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NEIGHBORHOOD EARTH: Artistic Expression Lives Forever

By Leila Valoura

Artistic Expression Lives Forever…

Hello, BridgeThinkers. I recently returned from Sweden and now I am back to the US. I had a precious year of experience and studies in Europe. I learned a lot being close to so many different cultures and I am really happy to have embarked on this challenging journey. But just when I arrived to the US I was faced with a loss… A good friend of mine from LA had passed away while I was traveling back. Lee Minh Sloca was a young and very active artist who used a great sense of humor and intelligence in his poems, paintings and collages.

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by Lee Minh Sloca

Hi, my name is Lee, and I’m a poetry junkie. I want to talk to you about my poetic addiction

Whether I was speed-reading, rapping, slamming, or free versing, those rhymes pounded straight to the right side of my brain. Those pulses and beats altered my senses of consciousness, giving me an out-of-body and an out-of-money experience! They inspired me to do more, be more than who I am, almost like, a real human being.

My problem started when I was spending more and more nights at open mic poetry readings instead of going home to deal with the wife and kids.

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By Leila Valoura

With the change from Winter to Spring in the Nordic region, I’m looking at what I gleaned during the cold season. As a scavenger, I collected pictures of unseen details and lost objects on the streets.

Finding meaning in the details…

Walking on the streets they talk to me, the lost winter objects. Gloves that are not a pair anymore and hats that miss their owners’ ideas and memories. They look at me lonely as the forgotten feel. But they are also poetic.

Why can’t I ignore these legions of forgotten gloves and hats and keep moving, indifferent as everybody else? Maybe it’s because I don’t pay attention to everybody. I’m laughing at  myself now. I can’t concentrate on everybody. It’s too much. But the detail whispers and seduces me. Have you ever noticed how many hearts surround us? They can be printed on an old piece of gum on the sidewalk, or simply form in a drop of water on a leaf. They can even smile at us from a big puddle that froze in the cold winter.

Traveling to new places heightens our senses and can make us aware of the details that surround us.  Connecting with these details is often what creative people do.  What details in your creative life need more connection?   Where are the “lost gloves” taken now that winter has passed us by? Are they going to meet each other? That would be beautiful…

The everybody world calls us saying this is not what we should pay attention to.  Yet, the details exist.  The gloves and the hearts remain, waiting to be discovered by an artist, a filmmaker, a poet…

What details call YOUR attention…


By Leila Valoura
“Life is the art of meeting,” as one of my favorite Brazilian composers and poets, Vinicius de Moraes, once said. While visiting my Brazilian friends Fernanda and Hilario in Paris, that city and its lively atmosphere made me reflect about connections.

This was my first time in the “City of Lights” and I couldn’t stop thinking of how much history that influences our lives today had happened in one place. This place where I was STEPPING IN NOW… “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity) the motto of the French Revolution; the Lumière brothers with their pioneering film work; and the 1968 movement for social change are a few of the huge influential “events” that happened in Paris.

The feeling I had was that the old meets the new in Paris. The Louvre Palace and the Pompidou Center symbolize this meeting in their French Renaissance and High-Tech architecture. Or even old churches that house cameras and TV monitors to assure everybody can follow the mass through this modern technological resource.

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Photos above courtesy of "ReThink: Contemporary Art and Climate Change" public relations

by Leila Valoura

Below are photos I took of selected work from the “RETHINK – Contemporary Art and Climate Change” exhibition and “Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet” exhibition, both presented at various locations in Copenhagen during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in December ’09.

Both exhibitions are presently traveling throughout 2010. Dates and locations can be found here: RETHINK, COOL GLOBES.  If you live in or have friends in any of the touring cities, please consider attending these exhibitions. Supporting these artists who are doing important and relevant work can actually make a difference.  Thank you!

Click each picture to go to individual artist webpages on the official exhibition website. There you’ll find video interviews with the artists, their bios and extra materials on their work.


RETHINK the Implicit at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art

Curator: Director Malene Natascha Ratcliffe, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Arrt.

