Diego Senior
Mariana Velasquez
Paula Leonvendagar

Projecting amplifies a voice and creates a sense of community.
June 20, 2020

During the pandemic lockdown, our rooftop became the place for air, sun and tranquility. It also became a place for casual encounters with next-door neighbors. All of us, together in the same situation, keeping social distance at the beginning yet slowly becoming part of the same bubble through shared time, feelings, and perceptions. In many different ways all of us agreed that the world we are living in needs conscious change. These kinds of conversations came often. We all knew we wanted changes but we didn't know the kind of changes or how they could happen. The open and visible walls on Mariana and Diego’s rooftop inspired us to think about projecting images or messages. Paula is a filmmaker, who has a projector, so that seemed easy enough. What wasn’t easy was coming up with the content.

After the brutal killing of George Floyd, our feelings became odd, unnerving. We were still locked-up but we wanted to express ourselves, to empathize.

We live in a pivotal place, in front of the entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge, so it is a strategic place for the police to guard. We hear their sirens, their noise. Projecting messages around these circumstances came to us quite naturally after this.
We projected phrases and statements that we saw in the protests, sentences that came from ourselves and some others that people shared with us. During the curfew week in particular these projections became our way of standing in front of the police, peacefully. The first day the cops looked at it, some pointed out, some stared, curious maybe. The second day they were more indifferent. On the third day they looked at our projections just a few times. We asked ourselves...what were they thinking?
The reaction was almost immediate from our social media posts. Our friends from all over the world reached out: Los Angeles, Chile, Colombia. Everyone was excited about these projections and about the movement since, we believe, they were all watching the news about the protests across the U.S. We started receiving suggestions for new phrases from our friends and followers, so we chose the ones that were more timely, short and accurate in order to post most of them and tag their authors.

Projecting amplifies a voice and creates a sense of community. We live in the middle of an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in South Williamsburg. Our interactions with them have been quite few in the past year but the projections opened their curiosity. The kids from other rooftops came to look at the projections, taking pictures, reading each sentence. They would ask us questions about the meaning and spelling of our phrases. Some of their parents did as well. Open and excited, we felt a connection with them, for the first time in years.

Projections are ephemeral. But they have a quality of light that stays in your memory.

We want to keep projecting as a ritual to ourselves and the passersby. As a way to keep talking, as grains of sand in this vast conversation that needs to be kept alive.

Paula Leonvendagar is a Chilean-born artist researching in the intersection between social psychology, power structures and technology. She works in multiple formats, such as documentaries, video art and art installation. She is currently working on projects in the fields of culture, art and education. www.paulaleonvendagar.com︎︎︎
Mariana Velasquez is a Colombian-born chef and food designer with more than a decade of styling experience amongst New York’s most celebrated culinary circles and publications across the globe. She is the author of three cookbooks and has styled, art-directed and developed recipes for more than 30 cookbooks, including American Grown by First Lady Michelle Obama. www.marianavelasquez.com︎︎︎

Diego Senior is a Colombian-born television producer, radio journalist and media executive. He has created stories for NatGeo, CBS News and NY1, amongst other outlets. He has also worked as an Executive Director of Content for Caracol Radio. www.diegosenior.com︎︎︎
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