Dying to spare some time for some art

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This is what I have been working on. It’s a project I had started last March in Los Angeles. It’s a travelling performance and video work.

I am hoping to finish filming it by Xmas together with a set of other ideas and projects. Once I have them out of my spinning head and have gathered all the material, I can go ahead to the editing phase, but I have to wait until next year for that. Hopefully by mid January I will be released from all sorts of distracting commitments and engagements that have been keeping me away from my art making. I am dying to go back to all my unfinished art projects that are filling up my mind.

MARK AND MICHELLE’S WEDDING

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Last March I received an email. I was in Los Angeles. The email was from an unknown Mark Janes. I suspiciously opened the email suspiciously read it and tentatively answered it. It was a busy time of travels and departures. My mind somewhere else But made a point to answer as kindly and politely and… Read more.

Hello world! This is my new blog

Dear All,

As you can see I have a new blog! It’s just the continuation of my previous one: http://claudiaborgna.blogspot.it/

Unfortunately that Blog could not host any more images for free. In these past 3 years I have used up my whole one GB available. Now I am  forced to switch to wordpress which can store 3GB worth of images for free.

In order to save money I have to waste more time. It’s an artist life and time doesn’t matter after all!

So here I am now, or better, here I am  for the time being, until I’ll have to move out again!

I’m Clayton and I Know It (Terra Nova National Park)

Please enjoy a most funny video featuring dear friend and performer David Saunders from the Terranova National Park in Newfoundland, Canada.

You might recognize the landscape. On that same stunning shoreline I had installed my bags and filmed few videos. I really miss Newfoundland and the people of the Terranova National Park. This video has brought up so many beautiful memories and loads of healthy laughters.

A PUBLIC AND SAD ANNOUNCEMENT

ALL BY MYSELF, CREATION, DESTRUCTION AND MOURNING

The short life of Casa Didun Artists Greenhouse Residency

Excitement, hope, joy, fear, sadness, frustration, disappointment, surprise, gratefulness are the overwhelming emotions that have crossed this short lived project. Have I jinxed it with my apprehension? Has failure mirrored my anxieties? Were they a premonition that forecasted failure? Or was it a too naive and impulsive enterprise?

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the word abortion but felt it too strong to use in this context. Yet, that is how it feels to abruptly terminate the hopes and potentials of an idea. A fetus that was just about to take form and sprout. All the elements seemed right, the stars all aligned and sending their encouragement. Many hours of work and dedication invested to chase that vision, but then fate changed its mind after all.

The psychological aftermath of failure has left its dark vacuum. For the past days I have engaged with the most depressing and humiliating task: erase everything, including all the wonderful interest that this project had already received so far.

By the way, a public big fat thank you to you all!

If dissembling a project is not as gratifying as creating it, I am coming to terms that in this case it is a very helpful if not necessary phase to process grief.

If you have received this email (below), here is a better analysis of what happened, just carry on reading

Dear artist and art community,

It is with much regret that I have to officially inform you that the Artists Greenhouse residency project has been cancelled.


A series of circumstances that are beyond my control have presented the impossibility to pursue this dream.


I can only assure you that on my behalf the intensions were most serious and that in these past months I have invested all my passion and energy in trying to set a programme up that I believe had great potential and could have benefitted many artists as well as the local community.


It is heartbreaking to see such a good opportunity slip by especially when so many of you had already demonstrated great interest and support for this maybe too naive and impulsive venture. The intentions were good and honest ones, I think I can talk on behalf of Monica Orengo as well.


As an artists myself I feel the weight of the responsibility that comes with art and art making and can only trust in your understanding for I hope that I have not wasted your time nor have negatively changed the way you view my work.


I would like to apologize if I have caused any inconvenience, that is a very distressful thought to me which I bear as part of my learning process.


wishing you all the very best

claudia

While I am at loss and full of doubts about myself, I try to exercise, the best I can, my deepest empathy towards Monica and be respectful as well as understanding of her wishes and needs. Her family being a priority leaves little room for anything else right now. This is one reason that has determined the abrupt ending of our project.

The other factor was the intensity of my rhythms. I fear I might have frightened Monica off with my ardor, killing the project and scaring Monica off art altogether!

