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Entries Tagged as 'political art'

Diaspora Art from the Creole City—with Rosie Gordon-Wallace

March 31st, 2021 · Comments

Now, more than ever, culture transcends geographic boundaries. In this episode, we explore the impact of that global phenomenon on the visibility of contemporary diaspora art.

From Jamaica, Rosie Gordon-Wallace is a globally recognized curator, arts advocate, and community leader based in Miami, Florida, since the 1970s. In 1996, Gordon-Wallace launched a transformative enterprise, now known as Diaspora Vibe Culture Arts Incubator.

DVCAI is a creative laboratory—promoting, nurturing, and cultivating the vision and diverse talents of artists from the Caribbean Diaspora, artists of color, and immigrant artists through public programs, residencies, exhibitions and more. In 2021, the organization will be 25 years old. We sit down with Gordon-Wallace to contemplate the significance of this moment. 

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Sound from The Philosopher's Stone, with permission of artist Asser Saint-Val

Related Episodes: Diaspora Vibe: Art with Caribbean Roots, Mapping Caribbean Cultural Ecologies, New Caribbean Cinema, Miami's Caribbean Arts Remix

Related Links: Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator, Inter|Sectionality: Diaspora Art from the Creole City, Donette Francis, Rosa Naday Garmendia, Evelyn Politzer, Chantal James, Asser Saint-Val, Michael Elliott, The Windrush Generation, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture, Miami Design District

A traveling exhibition that celebrates DVCAI’s 25th year, Inter | Sectionality: Diaspora Art from the Creole City is a multidisciplinary curatorial collaboration and exploration of the emergence of the “Creole City” as a local, regional and global phenomenon. Internationally recognized curators Sanjit Sethi, President, Minneapolis College of Art and Design and former director of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design, and Rosie Gordon-Wallace, founder and curator of Diaspora Vibe Cultural Arts Incubator (DVCAI), designed this collaboration to provide a lens through which communities and community leaders internationally can begin to better understand themselves, their diversity and their unlimited possibilities.

In 2019, Inter | Sectionality: Diaspora Art from the Creole City was presented in our nation’s capital at a time when diaspora artists and voices were challenging social justice, celebrating identities—reactivating and bridging communities through contemporary art and scholarship. The complexities and diversities represented in this exhibition are emergent and, in many cases, ascendant across the world.

In 2020, the exhibition travelled to the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2021, Inter | Sectionality came home to the Design District, in Miami, Florida.

Tags: contemporary art · activism · curator · black culture · black art · community · political art · exhibition

Puerto Rico Rising—Resisting Paradise

February 24th, 2021 · Comments

In the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, the struggle to survive is real. Natural disasters, a failing economy, corrupt leadership, and the legacy of colonialism in the Caribbean are among forces that challenge sustainability and sovereignty. Outside investments in tourism have had the effect of disenfranchising locals and fragmenting the island’s creative community. San Juan born and based, curator Marina Reyes Franco has a lot to say on this subject. Her research, writing, and curating illuminate the powerful impact of the burgeoning visitor economy.

 

In 2019, three years after Hurricane Maria, we venture to Puerto Rico for the opening of Resisting Paradise, an exhibition Reyes Franco organized with the support of Apex Art, New York. Jamaica born artists Leasho Johnson and Deborah Anzinger, and artist Joiri Minaya, from the Dominican Republic, show work engaging at the intersection of tourism, sexuality, gender, music and the internet. We record this episode inside Espacio Pública, a newly established culture space, in San Juan’s Santurce district. 

 

This segment of our Puerto Rico Rising series revolves around creative resistance to foreign fantasies of ‘paradise.’ The conversation exposes a few of the complex histories and current conditions that inform contemporary art in Puerto Rico and the greater Caribbean. 