Artists: Elin Hansdottir (IS), Thilo Frank (DE), Jenrik Håkansson (SE), Bright Ugochukwu Eke (NG), Kerstin Ergenzinger (DE), Tove Storck (DK).


Bright Ugochukwu Eke, ACID RAIN, 2009 (water, plastic bags, carbon)


Bright Ugochukwu Eke, ACID RAIN, 2009 (water, plastic bags, carbon)


Kerstin Ergenzinger, STUDY FOR LONGING / SEEING, 2008 (polymer foam, carbon, muscle-wire®, self-built Lehman seismograph, geophone, and custom electronics)

This material moves depending on the amount of vibration in the room from viewers walking around it.


Kerstin Ergenzinger, STUDY FOR LONGING / SEEING, 2008 (polymer foam, carbon, muscle-wire®, self-built Lehman seismograph, geophone, and custom electronics)


Kerstin Ergenzinger, STUDY FOR LONGING / SEEING, 2008 (polymer foam, carbon, muscle-wire®, self-built Lehman seismograph, geophone, and custom electronics)


RETHINK Relations at The National Gallery of Denmark

Curator: Senior Curator Marianne Torp, National Gallery of Denmark.

Artists: Tomas Saraceno (AR), Olafur Eliasson (IS/DK), Henrik Håkansson (SE), Allora & Calzadilla (US/CU).


Tomas Saraceno, BIOSPHERES, 2009 (inflatable modules, acrylic, rope, plants, water)


Tomas Saraceno, BIOSPHERES, 2009 (inflatable modules, acrylic, rope, plants, water)

Yes those are people inside!


Tomas Saraceno, BIOSPHERES, 2009 (inflatable modules, acrylic, rope, plants, water)

I went inside too… It was great. First you had to trust that the piece would support you… you crossed a little bridge and was inside of a vast plastic space held by the ropes… and you could see everything down through the transparent surface. There was one child who was afraid to go in with his brother. So their father had to go with them. This was an especially interactive piece.


Tomas Saraceno, BIOSPHERES, 2009 (inflatable modules, acrylic, rope, plants, water)


RETHINK Kakotopia at Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center

Curator: Director Elisabeth Delin Hansen, Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center

Artists: Lise Autogena (DK), and Joshua Portway (UK), Bill Burns (CA), The Icelandic Love Corporation (IS), Eric Andersen (DK), Tea Mäkipää (FI), Haubitz + Zoche (DE), Tue Greenfort (DK), Cornelia Parker (UK), Ruri (IS), Superflex (DK), Fiona Tan (ID/NL).


Entrance to the Nikolaj Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center



Ruri, GLASS RAIN, 1984 (glass pieces, nylon string)


Ruri, GLASS RAIN, 1984 (glass pieces, nylon string)


Eric Andersen, THE SUN LAWN, 1982 (documentation, mixed materials)

I suggest viewing this video of Eric’s SUN LAWN.  It’s a wonderful concept that invites people to experience the sun and earth from a unique perspective.


Eric Andersen, THE SUN LAWN, 1982 (documentation, mixed materials)


Eric Andersen, THE SUN LAWN, 1982 (documentation, mixed materials)

Icelandic Love Corporation's film at the Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center

Icelandic Love Corporation, DYNASTY, 2007 (video 13:00, 9 photographs 70 x 100 cm)


COOL GLOBES: HOT IDEAS FOR A COOLER WORLD in public places in Copenhagen, Denmark December 2009.


Artist: Rasmus Fasting and Julie Thorso Hansen Solution: The planet – our collective piggy bank for future generations


Artist: Cathryne Henry-Colcer and Dan Colcer Solution: Green Office


Artist: Nancy L. Steinmeyer Solution: Get Involved. (Side 1)


Artist: Nancy L. Steinmeyer Solution: Get Involved. (Side 2)

Read about my visit to these shows in my accompanying post HERE.




by Leila Valoura

Happy New Year, BridgeThinkers! I wish you all a 2010 full of passion and openness to see things differently. Since we’re exploring the connections between art and technology this month, Neighborhood Earth brings you to a series of art exhibitions presented during the Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen this past December. The audience in the Danish capital those two weeks came from all over the world and it seemed there were just as many films, performances and exhibits encouraging audiences to discover new ways of seeing things.

