We could all be artistic refugees

arts / Article

November 22, 2013 by Anne Tschida


The cast of "Homeland Refuge" at the Farside Gallery

The images of devastation that have recently come out of the Philippines are yet another sad reminder of our precarious situation, a reminder that both natural and man-made disasters can upend our lives and send us to tent cities to scrounge out an existence. If not because of a typhoon or hurricane, it could be a civil war, a famine or an oppressive regime that makes refugees of so many so often.

The talented performance artist David Rohn with his partner, Danilo de la Torre, who in 2008 formed Homo-Sapiens (Art for Evolution), this week will continue their performance/installation “Homeland Refuge,” which addresses some of these issues.  Saturday, Nov. 23, is the closing reception for the interesting month-long collaboration that has been going on at the alternative art space Farside Gallery in west Miami.

Along with three other “cast members,” they act out what might happen if you and I got caught in one of these horrific events and ended up in a tent; FEMA ones might be better than some of those in the Jordanian desert or Central African jungle, but maybe the experience is not that different, they suggest.

“It's easy to see TV images of refugees and feel a sense of disconnect from them,” they explained in a statement. “But if middle-class people from the United States had to grab what they could carry away from their homes and walk with it for several miles to a camp with a water tank, port-a-potties, and a tent to sleep in, they might not look or feel very different from the ragtag families who we see living this way.”

Since the project opening, these cast members (who also include Eddie Arroyo, Robert Gilbert and Vanessa Schlefke) have met in their “tent” on Galloway Road, cooked together, washed clothes, bathed—and documented it in video and photography, which is part of the exhibit.

Rohn has always been an imaginative, provocative performer. As a German female real estate agent trying to sell a crack house, a smarmy art collector, a candidate, or a ventriloquist dummy answering questions via Facebook—he continually addresses topical issues that circle back to the art scene as well. Developers and collectors can make or break artists, and in the case of “Homeland Refuge,” there might be some commentary about those who are part of the “in” crowd and those who are left out.

“Homeland Refuge” will be performed Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. during a reception that runs from 7 to 9 p.m. The exhibit continues through Nov. 29 at Farside Gallery, 1305 SW 87th Ave., Miami; by appointment during the week, 305-264-3355.

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