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The Art of Collecting—with Don and Mera Rubell

April 1st, 2020

Today, we’re in Miami, to introduce you to Don and Mera Rubell, art collectors since 1964. We recorded with the Rubells in December 2019. Since then, the coronavirus pandemic has shaken our planet. We recognize the very real sense of before and after as we share these conversations about creativity.

Today’s episode conveys the excitement that surrounded the opening of the Rubell Family’s new museum. From March 17, 2020, the collection has been closed until further notice, as South Florida awaits the all clear to safely resume public life.

The Rubells started collecting when Don was in medical school and Mera was a preschool teacher. The first work they collected was by Ira Kaufman. They paid for it in weekly installments of $25. Collecting art ever since, they’re joined by their son Jason, who became a collector himself as a teenager. They’ve become known for supporting the work of emerging and overlooked artists. Pursuing their passion in person, they visit studios, museums, fairs, galleries and biennials across the globe. Research and relationships are vital to each acquisition. 

In 1993, they opened the Rubell Family Collection in Miami’s Wynwood District. Over the next two decades, the value of real estate in the neighborhood soared. The collection outgrew their 40,000 square foot space, a former Drug Enforcement Administration warehouse they had turned into an art venue. The Rubells started looking for storage nearby. An abandoned food-processing plant by the railroad tracks less than a mile away sparked the idea of creating a museum.

The 100,000 square foot warehouse complex in the Allapattah district became the spacious new home for their collection. Architects transformed the seven buildings into an epic space for more than 7,000 works by over 1,000 artists. 

On the eve of the museum opening, we join a private tour with Mera, Don and Jason…A wall-sized painting by Kehinde Wiley, two of Yayoi Kusama’s infinity rooms, and Keith Haring's Statue of Liberty are just a few of the large-scale works that have room to breathe here.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio

Related Episodes: Paint and Pixels Power the Art of Allison Zuckerman, Art and Our Uncertain Future, The Art of Collecting—with Erika Hoffmann

Related Links: Rubell Museum, Yayoi Kusama, Kehinde Wiley, Keith Haring, Amoako Boafo, Allison Zuckerman, Ira Kaufman

OCAD University—Curating in the Digital Realm

March 6th, 2020

Today, we take you to Toronto. We’re here to meet a group of graduate students at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, also known as OCAD. For the Intro to Curatorial Practices course, their goal is to research, develop and activate an exhibition in the digital realm. Recorded in the first weeks of the semester, our conversation reveals how the students are defining their roles and designing their strategy for curating an online platform. 

In the months following our campus visit, the students forged an interdisciplinary curatorial collective. In December 2019, they launched the exhibition titled connection_found. Online now, works by seven artists illustrate the quirks of navigating intimacy on the web. “At the core of the exhibition,” writes the collective on their website, “connection_found simultaneously expands, individuates, and links the collective experience of existing on the internet.”

OCAD University—Curating in the Digital Realm is one of our 2020 Student Edition episodes.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Photography: FreshArtINTL

Related Episodes: SAIC—Imagining Tomorrow, Wayne State—Designing for Urban Mobility

Related Links: Criticism and Curatorial Practice Program, Ontario College of Art and Design University, connection_found

Intro to Curatorial Practices, a graduate seminar in the Criticism and Curatorial Program at OCAD University, introduces students to the major critical texts, theories and debates in the burgeoning international field of contemporary curatorial studies. Simultaneously throughout the seminar, students attend public exhibitions, screenings, lectures, performances and events in Toronto's visual art and design worlds. An ongoing examination of contemporary art and design practices within public culture provides students with an eclectic and critical mapping of the layers and intersections of the visual arts, media and design in relation to their varied publics, audiences, markets, the mass media and the scholarly community. 

connection_found is an online group exhibition organized by feelSpace featuring works by Ronnie Clarke, Taylor Jolin, Leia Kook-Chun, Madeleine Lychek and Paula Tovar, Noelle Wharton-Ayer, and Becca Wijshijer. Together, these works trace and re-trace digital intimacy, touch, and the body as it moves and navigates towards the virtual realm. More literally, connection_found suggests the curatorial alignment of these works in a digital context which, in and of itself, requires finding connection. Source: feelspace.cargo.site.

