Squeaky Wheel announces Summer 2018 Workspace Residents
Contact: Ekrem Serdar (firstname.lastname@example.org)
[July 11, 2018: Buffalo, NY] Squeaky Wheel Film & Media Art Center is pleased to announce its Workspace residents for Summer 2018. This August, we will welcome three residents for a three week period, during which the artists and researchers will be given time and resources to develop works-in-progress and new projects. The residency will provide artists Avye Alexandres (Buffalo, NY) and Emily Martinez (Glendale, CA) and researcher Devin Hentz (Dakar, Senegal) with a stipend, travel and housing support, along with tailored access to equipment, technical consultations, and facilities at Squeaky Wheel and our collaborating partners––Buffalo Game Space, The Foundry, and Silo City.
Research resident Devin Hentz will be doing investigative work on the linguistic implications of the vocabulary that develops around second-hand clothing in African countries. She will also design and construct new textiles that play or refer to these local names and their literal meanings / translations through the use of 3D models. Artist Resident Emily Martinez will be working on a series of videos for an escape room that builds towards a live-action multimedia game Eternal Boy Playground. The game explores cultural tropes and trends that spring up around cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as they relate to the utopian ideals of a group of self-proclaimed “Puertopians” who are flocking to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Finally, Silo City Resident Avye Alexandres will be utilizing Buffalo’s most well-known public landmark, Silo City, to present an absurdist performance sparked by the manipulative tactics and rhetoric used in housing market investment education workshops.
The public will have the opportunity to engage with the residents at several public events. All three residents will be delivering a public presentation on their projects on Wednesday, August 8th at 7pm. On Wednesday, August 15, 6–8pm, Emily Martinez will lead a masterclass on artist made extensions for Google’s Chrome Web Browser and teach participants how to make their own. The residency will culminate with a public performance of Avye Alexandres’ project at Silo City on August 24th, at 8pm. Additional public events and masterclasses will be announced soon.
During their time at Squeaky Wheel, residents will be encouraged to connect with local art and cultural communities by participating in one-on-one critique sessions, studio visits, site visits, and activities that engage Buffalo’s local history, as well as current initiatives led by community groups around the city. Residents benefit from the opportunity to publicly share and receive feedback for their work. Our artists and researchers will be invited to a variety of site visits and activities exploring Buffalo’s unique communities and histories.
The Summer 2018 residency was juried by Nitasha Dhillon, Bryan Lee, and Mark Longolucco. Biographies and project proposals of the residents, and biographies of the jury can be found below.
About the program
Workspace Residency is a unique artist residency which supports local, regional and national media artists and researchers who are working on projects in film, video, audio, interactive media and emerging technologies in any stage of production. Founded in 2016 by Squeaky Wheel Film and Media Art Center in Buffalo, New York, in collaboration with local partners Buffalo Game Space, The Foundry, and Silo City, the residency provides support through equipment, facilities, and technical support for artists experimenting across a range of old and new technologies, such as video, sound, digital platforms, interactivity, virtual reality, and 3D printing. Community outreach and public engagement components include presentation and education activities. A list of previous residents can be found here.
Workspace Residency is made possible with generous support from the County of Erie and County Executive Mark Poloncarz, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, individual members, businesses, and supporters.
SILO CITY RESIDENT
Avye Alexandres was born in Athens, Greece, and moved to the United States at the age of six. Her multidisciplinary art practice, which investigates the psychosocial ramifications of structures and space, stems from her background in photography and theatre. Evolving from site-based performances her work now encompasses immersive sculpture, locative media, experimental digital narratives, conceptual works, photography and video, as well as participatory experiences and installations. In 2015, she received her MFA in Art and Emerging Practices from the University at Buffalo, and has exhibited at venues such as the Burchfield Penney Art Center, The Soap Factory, IFP-MN Center for Media Arts, and the Weismann Art Museum.
