Spotlight Series

Spotlight: Momus

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some arts publications that we regularly read and love, and this week we’re focusing our attention on the work of Momus. Senior editor Casey Beal writes, “This piece, by Publisher and Editor Sky Goodden, is set during a gallery-viewing trip to Los Angeles which—like so many other things—acquired an unexpected gravity in the immediate, stunned aftermath of Donald Trump’s 2016 election. Writing through what felt like a pall, Goodden eloquently negotiates an impossible weight the artworks weren’t designed to bear. Equal measures slow and timely, the essay conjures a style of criticism that tries to engage with art and its position alongside urgent contemporary conversations.”

Kathryn Andrews. Black Bars, 2016; Installation view. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen. Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery.

Kathryn Andrews. Black Bars, 2016; Installation view. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen.
Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery.

My first trip to Los Angeles started ten days after an election that diminished our assurance in something like a common good. I booked the flight before that fatal turn, of course, expecting something cool, maybe correcting in the city’s artworld; imagining a community of shaggy game-changers who’d successfully mooted the binary between ambition and good sleep. I met, instead, a people bent, broken, groping for genuine, if inarticulate, exchange. Over five days of back-to-back gallery visits, openings, and meetings, I shared in pressed and fractured conversations about art and much else, that felt urgent and unlikely. I was nearly grateful for my timing.

***

We want our artists to publicly bleed for us as quickly as we feel our wounds. An ever-renewing online media suggests immediate reflection (and when the editor-in-chief of The New Yorker can produce two of the most in-depth and affecting responses to Trump’s election inside a week, why expect anything less?). However, recent publishing standards haven’t overcome the time-lag that consideration requires.

It’s important to remember that it takes a minute for good art to show up. That the strange, static awareness we feel after an upsetthe something-like-silence where we’re observing the noise and fog of our own breath and trying to read into it a messageis not rudderlessness or detachment, but the substance of responding.

 

Read the full essay here.

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Spotlight Series

Spotlight: ARTS.BLACK

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some of the many arts publications that we respect, and this week we’re devoting our attention to ARTS.BLACK. “En Plein Air: A Collaboration between Jacolby Satterwhite and Trina” is the final selection from co-editors Taylor Renee and Jessica Lynne, who write, “At ARTS.BLACK, we have a deep love for the Miami rapper Trina. After learning that she had partnered with another artist we love, Jacolby Satterwhite, to produce a short video installation, we flew from Detroit and Brooklyn for a trip that lasted less than twenty-four hours just to see the two perform together at the Perez Art Museum. Unfortunately, Satterwhite was unable to make the performance, but Trina was nothing short of stellar.” This article was originally published on May 12, 2015.

N PLEIN AIR VASSALAGE, 2015, COURTESY OF OH WOW GALLERY

Jacolby Satterwhite. En Plein Air Vassalage, 2015. Courtesy of Oh Wow Gallery.

On April 30th, the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) debuted a video installation by artist Jacolby Satterwhite which featured Miami-bred rapper Trina. The film was followed with a short performance by the Diamond Princess herself, who performed hits like “The Baddest Bitch,” “Pull Over,” and “Look Back at It.” The collaborative performance is a part of the PAMM’s WAVES initiative, a series of commissioned collaborative performances among a range of interdisciplinary artists. The performance, entitled “En Plein Air,” took place in PAMM Beach, situated in the museum’s outdoor space along Biscayne Bay.

“..WATCH ME BUILD A TREE HOUSE..” a lyric rapped by Trina in her 2013 collaboration with Lil Wayne entitled “Wowzers,” echoed through the speakers. Trina’s lyrics continued: “DICK LIKE A TREE,” playing simultaneously along with the video. The sounds provided by DJ Total Freedom included some of Trina’s most provocative euphemisms chopped and slightly screwed melodically over gigantic bass-bound instrumentals.Trina’s voice was then matched with a visual avatar of the Miami-based rapper created by Satterwhite.

Read the full review here.

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Spotlight Series

Spotlight: ARTS.BLACK

This summer, Daily Serving is highlighting work from a few arts publications that we love, and this week we’re focused on ARTS.BLACK. Reflecting on Kareem Reid’s article, co-editors Taylor Renee and Jessica Lynne write, “This essay remains a cornerstone for ARTS.BLACK. Commissioned as one of the two essays for the launch of the journal, Kareem’s essay poignantly articulates our mission and the importance of publishing young Black critics.” This article was originally published on December 1, 2014.

Kerry James Marshall. Installation view, Mastry at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest.

Kerry James Marshall. Installation view, Mastry at MOCA Grand Avenue. Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Photo: Brian Forrest.

The Black perspective is essential to the whole story of contemporary art, otherwise we get locked out of the conversation by the elitist White so-called “avant-garde” thinkers who are narrowly basing their assumptions of progression on the exclusionary theories of post-something—modernism, internet, nothing. Where are all the Black art critics? Do they exist? How does the Black perspective contribute to the contemporary art world? The fact that we have to even ask these important questions in 2014 shows us how much work there is left to do. A whole lot. Without Black art critics, whose function it is to theorize, contextualize, and evaluate the artists’ work (and to bring their own unique contexts to the conversation), how much of contemporary art practice is being erased within the canon of the long-established art institution?

