In Estera (Mat) Alexandra explores the multiple possibilities of constructing interactive documentaries on the web. Using Super 8 film she captured the making of a Mat made out of weeds used for medicinal purposes. She asked Alejandro a traditional mat maker in San Basilio de Palenque (Colombia) to make one using weeds. These plants are commonly used to shield children from wicked witches - the Mohana’s kidnappings, bad eye and other forms of evil spirits. Estera (Mat) is an exploration of the importance of weeds in the daily life of the people in San Basilio de Palenque. The interactive notion of the work offers the user the multiple views to explore the importance of medicinal plants and believes in the formation of free territories in San Basilio de Palenque. San Basilio is the first free town founded by runaway slaves in Colombia and in South America
Estera (Mat) focuses on the history of seeds that were brought by slaves that were taken from the African continent to South America. This is a documentary about the history of Palenque de San Basilio and the memories that reside in the biodiversity that grows wildly in and around the town. This documentary will explore how the African diaspora in Latin America was consolidated thanks to the migration of plants and seeds brought from Africa and are used in traditional medicine, diet, and rituals. These elements proved to be decisive in the formation of the new free territories and continue today as strategies of resistance. The project examines the way in which migrant plant species transformed communities and territories in colonized territories.
Estera (Mat) presents a mixture of a number of visual material in videos (HD) and super 8mm films, as well as Ambisonics sound recordings of different soundscapes, traditional music, funeral rituals and interviews with elders who use traditional knowledge in their practice. Most importantly the project will have a photographic and drawing archive of invasive, medicinal plants (wrongly considered weeds) and grow in the streets, sidewalks, abandoned lots and the country side of the town.
Alexandra Gelis is a Colombian-Venezuelan artist living and working in
Toronto, Ontario. Her studio practice combines new media, installation,
and photography with custom built interactive electronics. Her projects
incorporate personal field research as a tool to investigate the
ecologies of various landscapes through examining the traces left by
various socio-political interventions. She uses data capture techniques,
video, sound, and spatial and electronic media to create documentary
based immersive installations; single-channel videos, and experimental
photography. She has exhibited internationally in North, South America