It is really hard for me to once again observe how people over here don’t understand the responsibility of art and therefore don’t appreciate how much dedication, energy, passion and time get invested in that process. It really hurts, but then again it’s an arrogant assumption on my part to say that they need art in their lives! Does Dolcedo, Monica and her kids really need art after all? My presumption says yes! How would their life be better? I don’t know.

All these questions have sparked a chain of thoughts and questions that I will never be able to answer. How would my life be without art? Would it be worse? Better? Different? How? Would I be a better person if I had a family and kids? And so on and on and on……

It is so frustrating not to be able to fully grasp important matters. The only things I know is that I am privileged to do what I love and be fretting on such issues!

What I perceive is Monica’s desire to expand her horizons even to art. Unfortunately it is hard to do so in local mainstream mentality, a place where annihilation is easier than to satisfy such ‘exotic’ appetites! Once again Nature is the rescuer of restless souls like us. So we rely on our  beautiful safety net, our common denominator.

I suspect that the underlining friction of our venture, is that I of course don’t fully comprehend how it feels to be a parent and Monica doesn’t understand how it is to be a fully committed artist!

Naturally we all are different with different life priorities. In our case we might have had different visions and ambitions that we were not able to communicate well enough.

Monica had a more relaxed and laid back concept of our project. Step by step and at times an artist would visit, spend a holiday at her property and leave an artwork behind. 

Despite Monica’s generous offer and all my passion and time invested it was humanly impossible to materialize our idea just by ourself, especially at my burning pace!

Even though Monica’s artists’ residency concept is not so much my cup of tea, definitely not a programme I would like to attend, it could have grown had I not killed it.

Very much I would have needed a guide to lead me through a much slower and reassuring working process. My hectic self could not envision that something like this can happen without employing great energy and work.

How to get artists over here? How to motivate them to come over and do interesting works? How to involve the community of Dolcedo? How to convince the local administrations? How to make the most of it all?

Clearly I don’t understand the concept of art and holiday so much. I feel that artists and the communities deserve better. It’s important they feel proud to be part of something greater that promises growth potential and that with their work and presence they are actively contributing to its development.

I think it was our duty to provide food to trigger original ideas generated by the unique scenario we were offering. The local community would have benefitted of that energy and be either directly or indirectly involved. Maybe it was all too ambitious on my part. Still both the community and the artists need a nourishing environment to shine in.

So much for slowing down and slow process. On top of everything else I have also managed to defeat my credo and worked at inhuman corporate city rhythms instead, only for free though! But hey, what’s new?!

I am very far off the ideal of slow living that I preach and aspire for. I am not sure if my germanic genes or my passion are to blame. 

For sure I have been programmed this way by my family and by society, a reality that makes me very angry. How dare they imposing that on me? 

I have been programmed to be productive and as much as I try it is difficult to slow down especially when you love something! Now, how contradictory is that again?!

All along I felt the pressure of time to get the project engine rolling before next summer: my next big deadline. 

I thought that giving it a big push was the right thing to do. I had to test out the situation limits, push all boundaries, but I burned away any other possibility to let the project grow instead.

This is the only way I know how to work, to make an impact and not loose momentum: keep pushing but eventually pushing away too.


Ultimately I wonder if  I could have prevented this failure by being more patient, less enthusiastic and by letting things unfold at a slower pace. This will be my dilemma to work on in the future.



As you know I have been sharing and documenting the artists greenhouse residency project from its very beginning. I feel it is important to do so until its end. Hence the initial title: ‘all by my self: creation and destruction’ I feel I have done it all! Now I carry that burden, all nicely packed inside my suitcases.

The amazing support I have received after sending out the general cancellation email was just surprising. It has lighten up the weight of grieving.

Maybe the day I have accomplished my MFA, (the reason I might be leaving for two years next summer) hopefully wiser this time, I will find another greenhouse to resuscitate this project and invite you all to participate again.

I am already super duper excited at the idea. You and all the other people who have shown so much encouraging interest and support make me want to pursue this venture maybe when time is not strangling the possibility to develop. Maybe Monica by then will also have more time to spare. For sure this idea could have not developed without her and Giacomo’s greenhouse.