With Black artists finding more “mainstream” attention and success, i.e. Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Kehinde Wiley, Kerry James Marshall, Steve McQueen etc, more Black critics should be actively involved in the conversation surrounding their works, unless being a critically acclaimed Black artist means creating work to be seen and critiqued by a largely White audience. To be an art critic, it is equally important to be critical of preexisting critical frameworks as it is to have an extensive knowledge of the social mechanisms that create “the art world.” It feels redundant to reduce the practice of art to a self-contained “world” when it is painfully, glaringly obvious when we are routinely made to feel unwelcome in their cold, silent spaces. Mausoleums.

I discovered my first taste of Black art criticism through bell hooks’ cutting analysis of Spike Lee’s 1986 debut film She’s Gotta Have It. She introduced me to the foundations of a Black feminist perspective and used it to critique a dominant visual culture. It soon became apparent to me that hooks’ presence in the discourse around Lee’s work was as important as what she had to say about it. “No aesthetic work transcends ideology.”

Read the full essay here.

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Spotlight Series

Spotlight: ARTS.BLACK

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some of the many arts publications that we regularly read, and this week we’re devoting our attention to ARTS.BLACK. Co-editors Taylor Renee and Jessica Lynne write, “It was a pleasure to publish this insightful interview with Kosi Nnebe, an emerging visual artist from Montreal. You might read this interview and be tempted to think that Stephanye Watts and Kosi have been friends forever, the ease of their conversation is an example of the best type of exchange. We’re excited to keep following Kosi and her work.” This interview was originally published on October 6, 2015.

Artist Kosi Nnebe.

Artist Kosi Nnebe.

In May, I traveled to Montreal looking to connect with Black creatives in one of my favorite cities. This was a test trip for future projects to be completed by the Brooklyn-based collective, the Coleman-Henson Society, I started with friends. Our goal is to spotlight Black talent across the diaspora. Our time in Montreal surpassed all expectations. On our final day, I attended a picnic in Mont Royal hosted by visual artist Kosi Nnebe. Besides being blown away by her work, I was taken by Kosi’s self-assuredness as a young Black woman. After months of sister-to-sister chats via email, we finally sat down in person to talk about Black Montreal, womanhood, and producing art as a form of self-care.

Stephanye: In my quest to track down Black artists based in Montreal for my trip, your name kept popping up. As a Black millennial and woman, how do you think your voice has impacted the community in your adopted city?

Kosi: It’s a hard question to answer. I feel as though Montreal has impacted me much more than I could ever impact it. I don’t want to speak to how I’m perceived by the community (I can only hope for the best), but I can talk about the kind of effects I’d like my work to have on the city. My voice, my art, and my work, more generally, are rooted in and deeply influenced by my positionality as a Black woman and millennial. They colour the questions I ask, the initiatives I take on, and the narrative that I’ve been trying to create over the last two years. My Blackness bleeds into every single aspect of my life, and as such is inextricable from my work—it is my muse and my motivator. If anything, I hope that this desire to hold on to my Blackness, to embrace my Blackness, to place my Blackness on podiums in spaces that would not usually accept it, to hang my Blackness from ceilings in museums and galleries full of White walls, White bodies, and White art will inspire others to embrace their Blackness in their work.

My main goal has always been to spark a conversation—and here, I believe, is where my identity as a millennial comes into play. I have used social media as best I can to create a platform for my work. My Instagram account will never be as well curated as Solange’s (#goals), but there is something to be said about creating an aesthetic for oneself that makes your work more accessible. Social media is, more than anything, a platform that has enabled many, including myself, to create new and alternative narratives around identity, race, and gender.

Read the rest of the conversation here.

 

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Spotlight Series

Spotlight: ARTS.BLACK

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some of the many arts publications that we admire, and this week we’re devoting our attention to ARTS.BLACK. Of todays selection, co-editors Taylor Renee and Jessica Lynne write, “A beautiful, poetic, and intimate epistle dedicated to Marlon Riggs, this is a text that must be read over and over again.” Serubiri Moses’ letter was originally published on August 5, 2016.

FAKA (Thato and Desire), photo courtesy of Elle South Africa

FAKA (Thato and Desire). Photo courtesy of Elle South Africa.

Dear Marlon,

I wanted to write to you, in light of your film work and the children who have paid it forward because I have come to consider the meaning of your thoughts about the representation of gay men in popular culture. Your film, Tongues Untied, continues to haunt the art and cinema landscape two decades later, with its showing of communal expression, (as you termed it), diversifying mainstream media, and denouncing homophobia.

Despite your warnings, I find myself drifting towards pop music, and popular cinema. I wonder if you were friends with Grace Jones, or if you watched any of her performances. In the James Bond film A View to a Kill, the crew cut she wore effortlessly set an unprecedented sense of gender neutrality in film and television.

