13 avril 2023
Montréal is home for Alexandra Rodríguez Ramírez. But the young multidisciplinary artist and curator’s head and heart are spread out around the world. Alexandra draws her inspiration from discoveries and new encounters, which often occur abroad. Despite changes to the project because of the pandemic, participating in an arts residency in Brazil, one of the many offered by the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ), was the impetus to take her artistic practice to the next level.
Art flows in Alexandra’s veins. “From an early age, I was trying different musical instruments, drawing, painting, dance, and theatre,” she says. “I come from an artistic family that is active in music, visual arts, and literature.” Curiosity is also part of her DNA, which is expressed as much through her love of travel and discovery as her tireless desire to explore new disciplines.
“The constant that inspires my work is conceptualization, in other words, the creation of an idea driven by the need to share a message with an audience. Then I evaluate the best way to express or communicate that idea.”
Her path as a professional artist started in 2015 with an interactive electronic musical installation Bio Electro Sounds, in which she used fruits and vegetables to create music. The project was successful and was presented in Canada, Venezuela, Germany, and Mexico.
A residency for learning and sharing
With the idea in mind of deepening her practice, Alexandra set herself the challenge of participating in a residency at the Goethe-Institut Salvador-Bahia This link will open in a new window, in Brazil. Her initial project combined cultural mediation in the form of interactive arts workshops with musical training to learn the basics of the percussion instrument the bacurinha. “The idea was to engage in a cultural exchange, to learn something, and to share something,” she says.
She was supposed to leave Québec for the state of Bahia in summer 2020. But the pandemic had other ideas, and her plans were upended because of the restrictions. Part of the residency took place virtually in 2020. During the residency, she put on her curator’s hat and created a website to present the work of 13 Brazilian artists for a year with the theme of emotional, mental, and spiritual healing. “The online exhibition enabled me to form ties with local artists despite the distance, which would have been more difficult if I had concentrated on an individual project.”
Alexandra eventually travelled to Brazil in March 2022 where she spent until May completing her residency. While there, she gave an introductory workshop on interactive art, as planned in her initial project. She also learned more about the musical history and rhythms of the city of Salvador with a producer, composer, and local musician, João Milet Meirelles from the group BaianaSystem. In exchange, she shared her knowledge of the rhythms of her country of origin, Venezuela. It was a rich learning experience. “Salvador is an important musical cradle of Brazil, as well as a city rich in history and marked by its African heritage,” she says. Her residency also resulted in a collaboration with Pivoman, a local DJ who is an expert in rhythms of African origin.
“Salvador is an important musical cradle of Brazil, as well as a city very rich in history and marked by its African heritage,” she says. Her stay also gave rise to a collaboration with Pivoman, a local DJ expert in Afro-descendant rhythms.
For the final part of her residency, Alexandra participated in a movement workshop with artist and theatre professor Raiça Bomfim. She then created a work entitled Entity, a photo performance based on a text composed on the theme of identity and the search for the human essence.
“It was the highlight of the residency because it reflects everything I had accumulated emotionally since the pandemic hit,” the artist says. “I started to move closer to improvisation and movement. I really wanted to get out of my head and be a lot more in my body.”
Travel: a source of symbiosis between personal and professional development
Alexandra believes there is no better source of inspiration than moving outside one’s comfort zone and breaking out of routine.
“There are so many reasons that emerging from your cocoon can be beneficial, both personally and professionally. In general, when you are exposed to different ways of seeing the world, whether in the manner of speaking, tone, expressions, language, food, traditions, folklore, even the way people walk down the street. […] For me, it's almost an instant trigger for inspiration.”
She also sees participating in a program like the CALQ residency program as a golden opportunity for artists who want to gain experience. “Professionally, it’s interesting to get international recognition or experience. It is always positive when an artist travels around the world presenting their work.”
She advises future candidates to have a basic understanding of the language of the country of their residency before they leave. “It will facilitate relationships and accelerate the creation and production process. […] It will benefit them and local agents to be able to form ties faster.”
The young artist has plenty of projects in mind, including participating in a new international residency.
The residency Alexandra took part in is just one of many in the network of CALQ studio apartment residencies This link will open in a new window. The programs are spread out in some 40 cities on four continents, from New York to Tokyo, Cuba, London, and Guadeloupe.
- To learn more about Alexandra Rodríguez Ramírez and her projects This link will open in a new window
- Access her Instagram page This link will open in a new window
- Access her Facebook page This link will open in a new window
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