Thursday, January 6, 2011


Piertopolis (The First Sketches)
A project by Antonio Jose Guzman
Currently working in Panama
2010 - 2012

Amsterdam is a city surrounded by water, just like Recife, Dakar and Panama, all this are cities has inspire my navigation and my way of dealing with postcolonial figures in art and has help in the develop of my Pan African aesthetics, Amsterdam is an ideal place to construct the ideal scenario for the launch and start point for my new project called Piertopolis, inspired by Babylon of COBRA artist Constant and Dutch artist Bas Jan Ader.

Piertopolis will become an architectural design for photo installations in piers, that I call Piertenventions, this  installations of a life-size landscape are made in piers and walking bridges. Piertopolis interventions in public spaces features photos and wooden piers on which one can walk and connect to other piers in different parts of the world. Some of these piers are connected to each other, while others have dead ends. At these dead ends images and projections can be seen that show foreign countries and landscapes that might lie at the other side of the sea, starting from Amsterdam, finishing in the Americas. The images are literal extensions to the physical pier – the perspective of the physical pier is continued in the images – as such, the images provide a prolongation of the pier in a different environment.  The installations and interventions presents the idea of timelessness, of the possibility of walking from one place to the other. The water in which the installation is built functions as a mirror, reflecting the underside of the pier, and hereby uniting upper side and underside in one look.

A pier accommodates the act of leaving, of traveling and embarking – it is a place where the gone and lost are contemplated. At the same time, a pier is a place easily associated with arrival and return, with reconnection, and with the fulfillment of hopes and wishes. Besides, a pier is also a continuously changing structure. Its features are affected by wind and sea, by the people, boats and animals that use it. A pier never looks the same. The structure-like characteristics of the pier make one think of small meccano constructions, architectural fantasies and utopian landscapes in which the border between reality and illusion is blurred.

The idea of direct movement from one place to another is not only present in the images themselves. Being an artist with an African, Latin American, and European background, my work always encompasses issues of migration and genetics and notions of traveling and movement. My two former projects (The State of L3 and The Day we Surrender to the Air) involved a search for African identity on three different continents: Africa, Latin America and Europe; by means of a documentary, a publication, a database of African art, an exchange project with artists of African descent in the three continents and several exhibitions in Europe and Africa.

 In Piertopolis, the subjects treated in these two former projects are re-evaluated. The installation includes different references towards the transatlantic travel of the African DNA. However, Piertopolis differs from the former projects in the sense that, instead of local heritage, unity in movement and fluidity is emphasized: Piertopolis is one place where people can move. Moreover, pictures that are taken of the installation present a new reality by means of the connection of the two older ones.

Nevertheless, traces of  earlier searches for my DNA and genetic background can be located in the work. Not only does the building structure of the pier refer to the structure of a DNA chain, in the installation the sounds and images from people of different descents can be heard and seen. These recordings are made on the locations that are included in my DNA-map. In this way, Piertopolis functions as a physical DNA database. In addition, the people who’s sounds and stories are recorded will be asked to write to people ‘at the other side of the ocean’. Their letters will be stored in little boxes that will be given as a present to people in other countries.
Piertopolis Mappings
Amsterdam - Goa - Dakar - NYC - Panama City