 

Voices in the episode: Naima Rodriguez, Marina Reyes Franco, Leasho Johnson, and Joiri Minaya

 

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio

 

Related Episodes: Puerto Rico Rising—Radical LeadersPuerto Rico Rising—Resilient Artists, The Awakening, Juan Botta Makes One-Minute Movies in Puerto Rico, Edra Soto on the Architecture of Connecting Communities, Mapping Caribbean Cultural Ecologies

 

Related Links: Resisting Paradise exhibition, Espacio Pública, Deborah Anzinger, Leasho Johnson, Joiri Minaya, apex art, Marina Reyes Franco, ATLAS SAN JUAN: TROPICAL DEPRESSION, Art in America, Oct 1, 2018.

Tags: contemporary art · activism · painting · curator · community · portraiture · political art · exhibition

Puerto Rico Rising—Resilient Artists

February 17th, 2021 · Comments

In 2018, two years after Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean islands of Puerto Rico, Dominica and St. Croix, Art in America published an exposé by San Juan born and based curator Marina Reyes Franco. Journalists were “comparing Puerto Rico to Greece, Detroit, and New York of the 1970s,” she wrote, “prompting myriad articles about its economic woes and the population’s resilience.” Central to many of these stories were inspiring narratives about artists and entrepreneurs responding to the crisis. In 2019, we journey to the island to record voices from the cultural scene. 

 

The artists we meet in San Juan convey the promise and pathos of this Caribbean island. In this segment of our Puerto Rico Rising series, four Puerto Rican creatives offer insight into how art can join forces with the strength of community to contemplate beauty and the paradoxes of everyday life. 

 

Voices in the episode: Sofía Gallisá Muriente, Michael Linares, Chemi Rosado-Seijo, Llaima Sanfiorenzo

 

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio in Order of Appearance: Fabián Wilkins Vélez, Listening Session, 2019; Sofía Gallisá Muriente, Celaje (2020); Florian Dombois, Triple Instrument, 2019; Llaima Sanfiorenzo, Let the Beast Breathe, 2020 and 1 sq foot of freedom, 2007

Related Episodes: Puerto Rico Rising—Resisting Paradise, Puerto Rico Rising—Radical Leaders, The Awakening, Juan Botta Makes One-Minute Movies in Puerto Rico, Edra Soto on the Architecture of Connecting Communities, Mapping Caribbean Cultural Ecologies

Related Links: Beta-Local, Sofía Gallisá Muriente, Michael Linares, Chemi Rosado-Seijo, Llaima Sanfiorenzo/Self Portrait Factory, Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico, Marina Reyes Franco, ATLAS SAN JUAN: TROPICAL DEPRESSION, Art in America, Oct 1, 2018.

Tags: contemporary art · film · public art · activism · performance · community · political art · festival

The Awakening

January 27th, 2021 · Comments

Today is January 27, 2021. One week ago, we inaugurated new leaders in the United States. Many hope that President Joseph. Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris will cultivate an era of unity, democracy, and truth in this country. 

Multiple flashpoints complicated the year 2020. The relentless coronavirus pandemic, accelerating discrimination against people of color, heightened climate emergencies, and the imploding global economy had a intense polarizing effect on the electorate.

Kamala Harris, the first African-American and Asian American to become Vice President, is also the first woman to be given this tremendous opportunity. As she steps into a crucial role of responsibility, Harris inspires this episode. 

What part can creativity play in such turbulent times? 

We speak to six women artists and curators responding to the challenges of the past year with renewed resolve. Strengthening their engagement with vital issues and ideas, each one positions herself in service to social justice. Future episodes will reveal more about their individual awakenings.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio: When We Gather, courtesy Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons and collaborators; Whitewash, courtesy artist Nadine Valcin; Celaje, courtesy artist Sofía Gallisá Muriente; All water has a perfect memory, courtesy artist Bahar Behbahani; Drip in water tunnel, New York City, courtesy artist Mary Mattingly; "This Earth,” by Susan Griffin, courtesy Andrea Bowers and performance participants 

