I look around: A vase of flowers sent recently by my daughter, a candle next to a glass of water, a grey sofa with three cushions in front of me and a bookshelf with some precious objects and books. Behind me there is a basket with a grey pussy cat. I am Susi from Lima in Peru and I am fascinated with what reality offers. I believe that mostly everything can be transformed by our minds and eyes. This year has been very especial. It has been twenty years since I arrive from the so called darkest Peru. So, it is also my Anniversary! I am writing from my home in St Ives, Cornwall . Before, I used to live in Bury St Edmunds and then in St Neots in Cambridgeshire while I was doing a MA in fine art printmaking at ARU. Veronique Chance who was the course leader, knew that I had to move to Cornwall for the last year of the course and introduced me to Robert Good . The first memory that comes to me today is when I spoke with Robert by the phone and I clearly remember telling him about my desire of joining ALL in some way or another. Cornwall is spectacular without doubt, but my first impression when I moved to St Ives was that it was a town that was sleeping on the ashes and remains of a well deserved avant garde. Maybe it is changing!
I graduated at ARU initially as an abstract painter but it was not easy to connect with the beautiful St Ives and I blamed myself. Why I could not feel moved by the Atlantic sea? Everybody does! So I explained to Robert that the main reason I approached ALL was to make friends and to see if I could collaborate with my thoughts about feeling a chronic stranger. Although I did not see Robert’s face as I talked, I believe that he welcomed me. I was delighted and realised that belonging, that word that has been used billion of times can have a very important weight in our lives. Can one live without belonging? Or it is an intermittent feeling that sometimes appears and sometimes vanishes? That conversation occurred in 2017, at the very beginning of conception of the exhibition project PLACE: Relinking, Relating, Relaying. Was I going to be included in that show? I did not know but just between us, I was longing for being included. Who had the final decision, I do not know, but my proposal or expression of interest had to do with that distance between my body and the landscapes I traveled through. When walking I could feel my weight on the wet earth and this, plus the rhythm of each step, helped me to feel my being in a living way but I couldn’t feel moved by anything else. One afternoon, when I was coming back from my studio I passed rustic houses, horses, cows and not a single person was seen at that hour. It was so different from my Lima neighbourhood where you just had to poke your head out to find someone else on the opposite side doing the same thing. The baker's horn, the last sales of the fruit sellers who offered sunny oranges and overripe grapes. I feel like an outsider here I thought. In a vivid way, I realised that there really was no one else in those moments but me and the hills in the distance already covered in a soft layer of pink mist. Six o clock, I noticed on my phone and without thinking I had an intense need of telling who I am and what on earth I was doing living in such a remote place like Cornwall. That was when I spoke for the first time pointing my feet with my camera on video. I spoke to my feet because there was not a single being to tell my name and where I came from. At first the words came out like clumsy needle stitches, but after a few seconds they began to form a fabric with a certain density until those words became a cloak, a net similar to that of fishermen, and right there as I walked I began to catch to the landscape with my mobile camera. When I got home I heard my recorded voice and saw the landscapes I had traveled, then I was moved. This is a mini-story about my walk, “a doodle walk” I thought. Then, I called Robert Good and told him about the doodle walks. I already had an idea to offer, an expression of interest as he called it, and he asked me how many of those recordings I had and if I could send more of them to him using we transfer.
After a few days I was able to send several files of my doodle walks which soon became short videos where not only my feet appeared but also other people's feet and their voices. I went mad and started feeling a great confidence in what I was doing. My mobile became an extension of my body and viceversa. This is the memory of my approach with Robert Good for the first time, whom and without knowing so much about me finally gave me space to show my work among others in three big screens at the Ruskin gallery among very well known experienced artists. Meeting some of the ALL members was a great and unique experience to me that proves that there is always generous people. Then, as I continued developing my “Doodle Walks” work further from a remote location like Cornwall, I was introduced the same year 2017 with Iberia Perez Gonzales from Puerto Rico. She was collaborating with Robert as part of ALL and I had the opportunity of talking with Iberia in our own language. She was simply spectacular and so interested in what I was trying to say that helped me to develop a narrative for my work. Our common language, Spanish is what made that conversation possible. Iberia understood about that strangeness between my body and the landscape. It was necessary to connect with someone interested in this very internal process and I was lucky that Iberia and Robert helped me to expand my own thoughts into something that is still with me. It has Taken me Such a Long time! You cannot imagine and I am very grateful to be sharing my experience today. Happy Anniversary to us!
Susi Gutierrez, October 12, 2023
As I wrote this memory I found out on the internet that Iberia is today the Andrew W. Mellon Caribbean Cultural Institute Curatorial Associate at PAMM) Iberia interviewed me (during the initial phase of conception of the exhibition project PLACE: Relinking, Relating, Relaying) about that process of my walks and after more than a year of online exchanges between us this conversation was published by ALL in their website here:
© Susi Gutierrez 2023
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