This Land is Not Yours / Your Body is Not Mine: Researching materiality of the land and body
I am an interdisciplinary artist who researches the materiality of the land and body. I conceptualize about land as a body, and the ideas of who owns the rights to the our bodies. If one morally cannot own another’s body, then how can one morally own the land? My work critiques systems of hegemony and the histories of land rights and ownership with the purpose to bring awareness to oppressive policies of marginalized peoples such as the indigenous and the working class. I engage in collaborative relationships with space, body and material. I work with processes of matter-flow and movement while researching the materiality of the land and body. I integrate gestures of farming and dance, and build narratives around the identities of generations arising from the root of community. It takes many to make one. I research and incorporate these views into my pedagogy by teaching the identity of the materials. Contemporary materiality encompasses the whole identity of the material. Where does it originate? Is it fetishized and/or specific to a culture or group of people, and how is it being used? Today, there is more to consider about the identity than what was taught by our previous generation of Modernists, who mostly valued material for its line, shape, and form. In ignoring the whole of a material’s identity, one can never explore materiality to its fullest meaning, nor master its art.
One Bits, 2018 (ongoing), 96 Bisque fired ceramics ~ 1 ½” x 1 ½”
With the land comes family and community, as we are made from the land. In my previous work I look to understand the materiality of family through studying generations and traditions. What makes a family unique, such as how do they spend time besides work? In my working class community, generations play games of chance: dice, dominoes, and cards. These interactive moments become the root to the symbolic ideas behind the One Bits. The idea of community as a unit for its survival as a whole. The One Bits began with 96 representational pieces of individuality. In their entirety, they symbolize the unity of One. Their community continues to grow in numbers and shift with each of the generations to come.
Searching for my granfather's soil. Photo courtesy of Zeina Baltagi
How do I tell this continuing narrative about generation and land through my art? I decided to go back to my roots and reconnect my generational identity to the Earth, and search the land to find the element of who I am. This was in my family’s history of farming and finding belief in nature’s unwritten law. The right to work the land with the responsibilities to take care and replenish the soil, never over exhausting it, and never claiming ownership of its body. By this it will provide life for the next generations to come.
Once the dirt of my grandfather's dairy, now becomes land for wine. Photo courtesy of Zeina Baltagi
To understand my generational rights to the land, I must begin with appropriating the soil that once was the land my family worked upon, as well as also retrieving dirt from the land I grew up upon, and the soil my father is retired upon.
Caz Azevedo University of California, Davis Art and Art History Department MFA Thesis: May 22, 2020
MFA Thesis, Copyright 2020 Caz Azevedo All Images, and text Copyright 2017 Caz Azevedo