Name: Rancho Shock

Date:  2006-present , 2006-present , 2006-present

Location:  Middle East and Caucasus , Middle East and Caucasus , Middle East and Caucasus

SubjectNudity , Religious , Political/Economic/Social Opinion

MediumPerforming Art , Painting , Installation

image description
Artist: Vreni Michelini Castillo

Confronting Bodies: Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar administration, small portion of student body and fundamentalist media

Date of Action: Nov. 15th-23rd 2011

Specific Location: VCUQ campus, Doha, Qatar

Description of Artwork:  This installation is a multimedia, performative and time-based narrative of my migrations this year (Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, U.S.), specifically my cultural transition into Qatar. The images I am utilizing as the base of the work were created during my first weeks, which I believe capture my raw impressions of my current geographical and cultural absorption.

In a lot of my work the female body is the locus of contest, in this particular piece it represents aspects of myself, as well as, larger societal views. I try to describe the sacrifices, pleasures, problems and shifts I see women face. I also perceive this as a larger metaphor that expresses global generational shifts. In all of my experiences in different locations this year I have been most impressed by the fights and achievements of girls and the women I've met. I wish to represent the female power I saw in the little girls I taught in Peru as well as of the women I've met throughout my journey this year.

***It is important to note that I cannot include a finalized image of the work because of the essence of this piece. The final installation will include sculptural elements, vinyl stickers on top of the painting and a 1 hour sound performance of the songs I've created here. (Didn't finish)

Description of Incident: An email was sent by a group of students to the Dean, stating the painting was indecent and went against Islamic traditions. The following day moving walls were placed around it along with 2 "WARNING, inappropriate drawing" statements near its entrance. The following day one gigantic white curtain was placed to veiled the painting, as well as a black small curtain placed at the entrance. Calling this "cultural sensitivity".

Results of Incident: 1. Throughout the installation I was called a slut, and received pro and con letters from students.

2. Posters of Qatari law put up.

3. After being veiled, I (the artist) decided the piece was done, so I painted over it.

4. A general statement regarding the matter was released by the school.

5. A professor answered the email, explaining his disagreement and disappointed. Later instructed not to do so again.

6. Following the de-installation the whole matter was twisted and published in a little inflammatory news article.

7. I received emails concerning interested reporters, who I cannot answered (instructed by the institution)

8. Posters of art censorship were anonymously created and put up in the school, referring to library call numbers.

Source: Images of work (pictures, video, notes, scanned posters) to be put up on:

Submitted By: Vreni Michelini Castillo

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