…..but who knows what will be next other than good intentions and hard work…………

THE END (of Casa Didun artists’ greenhouse residency)That's the plan

THE ALCHEMY FILM FESTIVAL: Scottish Borders creativity celebrations

I’ve just come back from the Alchemy Film Festival in Scotland, right in the heart of the Scottish Borders. People from all around the globe gathered in the town of Hawick to participate to this great celebration of film, video and creativity that evolved around the theme of nature and its relationship with man. Therefore the name ALCHEMY, I think.
http://www.alchemyfilmfestival.org.uk/

It was such rich and fulfilling experience that I don’t even know where to start from now.

 
Maybe I should begin from Brady, the person who I met first and who drove all the way down to Carlisle to pick me up at the train station. This irish wonder woman steaming energy out of every pore is Mrs Ashrowen, Richard Ashrowen’s wife!

 

Her  energy and skills greatly contributed to the success of the Alchemy festival. 
It was really refreshing to see their young  teen agers daughters participating and helping out during the event. Not to mention wonderful Becki and a whole team of magnificent volunteers who chipped in with their time and energy to make sure everything went as smoothly as it did!

I am always most ineterested and intrigued by the behind the scenes protagonists. To get acquainted with Brady and her family while racing through the winding country roads was the best introduction to the event one could possible imagine.

Even if all films were protagonists of the event, to me Brady and Richard were a delightful highlight: a perfect yin and yang assortment. Richard with his calming relaxed energy perfectly balanced out by Brady’s dynamism.
 

After our car race to Hawick, I catapulted myself into this brand new cosy cinema theatre. I was just about in time for my video screening (Caught in a Shell). I am not sure how my Q&A went. I was still all over the place when I stepped on the sudden stage.

This was the first time I have ever seen one of my videos in such large scale. WOW! It was scary and exciting all at once, maybe a bit embarrassing too. I felt very vulnerable as well as proud but If I had had access to editing equipment I would have not resisted the temptation to start cutting ‘n chopping a little here ‘n a bit there, until nothing left! 

A close friend who lives in London happen to be there too, his scottish mother lives just few miles away so we had lunch in this cosy little library-cafe called Damascus serving really nice simple food. I understand it’s David’s favourite cafe in the whole of Scotland!
That, I think, was the last time I had a half decent meal. The rest of the weekend was full on and non stop. 

But I was there for a reason: to get the most out of the event. 


I normally never really have much time to enjoy video and film works. And watching them on a little laptop screen is not much fun either. Like probably most people attending, I too was hard core. I made sure not to miss out on anything even if it meant to skip meals, something that I rarely like to do!

 

Each session was completed by a Q&A. A vital part of the festival that helped to partly process some of the images and information, although I think I will need couple of months to metabolize all the inputs I have been sponging in that short time!

I was surprise to see how many artists and film makers from across the world gathered in that small village.  The festival was just right in size and the Ashrowens’ warm presence reflected onto the event. A sense of connectedness scented the festival atmosphere. Everybody there was easily approachable and ego free. Even I felt comfortable as I normally tend to shy out from big and intellectual crowds………….

All along I felt very honoured to be part of such wonderful event. I wonder if somebody felt I was a bit of an intruder, me coming from a different art branch and having no technical knowledge as so ever.  Most artists there were definitely in a different league, especially for what concerns film making. I felt it was important to make sure that I was not claiming a territory that is not mine……Yet it was nice to have such diverse variety of films  and videos approaches………Which gave me some peace of mind and a purpose to be there……..
Thank you Richard!
Richard Ashrowen is the curator of the Alchemy film festival as well as an artists himself: 
http://www.ashrowan.com/

What was nice as well was to see local people venturing through the festival.

I was also pleased to notice how many ‘successful’ artists from London and around, returning to their places of origin and creating a very vibrant artists community.
Many of these artists people live in farms in the surrounding countryside. I in fact was very lucky to swap my arranged hotel accommodation for a treat. Scottish artist Helen Douglas welcomed me over her beautiful mill in Yarrow. This not only allowed me to get to know an amazing insightful artist but also to taste the flavour of that very special part of Scotland.
Staying at Helen’s was also very helpful to process the festival experience. In the evening and at breakfast we would share impressions and discuss into detail what had captured us the most. Helen Douglas is an amazing art-book artist, you can have a peek at her work on her website:

Definitely the french do shine and stand out in this art discipline. I got the impression that they are very strongly supported by their government. How wonderful! This of course makes such a big difference and contributes to further many film makers works. 

