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Alla Kovgan Channels Merce Cunningham in 3D

February 18th, 2020 · Comments

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

Tags: contemporary art · video · film · Artist · video art · Rauschenberg Foundation · podcast · music · dance · art podcast · history · technology · art tech

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

How to Build the Creative Economy

October 8th, 2019 · Comments

How do healthy creative economies open the door for artists and innovators?

To answer this question, we take you to Nashville, Tennessee. Music City, U.S.A., aims to become the nation’s start up capital, too. Every year since 2012, Launch Tennessee hosts the 36|86 Entrepreneurship Festival to encourage new business endeavors. In 2019, Festival organizers invited Fresh Art International to curate a presentation around building the creative economy.

For a live audience gathered inside the historic Acme Seed & Feed building, we bring to the stage Nashvillian Harry Allen, boutique banker, Emily Best, Los Angeles based filmmaker and film producer, and Andrea Zieher, director of Tennessee’s near future contemporary art triennial. Our conversation reveals how the same risk taking and innovation that drive all startups fuel the most impactful creative entrepreneurship.

Takeaways: 

  • Recognize the value of cultural entrepreneurship. 
  • Work toward meaningful and inclusive community impact.
  • Optimize technology, forge real relationships and dedicate personal energy to increase opportunities for creators and facilitate greater access to cultural experiences.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Live event recording courtesy Studio 208, Nashville

Related Episodes: Model Behavior—New Orleans Art Triennial Inspires Other Cities, Creative Hive Transforms Contemporary Art in Tampa, The Future of Art

Related Links: Seed&Spark, Studio Bank, TN Triennial, Tennessee Triennial36|86 Festival,

Tags: contemporary art · art biennial · curator · podcast · collection · community · art podcast · technology · art tech

Commuter Biennial Brings Public Art to Miami’s Margins

October 1st, 2019 · Comments

The Commuter Biennial aims to activate unseen margins of metro Miami. Local curators Laura Randall and Courtney Levine have organized a set of art experiences for those who spend hours navigating the city in cars, busses and trains. Over the span of four months, ten public art projects will pop up around this suburban landscape.

Two of the participating artists join Randall and Levine to introduce us to The Commuter Biennial. Artist Lily Martina Lee lives and works in Boise, Idaho. Lee’s art juxtaposes intimacy and anonymity—pointing out how forensic crime scene investigations have become embedded in our everyday reality. For her commuter-centered project, she creates public memorials in locations throughout Miami Dade County, where unidentified human remains were found. Since 2005, New York based artist Marie Lorenz has navigated waterways in her handmade boats designed to optimize tidal currents. Her passengers are privileged with intimate experiences on the water. For the roving biennial, she brings her Tide and Current Taxi to Miami.

Listen to this episode to hear the voice of positive thinking. Optimistic about the potential for art to transform the grind of suburban life, the tedium of public transit and the boring daily drive, the Commuter Biennial aspires to draw our gaze from the center to the fringe—suggesting that art belongs to everyone, everywhere, across metropolitan Miami. 

Related Episodes: Public Art Meets Poetry, Public Art Hopscotches Across Buenos Aires, Art of the Everyday, Creativity in Miami’s Public Realm

 

Related Link: Commuter Biennial

Tags: contemporary art · Miami · sculpture · public art · Artist · invisible communities · curator · podcast · installation · environment · Perez Art Museum Miami · architectural intervention · art podcast · biennial

Sounds of the 57th Venice Art Biennale Revisited

June 3rd, 2019 · Comments

Venice is proven as a top destination for international contemporary art. The 58th Venice Art Biennale opened on May 11, 2019, and will be on view for the next six months. Thank you to Philadelphia-based art historian Deborah Barkun for contributing views from Venice on Instagram. Follow her encounters @freshartintl.

Today, we revisit a selection of sonic encounters at the 57th Venice Art Bienniale, when Italy was the first stop on a six-week Fresh Art International field expedition. In May 2017, preview days for the global exhibition presented an ephemeral opportunity to record the voices of curators, artists, and sounds of installations, performances and events. This episode features our experiences in the pavilions of France, Germany and Nigeria, and our walk through Egyptian artist Hassan Khan’s outdoor sound environment. Artist Carolee Schneemann (1939-2019) was honored with the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement at the 57th Art Biennale. In her memory, we share the conversation we recorded with Schneemann just days before we watched her accept the prestigious award at the opening ceremony.

Sound Editor Guney Ozsan | Special Audio: French Pavilion—pianist Federico Tibone, vocalist Farrah el Dibany, experimental media artist duo My Cat is an Alien; German Pavilion—Vernissage TVfield recording,  Billy Bultheel's musical composition for Faust; Nigerian Pavilion—performance by choreographer and dancer Qudus Onikeku; Hassan Khan, Composition for a Park, ambient recordings by Andrew Russeth and Fresh Art International

Related Episodes: Samson 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: Venice Art BiennaleFresh VUE 57th Venice Art Biennale

About the 57the Venice Art Biennale: Christine Macel curated the main exhibition Viva Arte Viva, described as a “Biennale designed with artists, by artists and for artists.” Macel called it an Exhibition inspired by humanism. For her, direct encounters with the artists assumed a strategic role. Of the 120 invited artists, 103 were participating for the first time.

About Carolee Schneemann: Starting as a painter in the 1950s, in the 1960s, the artist began using her own body as material in experiments with film, music, poetry, dance, and performance. Her fearless artmaking explored body, narrative, sexuality and gender, in ways that challenged cultural and political taboos.

Tags: Fresh Talk · contemporary art · sound art · sonic environment · performance art · international biennial · podcast · installation · performance · political art · art podcast · biennial · venice · venice art biennale

Creative Place Making with Dimensions Variable in Miami

May 20th, 2019 · Comments

In Miami, Florida, we take you to meet cultural producers leading the way in local collaborative place making. Five Miami-based artists and an art archivist have come together to energize Dimensions Variable (DV), a new contemporary art space they're animating with artist studios, exhibitions, events and special projects. In this gathering place for art and culture, they aim to spark a dialogue about collective creativity as a way of life.

Voices: Dimensions Variable founders Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova and Frances Trombly, DV collaborators Juan Pablo Garza, Laura Marsh, Anita Sharma and Magnus Sigurdarson, and DV's first 2019 visiting artist Luz Carabaño

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio

Related Episodes: Public Art Meets Poetry in O, MiamiThe BLCK Family of Miami on Collective CreativityMiami's Caribbean Arts RemixCulture Making in Downtown MiamiSharon Louden on The Artist as Culture Producer

 

Related Link: Dimensions Variable

Tags: Miami · Artist · podcast · art podcast

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