In 2012, I was invited for the first time to participate in the VELADA SANTA LUCIA XII as an artist-curator to present a »suitcase full of art«, the motto for artists from abroad invited to show at this exceptional art festival in the Santa Lucia district of Maracaibo, Venezuela's second city and largest port. The Velada Sta. Lucia is an annual exhibition conceived and curated by the Venezuela-born and Hamburg-based artist Clemencia Labin and first launched in 2000. The one-day/one-night festival is unique in that all the participating artists – from Venezuela and other Latin American countries, as well as Europe – show works in the private quarters of the residents of this street where Clemencia Labin also runs a small art space.
Over a week – which included preparations and mounting the various exhibitions, installations and performances inside, outside,
between and even on top of the houses lining the street – an extraordinary encounter and dialogue took shape between residents and visiting artists, between the numerous artists themselves and
with the crowds of people who enthusiastically flocked to the various venues where young and provocative art was integrated in the homes of these generous and big-hearted people living in this
working-class quarter, who were immensely proud to be hosts of the biggest art event the city has ever seen.
In a place of such heat and intense humidity, and on walls with flaking paint which I didn’t want to damage further, hanging works on paper was a challenge. The house belonged to the very house-proud Sa. Paula who kept up a vigilent and unremitting commentary in rapid Spanish, of which I understood nada. Things were constantly falling down. But on the day and through the night of the show countless people of all ages and backgrounds poured into the exhibition space, and examined the works with far more attention and curiosity than I have ever witnessed at any gallery opening I’d been to in Hamburg. It was the most intensely shared art experience I’ve ever had, on all levels.
For such an ambitious meeting of artists from all over the world and run on a shoe-string budget, artists from Europe were requested to travel with no more than a »suitcase full of art«. I asked seven artists from Hamburg and Berlin to contribute works, somehow managed to squeeze them into a single large case and assembled a group show in the front room of Paula Ochoa’s house, a space I chose for its dusty pink coloured walls so evocative of nostalgia.
Besides my own ensemble of photos, »Fiesta Movible« included work by Jürgen Brockmann and Britta Lembke (paintings), André Lützen, Julia Münz and Carsten Rabe (photos), Mathias Deutsch (collage) and Josephin Böttger (video). The same constellation of works was shown a second time alongside work by certain Venezuelan artists from the Velada Sta. Lucia XII in the exhibition Velada Remix that was held later on in 2012 at various venues in the Neustadt district of central Hamburg.
An excellent documentary on the event, »Calle del Arte«, made by Viviane Blumenstein and Anke Petersen, gives an impression of the circumstances, glimpses behind the scenes and of my personal tribulations in negotiating with my host Paula with my next-to-zero Spanish. A clip of the video can be seen here. One consequence of this experience was that I started taking Spanish lessons on my return to Germany.
»Moveable Feast« as the title for my piece (as well as the exhibition) came to me in a number of associations. Not only was this an example of »art in transit« – in this instance literally flown over in a suitcase and due to be shown again at a later date in a similar non-art venue in Hamburg – but it was also a shared celebration of diverse visual experiences and expression.
This was to be a feast hosted by a small group of artists from the other side of the globe offering a taste of a Hamburg view of the world, for the pleasure of any number of eager and curious visitors. Also, and particularly in the Catholic church (and Venezuela is, after all, a manifestly devout Latin-American culture), moveable feast designates certain church holidays that occur annually without being fixed to a specific date in the calendar – Easter being the best-known. The Velada Santa Lucia itself also shifts around each year, generally taking place around the first weekend in March, and is nothing if not a fiesta with much (com)motion.
Having previously presented my photos in a more clearly defined linear, grid-like structure, laying out a single plot-line as it were, here I wanted to let the motifs in my pictures interact in a more random or dynamic fashion, as in a cloud with a slightly jumpy internal rhythm. No starting point, no »bottom line«, no clear order – but plenty of ties, switches and assocations in all directions. More dialogue, even cacaphony. Corresponding shapes and forms, colour arrangements, certain geometries or affinities between the prints can be traced individually by each viewer. Sure, I set out a (meandering) thread of ideas about the sensual pleasure of eating or feasting with the eye, but the menu for this supper can be improvised in as many ways as the photographs’ diversity of origins.