An Artist Abroad

experimental video poetry, 20 min 20 sec, Portugal 2015
– Centro de Artes, Caldas da Rainha, Portugal
– Washington Square Park, New York, USA
Video stills

Text for exhibition in Centro de Artes, Portugal:
“An Artist Abroad” is a collection of video poetry by artist Valerie Wolf Gang. A project started in August 2014 when Valerie moved to Portugal for a couple of months to explore and research the influence of temporary change of residence, country and culture to artistic production. Beside her research she was creating poetical videos, which show the public the insight of her personal creative evolution.

As a traveling artist, Valerie visited a lot of artist residency in the past (such as Singapore, Italy, Austria, Gambia etc.) and started a blog which became a basic platform for her research and overview of her personal changes in artistic production.

Video poetry “An Artist Abroad” is integrated in the web page and every poem is possible to access through the scan of QR code which will be displayed in the gallery. Every visitor of the gallery can scan the code and play desired poem on their tablets or smart phones. In this way the viewer becomes the curator and decides which video to play, when and where to play it.

The project hasn’t finished yet and it will be published as a book in September 2015, to simbolyse one year cycle of research and to create a physical form of a poetic video format, connected with new media so it creates a bridge between the analog and digital world.

Exhibition “An Artist Abroad” will present the videos to the public for the first time and the Portuguese public will have the honors to view how their country influenced the work and life of Valerie Wolf Gang.

Photos from the exhibition / Centro de Artes, Portugal. Photo by: Luis Hunchelday

Individual poems from the collection:

Individual poems from the collection:

Mivka / Sand / Areia

Experimental video poetry from anthology “An Artist Abroad” | Portugal 2015 | 2 min 29 sec

“Mivka / Sand / Areia” is the first poem from the video poetry anthology “An Artist Abroad”. It was inspired by the first contact Valerie had when coming to Portugal: sand. Portugal is known by its beautiful sandy beaches and sand can be found all over the country. Sand also has a strong symbolism in the poem and it represents one of the questions Valerie was dealing with when months went by while living in a new country: “Can leaving abroad makes you lose your identity?” The video poem is in three different languages: Slovenian, English and Portuguese. It is simultaneously playing and overlaying each other, which captures the feeling of living abroad; having a Slovenian language for a mother’s tongue, but at the same time the thoughts in the head become translated to English (which is the first language Valerie used for communicating with local Portuguese people) and soon we hear the thoughts starting to learn and speak Portuguese, which is a new language and a completely new world. Lost in languages, lost in identity.

Talking Stones

Experimental video poetry from anthology “An Artist Abroad” | Portugal 2015 | 2 min 18 sec

Second poem from the video poetry anthology “An Artist Abroad” goes deeper into the geological and physical world around us. The poem was inspired by the Portuguese medieval heritage, with castles and stone walls surrounding almost every town and village. Traveling through Portugal gave the feeling of nostalgia and a thought about the past: what has happened over centuries and what have we forgot? Every moment in history brought us to where we are and Valerie questions if we have learned anything from the past or if we continue to make same mistakes. Life goes on and we still don’t listen.

Plastic Rhythm

Experimental video poetry from anthology “An Artist Abroad” | Portugal 2015 | 2 min 15 sec

Over the past few months Valerie was exploring Portuguese coastline and was inspired by the beautiful views and natural wonders. But when she looked closer she saw plastic garbage covering every beach and found trash in every forest. The whole world is covered in garbage, Portugal is no exception. Ocean brings plastic on the shore and unveils the horrible truth: we are drown in our own garbage. During her stay in Portugal she moved to two different houses in two different towns and in each of them people didn’t recycle and always brought home a lot of plastic bags and bottles, which accumulated all around the town. Dogs on chains and stray cats were also a big contrast between a happy people enjoying their plastic happiness and ignorance towards nature and animals which are also part of our ecosystem. It’s the rhythm of consumption that makes us lose control and forget about each other.

Bread of Life

Experimental video poetry from anthology “An Artist Abroad” | Portugal 2015 | 4 min 30 sec

“Bread of Life” is a poetical video based on a very simple routine: traditional bread making. The concept behind the poem is very simple and it is symbolically showing us the way of life through the process of baking. The recipe is not hard and it is good to follow it: don’t be scared, don’t be afraid, be proud of what you are doing and you will see a great results. The poem is talking about sharing the love and comparing it with sharing the freshly baked bread. During her stay in Portugal Valerie was observing the local elderly people and found out their secret to happiness “com calma”, which literally translates to “calmly” or “go slow”. If everything else fails or if the pressure is high, take it easy and relax, because everything will be ok. The recipe is simple, take it slow and be proud.

A Message to Humanity

Experimental video poetry from anthology “An Artist Abroad” | Portugal 2015 | 2 min 45 sec

“A Message to Humanity” is a very expressive poem from the video poetry anthology “An Artist Abroad”. It shows the disappointment of artist Valerie Wolf Gang towards the modern world and speaks directly to public: don’t listen to the media, everything is a lie. While living abroad for a year Valerie was away from the news and media from her country and realized that it’s not important for her life to follow it, because in every country something is happening and national media is always very specific about it so we never see the real truth about the world. The only truth and real life lies beyond the remote control and the poem is sending a strong message to humanity which we need to think about and distance our self from the prejudice and hatred we have for each ether. We can make a better world only if we try to look beyond the artificial fears of ‘others’, nationalisms and fake feeling of the system authority. You create all the love and all the hate in the world.

Tearing it Down

Experimental video poetry from anthology “An Artist Abroad” | Portugal 2015 | 3 min 10 sec

Last poem in the cycle of video poetry “An Artist Abroad” shows the symbolic transition of artist Valerie Wolf Gang from believing in civilization to escaping back to nature. In the final weeks of her stay in artistic residency in Portugal she made an overview and reflection of what she learned during her one year experience away from her normal routines and environment. The main thing she points out and also shows in the poem is her wish to change the feelings of people towards the system and its limits which cut our freedom and make us modern slaves. In the poem she symbolically tears it down and frees herself from the concrete cage of civilization. Her escape back to nature is a suggestion for everyone to do in order to be free once again. The solution is not just in the physical transition but also in the mind: in order to do so we shouldn’t take the system seriously and we should realize it’s artificial. Smile and you will see that this new life is amazing.

Video teaser for exhibition in Centro de Artes, Caldas da Rainha:

‘An Artist Abroad’ featured on EAS platform, San Francisco, California: