Archive for the ‘art installation’ Category

Fabrica Habana

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Fabrica Habana

Fabrica Habana, contemporary art gallery of Concha Fontenla, Habana, Cuba

Currently on exhibition at the beautifully renovated colonial home turned contemporary art gallery by Concha Fontenla in Old Habana is a three story exhibition by Cuban artists Jose Toirac and Octavio Cesar Marin. Toirac and Marin draw from various artistic movements such as Conceptual Art and Arte Povera to create a study of the recent history and current reality of Cuba. The gallery consists of three floors and if one begins at the top and works their way down, there is a chronological thread throughout the exhibition. Beginning with allusions to Ancient Western Philosophy and Christianity. On the third floor one will find a broken bronze vase to commemorate Diogenes de Sinope (412-323 BCA), a Greek philosopher of the “escuela cinica” who gave up all material goods and lived as a vagabond on the streets of Athens searching for the honest man.

Jose Toirac and Octavio Cesar Marin at Fabrica Habana

Fabrica Habana
On the same floor, a metal press sits on a pedestal. On one side of the press, is the symbol of christ as stamped on to the eucharist and on the other plate is the portrait of Che Guevara with the phrase “Patria o Muerte 2017”. Above the press is a quote from Fidel, stating that every child should be modeled after Che, an honest and virtuous man. To the right of the press is a long table with two dozen tin cups filled with packaged eucharists stamped with the portrait of the Che. Above the table floats a holy chalice also with the portrait of El Che.

Jose Toirac and Octavio Cesar Marin

On the second floor one will find many memorials to famous Cubans. Each memorial is a pedestal with the name of the historical figure, the dates of birth and death (if the person has died) and the work that each one is known for and on top of the pedestal are objects commemorating the individual. The memorials include intellectual figures such as Jose Marti as well as business men, a famous cook…

Jose Toirac and Octavio Cesar Marin
Jose Toirac and Octavio Cesar Marin
Jose Toirac and Octavio Cesar Marin

Jose Toirac and Octavio Cesar Marin at Fabrica HabanaFinally, on the street level, the artists present a red carpet made of flattened tin cans of Cuban beer and soda. And on the three walls of the gallery hang a series of portraits of Cubans today from a street recycler to a flower vendor a famous chef. Each of these portraits are executed on the material or tools of their trade. At the rear of the gallery, are a couple dozen portraits shot on a steel cart with trash bags (that is installed against the rear wall). These portraits seem a bit trite as they try to emulate professional studio portrait images. However the larger portraits are beautifully executed.
Jose Toirac and Octavio Cesar Marin at Fabrica Habana
Jose Toirac and Octavio Cesar Marin at Fabrica Habana

Jose Toirac and Octavio Cesar Marin at Fabrica Habana

Jose Toirac and Octavio Cesar Marin at Fabrica Habana

The artists effectively portray Cuba as a deeply Catholic and literate society that is wrought with contradictions. The clearest contradiction is effectively presented by the eucharist embossed with the portrait of Che. The island at the foot of the United States, proudly embraces its Marxist identity as proclaimed by Fidel – the tiny nation that stands against the empire while stringently faithful to the greatest empire of Latin American culture, the Catholic church.
Much of the beauty of the exhibition lies in the simplicity of materials employed to realize the work which also effectively portrays the reality of Cuba. A country with few resources that is industrious, able to maintain 70 year old cars with rescued or constructed parts and that is slowly reconstructing its decaying architectural masterpieces. The culture – music, dance, visual arts resonate throughout the globe and Jose Toirac and Octavio Cesar Marin are able to capture a small piece of this reality.

Recetas y Gangas: Essex Street Market Installation

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Recetas y Gangas (Recipes and Deals) is an audio montage of Essex Street Market vendors and shoppers listing goods for sales or sharing personal recipes. The audio montage was recorded and composed to project the market on to the street through an amplified bullhorn. As pedestrians walk past the Essex Street Market, they hear the recorded voices of people working and shopping in the market. Recetas y Gangas was conceived and produced by Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga in 2016 for the exhibition “Lettuce, Artichokes, Red Beets, Mangoes, Broccoli, Honey and Nutmeg: The Essex Street Market as Collaborator” curated by Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful and presented at Cuchifritos Gallery, located within the Essex Street Market.

