Side by Side Encuentros/Encounters: Shared Perspectives Dialogue (Campus/Downtown Community)


Pepón Osorio works with community members and Hammerstone-Carpentry for Women on the construction of Side by Side. William Staffeld / AAP

Side by Side is a site-specific installation by Philadelphia-based, multimedia artist Pepón Osorio. The installation was commissioned by the Cornell Council for the Arts (CCA) as part of its 2016 biennial titled Abject/Object Empathies. Osorio has spent the last year making numerous trips to Ithaca to meet and get to know many members of the Cornell and Ithaca community. Visitors to the installation are invited into a personal world turned upside-down by the overwhelming reality often lived by those who have transformed turmoil, dislocation, loss, and trauma into strategies for endurance, resistance, and determination. The exhibition is filled with moving images that evoke reflection on the complexity of our contemporary lives.

Because the project is the culmination of the journey Pepón Osorio has taken with those who shared their lives and stories with him, the installation will serve as the centerpiece for a series of conversations between students, faculty, community members, and local leaders.

CCA, with members of the Greater Ithaca Activities Center and other community leaders, will conduct a series of participatory conversations meant for individual responses to the art work as well as shared personal experiences and testimonies that the artist's work calls forth. This provocative art installation touches on a number of prescient themes around gentrification, displacement, and the importance of access and empathy. Invited and informal participants will explore their relationships to the themes encountered in Side by Side as well as share stories from their lives and visions for what a more reciprocal community and future could look like. These encuentros will serve as an informal space for an open dialogue about historical norms and cultural conventions as well as barriers and that are experienced in communities with one another. Light refreshments will be provided.

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