Between Heaven and Earth Longwoods Art Project essay by Wallace Edgecombe

Wallace I. Edgecombe

Director of Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture

Grimanesa Amorós has 20 solo and over 80 group exhibitions to her credit. Her work is in the permanent collections of 12 museums and foundations and 10 corporations. She now brings to the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, two masterful multi-media works: Rootless Algas (a reworking of an installation frst exhibited at Artspace in Raleigh, NC) and the new breathtaking Between Heaven and Earth, an interdisciplinary (sculpture, video, music) collaboration with Amorós’ Peruvian compatriot, the internationally acclaimed vocalist and interpreter of Afro-Peruvian music, Susana Baca. Both installations evince the artist’s fascination with northern places and climates and their social contexts. This is evidenced in the case of Rootless Algas, utilizing the seas surrounding Iceland and, in the display of Between Heaven and Earth, the Norwegian fjörds. Each installation is distinct in personality but together they express a single statement: the mystery – the holiness

– of nature. Indeed, the idea of communion is central to this exhibition. Says the artist of her encounter with the fjörds: “The experience reminded me of time in my native country, Peru. I wanted to belong in those mountains,” an idea that would have been most appreciated by the fjörds’ ancient denizens, the Vikings.

These installations contain the hallmarks of Grimanesa Amorós’ recent work which creates a total and engulfng ambientación with the use of moving images, dramatic lighting, abaca paper (which the artist makes herself) and sound. Rootless Algas includes recorded music by Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson, the acclaimed Icelandic flm composer. In Between Heaven and Earth, Amorós enlists the prodigious talents of one of the great contemporary vocalists of the Western Hemisphere, Susana Baca, who contributes a specially commissioned work and her recorded voice to the piece. The appropriateness of the collaboration goes well beyond the fact that Amorós and Baca are compatriots; it is right because of the nature of the latter’s voice. As critic Jaime Manrique expressed, “Susana Baca’s voice isn’t so much an instrument to name things but to paint them through sound so that we can see them perfectly if we close our eyes.” In short, Between Heaven and Earth is a beautiful, all-encompassing journey led by two enchantresses.

This presentation of this exhibition is a collaboration between the Hostos Center and the Bronx Council on the Arts Longwood Gallery at Hostos. It is being presented as part of a broader celebration of Peruvian culture, including a concert by Susana Baca and her ensemble, a reading by New York-based Peruvian poets organized by the Latin American Writers Institute and two folkloric concerts for children. We are honored that Grimanesa Amorós and Susana Baca, two virtuosos of their disciplines, are the focus of this celebration.