Elena Kendall-Aranda is an American, Spanish and French artist currently living and working in New York. Through the investigation of gender theories, Internet culture and mass media practices, she addresses issues of identity and embodiment with photography, text, and new technologies. By conjuring narratives that coalesce and collapse, Kendall-Aranda seeks to use online applications that can operate simultaneously in physical and virtual space to create new meaning that makes us reflect about our social-political culture.
The Lupita’s Artist Project Grant will support the continuation of her project Ghost Town Initiative / Los Despoblados which utilizes Google Maps’ Street View features to create an online space where Internet visitors will be able to virtually stroll through abandoned villages in Spain amongst recreated ghost inhabitants, and by doing so, provide a new perspective on our collective past and present.
According to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics, by 2007 there were over 2.800 villages listed as abandoned. More than half of them are for sale and/or in the process of becoming spas or sport centers. However, these crumbling towns are, in a very real sense, visual monuments to a moment in time the rest of the world has long forgotten. As such, they are part of an endangered portion of Spain’s history. The point of this project is not to urge for the rehabilitation of these villages. Rather, it is to keep their memories alive through Internet’s unique twofold capacity to navigate through time as well as space, and to play with the boundaries between archival practice and creative production. My idea is to re-contextualizing Google Maps as a tool for virtually visiting a physical location, while playing simultaneously with our perspective on the past and present, as well as our interaction between offline and online embodiment.
For the next iteration of the project, Kendall-Aranda will work in collaboration with two theater troupes to bring these staged performances to three additional towns for documentation. Tentatively, these towns are Escó, Jánova, and Granadilla.
Through the Lupita’s Artist Project Grant, we seek to fund the work of emerging artists who are particularly interested in generating objects or activities surrounding notions of “Place.” As with the focus of the MFA-IA Program, we are invested in the diverse strategies artists employ engaging in and contributing to critical discourses surrounding place and place-based practice—from personal, to political, to planetary. Through this yearly open call, we hope to extend these conversations beyond the immediate community of our program and support artists in a variety of locales. The jury was extremely taken with the method by which Kendall-Aranda’s work weaves together the social and the virtual, pushing political and cultural identity up against the limits of geography.
We were thrilled to receive so many thoughtful and provocative applications and be exposed to new practices and projects. Stay in touch for future opportunities, events, and updates on this project as it unfolds!