For my MFA field review, I read six sources and viewed four films that canvas the field of studies related to my final project to deepen the research. One of the most relevant resources I read was Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement because it outlines a Chicana art making structure I can identify choreographically with in my project. This book goes into depth about using identifiers such as Chicana/o and makes visible the precautions one might need towards not essentializing the identity. The next book, The Surrealism Reader: An Anthology of Ideas connected many ideas together because it draws from the minds of surrealist painters, sculptors, and fabricators and compiles their theory, poems, and process notes alongside their artwork. The spider-web of information resonates loudly because the surrealists were not all dreaming about surrealism, investing in surrealism, and consuming surrealism to produce surrealism. No, these artists were living and breathing while putting forth efforts to contribute to areas of phenomenology, perception, haunting, sciences, politics, and social constructs. These areas outside of surrealism better inform their art.
I am aware of the lineage.
I am active in the conversation.
I am prioritizing presence.
I am re-imagining the alternative.
Countering the perspective of The Surrealism Reader is another book called Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement. In this book the experiences, histories, artworks, and theories of Frida Kahlo, Remedios Varo, Dorothea Tanning, and Leonora Carrington are all captured and interwoven. The relevance here is the detour away from the inner circle of surrealist ideology which tends to be driven by patriarchal standards. Surrealism is the ability to continue to expand and shift ideas so that they do not remain fixed. I can use this as I begin to engage more with the choreography of the final project. However, I tend to be drawn more towards feminism from a Latinx perspective, so we will see how much of the surrealist inner circle maintains its presence. I do like the way the information is organized and accounted for in this book while directly speaking to the art produced.
On the other side, the viewings most influential were Yanira Castro’s Court/Garden and Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealers. Castro’s work encompasses the designed choreography, audience participation, and media installation and sections the piece into three parts.. This work is relevant to my own project because of its attention to the audience’s role in the work. However, by focusing here I am not neglecting my attention to costumes, choreography and media, but if the audiences’ design is not woven into the main components then my outcome will be not so subtle. One would not recognize this device, however, the subtlety of the design makes this experience magical. Out of my research so far, I can weave three different levels of engagement to support my project and involve the audience at different capacities.
Lastly, Sleep Dealers is like watching someone depict the future. While I can only hope Rivera’s future does not come to pass in the era of trump politics. This film is powerful to watch, noting, a sci-fi narrative constructed through the Latina/o perspective. This film at times was hard to sit with because of how real it seems with the current political USA/MX tensions. An important part of the film unites Mexican and Mexican American to overcome the USA’s oppression. This is not a common narrative and was refreshing to see.
MA by Celia Rowlson-Hall
Borderland Saints by Desiree A. Martin
Silver and Gold by Nao Bustamante
Ades, Dawn, Michael Richardson, and Krzysztof Fijałkowski. 2016. The Surrealism Reader: An Anthology of Ideas. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Chadwick, Whitney. 2002. Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement. New York: Thames and Hudson.
González Rita, Noriega Chon, and Howard N. Fox. 2007. Phantom Sightings: Art after the Chicano Movement. Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Castro Yanira. 2014. Court/Garden. Vimeo
Rivera, Alex. 2008. Sleep Dealer. DVD. 90 minutes. Maya Entertainment.