Commonly street markets around the world have both an outdoor and indoor space. The perimeters of the market may extend on to the street to invite pedestrians in to the market. Rather than walls, street markets may present large openings and awnings to create an arcade where people are at once outside and inside. The Essex Market in the Lower East Side of New York City does not have a side walk extension beyond sandwich boards and signage outside its brick wall. The Essex Street Market facade does not even present pedestrian level windows for those outside to peer in to the interior. The facade is rather an uninviting brick facade, perhaps a planned institutional barrier that Mayor La Guardia desired as he sought to take cart vendors off the sidewalk in an effort to clean up the streets from obstacles and noise. For the exhibition “Lettuce, Artichokes, Red Beets, Mangoes, Broccoli, Honey and Nutmeg: The Essex Street Market as Collaborator” at Cuchifritos curated by Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful, I have sought to extend the Essex Street Market on to the sidewalk through sound.

There is a long history of market vendors announcing, singing or chanting their goods to the public. On Essex Street before cart vendors were moved off the street and into the market, they would call out their goods, hoping to attract buyers. I imagine that when the market first opened this practice continued. Today, walk through a traditional Latin American market and you will hear various products sung in to the air. To develop my project, I solicited vendors to vocalize their products and the more performative, the better. Only two vendors played along, one eagerly – Rosella Albanese from Pain d’Avignon and another through a bit of coaxing – Yanivis Rodriguez of Luna Brothers. You may listen to each of their recordings here. When I was trying to talk Yanivis into the recording while she worked the register, a shopper began to tell me about her recipes for preparing yams. It was an older Dominican woman, perhaps in her 60s who after describing her recipe, told me about the many health benefits of yams.

As I was having a difficult time convincing vendors to sing or chant their goods, I decided to request a recipe from them. This turned out effective as I’ve collected several recipes from vendors and customers. The final piece is an audio montage that captures a portrait of the Essex Street Market through the voices of vendors and customers alike all recorded within the market. The audio montage is titled Recetas y Gangas (Recipes and Deals).

“On Transmitting Ideology” Revisited

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I recently revisited a project from 2008 – On Transmitting Ideology, that is partly an audio montage of historically famous speeches that I feel have helped define the current conservative and liberal ideologies so prominent in the United States political and cultural arenas. Although the piece has been exhibited several times, I’d really like for more people to listen to the audio montage, particularly since we’re in a presidential election year. So much of the current rhetoric is drawn almost verbatim from our past. For example a famous speech known as “Rivers of Blood” (1968) by the conservative British Parliament member Enoch Powell strongly reflects some of the things that Donald Trump has said regarding immigration. The 1968 speech is a call to shutting down the British borders largely due to bigotry.

In the desire for more people to listen to the audio montage, I’ve created a video featuring the audio montage. Perhaps if people give it a few seconds they will be intrigued by the voices of Calvin Coolidge, George Wallace, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., Barry Goldwater… enough to play the entire 17 minute and 30 second video. It begins with quick snippets, but as the piece proceeds longer excerpts compliment one another, ideally to create a nice flow.

The montage only includes 12 men, however, they are amongst the most prominent in U.S. history (with exception of one Brit – Powell). At over 17 minutes the piece is already longer than most people will listen, many more diverse voices could easily be referenced, but I tried to keep it short. The 12 voices included are:
Calvin Cooldige, George Wallace, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King Jr., Barry Goldwater, Barack Obama, Enoch Powell, Malcolm X, Douglas MacCarthur, Noam Chomsky, William F Buckley Jr., Dwight D. Eisenhower

On View at Cuchifritos Gallery

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Artist Antonia Pérez creates sculptures by weaving discarded plastic bags. She worked at the gallery during the exhibition.

This is the final weekend for the exhibition “Lettuce, Artichokes, Red Beets, Mangoes, Broccoli, Honey and Nutmeg: The Essex Street Market as Collaborator” at Cuchifritos Gallery located in the Essex Street Market. The exhibition curated by Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful has been in the works for the past two years. The premise of the exhibition is for “six socially conscious artists to engage vendors, customers and the Market itself in their artistic processes as a means of co-generating experiences centered on the life that unfolds outside Cuchifritos Gallery, the art space of the Artist Alliance Inc”.

Ricardo Miranda Zuniga

“Recetas y Gangas: The Essex Street Market Recordings” with mock up of originally proposed installation of bullhorn on the facade of the market

So in preparation for the exhibition, the artists came together with Jodi Waynberg the Executive Director of Artist Alliance as well as Nicolas to begin considering how the artists might work with the market. Jodi toured the artists through the market and introduced them to various vendors as well as the building manager and staff. Nearly all the artists attended a Vendors Association Meeting to present their projects and solicit collaboration.

