While some artists and activists strive to break down borders, Agustina Woodgate physically erases them from globes and maps until they become blank slates for envisioning a new world order. Devoid of the topography and political boundaries commonly accepted as indelible markers, these once-familiar objects become charged with potential that she encourages disoriented viewers to activate. Navigating The Ballroom that Woodgate installed with her dealer Anthony Spinello at the Art Berlin Contemporary fair in October meant choosing whether to circumvent, rearrange or unintentionally displace the 50 hand-sanded globes strewn about the space.
Woodgate’s open-ended playfulness defuses audiences’ potential resistance or dismissal that preachy or heavy-handed approaches are more likely to provoke. Along those lines, she has drawn thousands of Hopscotch squares linking miles of sidewalks on three continents so far, starting in 2013 with Miami, where she has spent the better part of 10 years, and then her hometown of Buenos Aires, Argentina, before extending this itinerant network across the Atlantic to Kraków, Poland, for last year’s Playpublik Festival, and traversing Denver this summer during the Biennial of the Americas.
Even as the recognizable shapes invite spontaneous interaction, Woodgate is drawing attention to incursions in urban infrastructure, reclaiming public space, and tracing this accessible street game back to its origins as training courses for Roman foot soldiers. “My work is related so much to the territory, so each location affects the work and affects the outcome,” Woodgate explained this fall from Tel Aviv. A residency at Artport Tel Aviv positioned her to conduct research and lay groundwork for future interventions, including a broadcast of her nomadic online Radio Espacio Estacion (radioee.net) that would address ways the transportation system divides Israelis and Palestinians.
Radio EE transmits live in multiple languages, forgoing translation in an effort to integrate the diverse guests in dialogue confronting core issues of migration and mobility, adapted to situations and events in each locale. Her largest pop-up since launching the periodic station in 2011 was last October at a Hmong market in Minneapolis-St. Paul, home to the largest concentration of the tribe indigenous to Southeast Asia that was granted asylum after the Vietnam War, whose members communicated with Woodgate in their native tongue.
Woodgate’s interest in education, indoctrination and immigration is a natural outgrowth of her 34-year personal trajectory and exposure to contentious debates and protests at the National University of the Arts in Buenos Aires. Since graduation, extensive travels have broadened her perspective and informed her overall practice and ongoing outreach projects. “All the work is one conversation,” says Woodgate, “and it gets morphed into a radio and a workshop and an object.”
This article was originally published in the Dec 2015/Jan 2016 issue of Muses & Visionaries. Click here to read the article in its entirety.