lovin’ Chicano artist and curator Rio Yañez. I first came across his Ghetto Frida two years ago, while working on the project Obsessed With Frida Kahlo. Immediately I felt some sort of cosmic connection-not to Ghetto Frida- but to her creator. And then to make matters worse better, I found out that he is the son of one my biggest heroes- Yolanda Lopez!
There was really no option other than collaboration. It was fate.
Last month we finally initiated our long distance partnership through a tweet. Since then we have been communicating through TwitPic, Facebook, YouTube, phone calls and texts, and of course mutual shouts in interviews on the blogosphere (mine to Rio & Rio’s to me.)
Here are a few examples of Rio’s recent work:
“I’ve been twittering for about a week now at http://twitter.com/rioyanez. I signed up as a way to contact Amber Rose after she started writing and posting about the portrait I created of her. I have to say, the most exciting aspect of twitter is the way people distribute images. The short urls for twitpics that often pop up on tweets evoke a sense of curiosity in me; more so than the many thumbnails that can be found on facebook. I think the lack of a thumbnail is more alluring and it forces you to chose to see the image or not, there’s no middle ground of a provided preview.” (from his blog)
“Artist Curator Rachel-Anne Palacios flanked by Zitlalix and I. I created this portrait to thank Rachel for including me in the recent Frida exhibit she curated and to join the many artists who are on display on the walls of her apartment” (from flickr)
These images represent my first foray into my Raza Zombies series. They were inspired by the single best mainstream comic book of the 21st century: Marvel Zombies. Marvel Zombies re-imagines classic superheroes as flesh eating zombies. After reading it I felt compelled to do some zombie transformations on a few of my own personal heroes. More to come. (from flickr)
Video of Gomez Peña setting the record straight for Rio regarding his Facebook presence.
Rio’s Ghetto Frida Mural in the Mission District
stay tuned for more…
I was interviewed on the Latino Blog Directory site Blogadera
click here for full interview:
Here we are with Maya Escobar. An artist and educator whose art, personality and opinions come to life by way of her blog and social media extensions. We are thrilled to have her on to talk about her background, blogging and sharing her blogging experience with the rest of the blogadera.
When did you start blogging? What prompted you to pick it up.
I started blogging in 2005, at the time I was completing my degree in art education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I was interested in connecting with other artists, activists, students and educators to share ideas and resources.
What do you blog about? Why?
I blog about issues that relate to the artworks I am producing (basically concepts I am thinking about). Topics include: the construction of identity, hybridity, sexuality, education, placelessness, immigration, activism, religion, and mental health.
Can you give us a little bit of background on Maya Escobar?
Well… it just so happens that I just posted a new “about me” to my website:
I am a performance artist, Internet curator, and editor. I use the web as a platform for engaging in critical community dialogues that concern processes by which identities are socially and culturally constructed. I perform multiple identities and sample widely from online representations and existing cultural discourses. My identifications as a Latina-Jewish artist, dyslexic blogger, activist and educator are indexed by the blogs I keep, the visual and textual links I post, the books, articles, and blog posts I cite, the public comments I leave, and the groups I join.
By examining and re-imagining my personal experiences, I attempt to provide others with a framework for questioning societal limitations based on gendered and racialized cultural generalizations.
(if you found that about me too dull there is a post on my blog where I describe myself as an elephant)
Does your blog reflect your culture? Is this intentional or just a natural byproduct?
I hope that my blog reflects a culture of critical inquiry, communal dialogue, and collaboration. (this would be intentional)
What is the state of the Latino Blogosphere? Do you see it growing? Any Examples?
I see more and more Latina and Latino bloggers every day. But what I find most exciting is when those bloggers are young people and they are blogging with a positive message. A wonderful example that I have found is MyLatinitas.com the social networking platform hosted by Latinitas Magazine. Here young Latinas are actively sharing their thoughts on politics, culture, education, and family.
You work alot with videos…do you consider yourself a vlogger? If so, can you define that for us!
hmm… I am not really sure if I consider myself to be a vlogger. When I think of a vlogger, I think of a person who makes videos that contain similar content to content that would be included in a blog post (such as current events, politics, or personal observations.) Maybe, I am a part time vlogger
Any advice for Latinos who want to start blogging?
I think it is important to get a sense of why it is that you want to blog, what will your blog say about you, and how you envision your blog interacting with your personal and professional life.
Write about issues that you are passionate about, in a way that other people can relate to. Use the Internet for all it can do- link between your own posts and link to posts written by others. Read other people’s blogs and comment! If you want people to be interested in the things you are writing about know what they are writing about!
And most importantly when you can, blog in Spanish!
What blogs do you follow or subscribe to? Favorites?
I just started reading VivirLatino which led me to the awesome blog of La Mamita Mala. I have been following Latina Lista for sometime, Rio Yañez and his buddy Maya Chinchilla, Sergio Antonio, Jorge Linares…… the list just keeps on growing…
What are you favorite social media sites and how do you use these tools in your day-to-day?
