FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Upstairs Gallery: Sara Jimenez
the rain from dreams or from breaths
May 6 - June 30, 2023
Opening reception, Saturday, May 6, 6-8pm
“Not possible to distinguish the speech / Exhaled. / Affirmed in exhalation. / Exclaimed in inhalation. / To distinguish no more the rain from dreams / or from breaths.” - Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee
“The soft tissue of a living oyster produces a pearl to protect itself against foreign substances.” - Divya Victor, Kith
the rain from dreams or from breaths is a new installation by Filipinx-Canadian artist Sara Jimenez, inspired by an intersection of the artist’s body with reimagined ancient coastal caves from Southeast Asia. Jimenez imagines this installation as a sacred, boundless space, where sky, water, and land undulate and connect, where ecosystems and bodies regenerate infinitely, and where passageways are carved to afterlives. Slipping between the bodily and the ecological, the organic and the human made, Jimenez is inspired by questions such as: Are my body, blood, and spirit shaped from centuries of ancient ancestors? What is the relationship between geological time, corporeal time, and spirit time? If rocks embody the bones, blood, plant matter from millions of years ago, are they tombs? Grand-kin?* What does it mean if a body is everywhere? Is the diasporic body a body that is not in one place, but in many all at once?**
Over the past year, Jimenez has been researching cave complexes, ancient maritime trade routes, and celestial navigation in the Philippines. The cave complexes, such as the Tabon Caves, are coastal burial sites of ancient Filipinos that contain anthropomorphic burial jars as well as artifacts, such as jewelry, beads, and bowls. Many of the artifacts in these caves reference Hinduism and Buddhism, pointing to a complex seafaring trade network in the Pacific thousands of years before any European arrived. In order to travel across the sea, ancient mariners would use the stars, wind, currents, and their bodies to navigate. They would memorize hundreds of constellations and use their hands as measuring devices for the stars. Some of the burial jars have imagery and carvings that show ancient Austroeasian animist belief systems around the afterlife, where souls are carried to the next aboard boats, crossing through rivers and seas. Jimenez’s latest installation, titled after a quote from Korean American writer Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee, takes this tradition as a point of departure, contemplating ancient modes of navigation anchored in human and nonhuman kinship.
Hanging from the ceiling is a pink and magenta textile canopy. The canopy has pink, green, blue, and black tendrils torn from cut clothing and secondhand cloth, as well as hanging beads, buttons, and sequins. On the floor of the gallery, both under and around the canopy, are
turquoise, flat floor works reminiscent of islands. Each of these curved terrains are made from used astroturf, and are abundantly adorned. On and around these terrains are various green and blue figurative sculptural vessels. Each one aligns with the shape or dimensions of one of Jimenez’s body parts. Along the walls are two dimensional paper and fabric works embellished with beads, gems, and the artist’s hair. The wall works refer to constellations that can be seen from the sky in the Philippines, constellations that were used for celestial navigation in ancient wayfaring.
The installation is primarily made out of pre-owned materials and objects.*** Jimenez seeks to take things that were meant to be discarded and turn them into something of value. She drew inspiration from her father, who moved to the US from the Philippines when he was nine, and would repeatedly find new uses for objects. Newspaper coverings became lunch bags, yogurt containers became Tupperware, furniture was reupholstered with old curtains, “new” bikes were sourced from the neighbors’ trash. Jimenez has been inspired by this kind of recycling system-making the most out of the things that are around.
The title of the exhibition is a quote from Dictee by Korean American writer Theresa Hak Kyung Cha,a genre-bending autobiography that tells the story of several generations of women. the rain from dreams or from breaths comes from the section under Urania, Astronomy. Urania is the goddess of astronomy and stars in Greek mythology.
Text by Sara Jimenez and writer/curator Re'al Christian
*Heather Davis, Zoe Todd, Michelle Murphy, and Vanessa Agard Jones
**Gloria E. Anzaldua
***Special thanks to Materials for the Arts and Wave Hill.
Special thanks to Mauve Martineau.
About Canada Council for the Arts The Canada Council for the Arts contributes to the vibrancy of a creative and diverse arts and literary scene and supports its presence across Canada and around the world. The Council is Canada’s public arts funder, with a mandate to “foster and promote the study and enjoyment of, and the production of works in, the arts.” The Council’s grants, services, initiatives, prizes, and payments support Canadian artists, authors, and arts groups and organizations. This support allows them to pursue artistic expression, create works of art, and promote and disseminate the arts and literature. Through its arts funding, communications, research, and promotion activities, the Council fosters ever-growing engagement of Canadians and international audiences in the arts. The Council’s Public Lending Right (PLR) program makes annual payments to creators whose works are held in Canadian public libraries. The Council’s Art Bank operates art rental programs and helps further public engagement with contemporary arts through exhibition and outreach activities. The Council is responsible for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, which promotes the values and programs of UNESCO to contribute to a future of peace, reconciliation, equity, and sustainable development.