Summer Research Report: Irma Barbosa

10 Sep, 2022

Summer Research Report: Irma Barbosa

We're thrilled to support our students in their summer research. Read about Irma Barbosa's work on Ternura means Tenderness​!

My sister and I have been collaborating on a video/experimental film project inspired by our grandmother's home in the San Fernando Valley called ternura means tenderness. Drawn by the processes of preservation, invisible labor, and resilience it takes to prepare her delicious birria dish as well as the consumption of it, we have been documenting and learning from how she cares for her goats and how she makes this delicious dish.

Birria is a stew originating from Jalisco, Mexico. Birria is made to celebrate the important days of the year such as Sundays, birthdays, weddings, holidays, and baptisms. Birria immigrated with my family to the states and has been made to celebrate my culture and family for decades. In the first half of this project my sister and I have closely documented my grandmother's caring gestures as well as her teaching us how to make her birria.

While conducting the research plans shifted. I was originally supposed to go to Jalisico to my grandmother and mother’s original home. Due to some unforeseen circumstances it was unsafe to go (dangerous cartel activity in the small town we are from). This deepened me sadly and the project shifted. Instead of filming in Mexico I started to film again in the San Fernando valley and continue to film at my grandmother’s current home. I filmed on 16mm film and most of the funds were used to buy and process the film. This film will be a recipe for remembering.

The footage became about exploring longing as a connection to her home in Los Angeles as well as in Jalisco as places that are full of aliveness through memory and storytelling. About the body and how it reclaims, recreates, and nests in a space.

This footage and project inspired an experimental video and sculpture installation that is called Counting Sheep. From the research I gathered, I began exploring the animal-human interdependent connection as well as the poetic nature of recipes and their appeal to be remembered and passed down from generation to generation and furthermore across borders. I collected walnuts from my grandmother’s tree and began to create ceramic vessels that would hold her recipe as well as tongue spoons to eat with. These ceramic objects began to emerge from a childhood bedroom as a magical emotional queer dreamscape that exists somewhere between femininity and masculinity, human and animal, life and death. Somewhere in the middle like the border itself. A place of pleasure and pain.

Ultimately I hope to have gained more technical experience in film-making to experiment with the distortion of moving images and soundscapes. Through the last couple months I have used the funds like I stated previously to produce film footage which I have been editing and will continue to accumulate into a final 15 minute short. I

Hope to finish the film by the end of the year.