Gaia is an organic self-sustaining eco-village that resides two hours outside of Buenos Aires in the countryside. They have gorgeous gardens (enough to tempt rapunzel’s mom), forests, houses made of mud, ovens that are heated by the sun, and plentiful electricity that comes from the sun and wind. Their technologies are innovative, yet very simple.

My video is a recently completed 20-minute experimental essay about disappearance that comes in various forms: disappearance of oneself through illness of body, disappearance through revisionist history, missing love letters, mythologies that get washed into the sea, and my grandma’s missing husband who was conscripted during World War II.

Sunday evenings at Gaia are community movie night. As such, on my first Sunday there, we prepared for the screening by pulling up chairs and cushions in the circular community room, where dances are performed, where the kids play and where and community meetings are held.

My DVD loaded properly. I sat on a wooden chair next to the 25″ television with a little flashlight and proceeded to work-it performance-piece style: I read my crudely translated text while the video played. For the most part, the translation seemed to come through, aside from a few flubs, prononciation spasms, and ongoing work toward rhythmic synchronicity. I was, in an abstract moment in a far corner of my mind, reminded of the men and women who ambivalently read a translation of dialog – live!- over a loudspeaker in movie theaters in certain countries, rather than using subtitles or dubbing.

There was an audience of about 12 Argentinians.  Afterwards, I conducted a Q&A in Castellano. “Creo que…” I would say, trying to conjugate my verbs and remember the subjunctive form. I suppose I blinked and tilted my head a lot, while absorbing the warmth and attention in the room.

True to the Gaia community, people asked very thoughtful, intelligent questions. It was a bit like a version of my school critiques, yet it was set in a temple of learning… with mood lighting, cobb walls, water-tight ceiling and hardwood floors and furniture, with scents of tea tree and sandalwood. It turns out that the community watches alternative, political, socio-economic films on a regular basis, and they are no strangers to the use of film strategies of all kinds.

It occurred to me that I had translated my grandmother from Korean to English subtitles (thanks, Hein), and had now translated the English to Castellano, a language I’m learning. Such degrees of separation!

When you find yourself sharing your work with a room full of Argentinians, in a remotely located eco-village while using a language you don’t really speak, you begin to realize that all lovely configurations are possible.