THE PROJECT

CURATORS: Jill Moniz , Cynthia Penna

The Traveling Canvas project was born out of the desire to encounter the intersections of art and cultural memory. As curators, we wanted to explore visual culture as a panoramic space that encompasses history and aesthetics, where power and relevance are bound in the seen. This wide frame lens extends across cultures and we wanted to capture how art and memory challenge trends of consumerism and commodification that can endanger social order.

Today, expressions of cultural specificity are generalized and fragmented into classifications and categories that limit and confine how we see and know. The Traveling Canvas project re-centers art as a conduit for identity, place-making and meaning without the weight of economic hegemonies.

Understanding how market forces affect artistic production, we aimed to highlight travel as a signifier of the globalization of goods that originate and represent a particular location, but cross multiple borders to be consumed by cultural others. Orienting the project toward the canvas allowed the artists to consider the weight of their contributions rather than expend resources to occupy the same space for a limited time and rush collaboration.

As curators, we are interested in the canvas as a cultural object that each artist would be in dialog with, adding their traditions and tropes to the shared space of a chronicle of visual ideas. In traveling the canvas, the artists were faced with their own reactions, perspectives and emotions when they encountered a conversation that is both historical and emergent.

This five by five foot geography simulates the small space of individuality in a world of increasing globalization. We asked 10 artists (five men and five women) to impose upon these artifacts acts of cartography and map their practice in the isolation of their studios. They had limited space to fuse their identities and traditions with others’, with the goal of traveling ideas even while the artists themselves stayed stationary. The traveling canvas then signified a revolutionary project of communion where conversions in thinking and psychology resulted in a unifying philosophy and physical production of aesthetic practices. 

The work artists create in their studios is never permanent. It enters larger economies as currency for ideas, commerce and engagement. Equally important is the politics of becoming. The aesthetic expressions of this project’s process are inextricable from our political locations as women curators from different parts of the world who share a desire to build community through the arts. This engagement/currency works to disrupt the rejection of the other and the isolation we experience through increasingly dogmatic absolutism.

Art as cultural capital destabilizes authoritarianism. It is the discipline of opportunities, possibilities, of experimentation. The political project of art is an integration of social and political systems that include gender, race, ethnicity and national identity. The Traveling Canvas is the distillation of this multiplicity where each canvas is a singular object – a political amalgamation of unifying ideas, emotions and aesthetics. Each exemplifies the arc of its making, spanning personalities, cultures and genres.

We asked the artists to represent the larger society in the experiment of cooperative ontology where beliefs, traditions and expressions foresee opportunities in cohesive interaction, not the collusion of doctrines. If art can open minds and be a chronicler for the new, the Traveling Canvas is our moment to present art as the solution for the social, psychological and political ills that plague the global enterprise. In opposition to the radical reduction of humanity in numbers and generosity, these 10 artists prove that art is the only option for the possibility of elevating transformative cultural phenomenon that can sustain and encourage human interaction.

PURPOSE

As curators and artists, we are exploring the possibilities through the art to overcome the limitations of singularity memory through a layering or mapping of ideas to reach a common sense of beauty, a common sensitivity. If through art different cultures, behaviors and expressions can be overcome to connect people of different countries and form a common language of memory and meaning. If through art people in the world can be connected in a common sense of respect for different ideologies and different credo. The final aim is to experiment the possibilities of “integration of cultures” in and through the Art world.

“The travelling canvas” will be part of exhibitions organized in different countries: first exhibition will be held in Italy organized by ART1307 Cultural Institution in Napoli.

The purpose is to present the entire body of works in Universities, and Museums to show the project to the largest public.

The single canvases will be shown together with photographs, statements of the artists and other materials of documentation that explain the entire physical, psychological and emotional process  that subtends the entire piece of art.

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