In my defense

Does admiring the silhouette of an aerofoil’s camber negate feeling the words of a poet? does marveling at mycological ecosystems invalidate one’s wonder at human’s capacity for adaptation? does watching with rapt attention Empire of the Tsars with Lucy Worsley void genuinely enjoying COSMOS with Neil deGrasse Tyson?

The answer to these ridiculous questions is: No, one does not cancel the other.

Why am I bringing this up?

Because, people have been vocal in their disapproval of my decision to retire as an ‘art historian’. These folks believe that I am (and I quote) “throwing all my efforts away”, “making a strange decision”, “need a sabbatical, not retirement”, etc. This may be naïve of me, but having a degree in a particular field needs actual practice in order to acquire the title professionally. I considered myself an art historian because I researched, wrote, lectured, and presented myself as one (ask the IRS) — that’s no longer the case. The gist of the conversations is that I am being irresponsible and should continue building up my career not abandoning it. However, as I have explained, my decision does not cancel my degree or 13 years of experience in the arts.

Importantly, the conversations bring about a point I alluded to with the questions above: I have too many disparate interests, there is no “theme” (I am borrowing that word from the person who used it). It is amusing to me to hear from people who think that involving myself more seriously in aviation means, rather suddenly, that I do not like art (in all its expressions) anymore. That motorsports and art are too disparate as interests — as if. This is not coming from folks in STEM, but the humanities, by the by. It seems unnerving to them that I’m taking my hobbies ‘more seriously’ than the field I have been formally trained for.

Yes, I am a very curious individual and have a broad range of interests and skills. Some of them have been part of me all my life and coexisted just fine. In fact, there are millions of people like me, there are some who take all of their interests very seriously (polymaths [Leonardo Da Vinci was not only a visual artist, he was an engineer, an aerodynamicist, a student of human anatomy, etc.] ), and they are OK, you are OK and I am OK, too — thank you for your concern.

To quote Daniela Ospina: “Sorry if I do not meet your expectations. My priority is to meet mine.”

#PassiveAggressivePost #BecauseDiplomacy ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


La función de una tachuela, es la de ‘fijar’ un objecto de papel, cartón o plástico a una superficie. La mayor parte del tiempo esta función es solo temporal. Después de ayudar a recordar cumpleaños, tareas, quehaceres, citas médicas, etc. las tachuelas se despegan para ser regresadas a su cajita.

De alguna forma son tesoritos. Su papel es tan necesario pero tan diminuto que no se les dá la importancia debida. Exactamente como todo lo pequeño que se olvida y al final resulta necesario.

Hace más de cinco meses conocí a quien se ha convertido en un tierno tormento. Lo ví el segundo día de la feria, me pareció apuesto, un poco fuera de lugar… así son los artistas ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . Igual no me atreví a presentarme. A pesar de sentir su mirada no le devolví el interés curioso. El tercer día de la feria resultó tan aburrido como los primeros dos, pero esta vez el extraño se acercó a nuestro espacio a preguntarnos si teníamos tachuelas. Negativo.

Después de mi descanso, tomé el camino más largo de regreso y me topé con algo singular. En el medio de el pasillo estaba aquel individuo parado frente a tres camisas en percheros colgando de tachuelas en la pared y algunos materiales de papel y tela, muy bien organizados, en el piso. Mientras con mi mirada atónita ataba cabos, noté con el rabillo del ojo que él me miraba con una sonrisa pícara. Entonces me acerqué y le dije “veo que encontraste las tachuelas…”

De allí surgió todo lo demás, poco a poco.

Pero la realidad de esta situación es que nadie ha dicho nada ni ha hecho nada y como una estrella fugaz esa ilusión se irá. De igual forma, me ha ayudado a recordar que bonito es ilusionarse y soñar con cosas imposibles. En este particular caso, puedo decir que genuinamente me siento alegre cuando veo a gente enamorada, cuando veo ese afecto y cariño recíproco, cuando veo a dos individuos coquetear entre prudencia y atrevimiento porque quieren entenderse mejor… pero apenas se conocen.

Escuchar Ojos Color Sol de Calle 13 y Silvio Rodríguez es una experiencia casi divina.

