HOW TO: Oh, look at me deepens Gonzalez’s commitment to creating provocative, participatory social spaces within institutional settings. As acts of queer infiltration, class—aware interventionism, her work wants us to see and explore, to dance and read—outloud the potential of our embodied cognition. We are only when we interact, when we commune.
The installation functions as the fifth iteration of the artist’s ongoing HOW TO series, in which Gonzalez creates works of art to accompany poems featured in the online open-source poetry collection tutorials by Martin Jackson at www.tutorials.fyi. Written and shared in cloud-based Google Docs, readers are invited to comment and edit the poems, creating a constantly-evolving, shifting collection of poetry that is never static or complete.
HOW TO: Oh, look at me invites you to view Gonzalez’s work in a similar light as open-source installation, in which the work is constantly created and recreated through interaction. The viewer is an active participant in the installation, becoming part of the artwork as they view, listen, and physically interact with other viewers and the installation itself.
The project serves as a physical embodiment of Martin Jackson’s poem No Rothko, creating an immersive environment that captures the metaphysical experience of viewing a Rothko painting and sharing this experience as a collective activity. The poem translated for this show reads, “We are, all of us, edgeless / and senseless.” There is no self without space, no “you” without where you are.
“It’s challenging...transforming from language to space, words to installation. But it’s revealing. They overlap – they’re different but the same. Poems build spaces that we enter, explore, that change us. I want my functional sculptures to do the same.” -- GeoVanna Gonzalez
Upon entering the gallery space, visitors will be asked to cover their phone’s cameras with small colorful stickers similar to those used by Berlin’s famous techno club Berghain. This simple gesture protects those who may want to look or act in ways they wouldn’t outside the space, and encourages the visitor to live in and experience the moment.
Enveloped in cool, blue tones inspired by a Rothko painting, the center of the room features a structure for communal sitting and resting, with metal, bolts, and corners that have been physically translated from the words, commas, and syntax of No Rothko. Viewers are invited to interact with the sculpture while surrounded by the sound of rain in Miami, evoking feelings of contemplation and meditation.
The installation asks the viewer to contemplate how often they meditate and reflect on the notion of themselves, begging the question, “how often do we stop looking for flattering backdrop and light?”. Visitors are invited to look for looking’s sake, and enjoy the installation while reflecting on their individual experience; to see and explore, to dance and read out loud the potential of our embodied cognition.
GeoVanna Gonzalez: HOW TO: Oh, look at me is made possible, in part, with support from Oolite Arts, Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator (DVCAI), and Pulp Arts.