Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Anna Lise Jensen's Studio Visit: April 21, 2012 @ JCAL - A chain link visit by Petra Valentova

I met with Anna Lise at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning (JCAL) where we are both participating in a tART exhibition, Collectivity: Art Making in a Collective. During my visit I saw her current work as well as her work from 2004, a series of portraits by herself and students at K’ipay, a school for the mentally disabled in Bogota, Colombia. At the JCAL she exhibits large print from new series as well as a page that lists events she’s organized in connection with the JCAL exhibition. In her new work Anna Lise explores the Jamaica neighborhood in Queens, with a focus on the writer Paul Bowles who was born and raised  in Jamaica (Queens). Later in his life he  traveled the World and choose Tangiers, Morocco, as his new home. Both Anna Lise and I grow up in another country and choose NYC as our new home. Relocation is our every day reality and in many ways an inspiration for our work.  Anna Lise grew up in Denmark, me in Czech. During our talk Ann Lise expIained that she found interesting how we at times are blind to the the parts of our own place of origin that makes it attractive to visitors, travelers and transplants. In her new work she translates relocation thru a process: first she chose text from Bowles writing on Tangiers and juxtaposed it with photographs she made in the places related to his time in Jamaica. Here, her chosen Bowles quote on Tangiers, placed under an image of an idealized Forsythia branch by Jamaica High School that he attended, states: "it is delightful, too, to step out into the silent moonlit street". Although I didn´t translate the photo as being done in monolite, I loved both the image and the text.

On her note of listed activities, hung between above mentioned image and the K’ipay portraits, is a collaboration with the 50 Cent Community Garden in Jamaica and Michael Wilson, an artist she met through an open call at tART’s last exhibition (at Arts@Renaissance, Brooklyn.) She introduced Michael Wilson to the three original founders of the garden in Jamaica, and while he’s making a portrait of them, she is recording her conversation with the gardeners for an audio piece. At the closing for the JCAL exhibition, she will reveal Michael’s portrait to the gardeners and hang it on the wall where her Bowles image is now - by then this series will exist as a book. At the end of the JCAL exhibition, Anna Lise, together with the gardeners and Michael Wilson will organize in the gallery a Garden Salad picnic, where she will serve produce from the community garden,  and celebrate. This event will be  open to all.

For tART’s Collectively Assembled exhibition in 2013, I like the idea of Anna Lise’s Garden Salad picnic. I would also like to see her to create an audio piece focusing both on the Jamaica gardeners as well as on local community gardeners near the JCAL. Ideally, I would like to have these audios installed in both gardens, even if just temporarily. It would also be wonderful to throw in some summer picnics with the help of local products from both gardens. This also links our studio-visits: in my own studio visit with Katerina Lanfranco, I showed my yellow duck – a sculpture that is directly linked to Anna Lise’s beloved community gardens. In 2010, I proposed it for her project A Lot of Possibilities, and she showed my duck proposal at her WinterSpace, along with other artists’ proposals for NYC community gardens. Based on her recommendation,  I applied for and received a Queens Art Council grant to realize the duck. This year, it will go into a community garden in Long Island City. The curious links between Anna Lise and me now include studio visits, a huge duck and a community garden salad. Yummy.