Todo suena más lindo. Y por primera vez en tanto tiempo no dejo que mi cinismo de Antístenes me robe la alegría de ver que la noradrenalina, oxitocina, serotonina, y otros neurotransmisores que crean el cóctel de emociones que sentimos al estar ‘enamorados’, hacen la realidad de la vida más preciosa… aunque sea por un corto tiempo. Porque lo que es el amor… bue, eso lleva más tiempo y más sacrificio. Muchas personas creen amar pero solo pocas tienen el talento verdadero.

Pero todo tiene su principio, y antes de amar con A mayúscula, se quiere, se desea, se sueña, se piensa, se obsesiona, se extraña, etc.

Y por eso le doy gracias a Donato y Estéfano por haber escrito esta canción tan bellamente adaptada por Thalía a duo con Pedro Capó:

O por ejemplo poder disfrutar a Robi Draco Rosa y su poema de la locura de estar enamorado, sin estar enamorada, sin tener un objeto de obsesión o deseo:

Que alegría experimentar vicariamente el amor y la locura que sienten los demás entre sí, genuinamente, generosamente…

Gracias universo por mandarme una ilusión temporal para curarme el alma.

Formula 1: My March to November Motivation

I could write a book on all my thoughts regarding Formula 1: Grid girls, the (our) South American legacy, François Cevert, trickle-down tech developments to everyday cars, aerodynamics through the years, safety, the fantastic Dare to Be Different Campaign, etc. But right now I can only focus on the fact that in 3 days the first Grand Prix Weekend of the 2019 season will start in Melbourne, Australia \( °□° )/

The new Netflix documentary didn’t do any favors in stabilizing my enthusiasm, of course. I think they did a good job capturing the current state of Formula 1 and maybe increasing interest this side of the Atlantic, now that it is owned by the very American Liberty Media Corporation, and the only American team (Haas) is showing more promise.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Formula E has also been getting my attention in the last couple of years and I particularly love that there is more competitiveness. After all, watching the Formula 1 podium composed of Ferrari, Mercedes, and Red Bull again and again and again… gets a little boring. But the traditions in F1, the glamour, and (more importantly) the sound… nothing has replaced the F1 cars’ sound, cannot be found in Formula E. I do wish sound engineers could do something about the Formula E car engine scream. Oh! well you can’t have everything ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So… what am I trying to say? that I will disappear for a while and there is a very valid reason for that.

In the meantime, if you have Netflix, please watch: Senna and Williams (catch ‘em before they are removed).

PS: Whenever things get tough or I seem unable to get ideas through, F1 car sounds help (clocks ticking and Hans Zimmer do it, too.) But a year and a half ago when Williams posted the video below, it was a godsend!

And just to add something weird that Youtube recommended (Chemical Brothers, F1, doggies, space shuttle…)


The Fragility of Tomorrow

On Thursday, January 24th at 6:20pm (EST) I was in Cali, Colombia walking with my maternal grandmother and cousin to my aunt and uncle’s little restaurant. We had just stepped out of the house and turned right towards the end of the street and 3-/+ meters from the corner a guy on a bike wearing a helmet, backpack, and looking the part of the average Colombian young adult coming home from work, parked his bike, we locked eyes, I saw him reach with his right hand his left front pocket, I looked away thinking he was going to take the keys to the garage in front of him, but as my grandmother and I walked past him, he took a gun out of the waistband of his jeans (not his keys) and pointed it at my cousin, who was a couple of steps behind us, and he said “give me the cellphone”. My poor cousin was stunned, I stopped and looked at the gun pointing somewhere at her midriff… there was something off about it and the guy’s body language did not look confident, he seemed like a rookie ‘atracador’. Frustrated, he asked her again “give me your cellphone or I will kill you” so my cousin obliged and he got on his bike and took off. Several neighbors watched but only approached us when the guy was out of sight. My grandmother only noticed when she noted we were not walking by her side and when my cousin asked her to keep walking because she’d just been robbed, my grandmother had to be restrained by my cousin because she wanted to see who the guy was… which was too late anyway. At that moment I noticed my cousin’s complexion turn very pale and I knew what was coming, so I grabbed her wrist to monitor her pulse but she collapsed a few steps later. The recovery was fast, people were helpful, and we ended up going to the restaurant about 20 minutes later than planned but this became just another armed robbery story in this family, community, society, culture.