I first heard Grace Jones in 1996, when her song Pull Up to the Bumper played on the radio. In the new wave of R&B boy bands, and dancehall, Jones stood out for her visual identity, her sense of style, and her lyrics, which paid homage to gay culture and its codifications.

I have since thought of Jones as embodying “signifying” or “snapping” in how you describe it in your writing as, “SNAP! “Got your point!” “SNAP!” “Don’t even try it!” “SNAP!” “You fierce!” “SNAP! Get out of my face!” “SNAP!” “Girlfriend, pleeeaase.” Not only did Grace Jones come from the fashion world that borrowed so much from the voguing scene, she “Snapped!” as a way of truth-telling, resisting misogyny and the fashion world’s tendency to objectify black women.

Continue reading the letter here.

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Spotlight Series

Spotlight: ARTS.BLACK

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some of the many arts publications that we respect, and this week we’re devoting our attention to ARTS.BLACK. “Loud.Black.Resident III” is the first selection from co-editors Taylor Renee and Jessica Lynne: “In 2016, we commissioned our first interview series focused on performance from Arielle Julia Brown, theater artist and performance curator. This conversation with Amara Tabor Smith invokes the spirit of Ed Mock, the important San Francisco-based choreographer, making work for and with Black women, and what it means for Black communities to create sites that prioritize our well-being.” The interview was originally published on October 11, 2016.

HouseFull at Regina’s Door, “We Are Staying Right Here,” Photo: Robbie Sweeny Photography

HouseFull at Regina’s Door, “We Are Staying Right Here.” Photo: Robbie Sweeny Photography.

Arielle Julia Brown: What is your name and what work do you do?

Amara Tabor Smith: My name is Amara Tabor Smith and I do what is generally called dance theater. I now call what I do Afro-Futurist Conjure Art. My work is rooted in ritual that is grounded in Yoruba traditions. I work mostly in non-traditional theater spaces, and at the times when I use the theater, I tend to use it in non-traditional ways.

AJB: Where would you situate your artistic and aesthetic lineage? What were some of the moments in your career that brought you forward to making afro-futurist conjure art?

ATS: I became a dancer when I met Ed Mock. He was a choreographer, performer, Black, gay artist making work in the ’70s and’80s in San Francisco. He died in 1986 from complications with AIDS. He was a conjurer. Spirit just worked through him. He didn’t even name it as such, it just was. I was a teenager when I started studying with him. I remember being in his presence and feeling like I was in the presence of God. He was largely an improviser. He was my first teacher.

I have had the opportunity to both study and work with Jawole Willa Jo Zollar. I danced with Urban Bush Women on and off for ten years and I was the Associate Artistic Director of that company the last year that I worked with them. With Jawole, there is always the presence of spirit in her work. We would go to these elevated spaces and we would draw on the energies that worked through the individual dancers. She created this seminal work that I didn’t dance in. It was called “Praise House.” Julie Dash made a film about that piece. It was a really powerful work about our houses of worship so there was always—we were always invoking spirit in the work that we did.

Read the full conversation here.

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Spotlight Series

Spotlight: Chicago Artist Writers

This summer, Daily Serving is shining a light on some arts publications that we regularly read and love. Wrapping up our week with Chicago Artist Writers, today we bring you the second part of a review of “2nd Floor Rear,” Chicago’s DIY festival of art in alternative spaces. In Part 2, artist George Olken discusses various projects in the festival and the ways in which performers sought to create places of authentic exchange while grappling with the nature of non-hierarchal political responses to the current moment. This article was originally published on February 21, 2017.

Tamer Hassan (left) and Mairead Delaney performing The Thing That Does Not Need To Come Up For Air. Photograph by George Olken.

Tamer Hassan and Mairead Delaney. The Thing That Does Not Need to Come Up for Air; performance. Photo: George Olken.

The Sunday, February 5th programming for “2nd Floor Rear” ran from dawn until eleven o’clock at night across nine venues in three neighborhoods along the Pink Line. The experience of the “annual DIY festival of art in experimental contexts, apartment galleries, and ephemeral and migrant projects” was inevitably one of FOMO: of arriving early or late, of missing work altogether while you tried to see something else, or getting lost. Following the festival map was like being on a scavenger hunt from small galleries to artists’ apartments to performances outside the 18th Street station and in the parking lot of Mana Contemporary.

Consistent with the festival’s theme of “Ritual,” many artists offered secular, aestheticized versions of spiritual practices. Nancy VanKanegan, whose work is informed by “a lifelong study of yoga,” asked viewers to participate in the construction of her playful Memory Mandala by arranging found objects including bones, flowers, keys, and plastic toys. For Wish Piece, Lauren Sudbrink welcomed visitors to her third-floor apartment to write wishes and worries on squares of red paper, which took flight when burned, reminiscent of Chinese lanterns. Sudbrink, who calls her process “cannibalistic,” collected the falling ashes for a future project. Both works flattened rather than transformed the underlying spiritual practices while retaining some of their beauty.

Continue reading Part 2 here.

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