My name is Ale Fernandez. I live in Barcelona, Spain and I'm Chilean and Italian.
I am a web developer, artist and technical researcher.
I've lived in Scotland, Italy, Spain and England and career-wise I am interested in distributed systems and their applications to improvised performance and ecology.



Section 4

Here are all the areas of the Section 4 open exhibition, with comments on how they were received and where they could develop:

  1. Symbolic Jumble Sale: This was a strong piece - as it constituted the full first week of the Pierian Centre exhibition on it's own and a lot of people saw it. It is basically all the items I picked up when my friends Cristina and family were deported, on display on a table. At first I thought it hadn't gone well because a lot of people looked very upset looking at it, but it's an upsetting thing to see. A visitor reminded me of this, and said it probably really affected people. I thought success would have been if some wealthy visitor had offered to buy for example, the extension lead or the phone charger for £2000 as a work of art, so I could send it back to Bolivia, but although I think this is viable as an installation, I need to do just that, and none of the other things, or it loses focus. Just each item, with a huge price tag. The fact that they are mundane electronic items makes it quite strong I think - you end up using it, and you end up remembering the deportation hopefully.
  2. Another idea coming from the jumble sale idea was to do an installation of a kitchen and living room that re-enacts a deportation, using audio recorded during real deportations. This would be incredibly powerful I think. A progression on this idea, although very complicated, would be to do an asylum seeker's live snakes and ladders game, from arrival via human trafficking or some eco or political disaster, to the court process and deportation.
  3. The actual jumble sale, collected via the Drop-in centre and Pierian Centre, didn't go very well - partly because some people thought it was also deportee items, and partly because I just couldn't always be there. I haven't counted the money but I doubt it's a tenner even. Originally this was intended to be managed by someone who did only that, so as to ensure it was run well and gave good returns, but I'm glad I did it and with a volunteer to man the desk it could work well in future. Probably this exhibition needs a large space, and maybe 2 volunteers there at any one time so as to ensure this kind of thing works.
  4. The 4 information boards. Great success. Divided into Stories, The State, Hope and What I Heard. Went down very well, both exhibition spaces asked to keep them a little longer. Ali Zalme and quite a few others suggested this is where we can get funding and input from refugee visual artists to make them more visually striking and easier to understand, although my friend Govinda said it makes it easier to add comments when there is not already a predefined aesthetic to it.
  5. Listening posts. Another time I need to frame the players somehow, so they can't be stolen, or even better, transmit from a computer as loops via fm to lots of old walkman style radios that people can hold up to their ears. Also, the audio material will be very good for internet dissemination. I need a better way of presenting the transcripts of the interviews.
  6. The Video Booth. This didn't work because the whole exhibition needed more of a participative edge: I think my failure was that I planned out in detail all the ways people could participate, so it didn't leave space for other spontaneous ways of expressing things - so it felt a lot like I was trying too hard to make people participate. Also with video, as we discovered at the Live Archives workshops , where this exhibition was partly concieved, there is a strong stigma to video recordings - people find it uncomfortable! Another time maybe it should be a microphone area, or an actual closed, provate booth!
  7. The Internet Cafe. This was one site: which Paul Stapleton and Mike Fallows of UCL generously allowed me to use. Computers at the Pierian Centre were lent equally generously by Bristol Wireless. I didn't push this aspect too much as it didn't really work at the exhibition (see point above).
  8. The DVD. Amazing material, hopefully this material can be added to and edited further. Anna's interview is particularly striking, and I hope some of this content can be broadcast via radio, internet or tv! Lots of people sat through this. It could easily, perhaps together with a better organised video booth, form an exhibition of it's own.
  9. The printed information table. This went down very well, and lots of people spent a long time leafing through all the info. It's still at Kebele for another while. I hope to go there and take notes of the contributions so as to feed back to local councillors and our local MP.
  10. Snacks/Food. I arranged for Arts trail asylum seeker visitors to get free meals, and asked around lots of places, but in the end it wasn't possible to have snacks in the place itself and I cancelled that aspect. Problem with co-ordinating this on my own, but if I had help, it would be great to stage the exhibition as a community gathering, with food, drink, talks, discussion etc. As it was, a lot of spontaneous little groups formed and people started discussing the issues together.

I got a strong feeling a lot of the time that I was preaching to the converted, although the converts didn't know quite how bad it actually was. In future, doing it in different kinds of places will probably work much better in terms of gathering more wide ranging opinions.

I learnt a lot about how space works in an exhibition space, and how personal space impacts (at least in the UK) on where people will go. At the pierian centre someone said "it looks like your front room!" and "I wasn't sure I could go in there" because the room was so small, and there was a sofa and a TV there too!

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