Flávia Palladino: Things that I find to be beautiful.

‘Aeroponic’ – root systems nourished by air – Acts is the name given to the nomadic Dutch Art Institute’s final Kitchen presentations. Each participant addresses one question. 

Here you will find the documentation of Flávia Palladino's presentation as filmed by Baha Görkem Yalım. The written report is by Bethany Crawford and it includes a summary of the comments by esteemed guest respondents.

Things that I find to be beautiful.

Flávia's question: What in the past is already the future otherwise?

Flávia's introduction: Five artists share recent works freely inspired by the photographs of Alvin Baltrop (1948-2004). Participants in alphabetical order: Edna Geovetty (Angola), Flávia Palladino (Brazil), Juliana Damázio (Brazil), Juris Marnavskis (Latvia), Kameron Locke (U.S.A.)

Bethany's report: Palladino relays the experiences, histories and intimacies absent from dominant archival and historical practices in a presentation of the work of five artists inspired by the work of Alvin Baltop, a collective and empowering response to the oppressive and colonial-reproductive space of Radio Kootwijk. The artist thanks her collaborators and explains her engagement with Baltop, whose work acts as a family album for the 1970s New York queer community and marginalized spaces that would otherwise be forgotten. He left behind a huge archive of negatives from his three decades of photography that gained value after his death. She brings in her theory tutor Hypatia Vourloumis’ reflection on her presentation question, that ‘the key is to find the right ancestors’. She introduces each of the works and the collaborators; some are shown together and others alone: Kameron Locke’s moving-image collage of spoken word, song and reflections on the experience of loneliness convey his being a black man in a predominantly white space, and seeing community through performance; Juliana Damazio’s looped image track of intimate family photos is centralized around a small child surrounded by nurture; Juris Marnavskis’ experiential sound piece of noise work is engaged with eyes closed; and Edna Geovetty’s four-channel video documentation of a practice for a future play with different characters played by the same actor switching languages and emotions see only selected sentences translated into English. Palladino then introduces her own contribution, as an inversion of the question in response to what she finds ugly: Radio Kootwijk. She invites the audience downstairs where she has installed a sculptural intervention within the Radio Kootwijk gallery archive of a small child mannequin with a pockmarked face wearing colonial military clothes and trainers. 

Flavia Dzodan really loved how the presenter created a perfect montage with the beautiful images and soundscape. The three images taken from the internet brought her to think of beauty and the machine, how we teach the ideas of beauty that transfers a Western and white supremacist way of looking to machines, which the artist disrupted in decolonizing beauty. She asked: How do we make sure this concept of beauty is taught to algorithms rather than hegemonic concepts? The installation downstairs in turn asked for whom do we produce beauty, with the presenter admitting her work she sometimes falls into the trap of producing work for a certain demographic. In a white European culture obsessed with ancestry and heritage, Dzodan wondered how we work on the obvious aspects of decolonization without having to work through the messy parts that need massive unpacking.

Amal Alhaag found it an interesting starting point with the artists, which reminded her of the moment of warning, in relation to the era before the AIDS crisis referenced in the documentation. What does it mean to be one that is erased into forgotten space and then when one passes away is propped up and commodified? Baltrop’s life was overshadowed by white gay men, which made her question what it means to be overshadowed and living in the shadow of others, and what this means in the art context when we are commodified and appropriated. As someone who doesn’t believe in safe space, she thought it an interesting way to think through how to exist in a lack of safety. We tend to focus on the spectacle of colonialism, she said, instead of thinking about the future as living with the ghosts, in the Tony Morrison sense of ghost, as the postcolonial gothic or the postcolonial haunting. It juxtaposed haunting and joy. In Ghostly Matters (1997), Avery Gordon thinks through how we use the work that was before us to step into a genealogy, as a way of borrowing strategies and living and breathing in a particular way. She found this collaboration was in this spirit of strategies of living amidst all that is happening to us, and in the hierarchy of the colonial, some of us suffer more than others who are impacted by the social conditions we are in collectively. She found the artist’s proposition daring, to invite the ghosts in and asked: Which ghosts do we invite in? Are we prepared to battle these ghosts, the unwanted and the desired? 

Amit S. Rai was moved by the excellent work. He appreciated the practice and collective dimension, rearranging our understanding of time and inviting a different future into a present communicating a joy in the experiment. He thought about how our potentiality for action is diminished because we assume a past is static and fixed, and how the artist instead invited us to consider the potential of the past and the future inviting us to experience the joy of awareness.

Flávia Palladino's Things that I find to be beautiful was presented at Radio Kootwijk.

Find the overview of all 35 AEROPONIC ACTS 2020 here: BEND IT!