This new project began as an inquiry into the commoditization and celebrification of housing market education. Introductory Real Estate Investing workshops advertised with figureheads from reality TV house flipping shows promise to let you “…see why people, just like you, are making money and having lots of success using our investing strategies, techniques, and systems.” I became interested expressly in the rhetoric and tactics used at these events to entice attendees into buying further ‘education’ packages. The events incite the audience in ways akin to how congregational theatre uses rhetorical motivational prompts to goad and engage. Presenters sympathize with common economic realities – student debt, credit card debt, pending retirement, etc, championing these as the best reasons to take the leap to learn their investing and/or house flipping system. Through dramatization and play, my project explores the marketing culture of this enterprise, its rhetoric around self-education and self-actualization, and its promise of economic relief through the erasure of interaction with actual housing stock. Using scripts recorded from these events as source material, I am developing a series currently titled “Flipping Me, Flipping You,” which will contain sets of videos, objects and documents. During the residency I will explore the interactive potential of the series for a future installation/game to be maneuvered through a series of chance operations sparked by religio-manipulative, absurdist, and reductive tactics. I have been interested in the dramatic potential of Silo City since moving to Buffalo, and until now, have not found an intersection with my projects. The conceptual challenge of my project is the “erasure of the house,” an aspect subtly championed in the realm of real estate investing. This performance is situated perfectly within the post-industrial reuse zone of the Silos and surrounding landscape, where there is no visual reference or cue to neighborhoods or houses. For the Silo City event on the 24th, in a structured improvisational performance, the character from my sparkling head video series will come to life and perform a dance to the tune of the source material recordings, layered and transmogrified into a soundscape.
Devin Hentz is a researcher and writer based in Dakar, Senegal. She recently participated in the second session of the RAW Academie, directed by Chimurenga, at RAW Material Company before working there as a librarian and researcher. She is the founder of the B/Look Club which meets once per month to activate the archive of RAW Base (RAW’s Library). Her writings have been published in LESS Magazine and the upcoming issue of Something We Africans Got. Her areas of interests include, Afro/African futures, development narratives in Africa, dress practices, and radical pedagogy.
During my three week residency, I would like to continue my research into the phenomenon of second hand clothing in African dress practices. Second hand clothing is charitably donated in the United States and Europe, and then sold wholesale to developing countries, especially in Africa. The usual discourse surrounding the items is on how they impact the economy and the production and use of ‘traditional’ African cloth. My particular focus in on how these clothing items embed themselves in African language consciousness and the space they are afforded in the African lexicon of fashion and dress. My research departs from an article written by anthropologist Karen Tranberg Hansen. In her study of salaula, the name given to second-hand clothing in Zambia, she also lists the name for second hand clothing in other local languages in countries around Africa. Once translated to English, these names reveal a lot about how these clothes and their original owners are viewed, as well how they are selected in their respective country. Hansen states: “It is known by local terms that mean “dead white men’s clothes” in Ghana, “died in Europe” in northwestern Tanzania (Weiss 1996:138), and “shake and sell” in Senegal (Heath 1992: 28). In East Africa it is called mitumba, which is Swahili for “bale.” In Malawi, it is kaunjika, which in Nyanja/Chewa means “to pick,” while in Zambia salaula means in Bemba “selecting from a pile in the manner of rummaging.”
During my residency, I would like to further collect and explore the implication of these terms, as well design and construct new textiles which play or refer to these local names and their literal meanings / translations. To do this in the allotted three week period, I will collect text on the subject, read and analyze them before arriving, and while in residence. I will also design (and hopefully construct) my textiles. I hope to use the textile lab at the foundry to create digital embroidery files, print on textiles, and use the pre-production stage of 3D modeling to construct textile and clothing using 3D modeling technology (a skill which will allow me to translate tactile textiles into the digital realm). This research will result in a new text, as well as new textiles that will play into the African use of cloth as communication, as well as become a starting point for conversations about the connection between clothing and language.
