Friday, December 15, 2006

ruby mag shows gorey photos in issue #13

Visual artist Irana Douer produces an online magazine called Ruby Mag out of Buenos Aires, Argentina. This monthly publication features 11 artists from around the world in each issue, and has recently celebrated its first anniversary. Definitely bookmark this site. Issue #13, which just came online today, includes 6 photos from my Edward Gorey series. To date I have half of Gorey's Gashlycrumb Tinies alphabet story visually depicted in photographs. If you are in Santiago and would like to potentially be included in future Gorey interpretations, please let me know.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pinochet's funeral at escuela militar

When I was walking back to the hogar after the celebrations in Plaza Italia the other day, I happened to run into a couple of my girls returning after some time with their madrinas/padrinos. They saw me with my Chilean flag (which I could finally buy for my room) and, in shock, asked me if I had been at the plaza. They proceeded to pester me as to why I had been there, and if I truly felt happy that General Pinochet had died. Because I see the problems that arise even just when we like different futbol teams, and because I've seen how I falter when trying to speak spanish in important situations, I decided to try and avoid the surely proceeding political debate with these 12-year-olds for the time being. I did ask them why they liked Pinochet, but as this apparently implied that I did not, they stormed off dramatically without answering. I plan on picking this conversation back up with them soon-- when not in front of their patrons.

I didn't know where Escuela Militar itself is located, but once I exited the metro stop it was not hard to follow the Pinochet flags, buttons, and oversized g.i.joe dolls lining the path. I wonder where all of the paraphernalia came from so quickly. Who printed the "Gracias General" flags? Where is the speedy pro-Pinochet button maker? Did they make them years ago in anticipation for this day or is there an overnight system for producing mass amounts of sentimental trinkets? Once I made my way to the Escuela Militar, I wandered around the fence, the crowd slowly filing towards the gate. As soon as I made it inside however, a guard saw my camera and quickly took my elbow, steering me back outside. I had to be back at the hogar soon anyways, but I'm glad I could compare the two different sides of the situation. Chile is clearly incredibly divided, and as my friend told me (one of my students to whom I teach English) the one thing that saddens him the most is that he feels there will never be any resolution, that both sides will never be reconciled.

View more Pinochet funeral photos here.

OJOS nuevos photography exhibition at UARCIS

After 10 weeks of meeting with the six girls of OJOS nuevos we had our first exhibition last night at the Universidad ARCIS in Santiago's center. We had prepared posters, invitations, and emails, but I still was nervous about who would be able to attend the show. I wanted the girls to feel important, to feel supported, and to celebrate their work with a full opening party, but due to everyone's busy schedules and the size of this city, I wasn't sure who could come. Fortunately the show exceeded my-- and my girl's-- expectations.

The first group to arrive included about 10 children with a couple of volunteers from the community center Domingo Savio. More volunteers kept filing in, and when my class showed up, they were accompanied by at least a dozen other girls from my hogar as well as the director, her assistant, and the subdirector. With additional guests from the university, the small, formal room nearly filled up. I sat at the table in the front in between the director of the communications department and the director of the university, a large projection screen behind us. Once everyone had settled into their chairs, the presentation began with a slideshow of the girl's work. A surprise to all of us, including me, the short movie placed the girl's photographs to music. In of itself, it would have still been a powerful piece. But the fact that for so many classes I, too, had begun the hour with a slideshow of photography from around the world, this slideshow seemed to validate the girl's work in a really exciting way for them. From the front of the room I watched as the light from the screen illuminated everyone's faces. In between each photo we plunged back into complete darkness, and as the next photo revealed itself I witnessed everyone's reactions. I am very happy that many girl's not in the class but from the hogar were able to come last night, as many of them have connections to some of the photographs.

Upon the closing of the slideshow, the director of the University ARCIS, Carlos Margotta Trincado, addressed the room. Unfortunately I could not understand the whole speech at the time (thank you Nicole for helping to translate afterwards) but I know that after speaking with him during the reception, we are both mutually pleased to have begun a relationship between our organizations and we look forward to working together in the future. The Universidad ARCIS is located literally around the corner from my hogar. I discovered it simply because I walk past it every day after lunch as I take the girls back to school. A university that focuses on both art and social sciences, it is a near perfect match for projects such as OJOS nuevos, and I'm very excited to have found support here in Santiago.

