Every Wednesday afternoon, 27 people gather to discuss artwork in Long Island City. Sounds interesting, and it is. The only problem is that the room has no windows.
Could this have been what motivated Cary Tijerina to take us all out to the streets? Did he liberate us from the asphyxiating surroundings of the gallery room where we generally sit for three hours, unto the refreshing freedom of going out for a walk? Cary puts on his construction gloves, takes a paper map that is wrinkled and marked, and shows us the way.
Cary is -amongst other things- an artist. My perception is that he’s also an anthropologist, a collector, a performer, and a philosopher. A walker and a natural-born instigator. A true provocateur.
He does not stand still with authority; he is interested in process. The process of making, of thinking.
He is interested in human interaction and in collaboration. I think that what he is up to is truly just investigating.
His work oscillates between constant contradictions.
“All of these waters are not for touching” is the title of the experience Cary has manufactured along with Francine Grenci, a Queens based jeweler and artist. The ongoing project is an ensemble of ideas, moments, actions and anecdotes that the two artists have been collecting for the past months. What started out as a date, took this couple of wonderers to walk in several occasions along the twenty one miles border that divides Queens and Brooklyn. By constantly going back, they have discovered places that interest them, a lot of them they refer to as “non-places” (what is, I wonder, a site and what is non-site? anyway). They have documented their paths, they have collected objects, some of which they have cleaned, polished and reused, creating sculptures, installations or simply re-contextualizing them into new ways, new places, new possibilities.
They have met people and listened to their stories; scribbled memories of conversations and interactions.
Cary and Francine have concentrated on a particular site under a highway, on the corner of 49th avenue and 21st street in Long Island City. A triangular space where trains, cars, people, pigeons, and rats meet. They have cleaned up this space over and over again. They have removed about twenty seven trash bags. This site is the home of a beautiful mural that has been vandalized, tagged, sprayed, like so many other walls in our city. A place that has been forgotten or unseen by so many, that they have discovered, conquered and shared.
Cary’s practice is immersed within a conversation of collective thinkers, urban planners, interventionists. Artists such as William Pope L. and Harrell Fletcher have inspired his street work. After talking to him and seeing him work, it reminded me of the working processes of artists like Hamish Fulton, Gabriel Orozco, Francis Alÿs, Richard Long and my good friend Rubén Miranda –just to mention a few-.
The thoughts are many. More so are the questions: how does one prepare when invited to go somewhere? What is the meaning of anticipation? What is the role of an artist? Is labor part of the making process relevant to Art? What is the confusing part about understanding art? Is it the problem that it has become a commodity, or rather a spectacle? What are the boundaries between acting, performing and lying? How does intentionality kick-in? What is the line that divides art from life? Where should one work? What do we understand as a private space and what separates it from the public domain? What is the difference between a stroll, a walk, a procession? A march? A protest? How is a group-walk conducted? How is a guided walk different from a lonely one? Who guides and why? Who follows? What do we expect? Who do expect it from and why? What’s expected from us? As viewers, as neighbors? Where do our minds go when walking? How much attention do we pay to our surroundings? How many things do we take for granted? How many others do we just never look at? Why? How many assumptions do we make? Of the place we live in? the people around us? our environment? our systems? How many expectations do we put in an art piece when it becomes an experience? Or when it simply is what it is? Who makes the decisions? How do we relate to printed maps? Or to passersby? or the singing of the birds? Do we hear them? Do they become just white noise kinda interfering with our stream of consciousness? How do we navigate in space? What are our means of locomotion? How does that affect time? How are we constantly leaving footprints and marks? What is our relationship to the objects around us? When does an object have completed a cycle? How can an object become something new? What does any given object serve for? What is the meaning of service? What is the power of authority and who controls it? What does control mean? How do we go about the things we simply can’t control? Like the weather.
There will be a talk with the artists at 24-20 Jackson ave. 3rd floor LIC. from 6-9 pm on February 21st; and an open invitation to come walk along on Saturday at 3 p.m. sharp.
You can check out their work here: somethingthewholeworldisdoing.tumblr.com