With social distancing rules in place to protect the public from the spread of COVID-19, people developed their own ways to share their lives with each other.
One popular method was to “meet” on adjoining balconies to perform music or to acknowledge others.
The University of Texas at El Paso’s Stanlee and Gerald Rubin Center for the Visual Arts plans to build on that model with “El Balcón” and “El Balcón Fronterizo,” a pair of international online video exhibitions that launch Wednesday, April 15, 2020, through the center’s website.
Kerry Doyle, Rubin Center director, said she noted how people around the world have found ways to express themselves and connect with others while in self-isolation.
The center, in collaboration with the international curatorial Proyecto Changarrito and local arts magazine Azul Arena, will present a series of virtual exhibits produced by a global community of contemporary artists who will show how confinement cannot suppress creativity.
The Rubin Center will release two new videos of less than 30 minutes each on their website and through multiple social media platforms on Wednesdays and Fridays through May 22, 2020.
One of the videos will be from artists living around the world selected by Iván Buenader of Proyecto, and the other will be from an El Paso or Juárez artist picked by Azul‘s Editor in Chief Edgar Picazo. The presentations will include studio visits, reflections on daily life and creative workshops. There will be opportunities for the viewers to make comments and ask questions about what they see.
“This will be a way that we reach out to our campus and community audiences during this uncertain time, but it also will importantly form a lasting archive that will serve as a snapshot of this moment in time,” Doyle said.
Buenader, a native of Argentina who lives in Spain, initially worked with the Rubin Center in 2013. Picazo first collaborated with the Rubin Center on two projects to include work as program director during the Border Tuner light show in November 2019. Both are co-curators of the show.
Picazo said he, Doyle and Buenader came up with the concept after they were inspired by the spontaneous balcony performances in Italy. The curators said the Rubin director proposed a virtual show where artists could share how the isolation caused by Covid-19 had influenced their work, thoughts and experiences.
Both curators said the concept excited the artists because it offered them plenty of space to be unique and creative.
“The artists I contacted were happy with the invitation,” said Buenader, who added that no one has any specific expectations from the videos. They see their work as a promotion of dialogue and discovery. “They are looking forward to their turns on ‘the balcony.'”