Julieta Aguinaco & Sarah Demoen

For the residence in ARCUS

Facing the Earth. Facing Information. Facing our lives.

How can we represent a place, specifically the Tone River, without colonising it? is the central question to our research into the Tone River as an element of the larger Moriya area. ‘Why the Tone River?’ one person may ask. ‘Don’t you have your own rivers back home that are as boring or spectacular as the Tone River?’ This question is fair. The impetus of this project is not necessarily our interest in the river. In a way, we employed the Tone River as a lever to discuss the issues of a visitor going to a place where he/she is not from, and consequently trying to represent that place.

The lecture-performance uses material gathered about the Tone River from a scientific, a social and a personal perspective, questioning whether representation without colonization is possible when it becomes part of a larger process of collecting. This process is endless, hence, we want the amount of voices and interpretations to continue to grow during the Open Studios. After the performance, there will be an opportunity for the visitors to share their comments, critique, knowledge and ideas about the Tone River. These remarks will be incorporated into the performance for the next day.

Aguinaco born in 1983 in Mexico City, Mexico and Demoen born in 1984 in Turnhout, Belgium both completed an MA in Art Praxis in 2015 at the Dutch Art Institute in the Netherlands. Since, alongside their work as solo artists, the duo have been producing collaborative works while being separately based in Mexico, the Netherlands and Belgium. The pair’s interests lie in the act of speech within the sphere of language and social spaces, as well as human cognition among others themes. They create video, performance and installation based on research which incorporate methods of fieldwork.

[Selected Exhibitions and Activities]
2017 Rabbit Island Residency. Rabbit Island, Michigan, USA
2016 “Those Quiet Men Who Always Stand On Piers…”, Altiplano Art Space, Mexico City, Mexico
2015 “The Limits of My World”, ABC Art Berlin Contemporary, Berlin, Germany
2015 “The Limits of My Language”, Dutch Art Institute (DAI) Showroom, Arnhem, The Netherlands
2015 “From One Thing to Something Else”, Collaboration with Ben Burtenshaw, DAI & Casa do Povo, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Reasons for Selection
Aguinaco and Demoen’s proposal for ARCUS Project, which focuses on the Tone River and the history of its relationship with the inhabitants of its basin, involves weaving together a story based on fieldwork that extends to Cape Inubo. Their application backed by thorough research left a positive impression. The two-minute introductory video they submitted for the final selection was well thought out: not only did it cover key information such as an introduction and their proposal for the ARCUS Project, but it also incorporated poetic elements and wordplay.

Comment for Open Studios
Julieta Aguinaco and Sarah Demoen have been producing work collaboratively as a duo alongside their practice as solo artists. Their interests lie in the act of speech within the sphere of language and social spaces as well as human cognition, among other themes.

In 2016, Aguinaco and Demoen retraced and re-enacted the journey taken in 1940 by an American writer and a US scientist collecting marine life samples around the Gulf of California. Just as that survey on the Gulf lacked a “genuine” scientific approach, so too was Aguinaco and Demoen’s research inherently artistic and reliant on the subjective and coincidental. Moreover, the project superimposed the status of the artists as uninvited visitors with real-estate developers as foreign colonizers driving the development of the area today for tourism. This raised questions about the exploitation of land and landscape, juxtaposing the pseudo-scientific, the economically profitable, and the artistic.

During their residency at ARCUS Poject, the artists conducted fieldwork along the banks of the Tone River from Moriya to Inubosaki. Although one of the focuses of their research was historical shifts in waterway regions as well as the improvements done to the Tone River using imported Dutch technology during the Edo (1603–1868) and Meiji (1868–1912) periods, they also made various random discoveries, much like their previous research project did, such as about the supernatural creature Neneko (a type of Kappa), acheilognathus melanogaster (a freshwater fish indigenous to Japan), and the historical materials of the surveyor and cartographer Tadataka Inoh. At Open Studios, they are presenting a lecture performance that interweaves these elements.

Through the process of their fieldwork, the two artists collect excessive amounts of information. From these chance encounters, they acquire new knowledge and ideas, and little by little undergo changes. This is somewhat similar to hybridization or to mixing multiple languages. We might also compare it to the rivers ― how two or more rivers flow into one another and their waters intermingle to form a new river whose shape changes over time.

Kenichi Kondo

Selected WorksShow Image
ActivitiesShow Image
Open StudiosShow Image

Resident Artists 2017

Julieta Aguinaco & Sarah Demoen  <Mexico & Belgium>

Daniel Nicolae Djamo  <Romania>

Curtis Tamm  <USA>