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Entries Tagged as 'identity'

Edra Soto on the Architecture of Connecting with Communities

February 4th, 2020 · Comments

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

Tags: contemporary art · art biennial · public art · identity · activism · Artist · invisible communities · black culture · podcast · installation · community · educator · Chicago · political art · architecture · architectural intervention · art podcast · biennial · history

The Mind-Bending Mythology of Trenton Doyle Hancock

November 12th, 2019 · Comments

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

Tags: contemporary art · Miami · identity · Artist · black masculinity · black art · comic book · podcast · figurative painting · art podcast · exhibition

CYJO on the Complexities of Photographing Identity

November 5th, 2019 · Comments

We shadow CYJO, a Miami-based  Korean American visual artist, as she navigates the complex maze of Art Basel Miami Beach in 2018. Her goal is to discover and document exceptional work in the photographic medium for the “Art Basel Miami Week Diary” that she contributes to the bilingual online publication L’Œil de la Photographie (The Eye of Photography).

Inside the fair, Gian Paolo Paci, of Paci Contemporary, in Bresi, Italy, introduces us to his gallery’s featured artist: American photographer Nancy Burson. Burson created some of the earliest photographic portraits using computer-morphing technology. 

Jared Quintan, Associate Director of Rhona Hoffman, in Chicago, deconstructs the symbolism in a photographic wall installation by Lorna Simpson, an African-American photographer and multimedia artist known for her singular approach to portraiture. Quintan also talks about intimate portraits by African American artist Deana Lawson, whose photographs reveal the body’s ability to channel personal and social histories.

A few weeks later, we meet CYJO in her studio, a light-filled loft that looks out over Biscayne Bay in Miami. We’re here to learn more about how the artist explores the complexities of identity, beauty and belonging through her own photography, video and text. 

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio

Related Episodes: Modern Portrait of Black Florida, Jillian Mayer on the Nude Selfie Project, Adam Schreiber on the Spatial Dynamics of Photography

Related Links: CYJO, Art Basel Miami Beach, L’Œil de la Photographie, Paci Contemporary, Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Tags: Fresh Talk · contemporary art · Miami · photography · identity · Artist · invisible communities · podcast · community · international art fair · art podcast · history · art fair · exhibition

Juan Botta Makes One-Minute Movies in Puerto Rico

October 29th, 2019 · Comments

In 2018, Puerto Rico based actor, composer and filmmaker Juan Botta left job security behind to center on his creative life. That’s when he launched Freelance, an inventive Instagram film series that empathizes with the challenges of living and working in Puerto Rico today. Botta’s determination to make films where he lives—despite economic, political and environmental conditions—suggests creativity as a way forward. Freelance expresses a sense of hope, demonstrating that it's possible to find poetry, humor and beauty in the most unlikely situations.

The backstory: In 2019, we head to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to immerse ourselves in the island’s creative life. Now more than ever, residents are faced with a mountain of adversity. Two years after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, this place still awaits reconstruction. Puerto Rico’s 2019 summer uprising protested against politics as usual. Residents gathered en masse, to transform the political landscape. Nonstop street demonstrations led to the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló. New actors and forces are emerging that resist the island’s colonial subordination.

Despite ongoing unstable conditions, cultural work continues, with renewed energy. One night in San Juan, we meet Argentina born Juan Botta, an award winning actor, composer and filmmaker who grew up in Puerto Rico. He left his job in the tourism industry one year ago, to center on creative pursuits.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio: Juan Botta

Related Episodes: Mapping Caribbean Cultural Ecologies, Filmmaking in Pahokee Holds Hope for the Future, Akosua Adoma Owusu on Her Film Kwaku Ananse

Related Links: Juan Botta on Instagram, on YouTube

Tags: contemporary art · video · film · internet · identity · Artist · invisible communities · video art · podcast · community · art podcast

Hong Kong Mixtape II

October 22nd, 2019 · Comments

Today, we bring you sound art from Hong Kong, in our second guest-curated segment with Contemporary Musiking Hong Kong. CMHK is an incubator for cross-disciplinary practices in music, sound, and technology. In July 2018, composer and sound artist Samson Young introduced the first Hong Kong Mixtape, a set of nine sound art compositions. One year later, musician Him Cheung introduces Hong Kong Mixtape II. He takes us back to the former British colony to share sonic responses to highly volatile current events.

Let’s set the stage with a few facts. In 1997, Britain handed Hong Kong back to China. Now run under a "one country, two systems" agreement that guarantees it a level of autonomy, Hong Kong has its own judiciary and a separate legal system from mainland China. Rights including freedom of assembly and freedom of speech are protected. Those freedoms – known as the Basic Law - expire in 2047. 

Our first Hong Kong Mixtape took us to the heart of 2017 student-led pro-democracy demonstrations, when the famed mass protests of the 2014 Umbrella Movement returned to the streets. 