Related Episodes: International Curators Champion Creative Resilience, Mapping Caribbean Cultural Ecologies, Where Art Meets Activism, Creative Time Summit Miami 2018, Bahar Behbahani on Politics and Persian Gardens, New Point of View at Venice Art Biennale, Mary Mattingly on the Art of Human Relationships, Andrea Bowers on Art and Activism

Related Links: Bahar Behbahani, Andrea Bowers, This Earth, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, When We Gather, Mary Mattingly, Public Water, Andrea Fatona, The State of Blackness, Marina Reyes Franco, Museum of Contemporary Art of Puerto Rico, Sofía Gallisá Muriente

Featured Voices in Order of Appearance

 

Born in Cuba and based in Nashville, Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons teaches at Vanderbilt University. A dream led her to invite collaborators to celebrate all that Kamala Harris represents. Performance and poetry in the new art film When We Gather embody their collective hope and imagination.

 

Dr. Andrea Fatona is a Toronto-based curator and scholar who teaches in the graduate program at Ontario College of Art and Design University. For decades, she has sought to remedy the absence of Black visual art from critical writing, art archives and other avenues of representation. Whitewash, Nadine Valcin’s performance video about the history of slavery in Canada, is featured on Fatona's website: The State of Blackness.

 

Born and based in San Juan, Marina Reyes Franco is curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art. She talks about the Museum’s powerful new partner and introduces the metaphoric exhibition she will present this spring. In 2020, Reyes Franco took the time to support artist friend Sofía Gallisá Muriente in her creation of a new film. Sited on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico, Celaje is an elegy to the death of the Puerto Rican colonial project and the sedimentation of disasters on the island.

 

Water channels, fountains, roses and pools are elemental to the legendary Persian garden. Iranian-American artist Bahar Behbahani has been investigating the garden’s histories for years. In 2019, she created her first garden-inspired public art project at Wave Hill in the Bronx. In 2021, the artist aims to break ground on a purposeful Persian garden in Manhattan.

 

New York-based artist Mary Mattingly has always been concerned with sustainability, creating lyric environments that meet the basic needs of water, food, and shelter. Her latest project concerns the invisible infrastructure of public water in the city she calls home. Mattingly is diving deep—her urban case study exposes inequities that limit access to clean drinking water everywhere. 

 

Early 2020 found Los Angeles based artist Andrea Bowers joining other women to read and record the poem “This Earth,” by Susan Griffin. Studying the spiritual origins of eco-feminism was among her solitary pursuits last year. When the pandemic slowed her activist projects, Bowers turned to re-examine how and why she makes art. 

Tags: contemporary art · public art · activism · curator · black culture · black art · environment · feminism · museum · community · political art · feminist art

Glenn Kaino and Tommie Smith Take a Stand

January 13th, 2021 · Comments

Today’s story unfolds at the intersection of art, sports, and activism.

 

In 1968, Black American athlete Tommie Smith set a new world record. He became a gold medalist when he raced to win the 200-meter event at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

 

Yet Tommie Smith was only inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in 2019. Why did it take half a century for the international sports organization to recognize his record-breaking performance? 

 

Because in 1968, at the height of the civil rights struggle in America, Tommie Smith took a stand on racism and human rights at the awards ceremony in Mexico City. As he stood on the podium to accept his medal, he bowed his head and raised his fist in a silent salute. That year, the Olympics were broadcast on television live and in color for the first time ever. The whole world witnessed his gesture. 

 

Tommie Smith’s respectful protest marked his life in the years that followed, while motivating generations to stand up for equality. He continues to inspire us, encouraging everyone to take part in the ongoing quest for global human rights and racial justice. 

 

In this episode, you’ll hear from the athlete and two creatives he inspired: Japanese-American artist Glenn Kaino and Iranian-born cinematographer Afshin Shahidi. They came together to create an exhibition, public programs and a documentary film to tell Tommie Smith’s story.

