Visual Art

‘I Remember Miami’ to use residents’ voices, photos for installation of memories

Posted By Michelle F. Solomon
May 29, 2020 at 6:33 PM

Dora Garcia’s “I Remember Miami” is a participatory work that will create a collective time capsule, documenting a unique time in Miami’s history before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Photo courtesy of Massimiliano Minocri)

“Think about a single place in Miami, where you have been in the past.”

With these instructions, artist Dora Garcia aims to unite Miamians and create a time capsule that will cement in time the recollections and the sense of place of a pre-pandemic city.

That is the idea behind Garcia’s “I Remember Miami,” a participatory and collective art-and-audio installation commissioned by Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design (MOAD) as part of its “A City of the People” series.

“Overnight, restaurants, bars, concerts, theater, so many things quickly became outdated,” says Garcia, referring to when Miami and the rest of the country came to a standstill in March. “Even though it has only been a few months, it all feels like it happened a long time ago.”

Garcia believes and hopes that, in time, the collective voices of “I Remember Miami” will define a moment in culture and society.

Once completed, the online archive will live on the websites of the artist, MOAD and the Miami Book Fair. Residents have until June 30 to submit their memories.

“Through her art, Garcia creates the conditions to keep us connected and collectively involved in visualizing Miami’s past, present and future,” says Rina Carvajal, MOAD’s executive director and chief curator. “‘I Remember Miami’ is a beautifully fitting culmination to ‘A City of the People,’ which encourages Miamians to become active participants in the life of the place that we love.”

So, how do you become part of this collaborative time capsule?

First, pick a Miami spot that has personal significance, like a bustling Wynwood coffeeshop, a special museum, a symphony concert at New World, a crowded cocktail lounge in Miami Beach.

“Something that made a special impression,” Garcia says.

If several people select the same place to describe, which is bound to happen, Garcia would consider it one of the unexpected journeys of the project. “Then we understand what subjectivity does to a place, in the way each person remembers it,” she says.

Garcia says recording on an iPhone or other mobile device is fine: “The Voice Memo app on iPhone is great for this.”

Garcia wants you to be as specific as possible about the place.

“It is important for those who hear the recording to get an idea of the place you remember,” she says. “You can speak to how it felt for you, but it is very important to describe what kind of place it is.”

Be sure to stand next to a window or on a balcony in what have been your quarantine quarters and first observe what is outside. Start the recording, then close your eyes, she instructs.

“In your mind, start walking around in it. Describe the place as it was the day or days you were there,” she says. “It is important to the piece to order your memories according to your path through the space. You walk into the space, you look to your right, to your left.”

“Think about a single place in Miami, where you have been in the past,” says Dora Garcia to collaborators who want to become part of her collective audio installation, “I Remember Miami.” (Photo courtesy of Angela Valella)

The length of the recording can be from a few minutes up to 15 minutes, but make it enough that the listener can reconstruct your impressions of the space.

Pictures are another crucial element of the installation.

Garcia suggests photographing the space around you right after you’ve finished the recording. Then add a photo of the place you described – an image of the site, a selfie taken with friends there, or a picture of an object that connects you to that place.

You can submit only one recording but send up to three photographs to accompany the narrative.

“I Remember Miami” is a companion piece to Garcia’s current collaborative with MOAD, “Rezos/Prayers,” which she first enacted in her native Spain in 2007. The artist splits her time between Norway and Spain.

For the Miami project in 2019, 11 people recorded narrations of their observations in various locations or on public transport, noting everyday (and sometimes) unexpected details.

“‘Prayers’ was about perception, ‘Remember Miami’ is about memory,” Garcia says. “The process of memory is made at the moment. It’s not something that pre-exists.”

Listeners also become part of the collective installation.

“The moment you describe [a memory] to someone, it is also forming an image for the person who is listening. This is what is exciting about this process,” she says.

After all, we don’t really know how life will look once we’re completely past the pandemic.

“As long as you remember a place, you are keeping it alive,” she says. “In this case, you are remembering Miami” – for yourself and for others.

Submissions will be accepted until June 30 for inclusion into a growing online archive. Once completed, the archive will be accessible on the websites for the artist, the museum and the Miami Book Fair. Submit photographs and audio recordings, in any language, as digital files at mdcmoad.org/iremember.

The Museum of Art and Design at MDC is inside Miami’s historic Freedom Tower, 600 Biscayne Blvd. For more information, visit mdcmoad.org or 305-237-7700. The museum is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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