Asha Tamirisa, Shane Charles, Heather Flor Cron, Veronica A. Perez, and Asata Radcliffe
SPACE is pleased to announce Re-Site, a site-specific public art and Portland history-telling initiative featuring Asha Tamirisa, Shane C. Smith, Veronica A. Perez, Heather Flor Cron, and Asata Radcliffe. In collaboration with Maine historian Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, these 5 artists each chose a site on the Portland peninsula and proposed a temporary public installation or performance responsive to its history.
Like its homonym recite, this initiative asks us to repeat something in public from memory. It is an invitation for artistic and poetic spatial intervention, aimed at mining the history of the ground beneath our feet. Rooted in the fundamental knowledge of our presence on Wabanaki land, Re-Site strives to promote broader understanding of the lineage of colonization and gentrification that has transformed this landscape, seeing connective steps from the past to the present moment.
The impulse to call up and reexamine collective history springs from the convergence of the Maine Bicentennial with current and urgent calls for societal transformation across intersections of civil rights, climate change, public health, and political process. Re-Site prompts artists to activate our shared space with works that explore the complexities of nonlinear time and generate dialogue about what we want to carry with us into the future.
Re-Site locations, schedule, and details:
Please take note that each site has specific days it will be viewable to the public.
We ask that anyone viewing Re-Site installations or performances wear a mask in public space and observe social distancing in the presence of others. All physical sites will feature a Re-Site site marker, which will include url information to see the full artist statement, site history, photo and video documentation, and a bibliography for further research. Documentation will be regularly updated and archived on the individual project webpages linked below.
54 – 60 York Street | October 16-23
Inspired by the historian Dipesh Chakrabarty’s notion of “subaltern pasts,” Asha Tamirisa’s Sour Solvents is a nighttime projection on site of the former block of the Portland Sugar House. Destroyed in the Great Fire of 1866, this refinery had in its heyday one of the largest sugar and molasses trades of any port on the Atlantic coast. It was also a major employer of Portland’s Irish immigrants at the time, and directly tied the city’s industrial economy to the slave labor of sugar plantations in the West Indies. Sour Solvents makes use of sugar materially and metaphorically to explore multiplicities that exist within, beyond, and despite the histories and realities that we know. (Read more for the artist statement, site history, and resources.)
Dreamcatcher: A Heart as Big as the Ocean and as Bright as the Sun
150 Eastern Promenade | October 18-19
Shane C. Smith’s Dreamcatcher: A Heart as Big as the Ocean and as Bright as the Sun is a sculpture and performance for video honoring the enduring Wabanaki spirit of courage, fortitude, and perseverance. Set on the front lawn of a 1909 home designed by the Olmstead Brothers, who also designed the Eastern Promenade, the site’s sweeping vista overlooking Casco Bay offers the opportunity to reflect on the Wabanaki’s deep relationship to the land and waters that define this peninsula. Dreamcatcher: A Heart as Big as the Ocean and as Bright as the Sun takes inspiration from Cannupa Hanska Luger’s 2016 The Mirror Shield Project initiated at Oceti Sakowin Camp near Standing Rock, North Dakota. (Read more for the artist statement, site history, and resources.)
Heather Flor Cron
As American As Cherry Pie
Deering Oaks Park | October 24, 10am- 12pm
As American As Cherry Pie is a performance and picnic in Deering Oaks Park by Heather Flor Cron. Utilizing symbology of “classic Americana”, Cron will engage viewers to learn more about the history of the park and their implication in occupying Indigenous land. In particular, this site offers the opportunity to reflect upon the “Indian Village” setup in Deering Oaks from June 28 to July 2 in 1920 for the Maine Centennial, where members of Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes were put on public display. (Read more for the artist statement, site history, and resources.)
Veronica A. Perez
Thames Street/ Eastern Promenade Trail | October 27-30
Veronica A. Perez’s historical silencing is a waterside installation featuring cast sugar sculptures of hands and arms reaching out of the sand. As this ephemeral work dissolves while on view, hair and a simple wire armature within will be exposed. historical silencing ruminates on the ongoing silencing and erasure of Latinx and Hispanic communities in Southern Maine, despite the significant cultural and economic impacts these communities have made including Portland’s booming sugar and molasses trade with Cuba in the early to mid-nineteenth century. (Read more for the artist statement, site history, and resources.)
A Slower Ontology After Dark
77 Newbury Street
4:30 – 8:00pm
Asata Radcliffe’s installation features projections, lighting, and a mimicking of historical objects to tell a story about three Civil War soldiers, brothers John, Benjamin, and Henry Niles, three of the eleven children of the former homeowners Abraham and Harriet Niles. This piece seeks to express the impression of the blurred boundary of citizen or exile, the complex and fraught existence of Black Civil War soldier, the phoenix that rose between enslavement and annihilation. John & Benjamin fought in the war during the Battle of Crater. When Confederate forces overwhelmed the Union soldiers, Black troops were brought in to save the weakening Confederate army. Those Black troops fought valiantly to defeat the Union at the Battle of Crater, only to be fired upon by their fellow white Confederate soldiers on the battlefield, a deep betrayal, Black souls that are mourned within this installation. (Read more for the artist statement, site history, and resources.)
Historical research by Marieke Van Der Steenhoven, the Special Collections Education and Engagement Librarian at Bowdoin College.
Photography by Justin Levesque, project support by Meg Hahn with the SPACE staff.
ReSite is made possible by the generous support of the VIA Art Fund | Wagner Foundation Incubator Grant Fund.