ALEXANDRA GELIS LOMBANA

Alexandra Gelis is a Colombian-Venezuelan artist living and working in Toronto, Ontario. Her studio practice combines new media, installation, and photography with custom-built interactive electronics. Her projects incorporate personal field research as a tool to investigate the ecologies of various landscapes by examining the traces left by various socio-political interventions. She uses data capture techniques, video, sound, and spatial and electronic media to create documentary based immersive installations, single-channel videos, and experimental photography. 

In her work, she addresses social, political and biological concerns traced in the population and the territory by socio-bio-political interventions, through research located in specific contexts and in constant dialogue with Latin America. From his plant-based research-creation: she explores, documents and re-creates ecologies that take shape between plants and people, and between plants and their multi-species interrelationships. The idea of ​​plants as political allies is central to her concept of "Migrated Plants" as (PTTPC) Plants that have been appropriated as Technologies for Territorial and Population Control. Plants transplanted by those in a position of power to colonize (see Corridor series) but who also become allies of those in a subordinate position as a form of resistance (see plants and resistance series). This investigation takes into account the fundamental autonomous behaviour of the "Migrated plants".

She has exhibited internationally in North and South America as well as Europe and Ethiopia in Africa.

In her installation work, she creates immersive sculptural spaces, using video projections and intricate sound designs. She also works as an educator/facilitator, leading video and photography workshops aimed at youth in marginalized communities in Canada, Colombia and Panama. Because she works as a workshop facilitator in several countries, in many cases, her teaching practices determine the artistic work that she creates. 

Alexandra Gelis has been the recipient of numerous prizes and awards, including the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Colombian Minister of Culture, among others. She also won the prestigious Colciencias Doctoral Fellowship Program for her Ph.D. research: An Arts-Based Inquiry into plant/human relations in Equinoctial America: a case study of San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia.

Her research focused on the Caribbean has been supported by The Grace and David Taylor Graduate Scholarship in Caribbean Studies and The Paavo & Aino Lukkari Award: for research focused on human rights and social justice issues related to the situation of indigenous peoples or Afro-descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Alexandra Gelis nace en Caracas, de origen Colombiana-Venezolana (con corazón Caribe), en devenir nomádico crece en Cartagena, y vive en Puerto Rico y Panamá, ahora la artista y docente vive y trabaja en Toronto, Canadá. Crea proyectos de no-ficción a manera de instalaciones inmersivas; fotografía; imagen en movimiento en cine y video y en ocasiones con electrónica interactiva. 

En su trabajo, aborda problemáticas sociales, políticas y biológicas trazados en la población y el territorio por intervenciones socio-bio-políticas, a través de investigaciones localizadas en contextos específicos y en constante diálogo con América Latina. Desde su investigación-creación basada en plantas: explora, documenta y re-crea ecologías que toman forma entre plantas y personas, y entre plantas y sus interrelaciones multi-especies.  La idea de las plantas como aliados políticos es central en su concepto de "Plantas Migradas" como (PTCTP) plantas que se han sido apropiadas como Tecnologías para el Control territorial y de la población. Plantas trasplantadas por aquellos en una posición de poder para colonizar (ver serie Corredor) pero que también se convierten en aliados de aquellos en una posición subalterna como una forma de resistencia (ver serie plantas y resistencia). Esta investigación es fundamental el comportamiento autónomo de las  "Plantas migradas".

Gelis ha expuesto internacionalmente en América del Norte y del Sur, Europa y Etiopía en África. 

Candidata a Doctorado en Estudios Ambientales con énfasis en trabajo en comunidad en York University en Toronto, Magíster en Artes Visuales por la misma universidad y Licenciada en Artes Plásticas por la Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano de Bogotá, Colombia.

Tan importante como su proceso creativo es su interés por el trabajo en y con comunidades, ella ha expandido su práctica trabajando con jóvenes y comunidades diversas  en entornos marginalizados del continente americano, basándose en las posibilidades éticas y políticas de las tecnologías DIY y prácticas orientadas a procesos.

Ha recibido numerosos premios, entre ellos el prestigioso Consejo de las Artes de Canadá, el Consejo de las Artes de Ontario, el Consejo de las Artes de Toronto y el Ministerio de Cultura de Colombia. Su investigación ha sido apoyada por el Programa de Becas Doctorales de Colciencias por su Ph.D. con la investigación-creación “Historia ambiental y estética de las plantas invasoras en la América equinoccial: una investigación basada en las artes”. Su investigación centrada en el Caribe ha sido apoyada por The Grace and David Taylor Graduate Scholarship in Caribbean Studies y The Paavo & Aino Lukkari Award: para la investigación centrada en los derechos humanos y los problemas de justicia social relacionados con la situación de los pueblos indígenas o afrodescendientes en América Latina y el Caribe.

By Lucrezia Cippitelli

Alexandra Gelis is a Colombian-Venezuela Canada based artist. Her studio initially focused on an experimental practice that combines new media, installation, audio-visual and photography with custom-built interactive electronics. - Raspao (Snow Cone), Afectos Descentrados, Intersecting field, Sewing the Woods (2011 - 1012)-

This approach, which focused mainly on the ethical and political possibilities of DIY technologies and process-oriented practices, lead her to the setup of a series of educational projects.  Her experimentation with electronic media, photography and with audio-visual, became a tool of self-narration and individual liberation for specific communities (marginalized youth, sex trans workers, and queer excluded) in Colombia, Panama, and Canada.  - Personidos,  series of workshops in Panama, Colombia, and Canada with conSECUENCIAS Collective-

The use of data capture techniques, video, sound, and spatial and electronic media are at the same time a tool for multidisciplinary inquirer which engages multiple explorations of diverse methodologies in fieldwork and the media for the production of non-fiction based immersive installations; single-channel videos, and experimental photography.  

Mostly, her projects incorporate personal field research as a tool to investigate the ecologies of various landscapes and human-scapes through examining the traces left by various socio-political interventions.  Through readings of environmental history in Latin America, Gelis explores collective memory, folklore, cinema, literature and the cultural production at large of specific communities or societies. She focuses on the relationship between nature and culture, politics, history, power.

Lately, as a development of her site-specific, sociological field-research processes, Gelis got immersed in new research which focuses on her hypotheses that migrant plants can be we use as biopolitical tools of control, that change communities and territories, even as they are transformed through human interaction.

She became a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Studies at York University to acquire academic competence in the field of Environmental History. She chose to follow a  distinctive approach to Latin America, necessary to develop Environmental History and Aesthetics of Migrated Plants in Equinoctial America. An Arts-Based Inquiry. It proposes an interdisciplinary research and production project that will take the form of an investigation drawing on the environmental history of Latin America, fieldwork, biological research, and her practice as a multidisciplinary artist in order to explore how botany has been used as a tool for politics to develop policies in South America. One of the main goals of her research is to examine the dialectical relationship between people and plants in Equinoctial America, looking at the region’s history of colonialism and resistance, as well as Latin America’s environmental history. Over the past five years, she has explored these questions through artistic productions in Panama, Colombia, and Mexico.
- Panama Project, Estera: Medicinal plants and Resistance,  CERCA-VIVA espacios espinosos / dispersiones alelopáticas - from the series migrated plants- (from 2013 -now).

From 2015, Gelis is co-directing The Legacies Project: from Earth to Table. An intergenerational and intercultural exchange of knowledge to transform the food system. With a participatory methodology and theoretical Framework between Decolonizing art, education and research; the project aims the Co-creation of visual tools for food sovereignty education.

She has exhibited internationally in North, South America, Europe, and Africa and she holds an MFA degree from the same university, Toronto, Canada.

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