January, 2012 Newsletter from Ecuador

January, 2012, Sisid-Anejo, Ecuador

Feliz Año Nuevo a Todos!!!!

And for those of you not up on your español, ¨Happy New Year Everyone!¨ Or what my English students here in Sisid-Anejo would think I´m saying, ¨Happy New Year Bulls!¨

During our English classes, when I would say ¨todos¨ (Spanish for ¨everyone¨), some of my students would start laughing (under their breath and down-right openly!) because my ¨todos¨ sounds like ¨toros¨or ¨bulls¨ in English. Maybe it´s my new term of endearment, un hommage to Lady Gaga´s ¨little monsters¨.

We are busy preparing for the art exhibition and art festival which will take place for three days, February 17th, 18th, and 19th here in Sisid-Anejo. I recently found out that the Ecuadorian Tourist Bureau has taken an interest, and a music group from Esmeraldas, which is all the way up in northwest Ecuador, wants to perform. Besides the art and Cds some of you are sending, there will be artisans, bands of music, dance groups, and lots of Cañari food, so it should be something a little out of the ordinary for all of us here in Sisid-Anejo!

It´s still not too late if any of you still wish to participate. Just drop something that you´ve created in the mail, preferrably before January 15th or probably no later than January 20th. If it arrives before February, I will put your name on the e-mail announcement. Those of you in Ecuador don´t need to donate a piece if you´re responsible for dropping it off and picking it up.

Send whatever inspires you and wish to donate to the community here–a small drawing or painting, a collage, a photo you took, a CD of your photos or of your music–any one of your creations you´re willing to set free and let fly to South America! It´s an opportunity to share, connect, and be in solidarity with another community (you´ll feel the vibrations later). I´ll also post photos of your work at my website, www.danielkerkhoff.com.

These past three months I´ve been mostly working on my own art and haven´t been much help farming. Instead, I´m spreading the ishma (Kichwa for ¨manure¨) on the inside of my house, so to speak, and seeing what creative things sprout and come to life.

I did try my hand one day at plowing a field with a wooden plow and two bulls (I lasted about five minutes). I claimed I was too tall and didn´t have enough time to observe, but obviously I was way out of my league. The ¨Lionel Messi of plowing¨ took back the whip and wooden handle and made it look, of course, really easy. He would just make a variety of little sounds with his voice and the bulls listened to him. He hardly had to use the whip. I, on the other hand, was a bit zealous with the whip (hmmmm?), which made the bulls just want to run away from me.

Raymundo was videotaping the whole thing, but everyone was laughing so hard, the video is mostly of the ground. He did catch me for about three seconds on tape at the very end when I fell (the furrows are deep!). Some photos and short videos of my Sensei and the bulls are in the ¨La Comuna Sisid¨ set.

I´ve been going about every two weeks to the city of Cuenca, about a two-hour bus ride. Cuenca is rich with museums, galleries, good restuarants, universities, loads of beautiful, colonial buildings; and the pulsing Río Tomebamba flows right through the city, complete with walkways and weeping willows.

I´ve been very lucky because this year was the Bienal de Cuenca (a huge, multi-site, international, art exhibition) and the Festival de la Lira (a four-day, international, poetry festival).

The Bienal de Cuenca has been going on from November 11, 2011 to January 31, 2012, www.bienaldecuenca.org. Many of the works in the Bienal are video installations. Two that come to mind that I´ve enjoyed were: Kaoru Katayama`s (Japan) video, ¨Technocharro¨, a traditional dance group from Salamanca, Spain dances to techno music and Javier Nuñez Gasco`s (Spain) video, ¨Protesis para una Bailarina¨–a ballerina has a man taped to one of her legs and she tries to dance while he lies on the ground like dead weight. I wonder what that`s all about??

Besides all the museums that are exhibiting work, many of the galleries also have art that has been related to the Bienal. One gallery I´ve been enjoying going to is the Instituto de Arte Contemporáneo de Cuenca on Avenida Hermano Miguel which has had interesting exhibits and has a beautiful, lush courtyard. I´ve been meeting artists here in Ecuador such as Marcelo Aguirre (Quito), Ariel Dawi (Cuenca), Roberto Carlos Paredes Marìn (Cuenca), Hernàn Illescas (Cuenca), and Miguel Angel Cajilima (Cuenca). I`ve seen some interesting work by Luigi Stornaiolo and Adrian Washco, and I`m just starting to learn about the many of art collectives who are doing interesting work. I`m also documenting the street art in Cuenca which can be seen in my ¨Cuenca¨ set of photos.