 

When artist Glenn Kaino sought out the legendary Olympic runner as a creative collaborator, he recognized the enduring value of art as a means to preserve a noble act. With Drawn Arms amplifies Smith’s courage, bringing history to reckon with our contemporary moment. 

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio

Related Episodes: Black in America, Franklin Sirmans on the Art of Futbol, Athi-Patra Ruga on Global Human Rights

Related Links: Tommie Smith, Glenn Kaino, Afshin Shahidi, Mexico 1968 Summer Olympics, Olympic Project for Human Rights, High Museum of Art, San José Museum of Art, Colin Kaepernick, Kavi Gupta Gallery, Fresh Art International at Untitled Art Fair

Watch the Film: With Drawn Arms

 

Our Current Moment

Since early 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has held our planet in its grip. We have reckoned with isolation and the loss of friends and loved ones, and with the strange new normal of everyday life. The public health crisis has meant the delay or cancellation of cherished cultural and sports events. The 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and the Japan 2020 Summer Olympics, where the film With Drawn Arms was to be screened, were among thousands of casualties. 

In 2020, racial equity became a flashpoint on two fronts. The virus has been taking a greater toll on Blacks and people of color. Police violence against Blacks sparked a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement, triggering massive protests across the U.S. and abroad. The quest for racial equity and human rights continues.

Tags: contemporary art · film · sculpture · activism · black culture · black art · political art

Musical Manifesto vs. Contested Monument

July 15th, 2020 · Comments

Today, we’re talking about symbolic statues and monuments. In this moment, many are demanding the removal of memorials believed to perpetuate a legacy of systemic racial and ethnic injustice. Recent acts of violence against Blacks in the United States have brought these memorials to the center of a nationwide debate.

                                                                       

On Memorial Day, in the year 2020, Minneapolis police killed a Black man named George Floyd. The public incident ignited the resurgence of a 21st century civil rights movement known as Black Lives Matter. In 2013, with use of the hashtag BlackLivesMatter, thousands responded on social media to the acquittal of a white man, George Zimmerman. He had been charged with the shooting death of Black teen Trayvon Martin.

 

Black Lives Matter is now the leading force behind massive protests across the U.S. and abroad. Crowds are toppling statues honoring colonizers, slaveholders, and Confederate heroes. The controversial figures have become a cultural flashpoint.

 

Social justice advocates have contested these iconic sculptures for decades. Let’s look back to 2014, for one example, when artist william cordova and his collaborators staged an unannounced public declaration of liberty and justice. They chose to make their statement at the site of a towering statue of confederate leader Robert E. Lee in New Orleans.  

 

Born in Lima, Peru, and based in Miami, New York and Lima, cordova is known as a cultural practitioner. We call him to hear the story behind this prescient intervention. 

 

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio: silent parade, 2014 

 

Related episodes: Black in America, Modern Black Portrait of Florida, Amy Sherald on New Racial Narratives, Amy Sherald on New Racial NarrativesSanford Biggers on Time and the Human Condition, Fahamu Pecou on Art x Hip-Hop, Theaster Gates on Meaning, Making and Reconciliation, Jefferson Pinder on Symbols of Power and Struggle

 

Related links: silent parade, The Soul Rebels, william cordova, now's the time:narratives of southern alchemy, Perez Art Museum, Miami, 2018, Prospect New Orleans, Headlands Center for the Arts, Black Lives Matter

Tags: · · · · · · · · · contemporary art · public art · activism · black culture · black art · performance · community · distance learning · political art

Wayne State—Designing for Urban Mobility

March 4th, 2020 · Comments

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?

Tags: · · · · contemporary art · activism · community · education · political art

SAIC—Imagining Tomorrow

March 2nd, 2020 · Comments

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?

Tags: · · · · · · contemporary art · activism · community · education · political art

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 · activism · black culture · community · education · political art · architecture

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 · activism · community · political art

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