in translation

One of my main goals for this residency is to look back and reflect about material accumulated. And another is to write. To write for a new video piece but also to simply write more, not about my work but more generally about ideas. It is difficult to face the blank page, so with the writing I am also looking back, at my own texts and others that inspire me. I have come across a translation I did some months ago of some texts by my grandfather. My grandfather passed away when I was young. He had a passion for writing and he always shared with me the texts he wrote. Some are short stories he wrote for his grandchildren, others are about his experiences in the war, about my grandmother or just about his thoughts. This has been a project in the back of my mind for years. I wanted to do a piece about his writings and I finally started to put them into english (not because the work had to be in english, but because this is my adoptive language and I felt it would be interesting to have them translated). I have started this several times but for some reason or another it has never taken a complete form, maybe it is something I have to work on little by little, in fragments.

It is good to have time now to pick this up again. I have finished one of his texts and I would like to share it. I have chosen this one for no particular reason, it happens it was written from my parents house in Santander, and I have just been looking at some footage I took last summer from the same balcony, of a lighting storm at night. The city was very quiet and I couldn’t hear thunder, only lighting flashing every now and then. Maybe I will put the video up sometime. For now, here is the text…(click on ‘read more’ below to see it)

A journey into the coreless night. Continue reading “in translation”

a wondering seagull

Today I have spent the day looking at footage I’ve collected over the last year. Last summer in Santander: planes, clouds, lighting storm, New York last month: more planes, trains, busy streets, and Granada last week: swallows, mountains, wind turbines… and also some tests I did in my studio at Bloc with some family photographs…which I will return to later.

When you look at so much material, it is difficult to make decisions, to stop looking and start selecting, editing, cutting. In a very long take I filmed a seagull standing on a roof opposite my parents house in Santander. It just stayed there, looking over the city, contemplating, not able to decide on which direction to take off.

Today, I feel like that seagull, from this little white room, revising, looking and wondering, hoping for concrete ideas to take flight at any point…

Day One: Plans…

Today I have started my one-month residency at Occursus (in Site Gallery, Sheffield). Here I will be updating a journal with thoughts and images of my progress. I have various plans for my time at Site but I will mainly be working on a new piece of video work.

My recent work revolves around ideas of travel and home and the relationship between the two. I work with footage that I collect from different places I have visited, or with found footage that I re-edit. The new work I will be working on will be written in collaboration with artist Markus Lantto, with whom I have previously collaborated during my residency in Norway. We will be working long-distance and I feel this will become an integral part of the work as this new work will revolve around ideas of distant observation, travel, exploration and maps. I am interested in dysfunctional maps, imaginary or obsolete maps. I have been fascinated by the history of Percival Lowell’s misinterpretations of Martian Canals. Link to article on Percival Lowell

These are some subjects which I will develop during this residency. I am very much looking forward to start working…

Hondartza Fraga begins her occursus residency at Site Gallery today

Hondartza Fraga begins a four-week project as occursus artist in residence at Site Gallery today.

As the residency progresses, we will be publishing updates, including images and texts, on this site.

Laurence Piercy has been commissioned to write a text about Hondartza’s residency and her work, which will be published here as a downloadable pdf in the near future.

I am a visual artist, originally from Spain, based in the UK since 2005. I keep my practice active between the cities of Santander (northern Spain) and Sheffield. The common thread running through my work is the individual and collective relation to the world around us; the different ‘distances’ between ourselves and everything else: spatial, temporal, emotional, cultural and imagined. The cultural exchange between home and homeland is implied – more or less unconsciously – in most of my work.

My work explores the relation of dependency between images, objects and the individual. I am interested in different image-making processes to explore the physical and emotional distance between opposites. I use different mediums in my practice, primarily drawing, photography and video.

My latest works revolve around the notion of loss, distance, journey and the meaning of home. In my drawing, I am interested in using souvenirs and domestic objects to force a dialogue between the domestic and the remote, suggesting narrative and contradictions between seemingly unconnected subjects.

Hondartza Fraga, 2011.

Response to Reading Loop, 11/5/11

I had hitherto concealed the secret of my dress, in order to distinguish myself as much as possible from that cursed race of yahoos; but now I found it in vain to do so any longer. Besides, I considered that my clothes and shoes would soon wear out, which already were in a declining condition, and must be supplied by some contrivance from the hides of yahoos or other brutes; whereby the whole secret would be known.

(Jonathan Swift, 1726)

Language can only describe the shores of our exile, and what is contained within.

Outside, the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck… Something great and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic invasion…

(Joseph Conrad)

We may, in our endless freedom, construct metaphors of escape, but whether they sink or sail is unimportant, for they do both in perpetuity. Left to stroll aimlessly, what we do not see is always a reminder of what we have seen – shades are reflections of the sun.

Home, this mystical lacking, primordial and vague, is here defined in opposition – it is a place of un-exile. Because opposites cannot be reconciled, the result, in this instance, perhaps in all, is a painful awareness of separation, a nostalgia. Preoccupation with this space between opposites is utopian thought; all utopian thought is nostalgic.

Karatani relates a practice of Zen Buddhism, in which a disciple sits before the teacher, and is presented with a number of alternatives, all of them unpleasant, from which he must choose one. The student chooses none: he walks away. Is such a thing possible in the dichotomy described above? Is the restriction of dialectic a matter of choice?

