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Artist’s Biography

Dinorah de Jesús Rodriguez (b. Cuba, 1957) is a visual artist and experimental filmmaker working with expanded cinema, public intervention, installation, and media design for stage. Often incorporating nature and the outdoors into her work, Rodriguez probes such themes as genetic memory, social constructs, ecology, the body, gender, and sexuality. Combining handcrafted 16mm film with video, installation, and performance, her pieces are exhibited internationally in film festivals, museums, galleries, TV, public venues, and multimedia performances, as well as in public spaces as interventions.  Known for her multidisciplinary collaborations, Rodriguez has worked with a variety of international artists.

Most recently, the artist has returned to her native Cuba to exhibit a screening with live performance of her work mujer_cita_MIA at the 13th Havana Biennial in May 2019. A year prior to that, she presented two installations at the Centro de Desarrollo de la Artes Visuales in Havana: …y todavía bailamos, and Las Dos Aguas, both of which contain video imagery in combination with sculptural installation elements.

In 2017, she participated in a multidisciplinary residency in collaboration with choreographer Lucia Aratanha, sponsored by National Performance Network and Mujeres en las Artes in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, which resulted in a street performance titled Esquema María, addressing the influence of the Virgin Mary in the lives and identity of Latinas. In 2016 she completed a dance film and installation entitled gods always behave like the people who make them based on the life of Zora Neale Hurston, in collaboration with choreographer and dancer Shaneeka Harrell and hiphop/rap artist Sista Whirlwind. This work was presented at the University of Central Florida Gallery in Orlando, FL.

Current and recent media design projects include collaborations with Karen Peterson and Dancers (Untold Stories, 2019), Nu Flamenco (Urdimbre y Trama, 2018), Teatro Buendía in Havana, Cuba and El Ingenio Teatro in Miami (Burdel, work-in-progress 2016); Pulitzer-winner, playwright and director Nilo Cruz (Tsunami, 2015); visually disabled theater director José Manuel Domínguez (La Princesa Aoi, 2015); choreographer and dancer Niurca Márquez and Nu Flamenco (History House, 2014); mixed-ability dance company Karen Peterson and Dancers (Grit, 2014); choreographer and dancer Afua Hall (RED, 2013). In 2012, Rodriguez was invited to visit Bangladesh and collaborate with fellow filmmaker and theater director Yasmine Kabir on the co-direction of a folkloric musical theater work (Amina Sundori, 2012) presented in Chittagong, Bangladesh as part of the Chittagong Arts Festival 2012. Prior to this, Rodriguez provided media design for projects with movement theater artists Lucia Aratanha (Swallowing the Moon, 2009), Jennylin Duany and Elizabeth Doud (Cabaret Unkempt, 2007), Octavio Campos (IPO, 2005), Helena Thevenot (The Anatomy of Desire, 2001) and Ricky Martinez (.epar, 1998), among others.

Committed to community-based work in public venues, and work that blends visual art and qualities of live performance, in September 2014, commissioned by Present Project Hawai’i, Rodriguez presented migrants/migrantes a site-specific multimedia installation in Honolulu as part of an educational residency. This work, presented in a shipping container and featuring elements of local flora, Hawaiian black sand, bits of transparent imagery, Petri dishes, magnifying lenses, film and video footage, and a soundscape by Honolulu-based artist Steven Rosenthal.

In 2009, Rodriguez won The FAN/Knight New Work Award in the amount of $50,000, awarded by Funding Arts Network and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and presented by Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator, to create Elusive Landscape, a series of outdoor film installations that featured multiple live projections of handcrafted 16mm film loops at selected green spaces in Miami. The film loops, shot at these locations and then hand-worked by the artist, were then projected onto trees and foliage at the same locations where they were shot, activating these public outdoor spaces at night. The works were presented as public interventions at five outdoor venues across Miami from June-October 2010, including three public parks as well as the Miami Beach Botanical Garden and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

Prior to this, Rodriguez premiered a site-specific installation work entitled ephemera at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden during Sleepless Night, 2009, which featured footage of the garden projected from a window out onto the garden itself, while strips of the actual film hung from tree branches. Another installation entitled ellos y nosotros: them & us, presented in the Project Room at Hollywood Art & Culture Center in 2010, featured an installation of broken bird cages suspended in the air, while a hand-crafted film of birds flying plays on the ceiling and the sound of birdcalls fills the space.

The interactive and ephemeral properties of these works integrate the immediacy of performance art with the materiality of visual art, and employ film as “live entertainment” much as film was originally designed to function in the early days of cinema as an outgrowth of live theater.

In 2011, Rodriguez presented Sonámbula, a film/video installation commissioned by the City of Miami Beach for presentation at Miami Beach Cinematheque during Sleepless Night 2011, again using live film projections. In 2012 she presented agua florida: free-swimming fish, a site-specific indoor-/outdoor multimedia installation commissioned by the Deering Estate for presentation during the 2012 SoBay Cultural Arts Festival. Other Recent projects include mujer_cita_MIA (2013), a series of dance videos on rape and sexual assault installed in public women’s rest rooms across Miami; and RUINS (2010), a collaborative work with London-based artist Anita Ponton presented in cafés around the world.

Rodriguez studied filmmaking with such visionary experimentalists as Barbara Hammer, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Rob Nilsson and the late Warren Sonbert and Marlon Riggs, and earned a B.A. in Film Production from San Francisco State University School of Creative Arts in 1988.

She has won prizes at the Big Muddy and Black Maria Film Festivals, and her work has been supported by such organizations as National Performance Network, Theater Communications Group, Present Project Hawai’i, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Funding Arts Network, FUNDarte, Arts & Bangladesh, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Fundación Valparaíso, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Jentel Artists Residency Program, Visual Studies Workshop, Tigertail Productions, Miami Light Project, San Francisco Festival 2000, and Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, among others.

Rodriguez has been a visiting faculty artist in the MFA Program at SUNY’s Visual Studies Workshop, visiting artist at the University of Hawaii and University of Central Florida, teaching artist for Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program, and guest lecturer at Sweet Briar College, the University of California at Davis, and Florida International University. She has served on the selection committees for YoungArts, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation’s National Video Resources, Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, the North and South Carolina Art Councils, and Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs.

After emigrating from her native Cuba during her childhood, Rodriguez has spent most of her life in various cities within the United States, with personal and professional residency periods in Spain, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Bangladesh, Brazil, Hawai’i, Honduras, Nicaragua, and other locations.