An exercise in exploring "sound without sound."
Music has always been a significant component in my work as it invokes strong elements of memory and places the work within a cultural context. To consider musical significance with the challenge of not producing audio or video work, I narrowed in on the physicality and presence of two traditional instruments that represent my family's heritage: the Marranzano from Sicily and the Güira from the Dominican Republic.
My challenge was to use these instruments and consider their physical aesthetic without using them for producing music-- their intended purpose. By thinking of myself in relationship to the objects I decided to use each instrument as adornment; jewelry to be worn.
Jewelry and personal adornment are powerful ways to express identity and convey to others how we see ourselves. As a child of diaspora, it is also a way to demonstrate your connection and pride in cultural heritage.
This jewelry is quite simple in design but uses elements that maintain my rustic personal aesthetic. There are two necklaces made of rope, wooden beads of different colors, and the two different instruments as the central element.
The Marranzano is a traditional instrument used for folk music in Sicily like the Tarantella.
The instrument is originally from the Turkic people in Asia and is also known as the "Jew's harp" in English despite not really being associated to Judaism-- weird.
The harp is known and played in many cultures apart from Sicilian; Sindhi people in Pakistan know it as the Changu.
It even made its way into Western rock in the opening of The Who's "Join Together."
La Güira is a traditional Dominican instrument, but it is still played and heard in most bachata and typical merengue songs. It is a metal scraper used for percussion that also has some related instruments coming from different cultures.
The Cuban guiro, made of wood.
The reco-reco of Brazil, also metallic but with a flat rectangular shape.
And the quejida, an instrument made of a donkey jawbone from South America.
These instruments, as I wear them around my neck on a night out, will probably only serve as a visually interesting piece and might not be easily recognizable as folkloric instruments. Yet, the rich history and cultural weight they possess, along with the many cultures that have their own versions of the Güira and Marranzano, shows the immense interconnectedness of culture and identity in many aspects of our lives.