Lexa Walsh, Cricket Engine Gallery, Oakland and other Journeys

Lexa Walsh, “Oakland and other Journeys”
Cricket Engine Gallery
May 15-24, 2009
499 Embarcadero Ave
Oakland, California

Lexa Walsh’s new work at Cricket engine documents travels across the world in a multimedia format that incorporates many aspects of her artistic voice. With out a bit of sentimentality, Lexa approaches her work with almost a jounalistic eye, determined for truth in pattern and sensation before image. Below is a quick interview with her about the new work and some images from the gallery. Please click on the images to enlarge.

Where did your travels take you that this show as based on?
oakland san fransico frankfurt praha tabor praha tabor praha vienna kecskemet zrenjanin beograd zagreb ljubljana ceske budejovice tabor praha potsdam berlin praha tabor brno tabor volyne tabor wels tabor praha munich oakland portland oakland phoenix philadelphia wayne philadelphia new york new haven woodbury beacon woodbury new york southold new york philadelphia wayne philadelphia new york philadelphia wayne hightstown ocean grove asbury park new york woodbury wayne philadelphia trenton new york southold jamaica san francisco oakland san francisco new york mumbai margao benaulim margao hampi margao palolem margao ermakulam kochi ermakulam alleppy kottayam kumily thekkadi madurai chennai varanasi agra fatepur sikri agra delhi chandigarh dharamsala mcleod gang chakki delhi jaisalmer jaipur bundi chittaugarh udaipur mumbai new york san francisco oaklandthere was also some work from jyderup (denmark), where the idea of mapping and journey-making re-ignited.

Where did the inspiration behind the signs come from?
While in India, I was overwhelmed with the thousands of the same questions and propositions and basically got sick and tired of being aggressively engaged. I wanted to get some signs made there and walk around with them. There was never enough time in each town to do so but I plan to bring them along on my next trip. In fact they are a reaction to the business cards- India (and other destinations) are filled with poverty, the poverty requires dependence on tourism but a resentment for it. The tourist/tout relationship is tense. They are a response to the more negative aspects of this, whereas the cards are a positive response. Also, as I drive or bike around Oakland, I am constantly talking to myself or fellow citizens (though they can’t hear me) about how things could go more smoothly on the road, then I find myself doing the same thing they are, for instance, accidentally taking up 2 spaces with 1 car.. I’m trying to find a way to send these messages nicely- not with road rage. Ideally we’d have LED screens behind us to alert other drivers of our sentiments and advice, politely and informatively.

Why the obsession with mapping?
I guess the first mapping came along in Taiwan when I was doing the Immortalization Project, identifying all the places I had interviewed people. It continued with the R5 Paoli Local project, mapping personal histories along a train route in Philadelphia, from whence I came, and also in Mapping Wedgies. Then in Jyderup, where I was doing a residency last year, I absolutely failed to succeed in getting participation in my projects, so I basically tricked people into participating by having them innocently draw me maps of the town. I took their journeys and retraced them on the map, proceeding to make the rope drawings. I was astonished that every single map was completely different even though the town consits of 1 main street. Mapping is an interesting way to compare perspectives.

Please describe the process and ultimately, the goal, of the promo pieces.
This project is called First Impressions. When I travel, I strive to meet locals, and I am touched by them perhaps more quickly then if I were home. I met a lot of un and underemployed people in India and some had such interesting stories and were so kind to me that I wanted to help them out. Many people I met didn’t have business cards, so I am making them, which I will send to them at the end of the show. It’s a surprise, just an act of benevolence. I hope they can use them and that it will help their businesses. Next step is to make cards for family and friends as well. You may have noticed I made one for my sister Minna, who is an amazing ceramic artist and calligrapher, but works as a secretary for my Dad, brother and oldest sister (who isn’t so patient with her). I think if I help her identify as an artist, she may be able to help herself become one. Maybe I’ll drive her into the poorhouse, who knows.


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