Seila Fernández Arconada created her Sketches of Distance on December 14, 2016 by river Lee at the border of Hackney Wick and Stratford London, in the frame of “Misplaced Women?” performance workshop in the public space lead by Tanja Ostojić, hosted by LADA.
An sketch of distance I (51.544613 -0.022445) Durational performance 45 minutes
An sketch of distance II (51.542082, -0.020953) Durational performance 15 minutes
Those two performances were developed in response to the Misplaced Women? workshop led by Berlin based artist Tanja Ostojić. Both actions were presented as spontaneous performances in the public space in two “in between spaces”, a pedestrian bridge and the river Lee bank, both located between Hackney and the new developed Olympic Stadium Park area of Stratford London.
The workshop and this location became context of my actions. Asked to work with my belongings to “interrogate some of the realities of displacement such as travelling, identity, illegality, security, and the private/public”, I began to think of what my personal possessions are and what they mean to me as a migrant, as a woman, as an artist, etc.
In the last years, travelling became part of my working methodology that I consider and work with at many levels including environmental foot print, political and social borders. Belongings, both personal and professional, became a companion mostly connected to functionality. However, as time goes by there are some special items that hold memories and stories that I told in this performance.
The first item that I took out of my backpack was a compass. When this present was given to me in China 10 year ago, I was told: “Carry this compass with you and you will be able to find your home”. Since then I have been carrying this compass with me. The stories told connected to all those items are resonating experiences to the places where they come from; including a scarf given to me in Spain more than 15 years ago, a pair of handmade earrings I never wore that hold the story of an encounter in Medellín (Colombia), a booklet with drawings made with children in Peru, a T-Shirt bought in the central market of La Paz (Bolivia) that contains a conversation with the seller, among others.
I placed all the items, one by one, around the compass to locate them in space, drawing a map out of stories while representing distance. 1.217km away from where I come from, about 2 days and 9 hours duration (Google Maps walking+ferry suggestion)
Distance (Oxford Dictionary) noun, BrE /ˈdɪstəns/
- the amount of space between two places or things
- being far away in space or in time
- a point that is a particular amount of space away from something else
- a difference or lack of a connection between two things
- a situation in which there is a lack of friendly feelings or of a close relationship between two people or groups of people.
Seila Fernández Arconada is an independent artist—researcher based in Bristol, UK. She is currently a Moore Institute Visiting Fellow (Ireland) with the project Moving while doing, nomadic artistic perceptions in socio-environmental transitory times. She is a collaborator at the “Art, Research and Feminism” research group (Spain). Recently selected by Gasworks London to join the residency “Migration, Identity and Belonging” (Mauritius). Seila has delivered numerous cross-disciplinary workshops and interventions including Communities Development in Post-Crisis Regions (Ukraine) and exhibited internationally, recently in Imagined Landscapes (RWA, UK), In Between Storage (Latvia) and ENCLAVE Land Art (Spain). Her work focuses in exploring artistic methodology, its boundaries and new social approaches. www.seilafernandezarconada.net
The text was written by Seila Fernández Arconada
The photographs were taken by Sophie Cullinan