Week 5: Ritual and 60 Forms of Utang

A post from Jevi. You can comment on this post up through Friday this week, since it was posted belatedly.

In this week’s topic on Indigenous Roots and Rituals, it is interesting to discuss the parallelism between Carlos Villa’s Atang and Lucy Lippard’s Telling, particularly the struggles of artists of color in their art practice and everyday life. Although Lucy Lippard speaks about “artists of color” in general ( from African American, Latin Americans to Native Americans..) Carlos Villa tells stories of Asian Americans in the Bay Area on a personal level.
What do artists of color have in common?  Especially those who migrated and grew up in the United States. Why are hybridity, fusion and syncretism very important subjects in Lucy Lippard’s article? Why are storytelling and personal narratives  very important methods or strategies used by artists of color to understand one’s “roots” and history?
Do you think Carlos Villa’s storytelling method in “60 Forms of Utang”– about artists he admires– is an effective way of narrating the “forgotten” history of Asian American artists in the Bay Area? As Villa mentioned in Atang No. 53, “..history belongs to those in power.”
In both articles, art is often mentioned as survival mechanism; do you think art can be used as a form of ritual like Atang or Santeria to “ward off evil spirits” by artists of color in order to survive our contemporary society?  Can artists still be griot- story teller of the past or shaman-a healer of the future in the 21st century? 

3 thoughts on “Week 5: Ritual and 60 Forms of Utang

  1. Artists of color have a history of struggle. They have been oppressed. This oppression causes them to build a strong community and identity or sense of self. The people who migrated and grew up in the United States might be disconnected from there heritage or they might have a great connection with their heritage because they never what to forget their roots.
    Hybridity, fusion and syncretism are very important subjects in Lucy Lippard’s article because the words create senses of place in a multi-centered society. Storytelling and personal narratives are very important methods or strategies used by artists of color to understand one’s “roots” and history because in doing so it becomes their identity (Carlos saying in making a piece he becomes himself). These stories or personal narratives also become relatable.
    I Do think Carlos Villa’s storytelling method in “60 Forms of Utang”– about artists he admires– is an effective way of narrating the “forgotten” history of Asian American artists in the Bay Area As Villa mentioned in Atang No. 53, “..history belongs to those in power.” I think that goes back to the oppression and the people that rise up against the people in power.
    In both articles, art is often mentioned as a survival mechanism; I do think art can be used as a form of ritual like Atang or Santeria to “ward off evil spirits” by artists of color in order to survive our contemporary society however some might not latch on to this idea because of how ideas have changed. However, I do believe that art can be a survival mechanism because of the emotions behind the making and the viewing. Warding off evil spirits would have to do with ones spirituality but I think in a way people ward off evil things everyday in their thinking and weighing situations.
    Artists can still be a griot- story teller of the past or a shaman-a healer of the future in the 21st century depending on if their art deals with their ideas of the past or future.

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  2. I think much of the role of artists is to make sense of the world around us. This can be achieved either by fantasy or by non-fiction, but either way, a story is reflective of an actual experience or the lack of one. The work an artist produces, when speaking about turmoil or an issue, can act as a guide for other artists or people in general. One artists perspective is the subtly advice being handed down to anyone willing to listen or look. Through the experiences of others, we are able to dodge tribulation and follow in the advice of others like us who may understand the problems we face. Artists are responsible for building and extending the mythology of a society. Our modern mythology is constantly being built by artists and so many go back to these stories in as a means of guidance. While the common-folk may not head back to abstract artists immediately for answers, they can go to movies and observe their favorite characters as a means of inspiration in a time of struggle. For those who understand Carlos’ work and the works of other Asian Americans, they will look back to these artists as someone who understand the struggle that they are experiencing.

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