Emily Martinez is a new media artist, front-end developer, digital strategist, educator, and serial collaborator. She believes in the tactical misuse of technology, and makes artworks that take on the sharing economy, digital labor struggles, algorithmic bias, surveillance capitalism, crypto colonialism, tech bros, and tech culture at large. Emily’s art and research has been published in Leonardo Journal (MIT Press), Entreprecariat (Institute of Network Cultures), Temporary Art Review, and Filmmaker Magazine. She has exhibited at The Wrong Biennale, Transmediale, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, MoMA PS1, V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media, WRO Media Art Biennale, and The Luminary.
Eternal Boy Playground¹ is an art installation and game about cryptocurrencies, crypto colonialism and crypto cultures by art collective Anxious to Make (Emily Martinez and Liat Berdugo). Our live-action, multimedia game will explore the cultural tropes and trends surrounding cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, particularly as they relate to the utopian ideals of the new “crypto-paradise” in Puerto Rico, to which a growing group of self-proclaimed “Puertopians” are flocking in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The game will explore what it means to recolonize Puerto Rico in the image of this libertarian, tech bro fantasy. It will also look at Miami’s role as a transnational hub for underground economies, money laundering, and pyramid schemes involving cryptocurrencies.
Game play will take the form of a panic room or escape room, juxtaposing the doomsday anxiety of the present moment with the promise of a bright, tropical, crypto future. Inside the room, there will be videos projected on opposite walls depicting various scenes and stages of play. Participants will attempt to solve puzzles together to stay alive, e.g. building a giant pyramid together using inflatable, wobbly “blocks” in hurricane force winds. These winds will be powered by industrial fans that turn on whenever the price of Bitcoin fluctuates. Game aesthetics will be deeply influenced by colonial visions, dystopian vibes, tropical fruit, the occult, and our favorite game shows: Sabado Gigante and The Price is Right. The exhibition will also include a repurposed BTM (Bitcoin ATM) which will sit in the front window of the gallery, visible from the street. Our BTM will be outfitted with custom software programmed to function like a fortune telling device which predicts and prints your crypto prophecy. While in residence at Squeaky Wheel, my priority will be to work on producing and editing the video content for the “escape room” installation. If time and resources permit, I will also work on designing the housing (face plate) for the BTM machine.
¹Puertopia translates to “eternal boy playground” in Latin. When the Puertopians (embarrassingly) discovered this, they changed their project’s name to “Sol”.
Bios of the jury
Nitasha Dhillon has a BA in Mathematics from St Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, and attended the Whitney Independent Study Program in New York and School of International Center of Photography. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Department of Media Study at the University of Buffalo in New York. Nitasha’s practice joins research, aesthetics, organizing, and action as part of the MTL Collective with Amin Husain. As MTL, the two co-founded Tidal: Occupy Theory, Occupy Strategy magazine, Global Ultra Luxury Faction, the direct action arm of Gulf Labor Artists Coalition, Strike Debt and Rolling Jubilee, Direct Action Front for Palestine, Decolonial Cultural Front, and most recently, Decolonize This Place, a movement space and formation in New York City which combines cultural events with organizing, art, and action around five strands of struggle: Indigenous Struggle, Black Liberation, Free Palestine, Global Wage Worker, and De-Gentrification.
Cheng Yang “Bryan” Lee is the curator at El Museo, a nonprofit arts organization in Buffalo that focuses on underserved artists and communities. He is also an independent artist and designer. Originally from Malaysia, Bryan received a BA in anthropology and sociology from the University at Buffalo.
Mark Longolucco has been the Technical Director at Squeaky Wheel for 8 years, overseeing the equipment rental program, membership relations, the maintenance of lab facilities, and installation. He instructs various Squeaky Wheel workshops and tutorials, including topics in video production, video editing, and sound recording. He received his BFA from Alfred University in video and sound. Mark continues to make media-based works centered around folk artist storytelling and the elusive nature of the contemporary fact.