Andrea Fatona, Associate Professor, Faculty of Art and Graduate Program Director, Criticism and Curatorial Practice, is an active curator. Her areas of focus are culture, cultural policy formation, cultural production, nation making, citizenship and multiculturalisms. In the classroom, she engages students in thinking about issues around equity and diversity in the context of art.

The Student Edition began in 2019, with visits to art schools and universities in the United States and Canada, where we began recording voices of the future. In 2020, we present the first episodes in our Student Edition—conversations about creativity with emerging makers and producers. Given opportunities to explore and experiment, students are discovering how they can shape the world they live in. What issues and ideas spark their creative impulse?

Wayne State—Designing for Urban Mobility

March 4th, 2020

Today, we take you to Motor City. Once a symbol of the dynamic U.S. economy, Detroit, Michigan, has gone through a major economic and demographic decline since the 1960s. The drastic drop in population created acres of emptiness—vacant lots, abandoned buildings and food deserts. 

Detroit’s art scene is known for countering negative growth with a resilient DIY attitude. While locals respect and sustain the history of innovation in the place they call home, the gritty urban landscape has begun to attract newcomers. Creatives from other cities are heading here to seek affordable studios and fresh opportunities. 

Education is evolving along with Detroit’s cultural character. At Wayne State University, degree programs are increasingly geared toward next generation art and design. Students taking the course Design for Urban Mobility work with local entrepreneurs to solve design problems. Past clients have been Detroit Bikes and the Detroit Department of Transportation with the Rehab Institute of Michigan. In fall 2019, juniors and seniors majoring in Industrial Design join forces with Dazmonique Carr, founder of Deeply Rooted Produce.

In our conversation with these emerging designers, we discovered firsthand the impact of an educational opportunity that invites students to make a difference. Responding to the call, they are enabling and supporting mobility throughout the city—with actionable ideas that promote self-sufficiency and health literacy.

Wayne State—Designing for Urban Mobility is one of our 2020 Student Edition episodes.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Photography Monica McGivern, except where noted

Related Episodes: SAIC—Imagining Tomorrow, OCAD University—Curating in the Digital Realm

Related Links: Industrial Design, Wayne State University, Deeply Rooted Produce

Design for Urban Mobility is a course offered through Wayne State University’s James Pearson Duffy Department of Art and Art History. Students taking the course consider a variety of questions of how products, spaces and experiences enable and support our mobility through urban space. Each semester—often through client-based projects—they explore four distinct but interrelated concepts of urban mobility: mobility and community, mobility and discovery, mobility and economic vitality, and mobility and social justice.

Deeply Rooted Produce, founded by Dazmonique Carr, is a mobile market with a mission: to provide fresh fruits and vegetables sourced locally and support Detroit’s economy towards self-sufficiency and health literacy. The market’s purpose is to Increase access to healthy foods without sacrificing quality for affordability. DPR Promise: Provide H.E.L.P. (Health Education Literacy for People of Color) 

Siobhan Gregory, a senior lecturer at Wayne University, an industrial designer and applied anthropologist, living and working in Detroit. Her research focuses on the progress of a more human-centered design practice. In the business sector, she pulls from anthropological theory and methods to help organizations.

The Student Edition began in 2019, with visits to art schools and universities in the United States and Canada, where we began recording voices of the future. In 2020, we present the first episodes in our Student Edition—conversations about creativity with emerging makers and producers. Given opportunities to explore and experiment, students are discovering how they can shape the world they live in. What issues and ideas spark their creative impulse?

SAIC—Imagining Tomorrow

March 2nd, 2020

Today, we take you to The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, also known as SAIC. We’re here to meet participants in Imagining Tomorrow. The yearly experiential learning opportunity brings together students from schools in the Netherlands, Germany, the United States and Pakistan.

During each two-week seminar, they gather in a different host community to envision possible futures through design thinking. The clients are local organizations who ask the students to imagine solutions to real-life challenges—such as environmental sustainability and immigrant integration. 

Chicago-based artists Kirsten Leenaars and Laura Davis co-created this international project. A lecturer at SAIC, Leenaars introduces us to three students who have experienced Imagining Tomorrow in Utrecht, Netherlands and Karlsruhe, Germany. Their studies range from film, animation and video to architecture and fashion.

