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Days 12 & 13 in Granada: Museums and Flamenco

In January, fifteen Moore students enjoyed 12 days in Granada, Spain, as part of their Cultural Immersion class, taught by Dr. Kelly Kirby, Liberal Arts department chair, who traveled with the students. 

The group from Moore toured Granada, a southern city in the Andalusia region, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Courtney Warren, a junior Curatorial Studies student, documented the trip. This is the seventh and final dispatch in the series.

 

By Courtney Warren '21

Day 12: Today was a good day to be a curatorial studies major! We visited the Frederico Garcia Lorca house and museum. Lorca’s house was a beautifully kept collection of items from Lorca’s life, including the desk at which he wrote poetry and plays.

Curatorially, their method of engagement was really interesting. There was a clear barrier in a doorway that an actor playing Lorca was projected onto. While the experience was offered in Spanish, I noticed that the actor spoke and held himself a lot like the actors playing famous black Americans in the permanent display of the African American Museum in Philadelphia. I visited there during my Working and Thinking as a Curator class. I’m interested in learning more about if there's a reason for actors to perform that way for cultural institutions. It also really brought the house to life. Doing volunteer work this summer for the Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion in Philadelphia, I saw other strategies to engage viewers in historical houses that were based around programming.

In the museum, which is housed in the home of the family that Lorca based his last play on, I saw a lot of other curatorial strategies. Projectors set up in different rooms displayed a version of Lorca’s last play. I noticed how breaking up the play between several rooms kept the space interesting and directed us through the house smoothly. I think that's something I really want to make note of for my own practice. I have noticed in trips to the different cultural centers that a majority of spaces are still using some aspect of the white cube gallery, which lets viewers direct themselves, even in shows that work more chronologically or narratively. However, here the direction of viewers is essential to the narrative of the time and place being talked about. I think that could be a really useful tool in some art gallery spaces to work with and it makes me think about the other conventions still being used in gallery spaces that have yet to be challenged.

 

Day 13: “The face is very important.” 

After watching flamenco be performed a few days ago, it was suggested we take a class. The same woman who blew us all away with her forceful steps spent time teaching us how to dance flamenco.

The biggest emphasis was not on the counting, or how hard to stomp down, but rather the face to perform with. She would stop our dancing to knit her eyebrows together and pull down the sides of her mouth further and gesture to her face. Translated for us, she was saying, “The face is very important, the face is very important.”

I grew up playing instruments and performing, mixed in with a year of cheer and dance. Sure we were told to not wave to our parents, to try to smile, to keep the show going, to not talk to the person next to us, (which I never mastered by the way,) but this was different. It wasn’t just about looking professional, the face was important to the dance. It wasn't a pleasing face either, meant to make the audience more comfortable. It was meant to be forceful and emphasize the power and emotion of the steps taken.

I think this helped to develop thoughts about my artistic practice. I’ve done performance art, and I’m thinking about developing some new pieces soon. Reflecting on what I’ve done before, I focused so much on what other people told me to focus on, like documentation. I don’t think I took even a second to think about my face. This is going to change in my future pieces because I saw how rooted it is in flamenco. 

 

Read part one of the series here.

Read part two of the series here.

Read part three of the series here.

Read part four of the series here.

Read part five of the series here.

Read part six of the series here.

 

Published on May 1st, 2020