Friday, March 16, 2012

Why did I make a sculpture on migrations?

G.S. Kharel - 2008

Dorothea Lange-1936

Numbers amaze me: how many nerve cells do our brains have and how much information is processed in a certain neural pathway? how many miles are there from earth to mars? how many bird species exist? One of the numbers that amazes me quite a bit is the number of people who has migrated. There are 200 million immigrants in the world today. Imagine the number of people who has migrated throughout the history; billions? People leaving their houses, neighbors, beds, everything with the hope of starting all over again.

While I am typing these letters, thousands of Syrians are trying to cross to Turkey to escape the current unrest. Will they ever be able to go back? During the World War II, nations migrated: everyone was on the move, peasants, collective farmers, intellectuals, army officers, landowners. Millions of people moved from India to Pakistan and vice versa when the two nations gained their independence from British colonial rule. Images of migrant workers fleeing Libya unrest, Serbian refugees fleeting Crotia, people moving in Bangladesh to escape flooding, the famous photograph of a mother with her two children migrating during the Great Depression have been occupying my mind for a long time. Eventually they found a way into a sculpture.

My sculpture “Migrations” is about 3 people leaving all they have behind. They have nothing to pack except their worries about the future. The woman on the far left side looks back one last time as if to save an image of what is being “past” at that moment. The second man has a little bag carrying the most essentials, perhaps some money, food, identification cards. The man in the front seems to be more hopeful – looking at the skies, same skies that will be there in a new life. I feel like more will be coming since I still can not stop thinking about all those people who has to suffer through migrations. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A visit to a mysterious sculpture park in Belize

I visited a sculpture park during my recent trip to Belize.  The park Poustinia was once a cattle ranch has been transformed into a magical sculpture park during 1980s. Artists from England to Uruguay have contributed to this brilliant environmental project where the art is abandoned to be surrendered and taken over by the patient nature. Wood decays, metal rusts, everything goes back to where it started reminding me of our own lifes.

"Returned Parquet" was one of my favorite art pieces.  It is a strong piece on the removal of mahogany trees during the colonial period by a Wales artist. It is literally a mahogany parquet floor laid out on the ground, "reclaimed" from Wales and "returned to the Belizean rain forest" to be taken back to its origins gradually.

"The Watcher," by Guyana artist, Winslow Craig, is a serious judging face sculpted into a sapodilla tree. It watches us with a deep concern as if it is criticizing the destroying way of living we carry on.

Next was the eerie sculpture of a young girl in a praying position in the middle of a dried pool. Here is the description on this creative piece: The girl is kneeling on a flat stone and in her hands she holds a string, at the end of the string a buoy has been tied. Surrounding the statue are 25 concrete balls, which were dyed with a red pigmentation. All the elements are in a pond, which is usually dry but floods during the wet months of the rainy season allowing the art piece to remain submerged under water. The piece will still be visible, as the water remains crystal clear most of the time.

All this art left for an eternal change  in this damp landscape left me thinking about the way I live: am I doing all I can to make the world a better place for our children?