This is considered the largest wooden structure in the world, last time I checked. It’s in Sevilla, about 30 mins from Rota, a small village where I was stationed with the US Navy in Spain for 3.5 years.
I went to my storage unit today and pulled out a bunch of Polaroids which I’m installing and selling for 2nd Friday at the Greenhouse. A lot of the photos are from my time in Europe, and I got nostalgic for that period in my life.
There was an innocence about that time. I was blessed with youth and a paycheck twice a month. I traveled anywhere in Europe as I pleased. If I wanted to go to London for the weekend, I could. I visited Paris and Barcelona at least 4 times each. The friends I kept around me were wonderful and supportive, for the most part, and also loved to travel.
Nevertheless, there was a prying dissatisfaction, knowing I wasn’t supposed to be there in the military, that every fiber of my being was telling me I needed to be making art and being around more like-minded people. It felt suffocating. The first quarter of 2011 was a long waiting game for my separation on May of that year.
During my last year in the military (and consequently, my last year in Spain), I took on a project in which I photographed my life with Polaroid cameras. I called it Placer Instantáneo (Instant Pleasure). Each day I designated a Polaroid photo for that day. Today, I went through some of those photos, looking at a life I lived so long ago. It feels like a lifetime has passed. I’m not that person anymore. I still have similar hopes, dreams, but I’m much more affirmed of my place in life. Though times are harder now (I rarely travel, as I’m just barely getting by with rent and food and art supplies), I’m much more confident in my skin, I feel much better supported and loved by family, friends and lovers, and so much happier in every sense.
Been playing around with potential iPhone cases, and possibly selling my work like so.
About a year ago, I left my little town of Rota, Spain, where I lived for over 3 years.
I can’t believe a year has already passed. I am so thankful to have gotten the chance to live overseas, learn and live in a different culture, and meet such amazing people. Living in Spain was truly living each day to the fullest. The days were long and open to be enjoyed, with work only a distant necessity for living.
Granted, I was in a position of privilege, working for the US Navy, an occupying foreign force in the country, so my experience was a bit skewed. Spain (especially the province of Andalucia where I lived) is still plagued with unemployment, economic, and political unrest. But the friends I made, and the lifestyle I encountered and surrounded myself with always seemed to see the better, easier side of life. Even with all of life’s negativities, you’re still alive, there’s still the sun, and the beach. When you live that close to the water, I think the social attitude just changes.
I can honestly say that Spain has changed me, even now a year after leaving the country.
Kiam Marcelo Junio
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (2007)
If you can afford it.
Malia Jensen, Salty (2011)
From The Porland Mercury:
Elizabeth Leach’s 30th anniversary continues with a continuation of their group show The Shape of the Problem, and sculptor Malia Jensen presents a new video work, Salty, in which she gave a herd of cows a salt lick in the shape of a human breast, and documented the results.
I saw this exhibit at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Porland, OR this weekend. It was part of a larger group show called “The Shape of the Problem II.” Salty was separated in its own space.
Salty is set up to include a photo series, a video, and the actual breast sculptures made of salt. I chose to go around and see the photos first, then the sculptures, and finally watch the video.
The photographs were divided in a series with the following titles: “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “Western Scene,” and “High Noon.” Jensen aims to evoke images of Western films and the pioneering imagery of the “Manifest Destiny” era of American history.
The photos depict pastoral scenes that showed the cows grazing. Much like paintings of wild horses, or a herd of buffalo in the Wild West era, the cows had a beauty in their group formations, and in their natural setting. However, this was upset by the appearance of tags on their ears, an obvious imagery of our human dominion.
As found on Wikipedia, salt licks (or mineral licks) are natural formations or deposits of salt and other minerals, which animals consume (or lick) to obtain minerals they need, but may otherwise not have access to with their normal diet.
The sculptures themselves were made of salt, but appeared much more durable, almost marble-like in their smoothness. The sculptures presented were the actual salt licks used in the video, and it is evident by the appearance of dirt on the sides. Some of the breasts were more worn than the others, less defined in the nipple area.
The sculptures seem to refer to Classical Greek sculptures of goddesses, though severed from the rest of the body. Perhaps this is a commentary on the cows themselves, and their common fate of being chopped into a hundred pieces for human consumption. In the video, rather, it is the chopped-off human form which the cows consume.
This commentary via role-reversal is made more evident when one watches the video projection. Unlike the photo series, which bring a sense of pastoral pleasure, the video is disconcerting. It begins with the artist driving up to the herd and placing one of the salt licks on the ground. At first, the cows pay it no mind, but soon become curious. After a few minutes, one of the cows begins to lick the breast, and joined by another cow.
Watching the video gives one an eerie sense of sensuality and disgust. As humans (and more specifically, Americans), we think of the human breasts as serving two purposes: the production of milk for infants, and as a symbol of sexuality. When observing the cows lick the human breasts, both of these purposes are muddled, and what follows is the uncomfortable sense of observing something that one is perhaps not supposed to be seeing. The sound of the cows moaning the the background add to this sense of displacement.
The lopped-off human form used for cow consumption of minerals reverses the current system of human hegemony. We are accustomed to our role as the consumer. Cows serve our purposes. In Jensen’s Salty, we see the opposite: the cows consume us, or a representation of us. A human breast in the wild, repeatedly licked by cows’ tongues.