At this point twitter, youtube, flickr and wordpress are the sites that I most commonly use. My activity on all of theses sites crosses over. For example, I might write a post on my blog, that will include a youtube video and images I posted onto flickr. Then I send a tweet that includes either a segment of my blog post, an image from the post, or some of the tag words describing the post.
Do you divide social media by purpose, friends, professional v. personal, etc.?
Not really, for the most part my personal life is my professional life.
What’s next for Maya? What do we have to look forward to from you?
I am working with my father on developing my first performance piece entirely in Spanish. We are using a recording of an interview my mother conducted with my abuelita in 1985, as source material for the monologue I will be performing recounting her experiences, but as myself- two generations removed……
I am also planning a piece with fellow artist and blogger Rio Yañez surrounding the Wise Latina phenomenon. I don’’t want to give too many details away, but I can promise there is going to be a Top 10 list!
In October of 2006 my rabbi started blogging. While trying to comment on one of his posts, I accidentally registered my own blog. Within hours of posting a comment, my name began appearing in Google searches. I was now linked to the post I had commented on, previous posts my rabbi had written, comments left by other users and the posts they had written elsewhere within the blogosphere. The rapidity with which I was branded, not only by my own online activity, but also by the online activity of others, seemed incomprehensible.
I thought about this phenomenon in relationship to, the images that my friends and I had posted on Myspace throughout that year. I unknowingly went from being slightly annoyed and simultaneously amused by the phrase “take a picture of me for my Myspace”, to it becoming completely natural and almost organic to document every moment, every outing, every time my friends and I put on make up, and to take pictures for Myspace. I saw this behavior even further exaggerated in the high school students I was student teaching. Their conversations were dominated with events that had transpired on Myspace, and when they were not talking about Myspace they were taking pictures for Myspace.
When we talked about the factors that contributed to the construction of their individual and collective identities, my students were quick to bring up their style of dress, group of friends, the neighborhood they lived in, and the way they spoke. Yet not a single student referenced their online activity, the pictures they posted, the groups they joined, the comments they left on each others pages. I wondered why it was, that they were so aware of and adept at reflecting upon their experiences in the material offline world, but failed to mention the social network that played such a major role in their day-to-day lives.
DECONSTRUCTING PERSONAL IDENTITY
(today) I am referring to myself as a performance artist, Internet curator, and editor. I create and (concurrently) perform multiple online identities, by sampling from different representations of existing cultural discourses. I fragment my personal experiences and invite others to join in, and modify and regroup those fragments. By doing this I hope to share the process through which I deconstruct and reconstruct my individual conception of self, so that others can do the same in their lives.
In the series Acciones Plásticas I performed representations of five constructed characters: a religious Jewish woman, a spoiled Jewish girl, a ghetto Latina, a sexy Latina professor, and a Mayan woman. I created low quality YouTube video blogs for four of the characters, the Mayan woman did not have a video, as she would not have had access to YouTube technologies. The videos were strategically placed on popular social networking sites, including YouTube and MySpace. The layout of YouTube contextualized the videos and framed them with user comments and similarly tagged user content. Jewish Girls was picked up by a popular left-wing Jewish blogging site Jewschool, and soon entered the Jewish Blogosphere where it was referred to as the JAP. This repositioning shifted the focus from the portrayal of multiple interwoven identities to a depiction of the Jewish American Princess. The JAP became how people knew my work, validating me while simultaneously conflating my identity with that of this particular character.
One of the strategies that I employed to counteract idea of “me as The JAP“ was to group videos from the series Acciones Plásticas together with three other Youtube videos in a video reel of my work. The first video in the reel, el es frida kahlo is me dressed as Frida Kahlo where I violently scream I am Frida Kahlo! In second video Be Wife, I wear a bright red bikini top in front of an image of a Mayan temple in Tikal. Traditional Guatemalan marimba music plays in the background, while red text scrolls across the top reading Guatemala’s finest export. The third video Que Sencilla, features me as a little girl, who is being coaxed by an off-camera male voice to perform a dance for the camera.
Someone who is expecting to see a Jewish American Princess, is instead greeted with an enraged Latina artist, trying to fight the stigma of being associated with Frida Kahlo. My inclusion of these additional videos was to show the multidimensionality of the five characters initially presented in Acciones Plásticas. The Mayan women does not have her own YouTube video, but with the addition of the Be Wife video, her absence is felt even greater. The face of Guatemala in these videos, is the chest of a mail order bride. Another example can be seen within the four original videos themselves. With the grouping of the ghetto latina with the sexy latina professor, vast cultural and class difference can be seen between the two representations of Latina women. Put together with el es frida kahlo and Be Wife, there are suddenly five Latina performers all acting on one stage.
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