2 x 2

Historical Research and Project Background

2x2 provides a nuanced examination of the intangible complexities of the diaspora through a delicate balance of history and fiction in the form of written and then spoken letters placed inside a photo booth. World history has been intertwined with diasporas, ever-changing factors shaping cities, societies, and the world from ancient to contemporary times. In the arts, diaspora is studied through various lenses, such as race, ethnicity, nation, religion, etc. However, Couto has examined it from a poetics of time, space, and the feminine experience. Having researched the period between 1868 and 1995 at the archive at La Nacional, a 150-year-old New York-based benevolent society that has supported Spanish and Portuguese-speaking immigrants, Couto focused on the membership cards of the twenty-one female immigrants whose 2x2 photos are missing.  By reclaiming history and cross-referencing it with contemporary lived experiences, the artist creates a polyphony of stories and landscapes, highlighting diaspora as a tapestry of intersecting juxtapositions.

Project Description

2x2 transcends the temporal and geographical boundaries of the diaspora, creating an intimate and meaningful conversation between two disparate times and cultures. It connects two New York City History periods that resonate with a contemporary societal context of multiculturalism and transnationalism. When entering the work, the viewer becomes an active agent,  the recipient of 150 years of immigration history told personally and intimately. It is about reciprocity and preserving storytelling and oral histories, especially in the lives of immigrants. 2 x 2 pays homage to women and their efforts to leave a mark in this country.

2x2 is versitable. It has been shown as a object-sound Installation, perfomance and sound installatiuon, and it is yet to be shown as interactive confessional inslattation of photo booths/shipping containers—a sculptural object serving as a signifier of memory and migration. The viewer encounters a monitor inside playing a video of women reading personal letters. Because of the cinematographic choice taken by the artist, in which only the lower part of the face was filmed, the photo booth turns into a confessional space.

To reconstruct the history of the 22 women from 1868 and 1995 at the archive at La Nacional whose 2x2 photos are missing, Couto invited 22 contemporary female artists, immigrants living in New York City, to each write a letter to one of them.  Couto filmed each artist reading the letter to her recipient. As they explored their own identities through a blend of natural and invented stories, the result was a dream-like reflection on the immigrant experience, which revived the bonds between time and space, telling powerful stories of the diaspora.

—Female Migrations

August 14th, 2019


La Nacional

239 W 14th St, NYC

Format: Performance, Sound, Book


Opening Reception, October 08, 2019, 6-9pm

ISCP, 1040 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Format: Sculpture, Sound, Book

Publication: Right now, there is a unique artist book (13"x 26") where each page contains a letter paired with its card. Between the pages, the artist includes a photo of the readers printed on vellum paper. Couto would like to turn this artwork into a 9 "x13" publication. 

Sculpture: Bricks, glass, shipping rack, headphones

Confessional Photo-Booth Container Video Installation  Prototype for future Exhibtions

Sugested Installation: 1-12 boxes

3-minute Teaser