Marlina Gonzalez
Activist, Curator, New Media Artist
Involved with Intermedia Arts since: 1999
Inspired by her grandfather, who was a political prisoner and labor movement leader who refused to succumb to attempts to squash his right to free expression, Marlina Gonzalez left her native Philippines in the midst of Martial Law, at a time when all TV, radio and print media were controlled and censored by the government. In the U.S. she found herself identifying with other communities of color and began to present the work of other artists as a curator. Marlina has since spent two decades committed to social change advocacy through art, telling her own stories through film, video, and oral storytelling.

» Marlina Gonzalez
What are three words that describe Intermedia Arts?

ART

FOR

ALL



How did you become an artist?
I belong to an artist family and was born into the arts, so to speak. My father was a filmmaker, my mother a soap opera actress and screenwriter. My brother is now an Obie-award winning actor in New York. My cousins, aunts, uncles were actors, authors, painters, singers. Since I was a little girl, I had always been stumped by one question: Why is it, that people in all countries, separated by miles and oceans, languages and lifestyles, ALL know and understand that they MUST dance, sing, write, paint? That question has made me a lifetime artist-thinker.
 
What inspires you?
Unique ideas. People who have the courage to question and come up with their own answer. A simple human gesture of unsolicited kindness. A circumstance that challenges me to rethink who I am, who we are as a people.

How can art be a tool for speaking out, for creating change in the world? How have you used art to do that?
Art is the only language that knows no rules, can turn our ordinary, trite and hackneyed ideas on its own head. I have been involved in art and activism since childhood, being inspired by my mother's writing and her asking sometimes dangerous questions.

I was part of the teen arm of a theater company from high school called the Philippine Educational Theater Company, developed and based on the principles of Theater of the Oppressed, the thinking of Paolo Friere and Augusto Boal. Theater was the instrument for defying censorship under Philippine Martial Law.

Today, when I am at a loss for an idea, I still look back on those days when we used anything from nursery rhymes to Ionesco's Chairs and EveryMan as our vehicle for protest against political dictatorship. I think about the night our house was surrounded by guns and we were about to be taken away as a family on the eve of martial law because our family had an activist reputation. Other challenges I have faced since then have paled in comparison. Art and creative freedom gives me courage.

How has Intermedia Arts been a part of your story?
I've been part of Intermedia Arts since the '80s, when I had the opportunity to show independent films by Midwest filmmakers. Intermedia Arts was, even back then, the premier platform for independent media. When I began working with the Walker Art Center in the 90s, Intermedia Arts became even more integrated into my work through community collaborations.
 
I believe that as an artist-thinker, I change the world through my art.
- Marlina Gonzalez

Intermedia Arts also rented out an office space for our grassroots group, Asian American Renaissance. I've done collaborative partnerships with Intermedia Arts, from the Juneteenth Film Festival, to my former partner Nicky Tamrong's citywide production of Dining Out (co-commissioned by the Walker). We performed at the old downtown Intermedia Arts gallery, and learned how to use e-mails from former Administrative Director Kathleen Maloney at the old Intermedia Arts office in the East Bank. My daughter, Diwa, who is now in her '20s, had her first performance as a four-year old at one of the Intermedia Arts-sponsored performance slams. It took almost a decade for me to finally begin working at Intermedia Arts full-time, first as grant writer, guest curator and PR consultant, to Digital Community Development Manager, Media Arts Curator and then Programs Manager until 2009.

What is one of your favorite experiences with Intermedia Arts?
When we gave former Artistic Director Sandy Agustin her huge farewell party, I had the idea to surprise her by asking her dear father (endearingly called Little Joe by the Filipino American community) to ride one of the ArtCars from across the street and into the IA driveway, as Sandy waited by the doorway. The image of Little Joe (bless his gentle soul!) emerging from this neo-plastic Rococo-decorated ArtCar as an orange Jesus looked on was the epitome of what Intermedia Arts is all about - all art for all people of all ages and persuasion. Everyone has a place at Intermedia Arts!
 
How has art changed you?
Art has always been a part of me. I believe that as an artist-thinker, I change the world through my art.
 
What do you see as Intermedia Arts' role in the community? 
Intermedia Arts needs to continue being an ever-evolving "UnConventional Gathering Place" for anyone who dares to transcend The Ordinary, has the audacity to speak in his/her own terms, and possesses the chutzpah to actually act on a new thought.


MARLINA GONZALEZ is a seasoned arts curator and media arts producer with over two decades of experience using art as a tool for social change.  She has conceived and produced numerous international film festivals, multidisciplinary art exhibits and performances for Walker Art Center, Intermedia Arts, The Minneapolis Foundation, and Asian CineVision, among others.  During the Republican National Convention in 2008, she was Program Director for The UnConvention, a series of participatory media, art and educational events which gained national press attention, including The New York Times.  She was Festival Director of New York’s prestigious Asian American International Film Festival, working actively to introduce Asian and Asian American cinema to American and European audiences. At the Walker Art Center, she pioneered Women In The Director’s Chair (later called Women With Vision), initiated a Pan Asian Film Showcase, presented prominent filmmakers including Yoko Ono, Tom Hanks, and Spike Lee. In 2009, The Filipina Women’s Network (FWN) named Marlina Gonzalez as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the U.S.