The city's uncertain future has sparked years of political protests. In June 2019, thousands of Hong Kong’s citizens began to gather again, protesting against a proposed law to allow extradition to mainland China. Critics feared this could undermine the city's judicial independence and endanger dissidents. Clashes between police and activists became increasingly violent, with police using tear gas and protesters storming parliament. The bill was withdrawn in September 2019. Demonstrations continue.

For this mixtape, we share excerpts from five sound encounters by artists based in Hong Kong. The first sound work expresses feelings of anxiety and hopelessness that persist with regard to the 1997 handover to Mainland China. The following three field recording projects bear witness to months of escalating demonstrations this year—from mass marches in the streets, to the declarations of individual protesters, to Hong Kong residents' nightly ritual of shouting slogans from the windows of their homes. The final segment conveys a desire to leave all the unrest behind—taking us on a supernatural sound walk to a temple in the woods.

Fresh Art International joins U.S. based Montez Press Radio and Co-op Radio Vancouver to present Hong Kong Mixtape II.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Guest Producer: Him Cheung

Featured sound works, in order of appearance: So Ho Chi, Take 2 (ver. 2) | Jantzen Tse, So Ho Chi | RC Team, Voices of Hong Kong "Rioters" | Alex Yu, 10pm shouting _Free Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Time_ Beverly Garden, Tseung Kwan O 2-9-2019 | Alex Yu, Temple

Related Episodes: Hong Kong Mixtape ISamson Young on Songs for Disaster Relief, When Sound is Art—Five Sonic Stories

Related Links: Contemporary Musiking Hong KongUmbrella Movement

Tags: contemporary art · sound art · identity · activism · sonic environment · community · political art · art podcast · history

Contemporary Psyche on View in Venice Art Biennale

October 15th, 2019 · Comments

Philadelphia-based art historian Deborah Barkun talks about the pleasure and critical thinking that she discovers each time she explores the Venice Art Biennale and collateral events. Through her eyes, we understand that the venerated exhibition never fails to create a constellation of art encounters—always stimulating the senses and challenging the mind, always offering a glimpse into our contemporary psyche. 

58th Venice Art Biennale:

For the 2019 international art exhibition, London-based American curator Ralph Rugoff chose the title May You Live in Interesting Times. This is a phrase of English invention that has long been mistakenly cited as an ancient Chinese curse. The words ‘interesting times’ invoke periods of uncertainty, crisis and turmoil. Rugoff invited 79 artists from around the world who, in his words, “challenge existing habits of thought and open up our readings of objects and images, gestures and situations…entertaining multiple perspectives…holding in mind seemingly contradictory and incompatible notions, and juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world.”

The 2019 exhibition includes 89 National Participations in the historic Pavilions at the Giardini, at the Arsenale and in the historic city center of Venice. Four countries are participating for the first time: Dominican Republic, Ghana, Madagascar, Malaysia, and Pakistan. Twenty-one Collateral Events taking place across the city widen the diversity of voices that characterizes the Biennale.

Read Deborah Barkun’s posts from the 58th Venice Art Biennale on instagram @freshartintl.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio recorded in Venice May-June 2019

Romani Embassy performance by Delaine Le Bass, Music by Santino Spinelli

Related Episodes: Art Historian Playlist: Deborah Barkun Listens to Joana ChoumaliSamson Young: Songs for Disaster ReliefMark Bradford Connects Art with the Real WorldLisa Reihana on Reversing the Colonial GazeMonument to Decay: Israeli Pavilion in Venice

Related Links: Venice Art Biennale 

Related Images: Fresh VUE: 58th Venice Art BiennialFresh Vue: Venice Art Biennale 2017

Tags: Fresh Talk · contemporary art · art biennial · identity · international biennial · invisible communities · curator · political art · opera · art podcast · biennial · venice · venice art biennale · exhibition · technology · art tech

Art Historian Playlist: Deborah Barkun Listens to Joana Choumali

May 13th, 2019 · Comments

Today’s conversation continues our Playlist series. We’re inviting artists, curators, architects, writers, filmmakers, cultural producers and other listeners to introduce episodes from our archive.

Based in the United States, art historian and curator Deborah Barkun is Chair of the Department of Art and Art History and Director of Museum Studies at Ursinus College, outside Philadelphia. Her research centers on the social dynamics of artistic collaboration. Barkun is contributing to our stories from the 58th Venice Art Biennale. Here, she introduces our conversation with Ivorian artist Joana Choumali, first released on April 30, 2018.