Except this was the first time I witnessed a robbery so close and I had never been considered a target (‘cause when everyone calmed down, they mentioned how he was originally going for me but switched targets). Even though I lived in Colombia during my childhood during a terrible time (1990s) I had never been attacked, robbed, or even seen an act of violence. I did watch the results of such things (dead people, mutilated bodies) and family and friends were fatal victims of these violent times, too… but there was always a bit of personal distance.

You know how people say that when they think they’re going to die or when something tragic happens around them, all their memories come rushing by? well, that’s never happened to me. I’ve been close to drowning twice, been in car and bike accidents, even one very recent plane ride that got me questioning why the first officer and captain were not requesting a different altitude because the turbulence was getting a bit out of hand (and I know about aerodynamics, planes, and meteorology)… people in those same situations say that the trauma made them reconsider their job, life path, relationships, etc. Nothing like that happens with me and I wondered for some time if this meant there is something wrong. My current theory is that I have no regrets, because even the more terrible and painful mistakes I’ve committed have gotten me to a better place, so I am ready to die in peace. Not only that, but I know in my heart and soul that everything, absolutely everything, is temporary — so living day by day is best for the kind of person that I am.

Having said that, the past few weeks have been trying (the robbery was just one part, there were two earthquakes, and a couple of other incidents, too) and recognizing how fragile I make my tomorrow because of the life I lead has me thinking — there is nothing defined yet, just the swirl of thoughts in the back of my head nagging me to reconsider something but I do not know what. I love adventure and conscientious risk, life doesn’t seem to be asking me to reconsider that but to bring that same quality onto other parts of my life… but if it is the parts I am suspecting, it’s gonna be a while ‘cause I am lily-livered when it comes to them things. Life is easy to live but only if we are willing to lose all our fears. And, I am not sure if I’m ready to confront that lot.

It’s a lot more fun to jump from a plane than face my remaining demons… but here I come. © Louis

It’s a lot more fun to jump from a plane than face my remaining demons… but here I come. ©Louis

El beneficio de ser una flâneuse

Observar al mundo es una parte natural de quien soy. En cada lugar en el que me he encontrado, sea por deseo o por accidente, siempre hay cosas bellas y curiosas que llaman la atención… un pedacito de música, un momento en el paisaje urbano/natural, un perrito feliz, el movimiento de una palma verde contra el azúl límpido del cielo. En fín, podría seguir nombrando todas las cosas lindas que ocurren cuando uno presta atención con el corazón abierto y los ojos dispuestos.

No me puedo dar el lujo de pasear libremente la ciudad que me crió, pues Palmira es una de las ciudades más peligrosas de Colombia. Sin embargo, sí puedo darme el lujo de pasear la ciudad en que nací, pero muchos ya hacen eso en Nueva York. Así que cada vez que el mundo me da la oportunidad de caminar seguramente como mujer lo hago, desde Reykjavik hasta Cali y desde Tel Aviv hasta Seattle. Porque he allí la dificultad de ser una flâneuse - - ser mujer y siempre tener la cautela que al género masculino ni se le pasa por la mente cuando sale a caminar.

Parque de Bolívar Filandia, Quindío, Colombia. 2 de Febrero 2019. ©A. Iaroc

Parque de Bolívar Filandia, Quindío, Colombia. 2 de Febrero 2019. ©A. Iaroc

Reclamar la libertad de una ciudad para el género femenino requiere motivación. Motivación para sentarse en un parque a comer obleas, mirar a los viejitos jugando parqués y escuchar que le piden a Dios que Uribe se haga cargo del país de nuevo. Motivación para frenar el ritmo y cuidadosamente detallar uno de los tantos murales de la capital islándica en la calle Frakkastigur y leer un mural trilingüe que se trata de la liberación femenina. Motivación suficiente para interrumpir una conversación con tu primo en el tren N desde Coney Island porque quieres leer un poema en el interior del vagón sobre Eva buscando su propio nombre en los animales… y tener la suerte de que tu primo te conozca lo suficiente para decir que sabía que te gustaría ese poema. Motivación para dejar de escribir en tu diario, alzar la vista y observar los ejecutivos italianos en sus impecables trajes comiendo un bel gelato camino a casa. Motivación para hablar con un exraño personaje durante Miami Art Week que te hipnotiza con sus ojos azules (el izquierdo tiene una manchita color avellana), aunque tu corazón se haya cerrado hace mucho tiempo.

