Thoughts on Nomadism- Interview with Ombretta Agro Andruff, Leeza Ahmady and Casey Amy Fan,2013

Nomadism to my mind has to do with the desire to discover, to explore and to seek. It is about departures and arrivals, a journey marked by uncertainties and unexpected encounters.

Whether the movement of people between different locations has to do with seeking livelihood or other socio-economic factors, it is clear that nomads are open to change or transformation, creating something new under the effects of different flows of people, capital, and information.

The mind is a workshop/ laboratory and no matter how varied the sources of reference may be within one’s work (both in terms of contexts and places) it’s the shared human experience that lies at its core. You can pick the threads anywhere.  It is not to say that one’s practice is not rooted in one’s own culture, but the fluidity with which one can dip into other cultures allows for ideas to transcend time and physical space, with exchanges between between past and present.

I began using the rubber stamp as a medium in my work over a decade.  It carries the metaphor of bureaucracy or officialdom, an object that both confirms and obscures.  It’s allowed me to combine image and text where the surfaces are often painted but also inscribed with names or addresses.

Here, in ‘’Untitled cobweb (Knots and Crossings),’’ the web is formed with several hand – painted rubber stamps wherein each stamp evokes a flag of a nation.  While the web is a home, protecting the physical self, at the same time doesn’t the crisscrossing structure become a restricting trap? These stamps individually suggest names of people denied visas to various countries (usually based on perceptions of class, nationality, gender, religion) but collectively they seem to form a suspended drawing like a web of global entanglements I often think of the psychological barriers that hold people and places apart more than the physical borders themselves.

In the paper works titled “ Anatomy of distance’’ the twin forms of maps and mazes are overlaid by the stamped names of people who have been denied visas for travelling to other countries.  In these works flight routes formed by the names of those denied access are superimposed on painted maps, while the same names clog the passageways in the mazes.  Ironically, even as cultures blend with greater movements of people and information than at any other moment in human history, borders have become more and more controlled and monitored than ever before.

I think moving between places allows flexibility by opening the mind to new possibilities through getting close or distancing (by zooming in and out of one’s own culture) which provides fresh perspectives.  It nurtures the ability to synthesize to engage in an intense exchange and learning experience while in a new place.  Also it makes one increasingly more aware of the specific local conditions, traditions and histories.  It offers a way to think about the global and local relationally.  And yet you realize that when ideas get transmitted across geographies, across different cultural and political histories there might be gaps in understanding that some things might be lost in translation.