When I was in Quito for a week in September, I saw the museums of Oswaldo Guayasamín and Camilo Egas, two of Ecuador´s most famous artists, and the work of two other greats, Eduardo Kingman and Enrique Tábara.

At the end of November,I was able to attend three days of the four-day, international, poetry festival, La Festival de la Lira, http://www.festivaldelalira.com. It was a free event with poets having panel discussions during the day and poetry readings at cafes and other venues in the evening. There was a large reading at the CIDAP museum which also included live music, dance groups, fireworks at the end. I bought several books and talked with the poets, Paùl Puma (Ecuador), and Reynaldo Perèz Sò(Venezuela).

Also, if any of you would like to learn more about the area I´m living in, in the province of Cañar, I recommend the book by Judy Blankenship, Cañar: A Year in the Highlands of Ecuador. You should be able to find it on-line at Amazon or order from your local, independent bookstore! She lives part of the year in the town of Cañar and we´ve e-mailed each other. I hopefully will meet her soon.

Those of you in Ecuador, I´ll be exhibiting my art at Libri Mundi, Avenida Hermano Miguel in Cuenca, starting January 13th until about Feb. 2nd.

We´ll also be having two exhibitions in May in north Minneapolis. I´ll send out the announcement in April. The children and student´s art from Sisid, along with photos of the community, will be exhibited at Homewood Studios, www.homewoodstudios.com, from May 1st to 16th. My art installation along with what I´ve been collecting here will be shown at the Warren: An Artist Habitat, www.thewarrenhabitat.com, for the month of May.

If anyone has any questions about the culture here or what I´m doing, or the photos I have at my site, www.danielkerkhoff.com, please feel free to write and I´ll try and answer them, or more likely, find someone who can answer them. Part of the reason why I travel and live in other countries and connect with a community is because my own ignorance (and indifference) becomes intolerable for me. I often rely on over simplified formulas about the ¨other¨, an easy thing to do. Being ¨in person¨ and over a period of time often crushes those very-assured notions. Besides all the sensory delights of traveling which really feeds me, traveling takes me out of my comfort zone and makes me curious again and wakes me up!. Fresh Eyes (like a child´s). I need that.

So, Happy New Year to Everyone! Thanks for all of you reading this verbose e-mail and to those who have corresponded, and those that have already sent art for the exhibition!

Wishing us all an abunDance of Relatedness, Community, and Sweet Solitude in 2012! And less BUSYNESS!

Ecuadorially Yours, Daniel Kerkhoff and Jude Rockfish

¨Caya Cama, Mincha Cama!¨ (Kichwa for ¨See you tomorrow, see you another day!¨)
¨Yacu Naya!¨ (Kichwa for ¨I`m thirsty!¨)

P.S. I leave Ecuador February 25th. When I return to Minneapolis, I´ll be doing an artist-in-residency at St. Stephen´s Homeless Shelter from March 5th to April 3rd. I´ll be living at the shelter, working with the residents on art, witnessing, and learning. I also hope to assist St. Stephen´s with their Oral History of Homelessness Project, http://ststephensmpls.org/oralhistory/index.html, or whatever else they might need. Their website is: www.ststephensmpls.org

P.P.S. Some of you might want to check out the Yusuni Project that is protecting theYasuni National Park from oil development. President Correo proposed that if Ecuador can raise $350 million dollars each year, then that would protect the park, the Amazon River, the rare animals, plants, and indigenous peoples from oil developers. By keeping the oil in the ground, it`s also keeping carbon dioxide emissions from affecting the atmosphere. There have been telethons here in Ecuador, and European countries and Japan have financially assisted. You can too!!! http://www.amazoniaporlavida.org., http://www.saveamericasforests.org


Quotes by the artist, Oswaldo Guayasamin:

¨Mi arte es una forma de oracion, al mismo tiempo que de grito…y la màs alta consquencia del amor y la soledad.¨

¨My art is a way of praying and to scream at the same time… and the greatest consequence of love and solitude.¨

¨Si no tenemos la fuerza de estrechar nuestras manos de todos, si no tenemos la ternura de tomar en nuestros brazos a los niños del mundo, si no tenemos la voluntad de limpiar la de todos, los ejércitos; este pequeño planeta serà un curepo seco y oscuro.¨

¨If we do`t have the strength to grasp our hands with everyone`s hands, if we don`t have the tenderness to hold in our arms the children of the world, if we do not have the will to clean the earth of all its armies, this small planet will be a dry and black body in a black space.¨


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