Mural en calle Frakkastigur, Reykjavik, Islandia. 1ro de Mayo, 2017. ©A. Iaroc

Mural en calle Frakkastigur, Reykjavik, Islandia. 1ro de Mayo, 2017. ©A. Iaroc

Y así de esa misma motivación nacen otras para seguir caminando, seguir observando, y de vez en cuando, participando de este mundo que tiene mucho para enseñar cuando se le da la distancia adecuada. Y de cada cosa en esta vida siempre estar agradecid@s porque sin los pasos anteriores no hubiesemos llegado aquí. Porque como dijo Federico Fellini ‘i ripianti sono uno spreco di tempo’.

Poema de Ada Limón ‘Un Nombre’ en el tren N, Brooklyn, NY. 29 de Abril, 2017 ©A. Iaroc

Poema de Ada Limón ‘Un Nombre’ en el tren N, Brooklyn, NY. 29 de Abril, 2017 ©A. Iaroc

Persona Non Grata

My divorce from the art world, like all divorces, is going through all the stages: disillusionment, hope for reconciliation, disappointment, and increasing separation. After 12+ years, I am ready to throw in the towel but with the utmost care to preserve that child of ours (CORAI). I have to say that from time to time, whenever I start thinking that whatever art-related-gig I am doing ‘is just a job’, something happens that proves that I still care enough to bristle. So what’s the latest?

Earlier this month a dear friend of mine connected me with a gallery owner from NYC who needed an art industry savvy person to help them take care of their booth at the New Art Dealers Alliance™ (NADA) art fair during Miami Art Week™. I was game for it, even if it meant staying in Miami for five days. I did not know anything about NADA but soon after it opened at 10am on December 6th, I started to learn a lot about it from gallerists and artists, new and old. For a moral relativist, I sometimes tend to feverishly hold people and institutions accountable to their espoused values like Big Mouth’s Shame Wizard -- using their own missions, visions, and values to make my condemning arguments.

According to NADA, they are “the definitive (why use this word?) non-profit arts organization dedicated to the cultivation, support, and advancement of new voices in contemporary art.”

Let’s break this down:

‘Definitive’ carries within it a confrontational spirit against the rest of the non-profit arts organizations that do similar things. Does not convey a collaborative spirit.

‘Dedication’ is not devotion for a reason… no, I am not being patronizing. I am being matronizing.

‘Cultivation’, like nourishment, has an implied spirit of understanding and tender care. I usually approve of this type of vocabulary. People that are being cultivated should not pay $200.00 for a single light bulb.

I like ‘Support’ as much as the next pair of sagging boobies, but it requires a lot of action, especially when navigating more difficult territories, e.g. guerilla art.

‘Advancement’ fits NADA like a glove. Almost like universities use the term advancement (read: courting the elites while pretending to be democratic).

So why am I focusing on NADA instead of Art Basel, insert city Biennale, the Seattle Art Fair, etc.? Because NADA’s leadership referred to themselves as being ‘the good guys’ in response to a critique about the integrity of their practice. At least the big fairs (a.k.a ‘the bad guys’) do not pretend to be Saint Theresa of Calcutta and are unapologetically pro-elitism. When someone or something brands itself as part of The Moral Good Side™, it signals to me that they are less likely to progress or grow. The ‘bad guys’ have their roles defined, the ‘good guys’ just have to be a little less ‘evil’.

An association that uses the words dedication, cultivation, and support, should not use regime tactics by ostracizing artists who dare critique them, even when they want to engage the organization in conversation and explicitly communicate they are not being confrontational. Isn’t NADA supposed to be on the side of free expression and support new voices in the arts? aren’t art organizations supposed to engage artists and their intentions?

