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Laura Anderson Barbata
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Bushwick

ARTIST STATEMENT: I am transdisciplinary artist born in Mexico (based in New York from 1993) working primarily in socially engaged projects since 1992. My practice began in the studio where I created works on paper that addressed the environment-as a subject and a metaphor-of the inner self. These concerns pushed me outside of the studio to work directly with others and my environment. It was at this time that I began working in the Amazon Rainforest. I wanted to integrate into my practice communal work methodologies activated by an exchange of knowledge that benefits all parts and developed the core of my working methodology: reciprocity, which is the balanced exchange of knowledge as the foundation for sustainable collaborative art-centered projects. My work includes projects in the Amazon that repurpose traditional technology to produce hand-made paper and books with illustrated content guided by the shaman involving all genders and generations; collaborations with artisans and traditional stilt dancers from the West Indies, New York and Mexico that blend performance, procession, costuming, dance, craft, carnival and protest for artistic interventions; to a project that centers on activating restorative memory and dignity. For this transnational project I enlisted the collaboration of universities, government institutions, forensic anthropologists, social psychologists, scholars, activists, and artists and was successful in repatriating Julia Pastrana from Norway to Mexico for a dignified burial after 153 years of being exhibited (while she was alive and after her death in an embalmed state). Additional works related address feminism, objectification, human traffic, gender, indigenous rights and the body, through animation, artist books, works on paper, and performance. Currently my work seeks to further the expectations of socially-engaged art by moving across disciplines by involving unlikely collaborators (archives, scientists, activists, rock stars, burlesque performers, street dancers, theater companies, storytellers, artisans), developing works such as an evolving multidisciplinary performance with various performers, animation, a collection of zine publications with artist contributions, works on paper, photography and sculptural works that directly address issues of human rights and feminism by integrating critical voices from popular culture, burlesque, and performance to insert itself both inside and outside the art world. While my projects are socially engaged, they also integrate a strong studio practice for their execution. My challenge-and joy-is to activate collectively the shared objectives of the project and to materialize its ideals through art.

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