Despite many french masterpieces, the film that has inspired me the most was Ben Rivers’ ‘Two years at sea’. Jack the scottish hermit featured in the film was there too and mingled with us invited to celebrate and to share his experience. This I thought it a very touching touch. I loved to be able to speak to him and hear his side of the story.


Out of the french videos I really liked Mihai Grecu film ‘Centipede Sun’ the most. The most refreshing and poetic short film was with no doubts Sean Martin’s one. Chilean Enrique Ramirez film shot between Bolivia and Bethun in France was another grand work as well as British film ‘Snowdown’, brilliantly funny and yet very poetic. Jaques Perconte impressionist inspired film was also beautifully impressive.


American filmmaker Robert Todd videos belong to my list of interesting works too. ‘Undergrowth’ featured beautiful shots of a most stunning example of the owl species. The owl eyes acted as a surveillance camera detecting the surrounding woods and throwing those images back at us: the audience.  At the beginning I did not particularly feel for his works.  ‘Undergrowth’ I felt was a little too long for me, and I missed the first part of ‘Within’. But since back at home these works have been growing on me. Especially the film ‘Within’, which has been resonating in the back of my mind making me really appreciate e sensitive frenzied sensitivity inhabiting those images. 

Often I find my self wondering how many artists use this popular medium to actually really connect with their audience rather than run off on our own tortuous intellectual or technical art making tangent. My personal search as an artist is to attempt to bridge over and not just to intellectual crowds. I especially care for reaching out and relate to all sort of different people. Through my artwork I seek a balanced (if such thing can ever exist!) compromise between my personal artistic endeavors of pushing boundaries of new ways of understanding, thinking and of perceiving the world, whilst trying to give access and welcome the viewers rather than make them feel inadequate and therefore scaring them away.

I strongly feel that this festival was successful at reaching this balance in a very inclusive way.

The male dominance in the film industry (maybe that’s why it  has become an industry in the first place) it’s a clear fact even in this context. To have the festival end with a strong female presence was the final magic touch. Artist and film maker Catriona Taylor
was commissioned by the Alchemy Film Festival to make a film. The result was a very poetic documentary on the Hawick Common Riding, a subject that truly involved the whole local community filling up the theatre seats with the town’s inhabitants, who I felt were very well represented and presented.

Overall the success of  this event lies in Richard choice to leave room for the in between. I loved that the hybrid was another protagonist , leaving the door open to an infinite number of possibilities and interpretations.


To conclude I still have to tell you about Saturday and Sunday for the sake of a fair ending!

On Saturday evening a reception was arranged but it had to be brief and we ended it by carrying our drinks and food into the cinema as of course film was the main focus.


Later that night a video lab session lit up the Tower Mill foyer but by then Helen and I were exhausted and left Jack to live the lime night city light, as he said. He was there for the party and very rightly so! I was only sorry that I could not carry on and needed some rest instead.


On Sunday morning a bus drove us out of town into nature to experience a screening in William Johnstone house. We walked into the remote beautiful scottish valley of Ettrik to reach a small house where a generator was pumping images out onto the bare walls.  This film has revealed a great british artist that I did not know. His closeness and insight on nature will make me look for his autobiography……
 
I swear it was full on, but in the best possible  way…….
…..A truly memorable experience…..


MY FIRST EXPERIENCE AS VISITING LECTURER

The reason why I passed through Birmingham was to spend a day with the 1st and 3rd year art students of Oxford Brooks University at Solihull College.

I absolutely love it!

Although by now I have given quite a few artist’s talks, this was even more special for me.

From the very start the whole experience was great.

I have a very strong emotional attachment to this part of the world having lived there for almost four months while attending my artist residency at the REA GARDEN in old victorian industrial Digbeth. But not only that, I was finally able to meet again with Arlene Burnett.

Arlene is a wonderful artist who had founded and curated the Rea Graden Project. Now Arlene is running the art degree for Oxford Brooks University at Solihull college that she has put together herself.

I don’t know why, but somehow I always end up having a good time in the Midlands, the people there are just so lovely, really special indeed.

The night before the lecture Arlene and I met for tea (dinner) at our old local pub: the Old Crown. I was pleased to spot one of the regulars elderly gentleman still hanging out there. Two years have past but he is still sitting on his spot. I fear that the sense of nostalgia brings me to romanticize too much. In the end I don’t really know what has brought him there and about Digbeth.

