The Parasite School / Air Trafficking
by Felipe Castelblanco
La Escuela ParaSitio / The Para-Site School
After the lack of the immigration reform in the U.S.A (particularly the DREAM Act), The Para-Site School has become a participatory platform—both virtual and physical—than takes place at the intersection between activism, education and socially engaged art. By operating from inside the university in a parasitical way, The Para-Site School appropriates the university’s resources (faculty, classrooms, labs, equipment, researchers, etc) in order to create alternative opportunities for minorities, undocumented immigrants and foreign students facing immigration issues, to attend college and access higher education in the USA and other countries.
Meanwhile, the School itself serves as a platform for artists/educators to investigate forms of experimental pedagogy, and create interventions in the public sphere and artistic practice as social action. Since 2010, The Para-Site School has held (sometimes in secrecy) bilingual extracurricular classes at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, USA) and recently at The Ohio State University (Columbus, USA) for young Latino activists, some of whom remain undocumented and advocate for the immigration reform in the USA. The project has also served students in places like Portland, Oregon; Havana and Camagüey, Cuba; and Tehran, Iran.
The School’s intent is to become an elastic (sometimes antagonistic) space for thinking, making and implementing alternative models where artistic practice and education engage underrepresented populations, without the conditional support of traditional institutions (museums, universities or similar cultural enterprises, which often perpetuate systemically fractured government policies in both immigration and education issues).
For more information about the Para-Site School: http://escuelaparasitio.org/
As a compound of natural elements and human-created phenomena—from radio waves to pollution—air is a large amorphous network that comprises the absolute public space of our planet. This project explores proposes a new approach to public art, which works with air as a material embodiment of the public sphere through its physical invisibility, political and symbolic weight.
Air trafficking is an ongoing performance and evolving archive, comprised of photographs, videos, and objects full of air that document the journey of empty containers across contested borderlines and between countries that are in conflict with the USA.
For the past two years, I have been collecting samples of air from cities like Tehran, Havana, New York and Tel Aviv. After having the air samples into clear containers, these are passed hand to hand and through network of participants located in different countries, until the air samples cross international borders and customs, where no exchange is legally possible (like the Cuban – USA border). Air trafficking images air as a material embodiment of the public sphere, while investigating—or even challenging—the logistics that rule the mobilisation of goods, capital, politics and even people across contested geopolitical landscapes and territories.
This work was submitted by Felipe Castelblanco on 24th of October 2014.