Multimedia Sculpture Video Installation

Longwoods Arts Project, Bronx

BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH  |  Bronx, NY  2004-2006

Longwood Arts Project is the Bronx Council on the Arts’ contemporary visual art center supporting artists and their work, especially those from underrepresented groups such as women, the LGBT community and artists of color through exhibitions and public programming.

Media: Abaca cast paper and mixed media
Dimensions: 130 ft x 28 ft x 21 ft
Music by: Susana Baca

ARTIST STATEMENT (English / Espanol)

Between Heaven and Earth was originally inspired by my experiences exploring the Fjörds, a large, mountainous region in Central Western Norway, and the Patterson Housing Projects in the Bronx, New York. While in New York, I learned about a community of inhabitants that live within the crevices of the Fjörds mountain peaks. Since these people live very high in the mountains, it was impossible for me to communicate directly with them. However, the natives who lived at the base were able to relate wonderful stories of extraordinary living conditions, which further triggered my imagination concerning the existence that they have with their surroundings. In the presence of that landscape, a desire was born to share their experiences. I became fascinated with the way those people live, how they respond to an environment that often threatens avalanches and how younger generations cope with, or revolt against, the hardships of their parents’ chosen life. If all the young people left, the place would eventually become “empty.”

Although my work is based on a specific geographic location and its inhabitants, the concepts of attraction, loss and the feelings generated by a particular environment are very universal. As I worked on this project, I became unable to ignore the parallels I saw with the living environments around me in New York. Specifically I focused on the Patterson Housing Projects of the Bronx. I found important social and economic themes rising from the common images of the Fjords and of the high rises. The uncomfortable environmental conditions endured by living at these elevations, and the separation of a group of people from the surrounding community. From this isolation and difficulty has arisen strong community, which is always threatened by the movement of the youth. In addition to the commonalities between these two subcultures, the differences are striking. One life is entirely of the land, the other entirely of civilization, and the hardships of each life differ along this line.

In Between Heaven and Earth, viewers will enter an environment that physically and psychologically mimics the places described above. The configuration of the area will guide people to experience the surroundings from multiple viewpoints, as if they were both on and above the ground. That spatial “virtuality” will be augmented by two video projections. A soundtrack, recorded by singer Susana Baca specifically for this installation, further evokes these themes. Through this, I explore the parallel stories of these two communities, and try to express my feelings of wonder at lifestyles that I will never be able to fully understand.