PHOENIX.- This week, a provocative new installation by First Nations Canadian artist Rebecca Belmore and Cuban artist Osvaldo Yero will be completed in the Arizona desert. The work has been conceived through Future Arts Research (F.A.R.), a new interdisciplinary artist residency which launched this fall at Arizona State University.
The work consists of a twelve-foot sand sculpture titled Solo, built on Tohono Oodham Nation land near the Arizona-Mexico border, a site frequently traveled by illegal immigrants. Made of sand and water, the sculpture is based on an image commonly found in tourist souvenirs depicting a seated figure, arms wrapped around his knees, bowed head covered by a sombrero. The work also recalls ancient pre-Columbian figures which suggest loneliness or strength.
Referencing issues of nationality and cultural heritage, the work explores the artists complex relationships with literal and conceptual borders. Specifically, Belmore and Yero seek to gain visibility for contemporary indigenous cultures, acknowledging the social construct of the disappearing Indian through a sculpture which will literally disintegrate through exposure to the elements.
In addition to this new work, the artists will be participating in F.A.R.s Desert Xchange, first in a series of lectures, performances and film screenings that will link audiences in the Sonoran desert to deserts globally via the arts.
Arizona State University (ASU) has established F.A.R. @ ASU, a groundbreaking program for engaging artists with the university and greater community. Based in downtown Phoenix, F.A.R. (Future Arts Research) will host 2024 leading national and international artists, critics and scholars each year who will conduct
research in collaboration with departments within the university and work closely with the surrounding community. F.A.R. is an initiative of the university presidents office, independent of the ASUs Herberger College of the Arts. F.A.R. artists will follow an applied research method focusing in its first phase on three areas important to Phoenix: new technologies in the arts; desert aesthetics; and issues of justice and human rights.
Artistic production creates bridges between different cultural, expressive and ethical traditions; these will be at the heart of F.A.R.s work in linking Phoenix and the region to the greater world, said F.A.R. Director Bruce W. Ferguson. F.A.R. has initiated a new model for arts institutions by supporting artists whose action research generates new forms of knowledge, using one of our specific areas which resonate with the Phoenix community. F.A.R. will introduce artistic exploration models to the university to complement the empirical, pure research ones typical of research universities.
ASU is renowned for its cutting-edge research and for fostering a strong intellectual community that fuses different cultural perspectives, said Michael Crow, president of Arizona State University. F.A.R. brings an important new dimension to our university community, serving as a catalyst, bringing together creative people and ideas, and providing different ways to analyze, understand and problem solve. Its location in downtown Phoenix is integral to the universitys mission to weave creative programs into the community and its emerging downtown campus.