We had the good fortune of connecting with Dmitri Zurita and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dmitri, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am a progeny of the border; I formed an identity of antinomy and interstice tied intrinsically to the geospatial politics around this un-imaginary line, la frontera. I was born in San Diego to mixed parents, but after their divorce I spent most of my time in Tijuana—the third nation as some call it, reinforcing its complex history—a city whose physical and psycho-topographies are shaped by an entangled relationship with its neighbor to the north and the mirrored projections to the rest of Mexico. I’ve learned to navigate both worlds, the language of code-switch and camouflage; to look from the center and the periphery, to radicant new peripheral centers using rhizomatic logic and large-systems thinking. Living in borderland, operating with entangled logic, but always most interested in how the liminal look that in/e-volves the issues of a baggage-ridden history in the making plays out in different spaces such as language, history, media and technology.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My current work is invested in retooling structures as a way of looking at entangled or related narratives through the languages—languages of/as tools and signifiers but also of/as architectures—of peripersonal computing and video game modification. I’m interested in how physical topographies and psycho-topographies overlap, from there the project imagines different overlaps of other potentialized mappings through relating alternative, parallel, actual and sub-realities between realms of video games, the poetics of quantum physics and the politics of turmoil; potentially filling in gaps in officialized narratives and vernacular transmissions or otherwise offering imagined alternatives. I’ve also been working clandestinely on a series of cameraless photographic and cinematographic works, I am not ready to share these as I am still building this body of work, but I hope to show them soon. For now, it’s been a lot of fun to rediscover the magic of chance in chemical processes.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is actually something I am accustomed to doing as I run an artist residency; so every year I have a cohort of artists from around the world come stay at my AiR program, and part of that is also giving them a tour of the art and gastronomy scene in San Diego and Tijuana. I am a big fan of MCASD downtown and in La Jolla, I’m also a big fan of MOPA and San Diego Art Institute, as well as Bread & Salt, all four of these (five if you count both MCASD locations) often have incredible programming and exhibitions. There’s also a few experimental galleries in the historic Barrio Logan neighborhood that I frequent. In terms of gastronomy, San Diego has some great offerings, but this list is often changing as new places open up and as I discover new restaurants and bars. For Happy Hour, I like going to Nobu downtown or Dunedin in North Park. As a Faculty member at UCSD, I spend a lot of time after class at Soda & Swine on campus. If I’m craving dumplings, Din Tai Fung in La Jolla makes the best, though the wait is often long. Lucha Libre for California Burritos. For sandwhiches, there’s none better than the market attached to Mona Lisa in Little Italy, though Board and Brew in Del Mar comes close. I could go on for pages, but I’ll leave it at that. For views, there’s Torrey Pines, Ocean Beach on Wednesdays, Mt. Laguna, Palomar Mountain, a couple of rooftop bars downtown, and a little spot near Balboa Park that has a great view of the city (but I won’t say where or how to get there—that’s my secret spot).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There have been many incredible people in my life that have helped shape me and get me to where I am today. I think foremost the support and encouragement of a loving family in my formative years when I took the plunge to be an artist, and then all the incredible faculty members that took me under their wings throughout my academic life at UC Santa Cruz and at Bard MFA, of which I am thankful to still have many meaningful ties with. As far as books go, I was lucky in that my parents stressed the importance of reading and literature as a kid; my first books were children’s versions of Shakespeare plays, and easy classics like the 3 Musketeers, a Tale of Two Cities, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, The Bell Jar, etc.. and since then there have been scores of important ones throughout the years, but I remember three that were particularly formative when I first embarked on the exploratory pursuit to figure out who I was and what life meant: around 12 or 13 years of age, I remember reading Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha, Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as Young Man, and Laozi’s (Lao Tzu) Tao Te Ching. I think these three books set a foundation on thought that I spent the next two decades building upon.