While I did practice my speech before the event, I still stumbled over pronunciation. I can't wait for the day when I can open my mouth and simply express myself clearly and distinctly. I feel like I have the same word bank that I use all the time, and it's so limiting. Luckily one of our social workers helped me write the speech, so even though I may not have pronounced everything with complete accuracy, at least the words themselves were intelligently written. Unfortunately there had been a problem earlier in the day, and one of my students could not attend the exhibit. But after my speech I then called each of the 5 girlsto the front of the room where I handed her my present, and the director of the university handed her a poster from the show rolled up like a diploma. I don't have daughters, and I am not even related to these girls, but I will say that I seeing them look proud and happy made me feel overwhlemingly proud and happy as well. Each girl received a collage of four of their photos, as shown above. The photo is attached to a piece of wood which will help it stay intact, as the girls move around so much. They will also receive a disc with all of their photos as well as a copy of the portrait I had taken of them for the show.

We moved into an indoor courtyard that had a transparent ceiling and trees in the center. The girl's photographs hung suspended as you can see above. The university provided us with juice and cookies, a big plus for the 25+ kids in attendance. We took group photos, and I opened my gift from the university, a book on art and politics. My girls proudly talked about their work to the other volunteers and guests, and we all enjoyed ourselves. Their photos will stay on display in the university until the end of the week (UARCIS, 53 Libertad). In addition, I will be placing them all online soon so those outside of Santiago can see what they have accomplished. Thank you to everyone who helped with OJOS nuevos, and I can't wait to start planning the next class.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Pinochet dies, Santiago erupts

I had been in my room folding laundry when Lena, my roommate, called me to my computer to tell me General Pinochet had just died. He had been in the Hospital Militar for the past week after suffering a heart attack. I'm hesitant to ask people about their opinions of him as many have serious personal reasons for loving him or hating him, and those who can't decide how they feel about him seem to be few. Listening to Chileans talk about him though is quite different than reading about him in a book or learning about his policies in a distant classroom. When I left my house this evening for a walk, I just happened to bring my camera. I stopped in a nearby minimarket for some yogurt, and a small group of people stood huddled near the tv. The news camera panned huge crowds holding signs, waving flags, singing songs. I decided to head for Plaza Italia. Luckily the street parties there were under control and celebratory. Water came pouring down on the crowds from apartment windows above, bands had formed playing everyone's favorite singalongs, chants broke out and the street bounced in unison with the pumping of fists. Although there were beer bottles lying among the piles of confetti, the crowd included a lot of families and people of all ages. It wasn't until I was riding the metro home that I smelled the tear gas drifting in the doors from the streets above. More violent demonstrations have erupted in front of Palacio de La Moneda, which is about half way between my hogar and Plaza Italia, and I'm guessing they'll continue all night. When I had left Plaza Italia, it seemed the party was still only just beginning. I'll be staying in tonight, but at least I was able to partake in some of the festivities--- and finally buy my Chilean flag.

Visit here to read more about General Augusto Pinochet.
Visit my flickr account for more photos from today's celebrations.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

OJOS nuevos: clase número ocho

Class number eight of OJOS nuevos actually became class number eight, nine, and ten, as we met to prepare for our exposition. Working around the hogar's schedule and my VE schedule (simultaneously preparing for our VEChile event-- another entry) meant that sometimes it was better to meet with my girls one on one to help them with their responsiblities: learning the basics of poster design on the computer, how to write a persuasive invitation, etc. As always, I wish I could have had even more time with my girls as one hour does not seem sufficient; but one hour is much better than nothing, and I'm still pleased that I could at least introduce them to the topics. This invitation, designed by one of my students, is the first time that she has been able to use a more complicated computer program than Microsoft Word. It took us a long time to do it, but we had a lot of fun. Unfortunately we had to use my personal laptop to design it, and Photoshop is in English. Although she likes to dismiss compliments, I could see that she was proud of her work and asked me many times to whom I was going to send it. I wish we could get a computer that could handle Photoshop-- in spanish-- for them to use all the time. I don't like having them rely on me and my computer to have more exposure to more reliable- and exciting- technology.

Here is the poster that the Universidad ARCIS designed for the upcoming show using some of the photographs that will be in the exposition. The show will begin with a small presentation followed by juice and cookies in the gallery space. We have chosen 8 photographs from each of the 6 girls as well as a portrait of each student.

What: OJOS nuevos Photography Exhibition
Where: Universidad ARCIS, 53 Libertad, Metro ULA
When: Monday, December 11, 2006 at 7-9pm