My partner Veronica would often meet me at the Old Crown after work to enjoy a local pint of beer or two, sometimes accompanied by their irish home made steak pie.

I was already flying, lifted by all those lovely memories, but the students were just the best.

First thing in the morning I bombard them with a 100 slides power point presentation on my work. Seventy five minutes later I decided to spare them from the videos that I had selected for the occasion! Artists residencies and the application process is what we discussed instead until up to lunch time. Right after our break it was tutorials time. I had the privilege to visit their world and enter their studios to discuss their work.

Sadly the Rea garden does not exist anymore. It was a magical semi-outdoor space hiding along the river Rea.

Right beneath a splendid arc of victorian bricks still functioning as railway bridges, this overlooked space was and art hive. Shadowed by beautiful architectural forms it was in fact an appendix of the neighbouring Custard Factory. Arlene had made it even more special by retaining the enchantment of its flourishing decay. A hidden, quite welcoming ‘underground’ space open to everybody to stop by for a cup of tea and a bite of art by the wooden stove in the wooden shed.

I hope Arlene will be able to rescue the Rea Garden’s website that documents how much hard work and excitement went into that project as well as all the artists that passed through it contributing to a very exciting cultural programme.

GREEN PEACE IN BIRMINGHAM selling the Arctic

Well, from London I made my way up to Birmingham. Walking from the train station towards the Ikon Gallery I bumped into a green Tshirt worn by green peace activist Matthew Williams. In the grey drizzly cold air he stop me with his bare arms to talk me into buying the Arctic, or at least to persuade me into owning just a little bit of it!
I really love and support that visionary project but being penniless my self I could not possibly afford the twelve pounds of monthly payments. So what will happen?  Will rich people eventually get it? Hopefully they will be responsible and not defeat the purpose of this action and the dreams of many people.

I did not know, but Matthew informed me that Green Peace had already previously accomplished the purchase of the Antarctic. WOW, what an amazing achievement that is! Would love to be part of such endeavor, but for now I better stick to my little new artists’ greenhouse project, I am barely catching up with that!

If anybody cares and can afford buying the Arctic do email Matthew on: matthewwilliams1990@gmail.com

and if anybody wants to join the artist greenhouse check out its new blog for info:
http://artistsgreenhouse.wordpress.com/

THE LAUNDRY ROOM AT BALINHOUSEPROJECTS

While in London I attended a very interesting and special art event:

Richard Wentworth walk and talk in collaboration with BHP

A project By Eduardo Padilha & Maiko Tsutsumi

I was glad not to miss this opportunity and to enjoy some of Richard Wentworth early photographic works set in a cosy common laundry room inside a 1930s South London Council Block. Michael Marriot also being part of the deal, interacted with that very same space mechanically carving out large peep holes. A simple gist that opened up the space and our imagination……..

Superstar artist Richard Wentworht was adorable leading a nice crowd through the neighbourhood and to the local pub for more conversation and sharings…….

Here are more info about that event
BALINHOUSEPROJECTS

Date and Location

Monday 22nd October

Departing from BalinHouseProjects at 6.30 pm

The Laundry Room will be open from 5.30 pm with refreshments

For further information or to take part please visit

balinhouseprojects.wordpress.com or contact Eduardo Padilha:

eduardo@balinhouseprojects / 07813 949080

Balin House Projects

Flat 22, Balin House

Long Lane

London SE1 1YQ

“Richard Wentworth holds unusual keys to the area, knowing it first in the year he left school in 1965. He lived from 1967 until 1974 on Balfour Street SE17 and watched the preparations for the construction of the Heygate Estate,and the arrival of its first occupants. In 1969,with other RCA graduates, he founded Dilston Studio (now Grove) which was his workshop until 1978.His association with the invention of ‘Goldsmiths’ in these years coincided with the first period of decline in the docks , warehousing ,stockholding and manufacturing throughout SE1, SE16, SE11 and SE17, penetrating down into SE5. His records of this path to dereliction and social and technological change, formed the base for his work “Making Do and Getting By’, first seen at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1985.Wentworth describes this as an accidental glossary , a compendium of small acts which provided some of the adhesion and cohesion over this period.

He came to see that this is a ‘dialect’, a ‘lingo’, a kind of cultural continuum , employed by humans as prescient adjustments in unstable moments.”