Belaxis Buil is a Miami-based artist who studied at the New World School of the Arts (University of Florida). Graduating in 2006 with a double major in Dance and Sculpture and a minor in Art History, she graced the Dean’s List and has been a professional artist for nearly a decade. She is the founder of a recently formulated artist initiative entitled, SIN and has worked with organisations such as Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), North America, and Mexican enterprise, Servicios y Asesoria para la paz, (SERAPAZ; Services and Consulting for Peace).
Leigh: What inspired you to start up SIN?
Belaxis: I was interested in finding artists on a global scale that were producing work that was confrontational and controversial; that raised questions relating to social and political events. It was also a way for me to start motivating other artists who aren’t creating works of this nature, to become engaged in what is happening in the socio-political realm. I wanted to create a universal network of artists, predominantly on the Internet. SIN’s intention is to enter the virtual realm with a technological agenda, rippling into the far reaches of cyber space, then presenting the works to political organisations, infiltrating the creations with ideas similar to those of political discussion[sic]. The uniqueness here however, is that the created work would be conceptual, honing in on unbiased visual imagery. The stance would be unbiased because I would not want any party, entity or community to feel threatened, forced to become involved or blamed to [sic] a reoccurring concern, but more so see and feel the experience creating conflict. By engaging a person to become wrapped in situation, perspective and opinions shift and evolve.
Leigh: Why have you chosen the Internet as your major platform?
Belaxis: The Internet is global, it is visual, it’s easily accessible and it’s fast. We reside in a hyper-stimulated technological world and because of this, it is an effective approach to discourse relating to important social matters.
Leigh: Why is it important to have a collective like yours operating in the art world?
Belaxis: I believe that SIN is an important addition to the art world because the focus point is a bit more extensive than just fine arts [sic] hanging on a wall or standing as a 3-dimensional piece in a home, collection or institute. It is work that addresses politics, religion and social issues per se, so it becomes an historical piece that changed history [sic]. Further, I want to create a bridge between the community and the powers that govern us, so that we can start presenting issues as imagery that are not based on just one voice. People have the tendency to drown out words when there is too much being spoken, but when they concentrate on images alone, they’re more likely to pay attention to what is being said.
Leigh: What was your most recent project?
Belaxis: My most recent project was being a part of a group exhibit called, Alternative Comtemporaneities: Temporary Autonomous Zones (TAZ) at the MOCANOMI (Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami). Curated by Richard Haden, approximately 50 artists from Miami were selected to show their work. TAZ “alludes to creating temporary spaces that elude formal structures of control…thus creating the foundation for authenticity and spontaneity”. It was a very radical exhibit that received a lot of attention because of MOCANOMI’s history of political upheaval in the last yearand a half or so. It was also an important exhibit because a lot of Miami artists have a supposed reputation for not being outspoken…but I don't think I have that reputation.
Leigh: What is your next project?
Belaxis: Let’s just say; Morocco, people and…
Leigh: What do you hope to achieve with SIN?
Belaxis: A project-based organisation who is eventually an important sector within the government structure. SIN would ultimately become an innovative diplomat, who would visit a conflict in order to do field study and analyse the situation via performance research and social art practices. Hopefully SIN would master the craft of conceptual dialogue to disengage tension.
Leigh: If you could say one thing to the governments of the Western World, what would it be?
Belaxis: If I could say anything to the government, I would not say anything at all. Everything has been said. I would just ask them to look and listen.
Having finished my degree in Fine Arts only six months ago; I still struggle with where in the art world my place should reside. Who am I as an artist? Am I a painter? Am I a photographer? Am I conceptual? Do I care about sales, or am I in it solely for expression itself? Do I create what the majority lean towards, or do I create whatever the hell I want to? Perhaps the biggest question of all for me, especially after contemplating my interview with Belaxis Buil, is, 'Do I have something to say?'
I can’t help but recall the moment at art school, when in front of the class, my professor urged another student not to be political in their work. It was an artwork about their native country and the associated atrocities being committed at the time. While it’s true that perhaps not all of us could relate on an experiential level, it was certainly obvious to all that the artist was passionate about their subject.
Aside from empathising with the general humiliation that can be felt when a teacher’s critique is not what you want to hear, I remember feeling torn between the impartiality expected from students of institutionalised art and the undeniable sense of being chastised and contained. If artists are not permitted to comment on the world around them, then who is? Could it not be construed as tragic, were our society to be stripped of deeply, political works like the famous painting, The Third of May 1808 by Francisco Goya, or William Blake’s poetic call to arms in, Jerusalem?
Subscribers to the Bellian philosophy of art may agree that, “To associate art with politics is always a mistake” and “to appreciate a work of art we need bring with us nothing from life…” but is this really possible? Are we not fundamentally made up of each experience from our birth to our death? Can we really remain impartial when we witness what we deem to be an injustice? Can we afford to be silenced?
“I don't think artists can avoid being political. Artists are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine. When we stop singing, it's a sure sign of repressive times ahead.”
Belaxis Buil can be contacted here.
Image: SIN & Belaxis Buil