Display at "Hopenhagen" exhibit

Display at "Hopenhagen" exhibit

On a cold, rainy day, I too had the opportunity to visit these inspiring works of art. I began at the exhibition “RETHINK- Contemporary Art & Climate Change” which expressed reinterpretations of climate change in an effort to help viewers notice the often, unnoticed phenomena happening around them. With works from Nordic artists and beyond, the show was comprised of four parts: RETHINK the Implicit, RETHINK Relations, RETHINK Kakotopia, and RETHINK Information.

Icelandic Love Corporation's film at the Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center

Icelandic Love Corporation's film at the Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center

“RETHINK Kakotopia” at the Nikolaj Contemporary Art Center (a huge church turned into an art space), focused on visions of the future. Wow! Can you imagine the “future” displayed inside the nostalgic architecture of a former church? Instead of an altar, a screen showed a film by The Icelandic Love Corporation relating to the show’s theme, “Kakotopia,” an anti-utopia or chaos and dissolution. (Click here to find more of my photos from this and other exhibits during the Climate Summit.)

On my way to the second venue, “RETHINK Relations” at the National Gallery of Denmark, it occurred to me how the city’s art was “talking” with its guests! In fact, all kinds of creations were on the street to greet me. The exhibit, “Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet” was one of them in which 25 super-sized globes were placed in public spaces and transformed by different artists using various materials. One of them entitled, “Get Involved” had a representation of Munch’s “The Scream” on one side and the US “Uncle Sam” on the other pointing at me. In the words of the exhibit’s program, each globe conveys, “a different message about what ordinary citizens can do to combat global warming.”

The "et Involved" globe at the "Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet" exhibit

The "Get Involved" globe at the "Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet" exhibit

By presenting these exhibitions during the Climate Change Conference, curators and artists elevated the power of creative expression right into the heart of the Climate Summit’s compelling global dialogue. For an audience who came here to debate science and the politics of the crisis, the art works, films and performances truly promoted interdisciplinary dialogue.

Check out these fun and thought provoking artworks that invite us to look around creatively, be aware of our reality and express ourselves openly. More photos from my visit here.

“RETHINK – Contemporary Art and Climate Change” will be on tour throughout 2010 starting in Stockholm from Feb 20th – April 4th. If you live near or have friends in one of the touring cities, please consider attending the exhibit in support of these artists who are doing some very important work. Official Website for the Traveling Exhibition: http://www.rethinkclimate.org/

Cool Globes: http://www.coolglobes.com/

Visit Copenhagen: http://www.visitcopenhagen.com/press


N_EARTH_OTB_BLeila Valoura and Tommy Whalen (columnists for “Neighborhood Earth” and “Outside the Box” respectively) would like to wish everyone a happy 2010!

Both their columns will return next month with Leila’s report on thought piquing art exhibitions displayed at last month’s Copenhagen Climate Summit and Tommy reporting on more ways to think outside the frame when it comes to making films. Until then we welcome our column writers back from their long deserved holiday vacations!

NEIGHBORHOOD EARTH: The Taste of Tradition and Arts…

Pastries from Belém, Portugal

Pastries from Belém, Portugal

By Leila Valoura

Since many of our readers are Brazilian, Portuguese or Americans with Portuguese, Brazilian or Cape Verdean heritage, this month’s column will bring a little of Portugal’s culture and what is happening in their arts scene.

In Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, one of the many essential activities to do is to eat a delicious and traditional pastry in the historically significant Belém neighborhood. The pastry has existed since 1837 and only a few people know its recipe which has passed through generation to generation in secret.  Today, the taste of tradition of the “pastéis de Belém“, this delicate Portuguese delight that has a fascinating history related to hard times, shares space with contemporary art.

