The initial segment of MRWE consisted of a residency in the Ecuadorean towns of Portovelo and Zaruma during the summer of 2015; its goal was to give members of the group first-hand experience of the history and lingering effects of gold mining on the social, economic,and environmental fabric of the region surrounding these two towns. During their stay in Ecuador, members of MRWE had the opportunity to meet with residents of Portovelo and Zaruma, including the mayor of Portovelo and members of the town council, local historians, artists, writers, teachers, and many others in the brief interactions of day-to-day experience. These encounters helped members of MRWE learn about the positive contributions that inhabitants of Portovelo and Zaruma see in gold mining, particularly because of its contribution to the local economy, but also about the deleterious impact it will continue to have on their surroundings if tighter regulations and safeguards are not enacted. The participants in MRWE, in turn, presented talks, free and open to the public, in several different venues in Portovelo and Zaruma about their particular artworks or areas of expertise.
The discussions that took place in Portovelo and Zaruma during the residency were focused on the history of the region and the intersections between art and social science research as a means to convey the results of MRWE. The outcome of this process was a series of artworks and texts that were disseminated in Cuenca, Ecuador in February 2016 in an exhibition and its accompanying catalogue in Spanish. A second iteration of this exhibition will open in the Centre for Contemporary Art in Quito, Ecuador in June 2016. The project began as an international collaborative artistic project, and from the beginning an important goal was to show the artwork in Ecuador and Canada. Therefore, a third exhibition, and a conference, will take place in November 2016 at Western University, London, Ontario. This event will bring the artists who worked on the project together with scholars from other disciplines in order to address the topic of mining and the related issues that were both explicitly and implicitly MRWE’s objects of study. But more importantly, it will also provide an opportunity to discuss, in the institution in which MRWE was conceived and organized, the efficacy of art as a discourse that can raise and disseminate questions about complex social and environmental topics.
OTHER ACTIVITIES IN ECUADOR—June, 2015
Round Table: Perspectives on the water subject from art y social sciences
Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO)
Lisset Coba, Las desposesiones del agua: un mirada ecofeminista a la contradicción capital-vida en la Amazonía ecuatoriana
Investigadora principal, Centro Nacional de Estrategias para el Derecho al Territorio CENEDET. Docente e investigadora en antropología, eco-feminismo y estudios postcoloniales
Patrick Mahon — Abstract of a Presentation
Art, Environment, and Public Policy
The project “Immersion Emergencies and Possible Worlds” was an artistic collaboration that sought to link questions regarding water and sustainability, with larger ideas concerning cultural expression. Alongside this, a focus on ‘water policy,’ in Canada and internationally, was brought to bear. In my talk, I will review some of the creative and analytical work of this Canadian government-funded project, which resulted in the exhibition, “The Source: Rethinking Water through Contemporary Art,” (Rodman Hall Art Centre, Brock University, Canada, May – Sept., 2014). In addition, I will discuss problems and opportunities for artists in addressing environmental themes in order to outline a series of useful methodologies for bringing ‘research and creation’ together around pressing contemporary concerns.
Artist portafolio: Gu Xiong: Rethinking Cultural transformation
School of Art of the Universidad Estata de Cuenca
All cultures are complex, but the one into which you are born is the one you come to understand most profoundly. Thus, this influence is what finds its way into the work of an artist and, I believe, is expressed almost instinctively. If a person should move to another culture, he or she must make both a conscious and instinctive adjustment in seeking to understand what at first is a strange new world. It is within this dynamic milieu that I have found myself. This conflict of cultures in my work is in a state of constant evolution. It is a continuous generation of ‘artistic electricity’ that fuels change in both my personal life and my work as a contemporary artist.
Through the years, the direction of my research has centred around the creation of a hybrid cultural identity. Cultural conflict erupts when the individual and society undergo a process of change. A new cultural identity is born as individuals reconstitute themselves through their own cultural practice. My research always draws on the critical angle of visual art as a point of departure, then encompasses other areas of knowledge such as sociology, geography, economics, politics and literature. I addresses integration and assimilation, histories both collective and personal, and cultural synthesis across boundaries. My art seeks to delve into the dynamics of globalization, local culture and individual shifts in identity, and rethink the space of global culture flows.
Theses shifts do not merely constitute a simple amalgamation of two original subjects, but instead, seek to create an entirely new space. Alone and isolated from its birth, this new individual identity is nevertheless open and free. Visible and invisible global forces of social and cultural homogenization have inherited the world. In this environment, individual spaces embody the seeds of difference and alterity. It is the construction of this new level of being in which I am interested. My art expresses this process through my own life experience of displacement and rebirth in Canada.
Gu Xiong, 2015
Presentation Gu Xiong´s works to the students of the ITAE
Participation in the International Week at the Universidad de las Artes (UA), Guayaqui