Andrew Freire

My practice and research involve politics of memory, inheritance, and generational material.  I situate these components in different contexts to understand how legitimizing frameworks – the familial, the nation, the community, the autonomous, the discipline – construct and sustain legacy and thought. Whether in painting, sound or video installations, my goal is to focus and find language structures that question official histographies.

As on ongoing project I have been exploring United States’ foreign policy and relationship with Bolivia, a study of resource management and its inequalities under an imperial legacy. In finding social network data and forums, bureaucratic documents, photographic testimony, forensic evidence, and personal memoirs, I’ve inherited a history of family members running resource extraction enterprises in Bolivia, starting with rubber and eventually coca leaf export for cocaine production. My practice of painting these documents, letters and unofficial forums is an attempt to negotiate rigid interpretation of complex repercussions of public policy.  I’m interested in this network of information production — penitentiary documents, surveillance records, community knowledge, my own translations of personal correspondences – as a way to expose a logic that reinforces the justification of border laws and trade policies.

The text and language in these works are derived from individual testimonies, informal stories and news media developed from the 1990s through 2018, mapping attitudes and the imagination of a civic body in war, complicit, indifferent, in foreign/domestic policy. Topics include Facebook comment threads of people responding to nostalgic images displaying wealth, neighbors providing testimonies during arrests/drug seizure, or quotidian updates of individuals whereabouts after serving long prison sentences.  In developing this type of visual/ linguistic space, I hope to convey entities variously figured — undetermined, intertwined, losing or possessing definition, becoming “victims of prejudice or inheritors of privilege.”  Under difficult circumstances, what agency does memory have and what are the limits of being, in terms of law, property, and under a nation?

For further research and engagement for this project, I will be looking at previous work that utilized oral histories and sound environments. The Pinata house project is an attempt to document familial dynamics, inherited knowledge, collective labor, construction of subjectivity through interviews and diegetic sound. Topics include the formation of a multigenerational business within neighborhoods facing multiple events of displacement, and overall reflection of one’s craft in the community. Materials considered as ephemera from the interview process include a painting of the studio space, psychoanalytic diagnosis of a popular character constructed for customers, and written account of the origins/myths of piñata customs.  The project Depression[es] en la tierra, included a primary text as a proposal for exclusive art residencies to allow me and a collaborator to generate, and present works with individuals denied access to the program. We built a platform (depression in the land) to present materials, sound, and ephemera evocative of work they would have presented.  Ephemera and events surrounding these projects, are an experiment to imagine how to reroute or intervene within a structure, as a way to access information that would otherwise be forgotten, deliberately unaccounted or absent.