In our conversation, you’ll hear how in a range of cultural contexts, students and educators alike forge meaningful relationships and learn to navigate business and government protocols. Crossing international borders to collaborate and innovate, students bring creativity outside the classroom—engaging with communities and learning to lead. 

Related Episodes: Wayne State—Designing for Urban Mobility, OCAD University—Curating in the Digital Realm

Related Links: School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Imagining Tomorrow, International Red Cross/the Netherlands, ZKM Center for Art and Media/Germany

Imagining Tomorrow is a two-week international seminar in which students from schools in the Netherlands, Germany, the United States and Pakistan come together to collaboratively address questions about future design thinking. They work with clients from international public and private organizations to propose interdisciplinary solutions to real-life issues. Participating schools: HKU University of the Arts Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands; SAIC, Chicago, USA; Karlshochschule International University, Karlsruhe, Germany; Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi, Pakistan. The School of the Art Institute of Chicago will host the 2020 seminar.

Kirsten Leenaars, an interdisciplinary video artist based in Chicago, lectures at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Various forms of performance, theater, and documentary strategies make up the threads that run through her work. She engages with individuals and communities to create participatory video and performance work. Her work oscillates between fiction and documentation, reinterprets personal stories and reimagines everyday realities through shared authorship, staging and improvisation. 

Laura Davis is a multi-disciplinary artist interested in objects and craft. Her works both present their own histories but easily adapt to how Davis recontextualizes them. She wields and contradicts assumed archetypes of gendered roles, reimagining new relationships by creating handcrafted metal sculpture combined with gender specific readymade objects. Her interactions disrupt notions of value at the intersections of art, design and craft.    

The Student Edition began in 2019, with visits to art schools and universities in the United States and Canada, where we began recording voices of the future. In 2020, we present the first episodes in our Student Edition—conversations about creativity with emerging makers and producers. Given opportunities to explore and experiment, students are discovering how they can shape the world they live in. What issues and ideas spark their creative impulse?

Alla Kovgan Channels Merce Cunningham in 3D

February 18th, 2020

With filmmaker Alla Kovgan, we spark a conversation to find out why and how she realized CUNNINGHAM. The 2019 documentary traces American choreographer Merce Cunningham's artistic evolution over three decades.

Kovgan directed the immersive film that took seven years to make. She and her collaborators channel the spirit and image of Merce Cunningham—from his early years as a struggling dancer in postwar New York to his emergence as one of the world’s most visionary choreographers. With new technology, Kovgan creates the film in both 2D and 3D versions. She frees Cunningham’s oeuvre from the constrictions of the stage, projecting his work into an infinite realm of the senses.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio and Photography courtesy Magnolia Pictures

About CUNNINGHAM

2019 marked the centenary of legendary American choreographer Merce Cunningham. The film CUNNINGHAM traces his artistic evolution over three decades of risk and discovery (1944–1972), from his early years as a struggling dancer in postwar New York to his emergence as one of the world’s most visionary choreographers. The 3D technology weaves together Merce's philosophies and stories, creating a visceral journey into his innovative work. Sharing archival footage of Cunningham, John Cage, and Robert Rauschenberg, CUNNINGHAM is a tribute to one of the world’s greatest modern dance artists.

About Director Alla Kovgan 

Alla Kovgan is a New York-based filmmaker, born in Moscow (Russia). Her films have been presented worldwide. Since 1999, Kovgan has been involved with interdisciplinary collaborations, creating intermedia performances (with KINODANCE Company), dance films and documentaries about dance. With CUNNINGHAM, she created a film that is neither a straightforward biopic nor a traditional concert film. Cunningham was conceived as a 93-minute art piece that would tell the master’s story through his work. 

About Merce Cunningham: Merce Cunningham, considered the most influential choreographer of the 20th century, was a many-sided artist. He was a dance-maker, a fierce collaborator, a chance taker, a boundless innovator, a film producer, and a teacher. During his 70 years of creative practice, Cunningham's exploration forever changed the landscape of dance, music, and contemporary art. Visit Merce Cunningham Trust to explore his history.