…ran through the jungle barefoot.
…climbed the third-highest Mayan pyramid.
…visited an ancient Mayan city where I learned about the civilization’s amazing achievements in science, medicine, and especially astronomy.
…made acquaintances with some French, Spanish, and Slovenian tourists.
…swam in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.
…did some yoga asanas (including a headstand) on the beach.
…had an amazing last day of my Central American trip.
…could have died happy.
Transcript of my first journal entry, back in San Diego, CA.
The past 48 hours, I have been drunk and sick and sad to say “hasta luego” to my friends in Spain. I wanted my final days in Rota to be as normal as possible, so I acted as if I wasn’t leaving, simply going off on another trip. But I couldn’t deny the outpouring of love and alcohol, and my friends’ eyes glazed, and the warm hugs we gave one another. Things were simply not going to be the same anymore.
Then, I waited in airports to board 3 planes, slept and marinated in my sweat, it sucks there are no showers in airports. I stuck with Rota people, until it was just Leslie and I in the USO in Norfolk.
“You know,” I said, as I was about to leave for my departure gate, “this really is the end of an era.”
“I know, this is it” she said, shrugging.
We both sighed and hugged. We promised to visit one another in the future.
I boarded a plane to Detroit, then had 20 minutes to get to my next gate, which departed for San Diego. On the plane, I sat by two California girls (one had asked the lady originally beside me to move to another seat so they could sit and chat together) and I remembered a conversation I had with Eli hours ago about California accents. It was almost like a foreign language, where every other sentence is pronounced as a question. I swear I could hardly understand them, perhaps for the better.
When I finally arrived to the Transient Personnel Unit (TPU) in San Diego Naval Base, I had to wait another 2 hours before finally getting a room, taking a shower, and falling into bed.
This morning I took a bus and then a trolley to get downtown. Perhaps it’s because it’s Sunday, but I noticed there was hardly anyone out, and that the downtown area is not as hopping as I remember it to be. The first thing I wanted to find was this Mexican restaurant I used to frequent when I lived here over 3 years ago. I remember that they had many vegetarian options. It took about an hour of walking around and trying to re-orient myself into the grid of this city in which I used to live. I observed the difference 3 years have made on my memory and on the urban landscape. A few of the restaurants and stores I used to know have since been replaced. I was afraid the same had befallen my beloved neighborhood Mexican restaurant.
As I kept walking, the sights became more familiar, and I knew with no doubt I was heading the right way. Then, I finally spied a graffiti-style Virgin Mary on the wall across the street, and I knew I had found it. I was giddy as I stepped inside. Pokéz Mexican Restaurant on 10th and E Street. I sat down, I ordered a diet Pepsi. I looked at the menu, which was exactly as I remembered it, and possibly the exact same laminated page I thumbed over 3 years ago. I selected a Vegan Machaca from the Breakfast menu.
My 3 years in Spain must have dulled my tongue, because the complimentary chips and salsa were a bit spicier than I thought it would be. And when I asked the waiter what beers they served, he informed me that this was a non-alchohol establishment. I was floored. Another reminder that I’m back in the US, in case I thought I may have been dreaming: the serving sizes. I watched as the waiter delivered plates of food to a group of families, most dressed in yellow T-shirts (perhaps a sports team or a church group). Plate after plate he brought, as they “oooh”ed and “whoaaah”ed at the large burritos (“That’s a big one, Johnny!”) and salad bowls.
I went to the bathroom, which was covered in graffiti, and I was immediately transported back to Berlin. All of Berlin was like this, I remembered. I sighed. I missed Europe.
Back in the dining area, I looked around at the art on the bright green walls, an eclectic mix of religious and Native American iconography, a portrait of Frida Kahlo, a tough-looking Jesus, Virgin Mary, again in graffiti form. Behind me was a piano, and a blonde-headed toddler banged on the keys for a few moments before running out the door into the street. His father ran after him, and he looked like a doctor I used to work with in Rota. A waitress stood by the kitchen, twisting her braided red-orange hair. After a few moments, she brought me my plate.
I looked at the wonderful feast before me: a large plate of crushed tofu sautéed in red spicy sauce, crunchy bell peppers and seasoned onions. Cabbage salad and Mexican rice. Chunky guacamole, and the aforementioned salsa. I almost cried, I was in heaven.
After greedily devouring my first meal, I went up to the counter to pay.
“How was everything?” the red-orange haired waitress asked.
“Amazing. You know, this is my first meal back in the US? I’ve been living overseas for 3 years, so this was a great meal to come back to.”
“Oh, wow, that’s great, just great! I’m really glad to hear when people enjoy our food.”
“Yeah, it was amazing. I was walking around for over an hour trying to find this place. I used to live here, and came here often, so I’m really glad to find it again”
“Well, thank you, and welcome home!”
“Thanks!” I smiled. I left a tip on the table, as I walked out the door.
It’s good to be home.
Casa da Musica
I’ve wanted to visit this place for so long, so I was excited to finally see (and hear, and experience) it up close. We even saw a free symphony about the Americas!
Casa da Musica is a great combination of many things I appreciate: modern architecture, urban design, music, and art.