The Tour (Focused on the Tempo Zulu Project)
I love information, being able to hear things from someone else’s perspective (especially from people who are knowledgeable and passionate). The tour we took with Rita as our guide brought out my inner nerd and catered to the part of me that loves to absorb knowledge. I clearly remember how I was frantically writing so many things that she pointed out to us as well as the observations I was making that within the first hour most of the blank paper around my map was filled with notes and sketches.
Slowly as we spent more time outside, my heavy backpack weighing down on my back (why did I carry my unbelievably heavy computer today?!?!) I started to write less and experience more. The one thing that was dominant throughout the tour for me was all of Siena’s sounds. Where we started, just inside Porta Camollia there were so many traffic related noises. The hum of car engines as they probably waited for the lights to change, the roar of louder motor bicycles as they drove by, vespas zooming around and the sound of horns. Closer to us, apart from the sound of Rita’s voice, the constant footsteps of people walking in and out of the Porta, the sound of stroller wheels on the paving stones and once in a while the clicking sound created as dog’s walked by, when their nails made contact with the stones on the streets.
At Piazza della Poste I saw the smiling faces of people I recognized and waved hello to walk by, the loud, thundering voice of a tour guide shrieking ‘Robetro..whohooo! Roberto…’ trying to get two members of her group who had managed to break away to walk back towards the rest of them. In Piazza del Campo a group of students who had decided to race around the Campo were being cheered on by the rest of their group and other strangers who stopped to witness and be part of the spectacle.
At Via de Pescheria I swear I clearly smelled fish but now I think that my sense of smell was definitely off because I didn’t see anyone selling fish anywhere nearby. In the mercato area behind the Palazzo Publico I saw a number of swallows fluttering around above our heads. Their wings making a very faint sound that was mostly drowned out by the loud chirping sounds produced from the tiny bodies of other swallows. Finally at the green area where we officially ended our tour the peaceful, trickling sound of running water from a little spout on the wall outside of the actual fontana area.
After out tour was over I was certain that my project would be a soundscape and focus on the sounds of Siena, seeing as how much attention I had paid to the sounds around me, it made perfect sense.
Following Other Ideas
From a project that was more centered around mapping the city through sounds that I believe make up an important part of my daily experience here in Siena I decided to develop another idea that I had instead.
During one of our discussions we talked about the topic of home. It was very interesting for me to hear that a number of people felt that their homes were (and continue to be) cities where they were born, went to school in, where their families and friends are and where they had lived for the longest time. I am interested in hearing other people’s concepts of home because I have always found it very difficult to answer questions that pertain to where I am from and where my home is. From a young age, I have moved around India, living in New Delhi, Guwahati and Pune. When my father’s work took him to Dubai, my family moved there however we returned to Pune a few years later, only to discover that the city that I had left behind was a completely different place from the city it was when I returned. For my last 4 years of school, I was in a boarding school outside the city of Pune. After boarding school, I moved to Worcester, Massachusetts where I go to university and now I have lived in Siena, Italy for about four months. So many moves, so many changes, so many places for me to call homes.
My aim with this project is to create a piece that depicts my notions of having many homes and at the same time expresses how each place I have lived in is and is not (at the same time) my home.
Developing my Idea & My Process
At this point my work has a concept, I know what I am working towards but I am in the process of figuring out the visual/tangible product of my work out. To keep in order with the project idea of mapping, I have also decided to trace maps of my homes as well as other places in the various cities that I lived in that were homes to me onto paper so that I will be able to cut out pieces of all the homes that I have and then use those to create a final piece.
I have also decided to cut these pieces from water color paper on which I did various mark making exercises that I had been working on previously. I thought that this was relevant because the colors I had used for the watercolors mimicked colors of the various landscapes that I have been in. To me these water color sketches feel very organic and because I was using landscapes as a part of my idea I thought that these sketches would be appropriate to use. One of my art professors at Clark once told me that as developing artists and art students we should be open to using old work to make new work. In this sense I feel very comfortable recycling my work and my water color sketches that was in many ways stuck would be more dynamic when used as a part of this project.
With regards to the shape of my work, I have been feeling of late a strong necessity to break away from a sheet or a piece of paper that is manufactured in a specific size. I really wanted to work on a shape that was not a square or rectangle. I thought about my ideas and what I was trying to depict and decided that making a garment (that I could at my will put on and take off) would represent very clearly how I have slipped into and just as easily slipped out of various cities, cultures and homes. For the garment, I chose to create a dress since it is an item of clothing that would envelop most of my body. I started to stitch pieces of stretched plastic covering from around fruits to make a base for everything that I planned on working on top. My choice of material was mostly because this plastic fruit covering was available in huge quantities and because the diamond shaped holes on this material made it easy for me to hand stitch pieces of maps onto the bodice.
The images below show my process of tracing shapes of home on the back of my water color studies so that I could cut out these shapes to stitch onto my dress. I used a number of sheets of watercolor paper left behind by my studio partner Chelsea when she left the program to return to the USA. Some of Chelsea’s sketches and studies on one side of the paper and my outlines and cuttings on the other side had an interesting result and it helped me to fully develop one of my ideas for a photography project that was related to the body and what I would call a harsh mutilation of the ideal. On a side note: Chelsea if you are reading this I want to thank you for everything you have taught me and everything you left behind for me. Its been more than a month since you’ve left and I miss you everyday. I hope I will get to see you soon.
After racing, cutting and stitching I visited a tailor who helped me by attaching a closure at the back of the dress so that I would be able to wear it at the final opening of our project. She also aided me in refining the edge of where the bodice meets the skirt by stitching the two large pieces together with a green ribbon to cover the seam and hemmed the bottom of the skirt on her sewing machine. I really appreciated the guidance and advice that Deborah, the seamstress, gave me because she has a knowledge of materials and stitching that helped me since I have only a basic knowledge of these areas.
By the time the opening came around I was ready to wear my piece for the evening and had decided to just display it on a hanger for the second day of the show. Below are images of me wearing my piece for this project as well as a short statement and visual that was went up on the gallery wall to accompany and explain my piece and ideas.
What I am really excited about is continuing to work on this project over the summer while I am here in Italy with Bernardo, my professor and Deborah, the tailor. This project is something that can only keep growing for me because after I leave Italy, I will return to the USA but to a new home and after that, well who knows where I will be.