I think shakers and movers need more serious support. The whole thing about artists that break boundaries is that they expose everything for what it truly is… everyone loves innovators, rebels, and people with moxie until they go beyond the system’s boundaries. And this is coming from a practical ISTJ chick who, of all possible methodologies in art history, chose to be an iconographer.

Look, this is not just about stirring the pot. People and the things they create are not just ‘good’ or ‘bad’, it depends. Everything exists in a spectrum. Condemning for the sake of condemning is not my cup of tea, otherwise we couldn’t possible learn and grow. I think NADA could use this as a lesson to learn from but they seem reticent about doing just that. And I am just frustrated because I cannot get the art world to move quickly enough, make them walk their own talk. And this last incident with NADA is just one of the many nails in the coffin of my relationship with the art world… which was not my plan A anyway. This was my failed plan B, which I dedicated so much to, cultivated it with so much care, supported it as much as I could, but ultimately have to go beyond advancement and just transcend it completely.

Note: After writing this post, I read this article by Scott Indrisek for the Observer. The following quote also resonates with my experience: “If the art world sometimes seems like a cabal of the undeserving rich lustily slurping the blood of the creative class, from NADA’s vantage point in 2017 it looks more like an energetic mob of friends trying their plucky best to amuse and astound each other. In these dark American days, that’s achievement enough.”

A Seattle y al mundo del arte: buena suerte, chao, adiós...

Llegué a Seattle una mañana de primavera del 2010... en tren y bus desde el aeropuerto. Llegué con la esperanza de volverme independiente y de salir adelante en mi carrera, de hacer una maestría en la Universidad de Washington y triunfar. Mi independencia llegó, mi carrera surgió hasta culminar en el CORAI Project, enorgullecí a profesores y seres queridos, aunque lo de la maestría nunca se dió. Aprendí mucho de si misma; de lo que soy y lo que no soy... amén de otras cosas que me mostraron lo que no queria seguir siendo. El próximo mes me iré de Seattle como una fugitiva: a mitad de noche un chófer vendrá a recogerme a la puerta de mi casa para llevarme al aeropuerto y no volver. 

Bueno, volveré a visitar.

El momento en que dejé de tambalear entre irme o no de Seattle me llegó una tarde monegasca de junio cuando tratando de sacar del bolso la llave del apartamento en Rue Grimaldi se me enredó con otros dos pares de llaves (la de Milano y la de Seattle). Al ver los tres pares de llaves, al fín libres, sobre la cama, les tomé una foto para así no olvidarme de la decisión que había tomado. Fue un momento de claridad... ayudada por la sabiduría de mis dos tías que me acompañaban.

Las llaves de la decisión fatídica... 4 de Junio del 2018. Seattle, Milano, y Monte Carlo. 

Las llaves de la decisión fatídica... 4 de Junio del 2018. Seattle, Milano, y Monte Carlo. 

Por otro lado, entrar al mundo del arte siempre fue mi segunda opción y aún así me fue bien -- mi hoja de vida es un testigo vivo de lo que he hecho con dedicación, cariño, y tenacidad en servicio a todas las comunidades de las que he sido parte. Pero como muchos entenderán, el primer amor nunca se olvida. 

Tomar la decisión de regresar a la costa este estadounidense no fue del todo fácil pero, cuando al fin la tomé, una sensación de alivio me llenó -- no es la mejor señal de estar en el lugar correcto. Cuando tomé la decisión de utilizar esta oportunidad para cambiar de carrerra y lanzarme a hacer lo que quería cuando joven, entré en un estado de fascinación con ese campo. Tal como cuando tenía 16 años. Aquella conexión no se había muerto.

Nada me puede quitar mi experiencia como historiadora de arte o mi título. Nada me puede quitar las destrezas que 12 años de museos me dieron. Solo que es hora de hacer otras cosas y estar en otros lugares. Es más, ni sé si la costa este es mi punto de llegada o solo una intermisión en la gran obra de mi vida. Ninguno de los lugares en los que he vivido (que corresponden a cada una de las fotos en la página principal, excepto la última) han sido mi destino final. 

Hora de echar suertes...