Unraveling Tradition Descifrando una tradici??n

Saskia Jord? at CSUF Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, through July 14

By Teresa Camacho de Abes
Published on LatinoLA: May 3, 2013

Unraveling Tradition  <i>Descifrando una tradici??n</i>

Identity, cultural maintenance, deterritorialization and reterretorialization
are at the core of the exhibit Unraveling Tradition Descifrando una tradici??n (Deciphering a Tradition) by Saskia Jord?, which opens at the CSUF Grand Central Art Center this weekend following a recent art residency at the center.

The point of departure of the installation is the quincea??era, the rite of passage of young women upon turning 15. The quincea??eara is celebrated in various Latin American countries, as well as Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Mexico. Jord? contextualizes the quincea??era squarely in the largely diaspora Hispanic/Latino community (that is predominantly Mexican) of Santa Ana.

Saskia Jord?, native of Venezuela, came to the United States at the age of eight,
and according to her artist statement, knows firsthand the issues at play when one deals with maintaining the culture of one's point of origin while integrating and interacting within another geographical context while attempting to maintain one's identity. The artist works in Arizona and New York and her current installation adheres to her affinity for site-specific work while incorporating the balance between self-identity or rather the private self and the identity projected outwardly or in public in a multitude of contexts.

The link between Mexico and various other Latin American countries and the Hispanic/Latino community of Santa Ana is established via the long ruffle, which is the physical manifestation of the relationship between point or origin and its various reterritorialized communities. Further, the ruffle represents the public identity/culture in its new geographical context. It is interesting to note that the material used for the ruffle is muslin, which is typically an inexpensive cloth that is used in constructing the garment prototypes. Otherwise stated, it is not the final garment to be worn and therefore it is a modest version of the ruffles on the ornate quincea??era dresses that include ruching, taffeta, appliqu?s, embroidery, and silky dresses. The dresses have morphed into overly embellished explosions of bright colors rather than the white dresses seen in quincea??era ceremonies of the past, in Mexico. Quincea??eras in the U.S., with their colored dresses step out of Hummer limousines with their entourages to make a grand entrance at their celebrations. The meaning has shifted from that of the celebrants' parents and grandparents in their homelands where there was a religious element and a more staid tone to the festivities.

The unembellished ruffle is the culture and the identity as has been reterritorialized and remembered by migrants arriving. And much as these migrant identities, the ruffle or their identity will come unraveled and deconstructed over the course of the installation by visitors who take it and begin the unraveling. As the ruffle moves off the dress form it is changing and moving much as the migrant identity changed when it is passed on to descendants and it will further evolve as it continues to be passed on through the generations. The ruffle/culture will be reinterpreted in order to be understood and performed in its new territory. Identity will continue to evolve all day every day just as the earth moves each and every day.

Saskia Jord?
Unraveling Tradition
May 4 - July 14, 2013

CSUF Grand Central Art Center
125 N. Broadway
Santa Ana, California 92701
(714) 567-7233
Website http://www.grandcentralartcenter.com

About Teresa Camacho de Abes:
Art and culture journalist, book critic of history, politics and literature of the Near/Middle East.

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