Related Episodes: Filming Rhythm, Stories and Soul in the Toronto Subway, Akosua Adoma Owusu on Her Film Kwaku Ananse, Inside Miami’s Sound Chamber, Erika Hoffmann on the Hoffmann Collection, Stephen Vitiello on Cultural Soundscapes

Related Links: Alla Kovgan, CUNNINGHAM, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg

Edra Soto on the Architecture of Connecting with Communities

February 4th, 2020

Edra Soto is a Puerto Rico born, Chicago based, interdisciplinary artist, educator and curator whose architectural projects connect with communities. Soto's temporary modular SCREENHOUSE pavilions are evocative symbols of her cultural assimilation that we can enter and share. Each free-standing structure functions as both sculptural object and social gathering place. Couched in beauty, her ongoing OPEN 24 HOURS project offers a different visceral encounter — with evidence of displacement and want. The aesthetic display of cast-off liquor bottles culled from steadily accumulating detritus in the historically Black neighborhood she now calls home suggests that we consider the personal and communal impact of poverty and racism. During a studio visit with the artist in Northwest Chicago, we talk about recent iterations of these projects.

In concert with the 2019 Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Millennium Park Foundation commissioned the artist to produce a temporary gathering place in one of the park’s outdoor galleries. Only steps from Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, she worked with a team to construct SCREENHOUSE. The 10-foot high pavilion made of 400 charcoal-hued, 12-inch cast concrete blocks is part of an ongoing project, an architectural series inspired by iron grills and decorative concrete screen blocks found throughout the Caribbean and the American South.

New versions of OPEN 24 HOURS are on view in two 2020 exhibitions. One appears in Open House: Domestic Thresholds at the Albright-Knox Museum, in Buffalo, New York. Cognac bottles carefully arranged on shelves with decorative panels reveal the artist’s connection to two places she calls home. More liquor bottles command attention in the three-part installation she designed for State of the Art 2020. Featuring work by artists from across the United States, the exhibition celebrates the opening of The Momentary, a new contemporary art space at the Crystal Bridges Museum, in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio 

Related Episodes and Photo Features: Architecture with a Sense of Place, Views—Chicago Architecture Biennial 2019, Fresh VUE: Chicago Art and Architecture 2017

Related Links: Edra Soto, The Momentary, State of the Art 2020, Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Knox-Albright Museum, Millennium Park, Chicago Architecture Biennial 2019

About Edra Soto: Born in Puerto Rico and based in Chicago, Edra Soto is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, curator, and co-director of the outdoor project space THE FRANKLIN. She is invested in creating and providing visual and educational models propelled by empathy and generosity. Her recent projects, which are motivated by civic and social actions, focus on fostering relationships with a wide range of communities. 

Recent venues presenting Soto’s work include Chicago Cultural Center (IL), Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (KS), Pérez Art Museum Miami (FL), Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico (PR), Hunter EastHarlem Gallery (NY), UIC Gallery 400 (IL), Smart Museum (IL), Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (NE), DePaul Art Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (IL). Soto was awarded the Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, the DCASE for Individual Artist Grant from the City of Chicago, the 3Arts Make A Wave award, and 3Arts Projects grants, and the Illinois Arts Council grant. 

Soto holds an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a Bachelor of Arts from Escuela de Artes Plásticas de Puerto Rico. She teaches Introduction to Social Engagement at University of Illinois in Chicago and is a lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

About SCREENHOUSE: Decorative screens, known as rejas and quiebrasoles, are ubiquitous in Soto’s birthplace in Puerto Rico. In her SCREENHOUSE series, Soto transforms the quiebrasol form from a planar screen that divides public from private into a nearly fully enclosed, free-standing structure that functions as both sculptural object and social gathering place.

About OPEN 24 HOURS: Witnessing the excessive accumulation of litter and detritus in the historic African American neighborhood of East Garfield Park where she lives motivated Edra Soto to initiate this ongoing project. Since December 2016, Soto has been collecting, cleaning and classifying cast-off liquor bottles to create installations that display the impact of racism and poverty on this marginalized community in Chicago. Bourbon Empire, the book quoted below, recounts the historic connection between African Americans and cognac from its genesis in the 1930s to contemporary repercussions instigated by hip-hop and rap culture.