Ricardo Miranda Zuniga

“Refuse Redo” a collaboration between Mary Ting and Lower East Side Girls Club/La Tiendita – sculptures made from market cardboard.

As one may imagine, the vendors are small business owners and workers. The market is the place that they go to for employment, not necessarily for cultural engagement. Many of the vendors are entirely preoccupied with maintaining their business and were no nonsense about artistic participation. If the artists did not approach with a brief and concrete plan for collaboration, there was little chance of any cooperation. A few vendors were excited at the prospect of creative engagement and happily collaborated. However in general, the ambitious projects envisioned by the artists needed to be simplified.

Ricardo Miranda Zuniga

Scent and air time capsule of the Essex Street Market by Beatrice Glow.

Ricardo Miranda Zuniga

Market collection and journal by Inspector Collector Harley Spiller.


Laia Solé and Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful employ the color green from the market to create a video montage that collapses the artists at work and the market at work.

For example, I wanted to create an audio montage of the vendors chanting or singing their goods and then to have that audio amplified onto the street via a bullhorn installed on the facade of the Essex Street Market. The concept was to have the interior of the market spill out onto the street as street markets commonly do in Latin America and Europe. Most of the vendors were not comfortable in singing their goods and the building management did not allow the installation of the bullhorn due to city ordinances regarding noise pollution (at least that was their excuse). When I was recording one of the vendors, a shopper approached me to tell me about recipes that she uses for a particular root. It then occurred to me that if vendors did not want to sing, perhaps they would share a recipe and the audio montage became primarily recordings of market recipes. As the piece would not be projected onto the street via a loudspeaker, I created a sandwich board with a speaker installed into it and wore the sandwich board on the street. In this way, the original concept of the piece was fully realized.

Each artist has her or his own story of how the work needed to be modified for the final exhibition. And in the end, this is the nature of collaboration.

Ricardo Miranda Zuniga

“Recetas y Gangas: The Essex Street Market Recordings” with mock up of originally proposed installation of bullhorn on the facade of the market

The Essex Street Market Audio Montage

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Recetas y Gangas

Proposed work “Recetas y Gangas” audio montage of vendors projected onto the street through a bullhorn mounted on the facade of the Essex Street Market

The Recetas y Gangas: Essex Street Market Recordings presents the compilation of recordings made at the market over several weeks between the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016.

The full collection of recordings are available here.

Written by ricardo

March 4th, 2016 at 8:00 am

The Essex Street Market Recordings 8

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As Juana Figueroa of Luna Brothers market within the Essex Street Market broke down boxes to contribute to an installation within the Cuchifritos gallery, I spoke with her about that afternoon’s lunch. Listen to her describe it below, yams quick, simple and delicious:

Listen to the full collection of recordings.

Written by ricardo

March 2nd, 2016 at 8:00 am

The Essex Street Market Recordings 7

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After 25 years of having a store front in the Lower East Side, Puebla Mexican Food moved into the Essex Street Market. In 2015, they lost their lease and the new rent was beyond what they could afford. The Essex Street Market presented a new home and strong future. Listen to Irma Marin of the Puebla Mexican Food list the various plates that she offers:

Listen to the full collection of recordings.

Written by ricardo

February 29th, 2016 at 8:00 am

The Essex Street Market Recordings 5

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I met Chris Bickford at the Cuchifritos gallery when I was doing audio recordings at the Essex Street Market and as a visitor to the market, I asked if he had a recipe to contribute to my project. Chris obliged with his corn chowder meal:

Listen to the full collection of recordings.

Written by ricardo

February 21st, 2016 at 8:00 am

The Essex Street Market Recordings 4

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Charlotte Pradie from Saxelby Cheese Mongers at the Essex Street Market presented a detailed account of the making of the Pawlet Sandwich. Listen to Charlotte’s description below:

Listen to the full collection of recordings.

Written by ricardo

February 19th, 2016 at 8:00 am

The Essex Street Market Recordings 3

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Arancini Bros is the latest addition to the Essex Street Market and their rice balls are delicious. I met Julia de la Gata at the new location and she shared the recipe for the Bianco Verde as well as its history. Listen to Julia’s account below:

Listen to the full collection of recordings.

Written by ricardo

February 17th, 2016 at 8:00 am