the making of breaking bienal

My process is usually split into two parts: (1) the hyper-organized research and planning phase [e.g., sitting at my computer, sourcing materials, looking up building methods, making calculations, and creating detailed plans] and (2) the semi-chaotic testing and construction phase [e.g., making a mess in my studio, experimenting with techniques, assessing functionality, taking things apart, and putting things together]. But whether I am at my computer or at my studio, I generally work alone. However, the process of creating Breaking Bienal was somewhat atypical for me. For La Bienal 2013: Here Is Where We Jump, I was invited to recreate my disco ball piñata from 2010. The making of the piñata itself was largely the same as before: planning every last detail in advance and working mostly in solitude. This time around though, I decided to do something different with the contents of the piñata, stepping outside my usual practice by reaching out to the other artists in the exhibition. I asked them if they would be willing to contribute objects to put inside my piñata that somehow represent their own work.

I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the artists agreed to participate; the majority of the artists in the exhibition (and a curator!) will be represented in my piñata. Their contributions include: found objects that relate to their work in the show, artifacts of their artmaking process (like material remnants, test objects, etc.), and even some special pieces created just for my project. I packaged them separately in sealed plastic bags with labels bearing information about the contents, treating each object like part evidence/specimen and part celebrity collectable.

The process of gathering everything was a little tough for me because I was not accustomed to fielding so many emails at once or coordinating pickups with so many different people’s schedules and locations… and especially because I was still in the middle of the construction phase. In between applying layers of paper mâché to a beach ball or gluing on about a bajillion little tiles, I ran (sometimes literally) all over the NYC area collecting things from different artists. I almost never knew what they would be giving me, so I had no idea how heavy, bulky, or delicate their item(s) would be, or if I had the appropriate bag, box, or folder to put it in. I could often be found standing in front of a subway map with a bunch of bags hanging off of me, looking like a lost pack mule.

And while some moments felt like excerpts from a confusing nightmare, this was ultimately an extremely rewarding experience. Every day was like a mini-adventure where I had to learn-as-I-go. I loved the excitement in the split second before an artist revealed his or her contribution to me. And it warmed my heart to find out how incredibly generous and collaborative my fellow La Bienal artists are. I have never before had the opportunity to become acquainted with the other exhibiting artists in this way, discovering so much about them beyond just their artwork. They opened up their studios to me, showed me how they think and create, told me about their day jobs, welcomed me into their homes, introduced me to their friends and families, and shared the best and the worst stories of their lives. It was my privilege and an absolute pleasure to meet them and get to know them a little better, and I feel like they gave me so much more than just objects to put inside my piñata.

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THANK YOU to the wonderful La Bienal artists who contributed items to put inside my piñata: Damali Abrams, Ernesto Burgos, Miguel Cardenas, Ernest Conception, Becky Franco, Sean Paul Gallegos, Paula Garcia, Kathleen Granados, Eric Ramos Guerrero, Alejandro Guzman, Pablo Jansana, Sara Jimenez & Kaitlynn Redell, Élan Jurado, Alex Nuñez, Gabriela Salazar, Julia San Martin, Bernardo Navarro Tomas, Mel Xiloj, and curator Rocío Aranda-Alvarado.

More photos of the process and contents: [alpine-phototile-for-tumblr src="user_tag" uid="" ttag="discoballpiñata" imgl="fancybox" dl="1" dltext="photos from" style="cascade" col="6" size="75" num="75" highlight="1" align="center" max="100"]