Culture is a lived experience, a process societies use to channel shared meaning and action. For this project, I wanted to create a piece that sparked curiosity for the Dominican culture. As an expatriate, it became apparent to me how much more I could easily reference or at times identify myself with this world. As we walk through the cacophony of the city wearing headphones, we might shelter ourselves in the private serenity of a favorite playlist. I wanted to perform the reverse operation with this project, bringing the hubbub of urban life to a calm gallery setting.
While living in Santo Domingo, I wandered the city, taking pictures and recording conversations. I find it gratifying to engage in the raw reality of the streets since there is something fulfilling about experiencing and appreciating critically but most importantly, curiously; for you will most likely find rewarding aspects, but you will also find honest realities. I decided to create a piece using audio and visual documentation which would capture the essence of this culture. Dominicans are loud, so to comment on their natural noisiness as well as their auditory originality, I decided to incorporate ambient sound recordings. The various ambient textures I collected are triggered through a soundboard installed on a handmade console. I also designed and printed a series of pamphlets inspired by commercial and religious ephemera to accompany this display.
This project is an ethnographic study celebrating the customs, religion, politics, social etiquette, humour, work ethic and industriousness of working-class Dominicans. It is a hymn to the “tigueraje.”