Deborah Barkun writes: I am excited to introduce this reprise of “Joana Choumali Embroiders Empathy.” I feel especially connected to this episode, as I was present for Cathy’s first interview with Choumali in the Ivory Coast Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale. Choumali spoke poignantly about African emigration and the emptiness it leaves in the hearts of loved ones left behind. Her hand-embroidered and collaged photographic diptychs depict this global migration. Loose threads left dangling from the works speak to a sense of ongoing longing.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Photography: Deborah Barkun

Related Episodes: Joana Choumali Embroiders EmpathySounds of the 57th Venice Art BiennaleSamson Young: Songs for Disaster ReliefLisa Reihana on Reversing the Colonial GazeMonument to Decay: Israeli Pavilion in VeniceMark Bradford Connects Art with the Real World

Related Links: Joana ChoumaliIvory Coast PavilionVenice Art BiennaleDak’Art 2018

Tags: contemporary art · art biennial · Africa · identity · international biennial · Artist · black culture · black art · podcast · installation · political art · art podcast · biennial · history · art fair · venice · venice art biennale · exhibition

Public Art Meets Poetry in O, Miami

April 29th, 2019 · Comments

Public art meets poetry in the month-long festival known as O, Miami. We sit down with visual artists Najja Moon and Michelle Lisa Polissaint and O, Miami's managing director Melody Santiago Cummings to talk about their work and introduce the spectrum of site-specific projects that bring poetry to communities.

Who’s The Fool? How To Patch A Leaky Roof: Moon and Polissaint create a Little Haiti Cultural District version of the blue umbrellas distributed for free in the Design District, a burgeoning retail development that is rapidly reducing the footprint of a community established by thousands of Haitian immigrants beginning in the 1950s. The artists imagine a dual role for the 1,000 bright red umbrellas they had fabricated. Mobile shelters from the rain and shields against the impact of urban development, the Little Haiti umbrellas feature a Creole proverb alluding to the false promise of urban development in the district. As if placing a flag on the moon, or drawing a line in the sand, Moon and Polissaint proclaim the identity of the community they call home and construct a monument to those fighting to preserve the district. The artists will go door to door with their gifts, inviting their neighbors to join in addressing the larger issue of gentrification in Miami. 

O, Miami projects introduced in this episode: Who's the Fool?Chiquita PoemasThe Last Ride of José MartíThe Beach is a Border; The Sunroom, poetry in schools

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio: Michelle Lisa Polissaint, Moonlight Moanin'; O, Miami: Ivan Lopez, The Last Ride of José Martí; Mia S. Willis, "hecatomb;" Sandra March, with Jose Olivarez, The Beach is a Border; The Sunroom

Related Episodes: Poetry, Art and Community JusticeCultural Complexity in Little Haiti

Related Links: O, MiamiNajja MoonMichelle Lisa Polissaint

 

 

Tags: Fresh Talk · contemporary art · Miami · public art · identity · Artist · invisible communities · project · curator · podcast · street performance · performance · community · educator · art podcast · spoken word · Live Radio

Filmmaking in Pahokee Holds Hope for the Future

March 11th, 2019 · Comments

The 2019 documentary Pahokee is a landmark project for filmmakers Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan and a sign of hope for the rural South Florida community whose story they tell. An official selection in 2019 Sundance and South by Southwest Film Festivals, Pahokee won the Miami Film Festival’s 2019 Knight Made in Miami Award.

Perched on the Southeastern shore of Lake Okeechobee in the Everglades, forty miles west and a world apart from affluent West Palm Beach, Pahokee is named after the Seminole word meaning "grassy waters.” In the film, we follow four students as they navigate the hope and heartbreak of their senior year at Pahokee High School. All eyes are on the rituals of football, prom and graduation in the town these teenagers call home.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Film Audio and Photography courtesy Otis Lucas

Related Episodes: Women Writers on Cuba in FilmIntroducing Miami Film Festival GEMS 2017Alexa Lim Haas on Animating DaydreamsBorscht 10 Film Festival

Related Links: The Film PahokeeOtis LucasMiami Film Festival 2019

 

Tags: Fresh Talk · Miami · film · identity · invisible communities · podcast · art podcast · film festival

Creative Time Summit Miami 2018

February 25th, 2019 · Comments

In 2018, when the annual Creative Time Summit unfolds in Miami, we’re thrilled to participate. On Archipelagoes and Other Imaginaries: Collective Strategies to Inhabit the World brings together artists, thinkers, activists, and cultural producers whose practices stimulate change through planetary thinking.

The nearby Caribbean Archipelago serves as the perfect context within which to question colonial and postcolonial ways of seeing and thinking. The Summit delves into Miami’s historical connection to the Caribbean and, by extension, to Latin America and the entire world.

Voices, in order of appearance: Justine Ludwig, Fredo Rivera, Edwige Danticat, Elvira Dyangani Ose, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Daniela Ortiz, Colibrí Sanfiorenzo-Barnhard, Brigada Puerta de Tierra, Houston Cypress, Roc LaSeca, Edwige Danticat

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Live Performance Audio, in order of appearance: Drag en la Frontera, Samuel Tommie, Daniela Ortiz, Krudas Cubensi

Related Episodes: Where Art Meets ActivismLIVE from Dominican Republic with Tilting AxisMapping Caribbean Cultural Ecologies

Related Link: Creative Time

Tags: Fresh Talk · contemporary art · Miami · identity · activism · Artist · curator · podcast · environment · educator · political art · political performance art · art podcast · history · Caribbean