Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"I want to be a pilot"

Image from the film, Diego Quemada-Diez


After the amazing experience of working in the film The Constant Gardener I wanted to make my own film in Kibera. My intention was to find a powerful story that would show the extreme situation in the slums of Nairobi.
So I went back to listen to the kids from the ghetto, to hear their stories, their feelings, their dreams.

On August 2005 I interviewed about 50 orphan kids in one of the classrooms from Raila’s School.
David Mugambe and the school’s principal helped me organize the interviews. David passed away just a few weeks later in a car accident. Wherever he is now, I thank him deeply from my heart. The film would not be what it is whithout his help. This film is dedicated to him as well as all the victims of AIDS, poverty and social injustice around the world.

Most of the kids I listened to had lost both parents at a very young age, and all of them from AIDS. The parents were all in their twenties at the time of death.

The kids told me about their feelings of loneliness, their sorrows, their complaints about corruption, pollution, the lack of clean water and sanitization, religious fanatism, the exploitation by adults, and most importantly, the lack of love in their lives, the absence of hope for a better future.

I will never forget how an eight year old kid explained to me how he used decantation to get clean water from black, extremely infected, polluted water. It took him hours, just pouring from one glass to another, waiting for the solids to settle, over and over, so at the end he would boil it and drink it.

All the kids cried for help, one after the other.
They asked me for school uniforms, for books, for food, for water, for money to pay the school’s tuition, for pencils/pens and many other things.
I was overwhelmed, I just listened as deeply as I could.

When asked about their dreams and hopes most of them wanted to be airline pilots, doctors or nurses.

After a few hours, I left home very moved.
Suddenly, it was as if something hit me:
80% of them wanted to be airline pilots!
I thought: “I Want to Be A Pilot”.

Then I started writing.
I started crying.
Writing, crying. I could not stop either one.
Somehow the words were pouring out of me.
After two days the poem was completed.

Then I went back to Kibera with the sound crew to record the kids reading the poem. After eight kids read the poem, there was one that had a powerful sadness in his voice. It was as if he carried everyone’s sorrow.
I had found him. It was Collins, who in the film plays Omondi.

A year later I went back with a Super-8 camera and shot the images for the film.

That’s a little bit of the story of how this came into being, I really din’t know where it was heading.. I just wanted to listen to them and create something that would inspire us to want to take action.

There are millions of kids in the world victims of the injustices of our industrial civilization, while we are distracted buying things, evading reality.
Our neocolonial policies are taking their toll on our children, on mother earth and all living beings we share this planet with.
Their suffering is ours.
Wake up!

Diego Quemada-Diez



Libyan Museum of Conflict

Image via Bustler.net

London-based Metropolitan Workshop has won a closed competition for the new Museum of Conflict in Tripoli, Libya. The museum will house permanent and special exhibitions on Libya’s unique history, telling the story of campaigns and conflicts that have shaped the country from colonial power to independent state.

Interesting angle for a museum (with pun.)
If it becomes what I think it should, I would like to visit this museum someday.

My grandmother had to relocate to Istanbul following Italian occupation, leaving most of her family property in Tripoli. Being the oldest daughter, she had to care for her two younger sisters and a brother, which was pretty gutsy thing to do for a young independent spirited muslim woman, roughly around 1915-20 during WWI.
I grew up listening her nostalgic stories of Libya, the white marble lined streets of Tripoli and Benghazi.
They spared us from difficult facts of exodus. Maybe for good. My mother says we still have some distant relatives there. According to my calcs, I am up to 12.5% Libyan/berber.
Maghreb is a complicated place, for its countless historical conflicts and for providing elasticity for etnicity investigations.
I hope the museum, a stealth fighter looking place for a minute, goes further than displaying war machines and armory as depicted in the rendering and traces human stories and lessons of wars as well.

Maybe I am feeling nostalgic of my grandmother's nostalgia, visualizing the museum of my own family's conflicted history...