An allusion to a metaphor of escape:

What if there was more than one language? What if there was some meta-language, which is assumed not to exist because to confirm it would necessitate translation? Any description, such as this one, is another denial. To call it ‘meta-language’ is a cutesy affront; ‘passive’ or ‘existential language’ only create further binaries. ‘Aporian language’ might be better, but even this is ‘infinitely false’ (De Quincey). All allusions to its existence, like this paragraph, teeter hopelessly – mystically – into a pit, in which prowl the vague, the primordial, and other linguistic creatures.


Awkwardness: a methodology

Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories and the City: ‘And just as we learn about our lives from others, so, too, do we let others shape our understanding of the city in which we live’.
It’s important to explain that we began in a very unscripted way and, even now, I can describe no ending – only our many provisional endings and also, I hope, another beginning… Each workshop begins with a presentation by a researcher or practitioner, which opens up discussions in which multiple points of view are exchanged and – somewhere amidst these hybrid knowledges – points of consensus and dissensus – threads, if you like – begin to emerge.
And yet still, no sense of where we are going; no idea of what or whom we might encounter on the way…
Collaboration: ‘a good way of confounding intentions’ (Tim Etchells)
Collaboration: a way of keeping the future open; of unlocking the potential for and the possibility of change.
When we began our workshops, there were many awkward silences, particularly at the beginning when really, we didn’t know each other at all. There was a sense that in our discussions, we were rummaging for the right words, working out – awkwardly – how we might talk to each other. Navigating a complex process of translation that at often served to underline, rather than erase, our different disciplines and experiential/professional backgrounds… Saying too much and at other times too little, we stammered and stuttered, making excuses for ourselves and our perspectives, worried about crossing a tangled web of lines which for the most part, we couldn’t even define. Fearing to step on each other’s toes… hoping we were saying nothing too stupid… wondering whether our blue sky thinking was actually just impractical and naïve…

Awkward: feeling out of kilter; uncomfortable; out of our depth and also unbounded… Our edges suddenly porous and vulnerable…

Collaboration: ‘neither a union nor a juxtaposition, but the birth of a stammering, the outline of a broken line which always sets off at right angles, a sort of active and creative line of flight’ (Gilles Deleuze)

Encounter: ‘no correct ideas, just ideas. Just ideas: this is the encounter, the becoming’ (Gilles Deleuze)

Awkard: a conversation which transforms rather than affirms; challenges, rather than reproduces…

Because our encounters were unscripted, there was no sense that we were making testing, refining and clarifying an idea which we had posited at the outset. A multiplicity of variables, actors, absences and presences produced something (a cloud of ideas, some possibilities for future action and collaboration, some friendships and a plan for a research network) which will have a life beyond this residency, beyond this series of workshops and discussions. Awkward: ‘this inability to arrive’ (Mary Cappello)

And yet this awkwardness, this sense of being off message, at a tangent, off the mark or wildly adrift…  Inching our way forward, with no clear sense of direction, no understanding of where we wanted to be… this has come to be – for me, at least – a kind of methodology.

Awkward: 1340, “in the wrong direction,” from awk “back-handed” (obsolete since 1600s), from O.N. afugr “turned backwards” (from P.Gmc. *afug-, from PIE *apu-ko-, from base *apo- “off, away;” see apo-) + adverbial suffix -weard. Meaning “clumsy” first recorded 1530. (Online Etymology Dictionary)

Awkward: a stumbling block

Awkwardness: resistance to linear narratives of progress and regeneration

‘Sometimes you have to go backward in order to go forward, it is said, but why the primacy on forward, and how did forward come to mean pushy, stubborn, immovable after all? If our faces and eyes let forward motion win the day, then maybe awkwardness depends on a revaluation of the sense. Imagine being able to say, encouragingly: “place your best foot awkward”, rather than forward… or, with adamancy, “you need to move awkward”…’ (Mary Cappello)

Awkward: ‘untoward’

‘to be untoward is to be hard to manage, to be unseemly, and again, like a belch in the middle of the sermon, perverse, where “toward” means docile, compliant, tractable, educable…’ (Mary Cappello)

The awkwardness of the holes which punctuate our cities…

Holes in the city, holes in the road, holes in the architectural fabric… Holes past and holes present, which trip us up, make us stumble and fall, necessitating detours and causing us to glance, where once we might have ignored… Holes: they force us to think about that which we usually pass over and pass through, without giving it a second thought. They draw our attention to spaces which we rarely, in fact, (take the time to) see… Holes: we have to walk around them, step over them… Holes cause us to deviate from our normal paths.

Could we think about holes as negative space? Negative space – as all arts students learn – gives us a different perspective on what is there… A void which becomes substantial and reconfigures the space around it, disrupts the unthinking ways in which we practise that space…

James C. Kent, awkward turtle (roundtable, St Pancras)
Awkwardness: the art of looking sideways?The awkward present: elided as we focus, stubbornly, on our pasts and futures…The present as a kind of limbo: a hole in time, when our usual methods and solutions no longer hold good. A time, then, to reflect and in which to think differently.Holes: a timely space in which to disorder our thoughts and form disorganisations.To walk the trajectories in between, to visit absent landmarks and inhabit suspended sites…To think about how we might reuse and recuperate what is there already… to make do, in a creative and ethical way…Nicolas Moulin spoke of the confrontation between order and entropic forces (an echo of which we find, perhaps, in the relationship between culture and art). He said, during a workshop in Sheffield in 2009: a society that cannot live with disorder is an unliveable society.In what ways, then, can this period of uncertainty be embraced as a disordering of our planning and perceptions?In what ways might we embrace it, precisely with the aim of making our cities more liveable?