The ideas presented in this research for VIS Journal:v1 are developing as part of my PhD project Poetic Forensics: art-led research on my politically disappeared father and notions of body, peoples, and land. My PhD explores through attunement as a method, how there may be referential dynamics between notions of body, peoples, and land about the politically disappeared. The term body alludes to a corporeal body, but also to a disappeared body, and a body of land and history. ‘Peoples’ refers to the peoples of the land—the campesinos—and land entails nature in a broad sense, including the nonhuman. Global human-rights issues are implicit in the project’s focus on testimony and evidence framed by historical erasure and state violence.
This work is situated within in the context of a contemporary movement of artists creating provocative projects around politics, decolonization, human-rights, earth-rights, and the ontological turn. The project acknowledges an affinity with adjacent approaches to the work of Forensic Architecture, Ursula Biemann, Hisham Matar, Maria Thereza Alves, and Paulo Tavares among others.
Besides the direct artistic influence of my core training in Skinner Releasing Technique (SRT) and my later studies in documentary making, this project has other oblique but important interdisciplinary influences such are the works of choreographers Merián Soto and Jennifer Monson(with whom I have collaborated), as well as interdisciplinary artist Francis Alys, the aesthetics of filmmakers Akira Kurosawa and Werner Herzog.
Partly investigative, partly experimental, partly embodied practice, this exhibition is the exploratory result of examining non-linear narratives from three specific conversations juxtaposed with related content. What emerges are unexpected testimonies about geopolitical entanglements of my father Iván Daza (Wickam-Crowley 1992), a student leader, who disappeared in rural Venezuela during the 1960s Cold War era. The work poses the question, Who else is witness? while exploring material that is intrinsically elusive. (Not so)Casual Conversations. Testimony X is part of my ongoing art-led doctoral research and is presented here as an accepted submission to VIS journal issue:1 On Risk in Artistic Research — jeopardy or validation?
Livia Daza Paris is a Venezuelan-Canadian interdisciplinary artist researcher who works with performative interventions, moving image, text, documentary evidence, and participatory art. She uses attunement methods and poetic interventions within art-led research to address undisclosed events of official history. She has diverse influences, most importantly the dance and poetics of the Skinner Releasing Technique.
She holds postgraduate degrees from Concordia University (Montreal, Canada) in Community Economic Development and Digital Technologies in Design Arts. She was awarded an MFA in Creative Practice from Transart accredited by the University of Plymouth. Daza-Paris is currently an art-led PhD candidate at the University of Plymouth, UK.
Her works have been presented at Bannf, Theorem-Cambridge Art Gallery-UK, Project Anywhere-Parsons School of Art and Design, NY; Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Scotland; Currents New Media Festival, New Mexico; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas; Alucine Latin Film and New Media Festival, Toronto; Festival International de Nouvelle Danse, Montreal; du Maurier Theatre, Toronto; A Space Gallery, Toronto and PS 122 and Dance Theater Workshop, NY.
The artistic gesture of this work is that of proposing the investigation through attunement as a method may transpire how elusive yet palpable forces manifest between humans and nonhuman—trees rocks, streams, animals—in emotional, incisive and unexpected ways. The work alerts to the emergence of testimonies on a denied history of state violence.
Conversation One. Testimony X-1 and Conversation Three. Testimony X-3 are moving image works that register my process of investigation around Washington DC, US. Conversation Two. Testimony X-2 is work from the rural area in Lara, Venezuela where my father was disappeared. These video registers took place on an ad hoc basis in the style of “guerrilla documentary filmmaking”(Solanas and Getino 1971). When studying the footage, I realized that I had recorded with qualities of haptic visuality and spatiality and with the camera as witness to the challenging circumstances and to the emergent situations while in a kinaesthetics of attunement. There was also just one take of any given recording.
With the editing, the real-time conditions were maintained as much as possible, and still, a certain plasticity in the editing approach allowed for what Irish poet O’Donohue calls a “poetics of possibilities” (2007), attuned to the actual events with their "multiplicity of atmospheres" as Kathleen Stewart(2011) describes in her own work with attunement. For example, the scenes in Venezuela (see Conversation Two.Testimony X-2) relate a 1960s narrative of geopolitical violence while the camera work and the editing observe images of constantly shifting environments, that are sensorially rich with textures and a vibrant nature suggesting that, despite such a history of oppression, something lively and exuberant will continue to claim its place in the world.
principal video editor
and exposition design
Organized as case testimonies, each artwork mirrors common legal practice in relation to evidence (e.g., the common legal expression ‘Exhibit A’). Considering that there is a sensitive political dimension to this project, all testimonies have anonymous signifiers identified by variables.
The works presented in this exhibition suggest how attunement to tenuous evidence and to witnesses beyond the human might take place. The approach of the camera work and the editing responds with plasticity to the sensorial quality of attunement to the emergent events and participants, human and nonhuman (for more on this see Conversation Three. Testimony X-3). The absence of evidence prompts a recurring question for me: in what sense could my artworks be considered testimonies? They are not intended to take a hierarchical position over human voices, rather, as Hamdan (2016) comments, they “seek to amplify their silence, questioning the ways in which rights [continue not to be] heard today”.
The research proposes that there is a referential dynamic between notions of body, peoples, and land about the politically disappeared, and then, if that dynamic results in testimonies, could the research present such elusive testimonies as evidence? This overarching concern involves the ambiguity of considering the artworks resulting from attunement as both registers of witnessed events as well as testimonies. It also suggests that the artworks may be material inference for evidence about whom and what has been made to disappear by oppressive geopolitics (see Conversation One. Testimony X-1). It is useful here to refer to Weizman on the inherent tension between "testimony and evidence—material and linguistic practices, subject and object—and the complex interdependencies between [state] violence and the negation of evidence (Weizman 2017, 20)."
This tension is intensified in my research by its meandering along the edges of what could be known. Many of the human witnesses to the state violence perpetrated during Leoni’s nominal democratic term (1964-1969) are no longer alive and the information on that period remains unavailable to the public in the Venezuelan archives. Through my research, I have found that an ambush military attack preceded the subsequent political disappearance of my father in a remote territory between the Andean foothills and the lowland sugarcane fields of northwest Lara State in Venezuela (see Conversation Two. Testimony X-2).