Amanda Gutiérrez explores the experience of home, belonging, and cultural identity by bringing into focus details of everyday practices whose ordinary status makes it particularly hard for us to notice their key role in defining who we are. Trained and graduated initially as a stage designer from The National School of Theater, Gutiérrez uses a range of media such as sound art and performance art to investigate how these conditions of everyday life set the stage for our experiences and in doing so shape our individual and collective identities.
Approaching these questions from women’ perspective continues to be of special interest to Gutiérrez, who completed her MFA in Media and Performance Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently elaborating the academic dimension of her work developing her Ph.D. studies at Concordia University in Canada, studying the field of aural technologies in connection with Gender Studies in the urban context. Most recently, Gutiérrez has focused especially on the role of sound in everyday experience, drawing on methods of urban studies and acoustic ecology. Through regular use of participatory techniques such as soundwalk and drift (dérive) she implements her vision of art practice as a critical and empowering engagement with the everyday forces that remain below our ordinary threshold of attention. Accordingly, these techniques also constitute the core of the pedagogical practice Gutiérrez has developed over a decade of teaching in diverse settings ranging from high schools on Chicago’s South Side to a senior center on New York’s Upper West Side, including academic institutions such as the SAIC, Connecticut College, and Rutgers University. The Liverpool Biennale (2012), Baxter Street Gallery (2017), Harvestworks at Governors Island (2019), Khiasma gallery in Paris (2015), Move Forward Festival, in Halle Germany (2014), Saloon Wien, in Vienne, Austria (2018), Studio Gallery in Shanghai, China (2018), among others. In New York, she has been the recipient of grants and residencies such as the Brooklyn Arts Council Artist Grant 2019, The New York Camera Club Artist Residency 2017, Harvestworks Artist Residency in 2018, and MISE-EN_PLACE Bushwick in 2018. Gutiérrez is currently one member of the Board of Directors of the World Listening Project and is a research assistant at Concordia’s lab’s PULSE as well as at the Acts of Listening Lab.
She is currently a Ph.D. student at Concordia University in the HUMA Department.
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My work focuses on the relationships between the concepts of memory, home, and landscape. This exploration arises from formal documentary strategies such as oral recreation (sound), photography, and video. In the video narratives, I’m interested in the interpretive and representational aspects in relation to the construction of identity reflected in architecture and landscape.
Initially, my work began through sound exploration. The radio was the medium that I initially approached as a sound instrument, and it led me to the sound installation projects Radial, Solaris, IO, and En Media, the key artworks that introduced me to astronomy, acoustics, and architecture. My multidisciplinary research is influenced by several disciplines in the humanities, such as history, ethnography, sociology, and anthropology, areas of study that are combined in the development of my projects. In the early artworks Public Blame, Sports Hygiene, Al Sonoro Rugir…., I used interviews, archival documents such as sound, photography, and text, to reflect on the vulnerability of historical narratives constructed by the news media.
The process of living between two cities, Chicago and Mexico City, was an important event that made me approach two themes: migration and identity. My approach aims to critically engage with the construction of the cultural assimilation of immigrants into the American culture through media. These early reflections are visible in the video installations Icon and Babel. Through sculptural processes the installation Objects of Survival examines the boundaries between territoriality and segregation in an urban context, collecting objects of cultural commodities from immigrant ethnic enclaves in five neighborhoods in Chicago.
The construction of identity in documentary practices, in turn, is explored in the video performances series A Brief History of Fictions, which raises the issue of subjectivity and oral history in nonfiction film strategies. The video series Time Topographies emphasizes the personal narrative through the corporeal absence of the narrator, substituting it by landscapes that are linked with their immigrant journey. This video series was commissioned by several art institutions to be developed as a site-specific video triptych in Mexico City, Montreal, and Liverpool.
Through my most recent artwork Girona desde la Muralla, developed in the arts residency at the Contemporary Arts Center Bolit, in Girona, Spain, I explored the concept of tactical tourism and its critical response to replacement of the city inhabitants by a transient culture of the traveler. That residency helped me to articulate my present research on soundwalks in collaboration with the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology. This research explores the links between oral history, architecture, and memory by using art practices deriving from the soundwalk and the drift as research tools. Currently, living in the City of New York city, I seek to deploy the walk strategically as a participatory exercise of social engagement, where participants are involved in a self-reflective process of inquiry and dialogue.