Asha Tamirisa, Shane C. Smith, 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.)
Shane C. Smith
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
77 Newbury Street | November 9-21
Asata Radcliffe’s installation will feature projections, lighting, and a mimicking of historical objects to tell a story about two Civil War soldiers, John and Henry Niles, two 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 the Black Civil War soldier, the phoenix that rose between enslavement and annihilation. The Niles House is a rare surviving structure of the Great Fire of 1866, and the home was a major nexus of Southern Maine’s Black community in the mid-nineteenth century. (Read more for the artist statement, site history, and resources.)
Organized by Lia Wilson and Meg Hahn
Historical research by Marieke Van Der Steenhoven
Exhibition design by Carolyn Wachnicki
Meg Hahn is a painter and an independent curator based in Portland, ME. She is a co-director at Border Patrol, a curatorial collective that examines the relationships between contemporary art and corporate aesthetics. There, she curated Flavor Profile, a group exhibition around food as representational and abstract forms, and was a co-organizer of the inaugural Portland, ME chapter of the Terrain Biennial, a Chicago-based public art project that asks artists to create temporary artworks on residential front yards and porches. Meg has also had her work included in exhibitions at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Perimeter Gallery, BUOY, Engine, and Collar Works. She has attended residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, Hewnoaks Artist Colony, the Monhegan Artists’ Residency, and in 2021 at The Sam and Adele Golden Foundation. Meg graduated from Maine College of Art with a BFA in Painting and a Minor in Art History, and works out of the SPACE Studios building.
Marieke Van Der Steenhoven is an educator and bibliophile. She currently serves as the Special Collections Education and Outreach Librarian at the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Van Der Steenhoven is a lifelong Mainer and holds a B.A. in Art History from Smith College and an M.A. in American and New England Studies with concentration in Public Culture and History from the University of Southern Maine.