Monday, August 10, 2009

Putting Pieces Together by Shelley Gillespie

"Why does one write, if not to put one's pieces together? From the moment we enter school or church, education chops us into pieces: it teaches us to divorce the soul from the body and mind from heart. The fishermen of the Colombian coast must be learned doctors of ethics and morality, for they invented the word sentipensante, feeling-thinking, to define language that speaks the truth."

~ Eduardo Galeano, The Book of Embraces

I write from Sevilla where I haven't been writing very much. I have been making postcard collages, putting pieces together literally. I spent my first day in Sevilla looking for card stock and buying scissors and glue, passing the indigenous Ecuadorans or Bolivians (I guessed) selling hand held fans decorated with bouquets of flowers. In this heat a fan is practical. In Sevilla the fan also represents tradition and coupled with ruffled dresses in bright colors Flamenco is the next thing to come to mind. Sevilla's traditions are well-rooted and well-marketed to tourists, the only ones who dare traverse the white hot streets at three in the afternoon when every shop is closed and every sane Sevillano is taking the requisite siesta in an air conditioned apartment. To see these indigenous Americans selling these fans unfurled on cotton sheets spread over the cobbled streets lined with fancy shops struck me - so many layers of entangled history. After I found my materials, I passed the coffee chain Cafe de las Indias.

I've been using collage to address this entangled history. Cutting up images of Sevilla's architecture to create dresses in the frilly style of Flamenco. Cutting up images of Queen Isabel, benefactor to violence across Spain and the Atlantic, and setting her inside windows that line an alleyway called Callejon de la Inquisicion. Putting pieces together literally to make sense of history and the construction of identity.


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