“Cognac’s relationship with African American consumers started later, when black soldiers stationed in southwest France were introduced to it during both world wars. The connection between cognac producers and black consumers was likely bolstered by the arrival of black artists and musicians... France appreciated these distinctive art forms before the U.S. did, continuing a French tradition dating back to Alexis de Tocqueville of understanding aspects of American culture better than Americans did. For African Americans, the elegant cognac of a country that celebrated their culture instead of marginalizing it must have tasted sweet ... During the 1990s, cognac sales were slow, and the industry was battling an image populated by fusty geriatrics. Then references to cognac began surfacing in rap lyrics, a phenomenon that peaked in 2001 with Busta Rhymes and P. Diddy’s hit “Pass the Courvoisier,” causing sales of the brand to jump 30 percent. During the next five years, other rappers teamed up with brands, and increased overall sales of cognac in the U.S. by a similar percentage, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.”

—Reid Mitenbuler, author of Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey

Filming Rhythm, Stories and Soul in the Toronto Subway

January 21st, 2020

The Toronto-made film RISE embodies the creative force of a local youth-led spoken word movement known as RISE Edutainment. A subway station serves as the set where the collective’s poets, rappers, and musicians voice their experiences as first and second generation immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa.

Emelie Chhangur, curator of The Art Gallery of York University, sparked the film project in 2017, by inviting Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca to Toronto. Based in Recife, Brazil, the two artist filmmakers are known for examining cultural change in the making. Through film and photography, they document popular performance genres as they adapt to post-colonial economies and geographies. 

The experimental film that Wagner and de Burca created with the RISE community in Toronto hybridizes fiction and documentary to establish a third language-territory—a space where rhythm and poetry are employed as catalysts to explore the complex diasporic and multi-cultural city.

RISE challenges us to consider what might constitute the creation of new traditions in and for Toronto. The story demonstrates how creative expression empowers the past, present and potential future of an extended, evolving community. By showcasing the film in the inaugural Toronto Biennial of Art, artistic director Candice Hopkins and her collaborators follow through on their commitment to showcase local culture and history.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio from the film RISE, in order of appearance: Randell Adjei, Borelson, Kevin Braithwaite, Shahadda Jack, Laurette Jack-Ogbonna, Kwazzi, Michie Mee, Duke Redbird | RISE Audio Track, courtesy Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca Studio

Related Episodes and Posts: Views of the Toronto Biennial of ArtArt and Film Illuminate the Black ImaginationThe BLCK Family of Miami on Collective Creativity

Related Links: RISE EdutainmentBárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, Art Gallery of York UniversityToronto Biennial of Art

Jana Winderen on The Art of Listening Under Water

November 26th, 2019

Norwegian artist Jana Winderen records sounds above and below the surface of our blue planet to compose site-specific sonic environments. For four days during Miami Art Week 2019, she invites you to step inside the Collins Park Rotunda on Miami Beach, for The Art of Listening: Under Water. Miami’s waterways, the Barents Sea and the Tropical Oceans come together within the spherical space, to immerse you in an acoustic collage.

The Art of Listening: Under Water portrays the fragile and complex beauty that circulates through the currents of the interconnected marine world. Winderen’s ephemeral installation promises to leave us with a lasting impression. Those who take time to float into the sensory experience will take away a new understanding of sonic relationships that echo across our seas. 

Exploring a global issue of growing concern, our episode with Jana Winderen is the perfect finale for 2019. Visit our website, to hear other conversations centered on environments at risk and explore opportunities to engage with our new and ongoing initiatives.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio: Jana Winderen 

Related Episodes: Ellen Harvey on Public Art and Climate Action, Bill Fontana on Sound & Space, Where Art Meets Sand and Social Behavior, Sound Art and Contemporary Culture with IKT Miami, Art and the Rising Sea

Related Links: Jana Winderen, Tony Myatt, Audemar Piguet Art Projects, Albert Vrana, Art Basel Miami Beach

 

Experts Guide to Miami Art Week 2019

November 19th, 2019

Today, we take you to meet three globally engaged, Miami-based contemporary art experts. Ombretta Agro Andruff, Tami Katz-Freiman and Kathryn Mikesell are here to help you navigate the city and enjoy the intense burst of international art that transfigures the cultural landscape every December.

Miami Art Week brings together local and international art worlds. This is not only an opportunity for globally active galleries to present the best work of artists they represent. Miami art spaces, museums, community initiatives, individual artists and designers and collectives all rise to the occasion, too, to show their creative force to the world.

Diverse participants have diverse agendas. Whether you’re a collector, a curator, a creator, or an aficionado, focus on your passion—what would you like to discover?

