AN EMBASSY WITHOUT
Mission From the moment we are born, the most important preoccupation
we undertake, other than avoiding death itself, is an incessant search
for Identity. The obsession for knowing who we are, ephemeral even to
the most self assured, is a never-ending scenario in which no single character
is safe or sane and whatever paths are explored, we always seem to return
to the very same place we have always known, the very same point of departure.
An Embassy with out a Country is a series of installation works engrossed in the fundamental issue of "Identity", and is concerned with the bulwarks of resistance that we build in order to guard against the threat posed to the feeble construct of what we know as our persona. It re-examines the way we choose to distinguish ourselves from others, whether in the context of our immediate family, our clubs and social groups, our race or our nation.
These installations are about the various masks, tools, aids, crutches and other paraphernalia that we use and carry with us in order to find ourselves and to make ourselves known or heard in the chaos of the contemporary psyche.
The Embassies are about the clans, gangs, clubs and social groups we join and the rituals of identification that we create in order to find some form of security in the guise of customs, culture and Art.
Not to be confused with a utopian ideal of a borderless or nationless global fantasy, these Embassies propose nothing more than the re-evaluation of the notions of identity and their origins, all too often taken for granted or simply accepted as prepackaged, effortlessly consumable formulae.
The Embassies, as these works are entitled, take their name from the signifier referring to the envoy; a representative or a group of representatives with a message to deliver. The word embassy originally derived from the word ambaht , meaning a service. As such, the concept of the Embassy is an entirely amorphous body of notions and takes a physical form only in its contemporary definition.
Conceptually, "embassies" would be received and recognized by the host authority which, in return would send an equivalent "embassy" to the corresponding country. In their primal form, these embassies are a series of mutually accorded privileges and commonly subscribed rituals accentuated by a succession of icons, symbols, emblems and other paraphernalia that, with a certain artificiality, if not altogether a doubtful authority, are created for the specific purpose of lending credibility to the events and persons involved. No doubt it is a fragile credibility that if taken out of context would risk being mistaken for a farce. -Indeed the essence of humor.
The Embassies describe identity as the area in our lives that defines us and yet remains elusively disguised from ourselves. Not unlike personality and behavioral traits themselves, these Installations are site specific and adopt characteristics that comment on the peculiarities of a distinct site. In doing so, the Embassies address specific audiences in language appropriate to their given location in Space and Time.
These installations question the smug state of contemporary art in exhibits that find comfort in the opportunistic, posh security of unchallenged groupings and definitions; "French Art Today", "Brazilian Artist" or the so called "Hispanic Art".
As messages sent from another place or time, the Embassies become displaced portraitures of something that they are not. As representations, their objective is simply to communicate.
While sometimes allegorical references can be drawn, the work alludes to the contradictions in the construct of contemporary identity.
Throughout the work a series of characters emerge, among these the Quixotic persona of a questionably sane if not at least partially Schizophrenic Ambassador Solo, who can be identified as the ambassador when he presents himself in full gala. Otherwise, often seen in the rags of a "closhard" and to his bewilderment, he is unrecognized and even rejected by the entrenched establishment.
Around Ambassador Solo gathers an entourage of Officios, including the Protocol Scribes, Attaches, Laborers, the ubiquitous Woman and the somewhat perplexing yet ever-present "Bourreaucrat", defining the Kafkaesque role of the inhibitor within us. . It is in the adoption of roles and role playing that the embassies render themselves as a performance spectacle and as an art deliberately suited for the stage.
An Embassy With Out A Country addresses a number of issues including political, racial, cultural, religious, economic and gender. It represents a reexamination of the notions of truth, purity and hypocrisy, when seen from their Greco-Roman supposed origins and the conflicts that arise when these values are superimposed on to relations and cultures of different origins.
Sergio Duran was born in Paris France where he studied Fine Arts at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts. In 1985 he graduated from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in Santa Monica, after which he worked at the office of Ricardo Legorreta in Los Angeles. In 1986 he left for Japan on a Japanese government grant. In 1989 he received a Masters in Architecture from the University of Tokyo Department of Engineering where he continued as a Ph.D. candidate for another six years. During this time he assisted Fumihiko Maki in design projects and competition entries, after which he was employed as an architect in the office of Yoshio Taniguchi and later at Arata Isozaki & Associates.
Under the title of An Embassy without a Country, these projects represent the notions of provenance and identity, which are a long standing theme in Sergio Duran's work and translate into a series of constructions or installation projects otherwise known as Embassies.
In both 1992 and 1993 consecutively awarded as a finalist in the Japan Art Scholarship Competition and Exhibiting both times at the Spiral Garden Exhibition Hall. As organizer Sergio Duran has personally lead multi-national teams of American, Austrian, Australian, Colombian, Hungarian, Spanish, Canadian and Japanese. Often in groups of more than 20 professionals including musicians, computer programmers, mathematicians, artists, architects and more, Duran gathers these groups for a series of meetings and sessions to organize the making of each piece that would later come together in the form of sculpture, music, dance, theater or architecture. Not unlike an architectural construction project in its making, and at the very least gathering a great deal of interest.
At present, global disputes, dissension and conflict over national borders, racial and economic wars are signs of an age analogous of Sergio Duran's work. Unconvinced of the unsurmountability of these problems, Sergio Duran questions the Nation our Profession and how we look at what we are.