Image via Bustler.net

More @ Bustler.net

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

KRob 2008

best of show

I was in Dallas on November 6Th. to jury the annual KRob delineation competition.
The three people jury have struggled with over three hundred entries in different categories. Agreed, disagreed, fought for, and at the end selected a winner, best of show, that reflected or suggested the generational change in the world of architectural delineation.
In a way, as a jury we have delineated the state of affairs in architectural visualization, and/or, depiction.
The process of arriving the building, urban design, conceptualization was the focus of this year's winner.
Perhaps for the first time in the competition's thirty year history, we have maneged to select a winner that was more of a diagrammatic depiction of an idea rather than a depiction of a building in 1:1 imaging we see in front of construction sites or in newspapers titled "artist's drawing of the development," etc...
Sure, there were also winners and citations and traditional renderings at the end.
But make no mistake, the winner was clearly reflected a thought process rather than picturing a finished building, a building-morte as in nature-morte, still life...
It was rather a speck of time started from nowhere, made its mark and just like it was conceived, disappeared. A rendering that captured the 4Th. dimension, a rendering suggesting things had to go beyond the modern 3D echole. This made the drawing a lot more interesting.

jurist select3

On the other hand, one entry clearly caught my attention, reminding me my own background and familiarity of miniature style of drawing that predated the western perspective that was put in action by Filippo Brunelleschi in 15 Th century.
It was drawn in familiar Eastern miniature style, combining plan, elevation and distance in 2D, letting mind to construct the volume, exploiting the information that can be shown in a drawing. A map, a mood, and design information all in one, a pure utility if you will, which I thought can be investigated further by the contemporary practitioners.

jurist select1

Another jury selected a beautifully executed watercolor painting of a church and with that we were reminded that no matter how the processes change there is always the human eye, which triggers the desire of beauty we fall back to...


There was yet another jurist selection which was depicted on an x-ray film of a hand. I thought ultimately suggesting biological surface of our imagination, a forensic depth of things at play in the process.

KRob website

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Louise Bourgeois at MoCA, Los Angeles

After being seen in London, Paris, and New York, the retrospective exhibition of works by 96-year-old Louise Bourgeois has finally arrived in LA - to dazzle, to provoke, and to unsettle virtually everyone who walks through the galleries of the Museum of Contemporary Art, hosting this exhibition until the end of January.

Born in France but living in New York since 1938, Louise Bourgeois is one of the most famous artists working today. Yes, she is still working -- the most recent piece in the exhibition is a large collage created only four months ago. It's made out of a gauzy underskirt, purposefully and specifically arranged in the shape of a vagina. Trust me, after seeing her drawings, sculptures, and installations spanning more than seven decades of artistic journey, you will lose your inhibitions and learn to call a spade a spade. I cannot think of any other artist who dares to deal with human sexuality in such a direct, sometimes even frightening way. And you will never see another exhibition with so many sad-looking, drooping phalluses and boobs: makes you feel somewhat melancholic and philosophical.

Louise Bourgeois

More @ Art Talkby Edward Goldman

Ash Weekend in Los Angeles

Owner of a mobile home that burned in Slymar fire

Photo of the fires taken via NASA satellite

Ashes on my car

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Deforestation in Mato Grosso, Brazil from 1992 to 2006

The Thematic Mapper on NASA’s Landsat 5 satellite captured the top image of part of Mato Grosso on August 6, 1992. The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Relfection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured the bottom image of the same area on July 28, 2006. In both of these false-color images, red indicates vegetation, and the brighter the red, the denser the vegetation. The Rio Peixoto de Azevedo appears pale blue, nearly white, in 1992, perhaps a combination of reflective sediment or sunlight glinting off the water.

More @ NASA Earth Observatory

Friday, November 14, 2008

Internet Picture of the Day: sight seeing

A herd of sheep pass beneath the Eiffel Tower in Paris/bbc

Hundreds of protesting sheepfarmers descended on Paris to herd a flock of sheep from the Eiffel tower to the Agriculture Ministry. Many of the farmers say they will have to give up their herds if they do not receive help in the near future. (reuters)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I Snapshoot the OMA Theatre

Photo: Orhan Ayyuce

In my recent visit to Dallas Center for the Performing Arts under construction, I saw Wyly Theatre by OMA. I photographed OMA's beautifully executed models of the project and the building in progress, ready for its variegated aluminum tube skin on its way from Argentina.