A Twenty Year Journey
An exhibition by Antonio Jose Guzman
‘I wished to go completely outside and to make a symbolic start for my enterprise of regenerating the life of humankind within the body of society and to prepare a positive future in this context.’ Joseph Beuys
‘Let's talk of a system that transforms all the social organisms into a work of art, in which the entire process of work is included... something in which the principle of production and consumption takes on a form of quality. It's a Gigantic project.’ Joseph Beuys
YATRA comprises the photographic work of two of Guzman’s latest projects: the Bas Jan Ader and Paul Gilroy inspired research project Piertopolis, and Guzman’s documentary trilogy The Day We Surrender to the Air. Both projects comprehend a search for a new (visual) definition of notions like migration, gravity, locality, ancestry and identity. Taking his own mixed background and his twenty-year experience as photographer and visual artist as an example, Guzman tries to conceive the causes and results of human displacement.
The exhibition at KNIPSU presents Guzman’s ongoing research into DNA, movement and replacement. Focusing on the pier as both a means for connection and separation, Guzman tries to capture the ambivalences that surround the act of traveling. A pier suggests nostalgia and contemplation, as well as hope and relief. The DNA-like shape of a pier expresses change, improvement, and site-specificity.
The tables, photographs and maps of the exhibition contain the material that Guzman gathered and created during his personal journeys to the places of his origin, including his two months residency here in Bergen.
YATRA, Sanskrit for ‘journey’ or ‘destination’ involves the pilgrimage to the sacred places that are associated with Hindu epics. A YATRA is a non-obligatory but yet desirable undertaking, in which the journey is as important as the destination.
Piertopolis, Time gate at the end of the universe.
Inspired by Babylon of COBRA artist Constant, Piertopolis features an architectural design for an installation of a life-size landscape made out of piers and walking bridges. 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 project is supported by the Amsterdam Foundation for the Arts. AFK and by the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture. Fonds BKVB
About The Day We Surrender to the Air (trilogy)
The concept of the documentary trilogy The Day We Surrender to the Air (2009-2010) is based on the results of Guzman’s DNA test. This DNA test, executed by the National Geographic Genographic Project and African Ancestry, shows Guzman’s extremely mixed background. In the documentary, Guzman travels to the places of his ancestry and brings to the front various questions considering ethnic identity, migration and Diaspora. The trilogy is supported by the The Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture (Fonds BKVB). The documentary had its premiere at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the biggest documentary festival in the world, before going on international tour in 2010. The Day We Surrender to the Air, Episode Two premiered at the The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival 2010 in Greece and the Africa in the Picture Film Festival, Amsterdam.
Antonio Jose Guzman (Panama City, 1971) is a Dutch-Panamanian artist.
He lives and works in Amsterdam, Panama City and Dakar. Guzman’s work includes films, documentaries, photography, installations and publications. Besides his individual art practice, Guzman is the establisher and director of the Pan-African art collective The State of L3, a collective that has been operating since 2006. In his work, Guzman focuses on topics like DNA, migration and gravity.
by © Siri Driessen