Karmitz Exhibition at CCB

Karmitz Exhibition at CCB

Right there near the “pastelaria” (bakery) and the old “Mosteiro dos Jerônimos” (Heironymite Monastery), we can visit the Cultural Center of Belém (CCB). Last month as I enjoyed a delicious pastel de Belém in this timeless neighborhood, I also had the opportunity to see the exhibitions “Six Prototypes for a Screensaver (A Retroactive History)” and “Film Award for Films on Art – What Dreams are Left? Talk to me!”

Through these exhibits I experienced an inspiring visual and audio stimulus of reflections about time moving in loops more than in a straight line and insights about artists’ loneliness in their imaginative universes.

Also, the exhibit “Silences”, a collection of 14 artists reunited by the film producer and distributor Marin Karmitz, bridged many unexpected creative disciplines. Within rooms organized in a dark labyrinth we are invited to get lost among sounds and visual stimulus, producing a fascinating reflective experience through our senses. Marin Karmitz has spent much of his career bridging film with disciplines like sculpture, painting, photography and music. This exhibition is a fascinating example of bringing these worlds together.

An interesting side note is it was Karmitz’s distribution company, MK2, who the Charles Chaplin estate contacted when they were looking for a partner with a fine sense of artistic taste to release a definitive DVD set of the film genius’ timeless work. Definitely check out Karmitz’s writeup on his exhibition in Belém at the link below.

You can check a little of each exhibition at:

“Six Prototypes for a Screensaver (A Retroactive History)”


“Film Award for Films on Art – What Dreams are Left? Talk to me!”


“Silences, a view by Marin Karmitz”


The Taste of Tradition

by Leila Kaas

(Translated from Pastéis de Belém official website:  http://www.pasteisdebelem.pt/)

The Taste of Tradition

At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, in Belém, next to the Mosteiro dos Jerônimos (the Heironymite Monastery) there was a sugar cane refinery linked to a small general store. As a result of the liberal revolution of 1820, all convents and monasteries in Portugal were shut down in 1834, the clergy and labourers expelled. In an attempt at survival, someone from the monastery offered sweet pastries for sale in the shop; pastries that rapidly became known as ‘Pasteis de Belém’.

At that period the area of Belém was still far from the city of Lisbon and could be reached by steam-boats.  At the same time, the grandeur of the monastery and the Torre de Belém (the Belém Tower) attracted visitors who soon grew used to savouring the delicious pastries originated in the monastery.

In 1837, the baking of the ‘Pasteis de Belém’ was begun in buildings joined to the refinery, following the ancient ‘secret recipe’ from the monastery.  Passed on and known exclusively to the master confectioners who hand-crafted the pastries in the ‘secrets room’, this recipe remained unchanged to the present day. In fact, the only true ‘Pasteis de Belém’ contrive, by means of a scrupulous selection of ingredients, to offer even today the flavor of the ancient Portuguese confectionary industry.

Visit the companion Neighborhood Earth article featuring a highlight of nearby arts attractions.



By Leila Valoura

Bricks, historic buildings, cobblestones, salty air… While walking in Helsingborg, a coast city in the south of Sweden, I had a déjà vu as if I was in New Bedford, a city in the south coast of Massachusetts, USA that I’ve visited. As a Brazilian and Portuguese citizen who resides in the US but who is now studying in a joint grad program between Sweden and Denmark, sometimes I wonder where the borders begin and end or if they ever exist.

As a bridgethinker I’m always amazed when I have this feeling of connection between places. Moments like this remind me that borders are disappearing… If I also remember that here, 5,589.46 miles from my home in Los Angeles, I study with seven Americans (two from LA!), I can only smile and say:  welcome to our neighborhood Earth :o)

This monthly column will be your direct bridge to Europe and Latin America and other places on Earth. Here and in “The Bridge” forum we will be connecting to people, initiatives and resources. We have A LOT to share and you are very welcome to contact, ask and post what you’d like to share in this inspiring neighborhood Earth.

Follow me across this first bridge to video artist, Omer Fast whose work I stumbled on in Lund, Sweden. Fast is from Israel, grew up in the US, received his BFA from The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, his MFA from Hunter College in NY and is now living in Berlin. A potential bridgethinker? Find my post on Omer Fast here.

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