Takeaways

  • Plan your itinerary to focus on one art corridor— either the mainland or the beach
  • Use the map guides offered at the venues you visit, mark your map - where you want to go and where you’ve been 
  • Take water and snacks, wear comfortable shoes
  • Do your homework, but be willing to improvise — follow your intuition!

Of Special Interest in 2019

BEFORE THE FAIRS: Dec 1, Miami—Progressive Brunch with local galleries | Dec 2, Miami Beach—Faena Festival

Dec 3-8 ART FAIRS Recommended: Art Basel Miami Beach, Design Miami, UNTITLED, NADA, PINTA and PRIZM 

EXHIBITIONS—Openings: The new Rubell Museum and El Espacio 23 in the Allapattah district | Teresita Fernandez at Pérez Art Museum Miami | Yayoi Kusama and Sterling Ruby at the Institute of Contemporary Art | Trenton Doyle Hancock at Locust Projects | Haegue Yang, Mickelene Thomas and Lara Favaretto, at the Bass Museum | Cecilia Vicuña at North Miami Museum of Contemporary Art

PUBLIC ART on Miami Beach—Collins Park, Lummus Park, on the beach and at the Convention Center

Related Episodes and Guides: Miami Art Week 2018 Preview, Miami Art Week 2017 Preview, How to Seize the Art Week Moment

Related Links: Art Basel Miami Beach, Rubell Museum, Pérez Art Museum Miami, Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, The Bass Museum, El Espacio 23

About Our Experts:

From Italy, Ombretta Agró-Andruff, is an independent curator and founder of ARTSail

residency and research initiative. The program connects artists and scientists to address

the climate change specific to South Florida through creative projects. From Israel, independent curator, art historian and critic Tami Katz-Freiman remembers Miami before Art Basel. Katz-Freiman curated the Israeli Pavilion in the 57th Venice Art Biennale. From the U.S., Kathryn Mikesell is co-founder and executive director of Fountainhead Residencies and Studios. The Residency offers artists from around the world a shared creative space and an introduction to Miami’s art scene.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio

The Mind-Bending Mythology of Trenton Doyle Hancock

November 12th, 2019

In November 2019, Houston-based artist Trenton Doyle Hancock brings his mythological “Moundverse” to Miami. Locust Projects gives over the entire space to his site-specific installation. The artist will immerse us in a world inspired by comic books, toys, horror films and animations.

For decades, Hancock has been telling the story of the Mounds (gentle hybrid plant-like creatures) protected by Torpedo Boy (Hancock’s alter ego), and their enemies, the Vegans (mutants who consume tofu and spill Mound blood every chance they get). In paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, video and installation, the artist explores good and evil, authority, race and class, moral relativism, politics and religion.

This is not our first encounter with Trenton Doyle Hancock. He was among artists that curator Valerie Cassel Oliver selected for Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art. The exhibition premiered in 2013 at the Museum of Contemporary Arts, Houston, and traveled across the United States. In Radical Presence, Cassel Oliver surveyed seminal black performance art. She invited artists into the exhibition to re-stage their performances.

We make our way to Houston to watch Hancock embody one of the characters in the narrative he began creating when he was 10 years old. For an evening performance titled “Devotion,” he becomes a singing Mound. He's massive. He's blindfolded. Cassel Oliver feeds him Jell-O. The spectacle is intimate, absurd and deeply spiritual.

The next morning, we wander through the artist’s mind. Our conversation explores the histories, objects and ideas that inform his work. His warehouse is awash in accumulating materials—cast-off toys, books and bottle caps, scraps of felt and fabric, cans of paint. Works in progress and finished collage paintings line the walls. A drum kit sits waiting in one corner. It seems unlikely that this artist will ever lose the desire to experiment and play with the fantastical characters that animate his inner world. 

Sound Editor: 2019 Anamnesis Audio; 2013 Eric Schwartz | Special Audio: Trenton Doyle Hancock

Related Episodes: Valerie Cassel Oliver on Black Performance in Contemporary Art, Tameka Norris on Channeling Personal History, William Pope.L Transforms the Black Factory into a Magic Lantern Show

Related Links: Locust Projects, Trenton Doyle Hancock at MASS MoCA, Radical Presence: Contemporary Black Performance Art