Performing Arts

‘Home: Beyond Geography’ explores immigrants’ stories about coming to Miami

Two young immigrants are crisscrossing Miami-Dade County in search of stories from other immigrants for an O, Miami Poetry Festival art project.

Leila Leder Kremer of Argentina and Juana Meneses of Colombia, both visual artists, are asking people from Little Havana to Little Haiti to Homestead to write down their stories and draw their immigration routes on cards that eventually will be published in a book that then will be on public display.

“At the very end of the project we are going to collect all this information and create a larger book,” said Leder Kremer. “After we compile this and after we do all this research, we are planning to put it in an installation, perhaps a museum slash center, archive.”

The project, titled “Home: Beyond Geography,” is one of the events of the O, Miami Poetry Festival, an annual affair now in its third year.

“Home: Beyond Geography” fits the informal format of O, Miami, which features art events on the street, in parks, in bars or on the beach — to draw the creative juices of people wherever they may be.

Leder Kremer and Meneses were interviewed Thursday as they approached people inside the main Miami-Dade library downtown.

They plan to be next Friday in Little Haiti at the Big Night in Little Haiti event, 212 NE 59th Terr., 6 to 8 p.m. Among other appearances, Leder Kremer and Meneses will be at Flamingo Park in Miami Beach, 1200 Meridian Ave., April 24, 6 to 8 p.m.; April 25 at the Viernes Culturales event in Little Havana, 7 to 10 p.m., at 1637 S.W. Eighth St.; April 26-27 at Redland Market in Homestead, 24420 S. Dixie Hwy., 10 am to 4 p. m.; and April 28 at Opa-locka Community Development Corporation, 490 Opa-locka Blvd., 9 am to noon.

The way Leder Kremer and Meneses set up shop is to place a table where they lay stacks of the cards they ask people to fill out. The cards have blank maps of the world, the United States and Miami-Dade County on one side and spaces on the other side to write a memory of a journey to the United States or South Florida. A photographer who accompanies them takes pictures of the people filling out the cards.

When completed by several people, the maps resemble maps found in airline flight schedules with lines of different colors emanating from cities in different countries arcing gracefully toward a hub — Miami.

“We’re really interested in all the layers, definitely the immigrant community, but what about their children and their moves in different places in the county or even the U.S.?” said Meneses, by way of explaining their project concept. “We’re actually asking them to tell us a story about home, and their idea of home, and this is where this kind of abstract, kind of psychogeography idea, comes in, the psychology of place. It’s that idea that we have about home.”

Guy Debord, a French theorist and one of the pioneers of psychogeography in the 1950s, sought to explore urban environments through the behavior of individuals.

Among the first people to fill out the cards Thursday were Suzette Ferretti, a Miami-born Cuban-American whose parents came from Cuba in 1989. Ferreti, 19, is a student at Miami Dade College.

“I wrote about how, when I was very young, we weren’t really very wealthy,” said Ferretti. “How nearly 20 years later we’ve achieved so much through hard work and perseverance.”

Ferretti’s friend, Crystal Bisnar, a native of New York born to parents who came from the Philippines in the 1980s, filled out her card by describing her journey to Miami and how she finds the city a place of ethnic diversity.