ARCAthens Virtual Residency #4

ARCAthens Virtual Residency May 2021

Sofia Dona

Sofia Dona is an artist and architect. In 2018 she was awarded with the City of Munich Prize for Architecture and in 2015 with the Fulbright scholarship. Her work is exhibited in various spaces such as the Μunicipal Institute of Art and Culture in Tijuana (2019), the Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst (nGbKin Berlin (2017), the Foundation Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Torinο (2016) and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens (2013). In July 2020 she presented the work Macho Sounds/Gender Noise at the Staatsgallerie Stuttgart museum in collaboration with Daphne Dragona. In 2019 she presented her solo exhibition Voyageurs at the Kunstpavillon in Innsbruck, and the site-specific work Applaus at the Munich Central Train Station, in the context of the public art program of the City of Munich. In 2021 she is invited at the Bauhaus Residency Dessau. Since 2018 she is co-curating the Aphrodite* queer-feminist film festival in Athens. As a member of the Errands group, she has participated in exhibitions with projects such as the Epicurean Garden (Matera Cultural Capital, 2019), Summer Ladders (1st Istanbul Design Biennial, 2012) and Transporting Utopia (2nd Athens Biennale, 2009).

“Through a series of works, my artistic practice focuses on site-specific installations, videos and sound works that refer to specific places and each time reveal social, economic, political conditions that have been affecting and transforming those places. Exploring natural and geographical landscapes in the ‘ALTERNATIVE BRENNEROʼ multichannel video installation, connecting and retrieving two important historical events in the ‘APPLAUSʼ sound installation, and reflecting on the San Diego-Tijuana border through the construction of a large-scale door in the project ʼLA PURTA DE LAS CALIFORNIASʼ, all these elements form part of my artistic practice, which connects the space with the actions, the installations and the video documentations. In my works I often use the practice of defamiliarization, where familiar objects and architectural elements are doubled, transferred or scaled, in such a way that they are presented as unknown and different, revealing stories, facts and events. Using
different media each time, my artwork is characterized by the indirect way of revealing and commenting on critically important historical, social, and political conditions, correlating them each time with the specific space in which they occur. Through the years, other practices became part of my work-such as my active involvement in the city in squats and collective initiatives, teaching in various architectural and art schools, curating site-specific projects with invited artists and architects and contributing in the contemporary discussion via writing. All those practices have been embracing the question of what is the responsibility of art and architecture in contemporary times.”

Sofia Dona

Groana Melendez

Groana Melendez is a lens-based artist whose work explores hybrid identities through self-representation. Raised between New York City and Santo Domingo she holds an MFA in Advanced
Photographic Studies from the International Center of Photography-Bard Program. Groana has participated in group exhibitions in Guadalupe, the Leslie Lohman Museum for Gay and Lesbian Art, and currently at El Museo del Barrio. She’s also had solo shows at the New York Public Library, CUNY, and ICP-Bard’s studio in Queens. She works and lives in the Bronx in New York City.

As a first generation American, I am interested in exploring hybrid identities through self-representation. I’m curious about the complex relationships between a family fractured by emigration. Unable to trace my heritage beyond my grandparents, I use the family album and images of the space my relatives occupy in New York City and Santo Domingo to trace who we are. I look at my relationship between my family, the Dominican Republic, and the United States.

In some of my images, I look at the space my mother has created for herself in Washington Heights. Her childhood was colored by a dictatorship, and as a result, she now buys in bulk. The apartment I grew up in is always cluttered, and rooms are full of trash bags of necessities to ship to the Dominican Republic. Other times I appropriate my family album photographs as a way to explore where I came from. Now I am looking towards the future by using myself as a subject. I perform in front of the camera alone to question my identity separate from my Dominican culture.”

 Groana Melendez

Stamatina Gregory

Stamatina Gregory is a curator and an art historian, whose work focuses primarily on the interrelationship of contemporary art and politics. She has taught art history, critical theory, and writing at The New School, the School of Visual Arts, the University of Pennsylvania, the Steinhardt school at New York University, and the Sotheby’s MA Program, where she teaches currently. She has organized exhibitions for institutions including The Cooper Union, FLAG Art Foundation, Austrian Cultural Forum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Gregory was the curator of New York photographer and activist Brian Weil’s retrospective at the ICA, Philadelphia, and she was the Deputy Curator of the inaugural pavilion of The Bahamas at the 55th Venice Biennale.  She is currently the Chief Curator and Director of Programs at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art.

“As a curator that has worked both in and outside institutions for the past fifteen years, I have organized projects across radically different contexts: traveling exhibitions, biennials, educational spaces, virtual spaces, and other sites both visible and marginal. Wherever projects happen, my practice always centers artists, who do the vital work of reimagining ways of being in the world. Ideally, curating creates a space where we can learn from artists–in ways that are intuitive, participatory, haptic, and unexpected.”   

Stamatina Gregory