This INFLUX project originally opened as part of INFLUX 2015 in the Cultural Corridor between Classical High School and Central High School. As can sometimes happen with art in public spaces, this multimedia installation was damaged and currently exists in the public realm of cyberspace at providenceitineraries.com. We invite to visit the website, encourage you to engage with this unique audio-visual experience, and consider how you relate to your own environment.
Artist Profile: Oscar Sosa Lopez and Diana Graizbord
As the driving force behind the project, Oscar Sosa Lopez is an urban researcher and photographer interested in urban citizenship and policy. He is a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley’s Department of City and Regional Planning and is currently an adjunct faculty at RISD’s Department of History Philosophy and Social Sciences.
Diana Graizbord is a sociologist, ethnographer, and educator interested in inequality, social policy, and the politics of knowledge. She teaches at Brown University, where she is also a PhD candidate and a graduate fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.
While they don’t identify themselves as artists, Oscar and Diana are interested in applying their experience as researchers, interviewers, photographers, and storytellers in new, more accessible ways. The result is their first art installation, Providence Itineraries.
INFLUX project: Providence Itineraries
Providence Itineraries is a multimedia storytelling project that attempts to capture through photographs (including large-scale portraits) and audio interviews the experiences and understanding of three Providence residents as they relate to their changing urban landscape.
“Since we knew the project was going to be installed in the Cultural Corridor, we thought it would be interesting to focus on people whose trajectories intersected with the high schools in different ways,” explains Diana. The three individuals, Carlos, Donna, and Vuthy all graduated from either Classical or Central—and each brings different elements of time and space to their experiences of Providence.
“For example, Donna is all about change (because she is twice the age of the other two)—how the city has changed over time,” explains Oscar. “With Carlos it’s a completely different experience of how he became connected to other parts of the city that he otherwise wouldn’t have through skateboarding.”
The team applied their academic skills to connect the dots. “We used what they told us as a map. We interviewed them, but it was just more of a conversation and they were narrating their experiences going to high school and after high school and telling us very intimate information about places that were meaningful to them or that still are meaningful to them,” explains Oscar. “Then with that list, I went and photographed those places.”
Oscar and Diana were both impressed by how things have changed from the descriptions of how certain places were then to how they are now. “I think that when other people look at the pictures and listen to the conversations, I hope that they also engage in the same process that we did of revisiting places that are familiar to them or learning about new places…” says Oscar. “I hope that people are perhaps starting to think a little bit about how they might live their life—and how they relate to Providence.”
Applying academic methodologies to art
“We’ve both been thinking for a long time about how to engage our research outside of the academic setting—thinking about how we might do work that is more accessible to a wider audience,” says Diana. “As an experiment in that, I think we have room to grow the project and bring in other students to take on this kind of exploration.”
Oscar adds, “This could be a very useful tool for anyone just to engage with your city in a different way. It’s a very low-tech exercise that anyone can do… Kids could interview their older relatives, record it and take a picture with their phone and then upload it to the site. There it can be an ongoing archive.”