Small Conversations, version 4, 2013

performance installation

Documentation from a series of performances collectively titled Small Conversations, 2011 – 13, where the artist sought out members in his community to introduce himself and develop a dialogue about creativity and expression within the context of their professions. Each project lasted 1 month and culminated in body of work and exhibition collaboratively produced by the artist and selected participants. The following statements are written by each participant.

John C Gonzalez

My motivation for beginning this project was to invite individuals whom I’ve never met before to collaborate on a project with me in my studio. Small Conversations is an artistic endeavor that requests the creative minds of invited participants to conceive of and choreograph an ongoing one-month project that will utilize my abilities and limitations to assemble their ideas according to their own direction.

Evan seemed very well prepared for this. Even before our first meeting, he had drafted a sheet of ideas that he wanted to work with and presented them to me when we met. In contrast to this predetermined approach, I had no idea what would become of our time together. The coming together of these two ideologies created an interesting intersection for us to explore areas of common interest and discuss our relationship with artistic production.

During the process of making the objects for our version of this project, I had never been more playful or more serious about what was to be produced. There was simultaneously a certain casualness and urgency that I felt was unmatched in any of the previous conversation projects. It was rewarding to experience how these seemingly diametrical ways of working influenced, in a way that I would be unable to do on my own, the conceptual and aesthetic outcome of the show.

Evan J Garza

A curator has to think like an artist. He or she has to explore relationships and create connections and discourse like an artist. And although a curator might be deeply involved in the production of an artwork throughout the process of working with an artist, that is likely the closest he or she will ever come to creating work themselves. Enter John C Gonzalez.

It occurred to me that John was giving up his most valuable possession as an artist – his creative control – and therefore I offered him the most valuable thing to me personally, a meteorite that belonged to my late father, Roberto “Bobby” Garza. The meteorite not only represents one of the three belongings of my father’s that I brought with me upon moving to Boston four years ago, but it is also the physical representation of our mutual admiration of the cosmos. This project encouraged me to do my own research, on both the meteorite (thanks to Ron Remillard and the Earth and Planetary Sciences department at MIT) and my father’s relationship to it in its several billion-year-old history.

Albert Einstein took Newton’s theory of space and expanded it so much that it was henceforth inextricably linked with time. Einstein’s theory of space-time depicted it as “a malleable fabric distorted by matter,” a concept which would become the origin of Conversation #4 with John. This phrasing by Einstein sounded to me, at first, like a painting in the most literal sense: a malleable fabric (canvas) distorted by matter (a stretcher). It was the objecthood of this idea – the sculptural and spatial context – and the desire to make the invisible visible, that sent us into long conversations about representing and/or fucking with space-time.

The other, and equally imperative, aspect of the project was an immediate sense of play, despite the fact that we were strangers. Therefore it was as if we were reduced to neighborhood kids playing in the backyard: we didn’t know each other well, but we were bound by proximity, shared interests, and the need to simply have fun (and occasion-ally engage in snow ball fights).



John C Gonzalez