The Cambridge Arts Council 501(c)(3), bkprojects and artist Roberta Paul will collaborate on this endeavor. Inspired by Paul’s travels to the Serengeti this multifaceted event investigates themes of immigration, national identity, and life transitions through the metaphor of animal migration. It will include a four-week gallery exhibition at the Cambridge Arts Council, as well as a two-week continuous “performance” in the streets. At its essence, this is a project imbued with a sense of wonderment, inquisitiveness and self-reflection; it is about boundaries and borders, real and perceived.
Cambridge, Massachusetts was selected as a starting point because it is home to a huge diversity of people and cultures. Only 6.3 square miles in area, its 100,000 residents come from all over the world and speak a myriad of languages (Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Russian, Korean, Swahili, Hindi. . .). While the boundaries of Cambridge seem fluid, for those who live or visit there, they are real. The neighborhoods are sharply defined-by the people, the housing, the stores, restaurants and the food.
Boundaries make the experiences of those on the other side invisible, unknowable, strange and incomprehensible. This project is about hearing the stories of Cambridge residents themselves as they move through and around the borders of a very small and concentrated space. Combining visual art, oral history, and public engagement will highlight the search for compassion and dignity beyond the boundaries of neighborhoods.
We will create a moving art migration that will weave through the “dividing lines’ of the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Wrapped” cars, vans and other vehicles with images of migrating animals from Paul’s work will create a metaphorical skin. This will be accomplished by utilizing a technology film that has graciously been provided by 3M. The vehicles will “pop up” in unexpected places to both surprise viewers and stimulate a community dialogue about boundaries, borders and barriers.
The project will also have an educational and documentation component. A select number of the Cambridge Public Libraries and the Cambridge Community Center in conjunction with Story Stream Cambridge will be utilized to interview the residents of the city. In these interviews Cambridge residents will share their personal stories of immigration, migration and boundaries. Trained volunteers will interview them and their stories will be transcribed into audio and visual materials. In Addition we are working with two universities in Cambridge, MIT and Harvard to create forums to discuss topics such as migration, identity and borders.
In conclusion, this multifaceted project will focus on the pressing issues of migration, boundaries and selfhood. Like all good public art, the PUBLIC will be an integral component in this conversation we are beginning.