Each year, the regional arts agency South Arts awards a State Fellowship to an artist in each of its nine member states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. This year’s Florida’s Fellow is Alba Triana, an audiovisual and nature artist from Bogotá now in Miami. We asked Alba to tell us a bit about her journey to Florida, her work in Miami and why Culture Builds Florida.
Ranging squawks of green parrots, evocative of a hysterical laughter; a polyphony of bird songs coming from all directions above one’s head; the delicate sound of air being moved by ﬂocks of birds heading who knows where; Insects, breeze, swinging palm trees; mesmerizing buzz of pool and A/C motors …
These are just some of the sounds that constitute the soundscape of my daily walk in Miami. I religiously go out at sunset, because that’s when I get to indulge all my senses. It’s precisely then, when one can see the sunlight spectrum, hear the full richness of the ecosystem, smell the ocean, and feel the heat and humidity in the environment.
My husband and I came to Miami ten years ago, planning to stay for three weeks. However, an accidental event prevented me to go back to Colombia, where we used to live. I initially thought it was just a temporary delay, but time went by and I could still not travel. Between the stress and the frustration, we started adjusting to the situation. At some point, we realized we had settled.
After having lived in ﬁve cities, Miami stood out for its capacity to change at a fastest pace, as well as for its natural beauty. Its cultural diversity made us feel at home from the very beginning. Here we encountered a ﬂourishing visual arts scene, concerned with social issues, and rooted in the American contemporary art tradition. There was, and there still is, a very focused and ingrained way of understanding what art and art-making could be. We also found a small and incredibly welcoming sound art and experimental music community.
I must admit that, initially, not ﬁnding a robust circuit developing a line of work akin to mine was a bit disquieting. However, as time passed and we continued to settle, I understood that it was precisely in the absence of a strong experimental, cross-disciplinary, and technology driven musical or artistic community, that I could ﬁnd the space to make a contribution.
I decided to open up to this new context and let it transform what so far had mainly been a highly experimental musical career. What I initially identiﬁed as a “lack” was precisely what pushed me to try new creative strategies. I started to work in a holistic, multidimensional fashion. My pieces fully adopted the installation format. They were still musically conceived, but exceeded the musical and the audible. My material was not only sound, but different forms of vibration and energy. This caused the ﬁelds of the sonic and the visual to become fully uniﬁed in my work, which no longer ﬁt any traditional artistic category.
My artistic practice gradually became what I really wanted it to be: a vehicle to understand and connect with the natural world at a primordial level; an exploration of nature’s intrinsic creative methods, behaviors and properties, intending to holistically reveal its often overlooked poetic qualities.
Based on the notion that everything in the natural world can be reduced to a vibrational state, I’ve been using vibration, especially sound and light, as the main material in my works. Also, I have extensively examined inter-connectivity, a phenomenon that prevails at every single level of existence which, from my perspective, is the soul of art and music. Most recently, I have experimented with electromagnetism as a means of observation of non-perceptible entities. Supported by the Swiss government, I recently visited CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) and have collaborated with their most renowned scientific and artistic institutions.
In Miami, I have participated in several group and solo shows, as well as in various editions of the Subtropics and FETA Foundation festivals. During 2018–2019 I had the privilege to be a resident at Oolite Arts—formerly ArtCenter South Florida. This was one of the most enriching experiences I’ve lived in this city. It gave me the opportunity to interact with great artists from different backgrounds and to actively integrate to the artistic community.
Receiving the South Arts 2020 Fellowship and being named Florida’s State Fellow conﬁrms that Miami is home. It also indicates that I have helped to push the institutional patrons in our region, so they understand that, in the digital era of inter-connectivity, new art forms need to emerge. Our duty as artists is to challenge established paradigms, respond to our time, and envision a radically new future. For this, we require cultural institutions to take risks. I celebrate and thank South Arts for supporting experimentation and the search for the unknown through this recognition.
I am happy to contribute —with my unusual body of work— to the artistic and cultural scene in our region, and to confirm that Culture Builds Florida.
The Division thanks Alba Triana for her participation in this interview.
For more information about Alba and her work, visit her website: https://www.albatriana.com/