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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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Artist Laura Anderson Barbata, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Jumbies, Chris Walker and Jarana Beat, presented Intervention: Indigo on Sunday, September 13, 2015 in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The work combines procession, protest, performance, music and dance. Intervention: Indigo Barbata, the Brooklyn Jumbies, Chris Walker and Jarana Beat bring to New York a worldwide practice to remind viewers of the global resonance of the crisis impacting the lives of people of color living in this country. There is an obligation for a public call to action – one that draws attention to the urgent need to elevate and change the values and practices of the police and the systems that support these views. Indigo is one of the oldest natural plant based dyes, used all over the world and ritually embedded with symbolism and spirituality; power and nobility. A tradition of the Dogon people- cloths are dipped in dye vats repeatedly over a period of days or weeks, imbuing rich color. It’s best known for its use in denim. Barbata employs textiles hand woven and dyed in Burkina Faso, Guatemala and the United States. The color historically represents absolute truth, wisdom, justice, and responsibility. The traditional function of the Moko Jumbie stilt dancers (portrayed by the Brooklyn Jumbies) is to serve and protect their communities. In Western Africa, Moko Jumbie is a spirit who watches over a village, and due to it’s towering height, is able to foresee danger and evil. The Moko Jumbie is traditionally called in to cleanse and ward off evil spirits that have brought with them disease and misfortune to a village. On the other side of the Atlantic, in Oaxaca, Mexico, the Zancudos (stilt dancers) perform annually to call upon the power of their saints to receive protection, blessings, and miracles. Music and character design was inspired by the Danza de los Diablos (portrayed by Jarana Beat) and used to address the use (and misuse) of the color blue. In the African-Mexican coast of Guerrero, the danza de los diablos is performed to remember all African descendants and to claim their place in society. It is a dance of resistance and rebellion against discrimination, exclusion, and segregation. The Rolling Calf (portrayed by Chris Walker) is a mythical character represented in Jamaican duppy ‘tory (ghost stories). There are many origin narratives including the untimely death of a runaway slave boy whose restless spirit now roams. Chris Walker´s portrayal presents the mythical as purposeful., He reimagines what is possible for a black body attempting to find liberation and to create a better space in this moment and in this land. It is a way to make and claim space, empowered by the collective and shared moment of the Intervention.

Intervention: Wall Street

November 16, 2011 (New York, NY) -- Artist Laura Anderson Barbata, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Jumbies, will present Intervention: Wall Street on Friday, November 18, 2011. The performance will take place on Wall Street in New York City's Financial District at approximately 12 pm. Intervention: Wall Street was conceived as a response to the dire economic crisis that became most evident in 2008 which today afflicts not only Americans but has impacted 99% of the global population. Financial speculation and banking abuses by the largest and most powerful institutions on Wall Street have brought misery to individuals, institutions and to entire countries. In this public performance, Laura Anderson Barbata and the Brooklyn Jumbies bring to the Financial District of New York a world wide practice to remind viewers of the global impact of this crisis and the urgent need to elevate and change the values and practices of the New York Financial Industry. On Friday, November 18, 2011, as part of the Moko Jumbies project, Anderson Barbata and the Brooklyn Jumbies will tower over the Financial District in a performance that incorporates stilt dancers wearing 12ft high business suits, music and a collaborative spirit. In Western Africa, Moko is a spirit who watches over his village, and due to his towering height, is able to foresee danger and evil. In Africa, the Moko Jumbie (stilt dancer) is traditionally called in to cleanse and ward off evil spirits that have brought with them disease and misfortune to a village. On the other side of the Atlantic, in Oaxaca, Mexico, the Zancudos (stilt dancers) perform once a year to call upon the power of their saints to receive protection, blessings, and miracles. In the same spirit of warding off evil and seeking a change in the mindset of those causing misfortune, Laura Anderson Barbata and the Brooklyn Jumbies will intervene on Wall Street.

Julia Pastrana, su retorno y sus raíces

Video animation created in collaboration with Laura Anderson Barbata, Rafael Esquer-Alfalfa Studio and Magne Furuholmen. Story: Laura Anderson Barbata, Rafael Esquer and Magne Furuholmen Directed by: Rafael Esquer Produced by: Alfalfa Studio, New York Line Producer: Betty García Lead Animator and Designer: Joe Hollier Animation and Design: Rachael Park Sound Design: David Lanza Production Assistants: Ellen Escobar Esquer and Aya Kawabata Agradecimientos: Alfonso Díaz Tovar


 








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