Kelman Duran

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What Is My Work About?

My work is about engaging marginalized communities through a dialogical practice. As of now, I am currently working on a long term project titled Open Air Prisons (OAPS). The first part of this project is at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where for the past two years I have been making diary videos related to life there; issues like uranium, land rights, spirituality, and cognitive prisons. I usually write texts for each iteration. Being born in the Dominican Republic and immigrating to the U.S. is what started my interest in how people relate to their landscape and how desire plays out when being marginal and surveilled.


Artist Statement

Currently I am working on a long-term series for which several videos, objects, texts, will be made, and includes work about Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and Tijuana. My work deals with architecture and its narrative as a progressive pursuit, which is then resituated to map out how architecture and urban planning is mostly about the social control of marginal groups. Coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States and living in a Washington Heights is what started this inquiry.

For two summers I have been visiting Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and have been lucky enough to be let in allowed to do research and document there. This place is home to the massacre of 1890 and its claim for autonomy in 1973 that resulted in the death of two FBI officers. Open-air prisons is a prompt to create a dialogue between the ways in which planning as social control creates unfreedom through the mechanisms of dis-empowerment in our current political scape and the small instances in the everyday that disrupt them. It is a prompt that will help us shed the layers of logic that stifles self-determination and places OAP’s as material and cognitive, almost to the point of affecting the soul. One example of this was the Ghost Dance movement. An Indian man named Wokova, had a vision in 1888 that an apocalypse would come and destroy the earth and restore the prairie. This started a political religion, which spread to Pine Ridge, in which few Indians would gather and dance for five days straight, summoning their ancestors and politicizing about resistance. The Ghost Dance was supposed to hasten the event. Some people I talked to on the res said those are some of the scariest rituals. By scary, they mean at the intersection between spirituality and politics. Wovoka read the vision wrong, maybe.

I have also for the past two years been working on a film about New York titled New York Plays Itself, a remake of Thom Andersens Los Angeles Plays Itself, and uses scenes from films shot in New York to create a discourse around the way new york portrays itself through the negative version of itself, seeking finance, impunity, and violence on the poor. Films like Escape From The Bronx where government scientists literally drop bombs on the south Bronx, or Fort Apache a film the community protested against for its portrayal of blacks and Puerto Ricans, talked of things to come, ironically Pam Greer kills two cops in the that film, and the police almost pull out their guns on a pimp who takes out his wallet, something prophetic like in these films when thinking of 41 shots.


1-Oren Yiftachel, “Planning and Social Control, Exploring the Dark Side,” Journal of Planning Literature, Vol. 12, No. 2. (1998): 395.



b. 1984, Dominican Republic



MFA 2012 Film/Video, California Institute of the Arts

BA 2006 Sociology, Binghamton University

HS 2002 La Guardia H.S. for Performing Arts




To The North pt.1, Echo Park Film Center, Los Angeles

OFF SITE FILMS: EAST LA SHORT, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), Los Angeles

Bradford International Film Festival, Bradford, England


Catch 22- Impakt Festival, Utrecht

Group Show: Portas Abertas, Evora, Portugal

Group Show: MOLT! Speculative Identities, ZONA DYNAMIC, Berlin

Visiting Artist Talk, School of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


Los Angeles < 9811.81 km >, Vienna, Vienna

Ana Kieli Installation, The Concord Space, Los Angeles

Harvard University Sensory Ethnography Lab, Boston

Kentifrica Installation by Kenyatta Hinkle, Project Row Houses, Houston

Showcase: Roy and Edna Disney Theater, Los Angeles


Cal Arts Plays Itself, Essen

Group Show: New Video, Kristi Engle Gallery, Los Angeles

Harvard University Sensory Ethnography Lab, Cambridge

SPLIT Film Festival, Split, Croatia

Juan Installation, Cal Arts C113, Los Angeles

Showcase: Roy and Edna Disney Theater, Los Angeles

Big Screen Project, New York

Intl. School Film Festival Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires

Santiago Catholic University, Santiago, Chile

They Even Import Coffins, Cal Arts, C113, Los Angeles

Zinebi 2011, Bilbao, Spain

Electronic Intifada, Website


VIENNALE 2010, Vienna

Group Show: Heist, Cal Arts C113, Los Angeles

Canton Palace Film Festival, Ohio

Showcase: Roy and Edna Disney Theater, Los Angeles



Emergency Grant from the Foundation For Contemporary Arts, New York, 2014

Graham Foundation, Chicago, 2014

Franklin Furnace Award, New York, 2013

New York Foundation for the Arts Fiscal Sponsorship, New York, 2010

Hollywood Foreign Press Association Scholarship, Los Angeles, 2010­-2012


Curatorial Work


The Border Again, Human Resources, Los Angeles


Open Forum, Moon Dance, Small Instances in Dissidence, The Anarchist Everyday

Otras Obras, Tijuana

1250 with Dani Leventhal, Francesca Sloane, Temra Pavlovic, and Minerva Cuevas, Otras Obras, Tijuana

Open Forum, Apathy Drugs and Politics, Otras Obras, Tijuana

James Benning and Edgardo Aragón, Otras Obras, Tijuana



Otras Obras, Resident Curator, Tijuana, Mexico, 2013-2014

Curator for a temporary project space in Tijuana, Mexico.


e-flux, Program Assistant Intern, New York 2012-2013

Program Assistant for Khalil Rabah’s Pages 7,8,9 and Rosella Biscotti’s The Trial


Whitney Museum of American Art, Education and Interpretation Assistant, 2012-2013

Research for upcoming exhibitions as well as producing original videos for the Whitney website.