Tactile Textile: Dance Forms in The Streets /Ongoing

Tactile Textile: Dance Forms in The Streets /Ongoing

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

“Tactile Textile: Dance Forms in the Street” is an interactive art project that delves into street carnivals and festivals’ celebratory and healing origins. This project aims to immerse visitors in carnivals and street celebrations, showcasing their cultural significance through textiles, sound installations, and stop-motion animation. Inspired by various carnivals and celebrations in Colombia, the project highlights the connection between dance, music, and the collective joy experienced in these festivities.

This project was funded by the Canada Council for the Arts in the Research and Create component. It is still under development in its first phase. The images, videos, and sounds shown here are partial research results. The goal is to create an installation in a gallery space where the audience can enjoy this art experience.

Fabric Designs

The carnivals in Colombia and most celebrations in Latin America have a rich history rooted in tri-ethnic groups: Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendant peoples, and Spanish colonials. The way I choose to approach these celebrations is through costume. Therefore, I created fabrics that tell stories about what I observed while touring these celebrations. Each fabric I design tells a story related to one of the ethnic roots that converge seamlessly in these celebrations.

Stop-motion Animation

During my time in the Design for Dance artistic residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, I came across the book “Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy” by Barbara Ehrenreich, which inspired me to rethink the concept of celebration. In her research, she questions why collective ecstasy is rarely embraced and why we do not make more room for celebration, considering our tremendous capacity for collective ecstasy. This vision motivates me to explore collective celebration’s historical and contemporary impact on individual well-being and community functioning.

While researching the origin of celebrated carnivals in Colombia, I discovered a recurring theme amongst most of them. These celebrations have emerged as a means of protesting against established orders, highlighting historical and social injustices, or serving as a form of collective healing after traumatic events. As a result, these events have served as a space for the convergence of the three ethnic groups, fostering a friendly dialogue that facilitates healing.

An example is the Blacks and Whites Carnival, which originated as a celebration of enslaved people on January 5th, their only free day. The celebration blended with other indigenous and Christian celebrations, eventually giving birth to the Carnival we know today. Even today, people use the Carnival as a tool for denunciation.

Stop-motion animation teaser. Sound design: Millie Wissar, Animation and edition: Holguer Becerra, Edition: Yoel Ortega,
Art direction: Juliana Silva

Through my animation, I aim to emphasize the need for healing spaces in society and how collective celebrations that involve music, dance, and costuming can help us liberate ourselves from emotional and social constraints.

Sound Walks through Carnivals and Festivals

During my trip to Colombia, I had the opportunity to record some sound walks. These soundscapes were specifically curated to be enjoyed while immersing oneself in the textile hanging sculpture below. As an illustration, here are a few samples from my visit to the Blacks and Whites Carnival and Cali Fair.

Sounds of Blacks and Whites Carnival in The Colombian South Pacific. (Como tocaba, como se oia, como repicaba esa marimba!)
Sounds of the Cali Fair in the Colombian Pacific. (Taxi driver telling about the Cali Fair in his time.)
Sounds of Blacks and Whites Carnival in the Colombian South Pacific. (Slogan: Que viva Pasto, Carajo! / Long live Pasto, carajo! and Andean music)
Sounds of the Cali Fair in the Colombian Pacific. (Slogan: Aqui en la sucursal del cielo! / Here in the branch of heaven)
Sounds of Blacks and Whites Carnival in the Colombian South Pacific. (Waiting for the parade. Limpia! Limpia! / clean! clean!)
Sounds of the Cali Fair in the Colombian Pacific. (Touring several events of the fair.)
Sounds of the Cali Fair in the Colombian Pacific. (Africa, Africa en mis venas, tengo sangre del guerrero! / Africa, Africa in my veins, I have warrior’s blood!)


Textile sound installation model
Textile sound installation model

The project’s central piece is a textile sound installation showcasing braids made from fabrics designed through a hand-drawn process. These braids serve as a representation of my identity, which is a fusion of Indigenous peoples, enslaved African peoples, and Spanish colonialists. This installation is suspended from the ceiling and stands at a height of approximately 3 meters. The width at the top is 2 meters, and the installation’s bottom varies as the braids expand onto the floor. The space inside the textile sculpture symbolizes a healing space that promotes collective ecstasy.

Once visitors enter the installation, they will notice mini-speakers inserted on the braids playing the Soundscapes. I captured these sounds during sound walks at the Carnival of Blacks and Whites in Pasto City and Cali Fair in Cali City, Colombia.