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[Art] is a matter of producing ourselves,

and not things that enslave us. (Guy Debord)

 

Artistic Statement

 

Luisca’s creative ideas easily become a large-scale and elaborate production. This characteristic has made it vital for him to work collaboratively with other artists, from whom his work has benefited. While first he worked as dancer, actor and dramaturge with a number of contemporary dance companies in Bogotá and New York City, since 2002 he has been engaged with devising and performing his own ideas. Some of these ideas have taken the shape of large-scale events that require audience participation.

His most recent work The Shoemakers’ Ball was a site-specific ball with a difference. The Shoemakers’ Ball uses the found cultural practice of an English tea dance to collectively and collaboratively perform with the members of the public a gesture that acknowledges and commemorates the significance of the local shoe industry for the production of a ‘sense of place’ in the English town of Northampton. It was sited in a redundant shoe factory in Northampton and it was presented both as part of the Northampton Music and Arts Festival (2005 and 2006) and of the national event Big Dance (2006). During the ball, the public could visit different rooms where there were installations to interact with. In addition, the public could listen to sound tracks at wish with interviews of former shoemakers and current representatives of the local shoe industry, watch a live VJeing that mixed video footage related to the theme of the shoe manufacturing with images of the space captured by a live cam, and they could socialize by dancing to a live band. The piece was created, performed and produced in collaboration with French artist Chris. Dugrenier, and funded by the Arts Council England and other local sponsors, both public and private. It involved the commissioning of a caw sculpture, of a piece of electronic music, and of a video production. During the ball, a number of micro-performances took place, whereby Luisca and Chris Dugrenier performed as themselves in order to communicate to the audience their desire as foreign nationals to understand the history, the present, and the future of that English town in which the event was happening and of which, by chance, they were at that time part of as immigrants.

The Shoemakers’ Ball explores further and in a cultural context foreign to him a number of elements that he had started to explore in his 2003 collaborative piece Nosotros la Selección Colombia/We The Colombia National Team. In that piece, which he created in collaboration with visual artist Antonio Cadavid, and that was commissioned by the organizers of the national peace campaigning event Semana por la Paz, he combines a participation and process-like happening/performance format with site-specific art and live DJeing. For that project, again, different objects and one sculpture were sub-commissioned to local artists of different specialties.

Nosotros la Selección Colombia/We the Colombia National Team is the attempt to embody the Colombian map from the perspective of eleven internally displaced persons who now live and work as ‘vendedores ambulantes’ (traveling or mobile salespersons) in the streets of Bogotá, the Colombian capital city. Rather than to represent the country’s territory through a conventional cartographic process, this piece performed a mapping of the different and personal routes that each one of the eleven displaced persons had to endure in order to escape from a real and violent menace to which they were exposed in their place of origin in the Colombian country side. Formally, the aim of the event is to invite the public to interact with the salespersons and in so doing to help them to move or travel from their place of origin on a large-scale Colombian map all the way up until they reach their current geographical position in real life, which in all of the eleven cases is Bogotá. The action of the performance took place on a large-scale political map of Colombia that was outlined onto a football field. More concretely, the football field was overlaid with the Colombian map, turning the playground into a space of politics and the national territory into a kind of playground.

Nosotros la Selección Colombia/We The Colombia National Team took place on 23rd September 2003, the same day that the Colombian football national team was playing a qualifying match against Bolivia for a place in the world cup 2006 (which Colombia lost 4-0). A local TV news program made a note on the performance some hours before the actual Colombia-Bolivia match and the presenter commented about the piece ‘all counts for making peace happen in Colombia’. This televisual intervention turned the piece into a public event for a wider audience. Luisca is interested in continuing exploring ways of turning participation performances into mass media events. Further, this illustrates Luisca’s interest in blurring the boundary between ethics and aesthetics in performance through participation, mapping and site-sensitive strategies.  

In 2004, the University of Northampton, UK, awarded him with a grant for a PhD in Performance Studies, in which he has been working ever since. Using Nosotros la Selección Colombia/We The Colombia National Team as an initial case, he has collected over seventy examples that in one way or another use the language of mapping as a model for performance composition. His thesis, which is due for submission in October 2008, terms this type of practice Participation Cartography.

As both The Shoemakers’ Ball and Nosotros la Selección Colombia/We The Colombia National Team illustrate, a recurring aesthetic interest of Luisca is to explore ways of allowing professional performers and participants alike to perform ‘presentations of their Self’ within a performance context. For this to happen he has used sound, video, VJeing, Djeing, and live interaction frameworks. This feature of his work positions his large-scale participation pieces close to a genre that might be called docuperformance, a term first used by Singaporean theatre director Ong Keng Sen. However, the reality Luisca documents in collaboration with the participants is largely entwined with the extraordinary elements that a performance context enables. Furthermore, his interests are clearly in tune with what Nicolas Bourriaud has termed relational aesthetics.

Another strand of Luisca’s work explores ways of combining live choral music, found sounds and live action in public spaces. Esa Ondulante Serenidad del Viento/That Undulating Serenity of Wind (2002) is a piece in which he performs a Solo dance-theatrical score to a song that is both sacred and traditional, which was delivered by soprano Colombian singer Angelica Daza. The piece took place outdoors and makes visible how the building in which it takes place is an element of the mountainous environment in which it is sited and where the wind blows constantly. As in a traditional catholic procession, the public follows the male dancer from the starting point where he stands for a while allowing the wind wave his cloths. From there, they all walk to a public space where the audience gathers to observe a performance of him and the singer.

On a whole, Luisca’s work is sited in non-conventional spaces. This attests to his interest in restoring the missing continuity between performance and everyday life experience. In this his work echoes what Allan Kaprow, the Situationists and other avant-garde experimenters have done in the past. Although he is Colombian and is interested in developing work on specific local issues there, his major concerns are broadly humanistic and address a wide open-minded and intelligent audience. In his pieces, there is always the chance to simply observe. Nobody is forced to participate. However, if you don’t participate, you may miss the point that Luisca’s art is trying to make, namely that performance art’s vibrancy lies in its capacity to be a live collective affair that does not distinguish between artists and audiences.

 

 
         
   
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