Fresh Art International podcast with curator Cathy Byrd features conversations about creativity with contemporary artists, curators, architects and filmmakers from around the globe. Capturing field recordings in studios, galleries, alternative spaces, and museums, at biennials, art fairs, and artist residencies in the U.S. and far beyond, this podcast spotlights the diverse issues and ideas explored by creatives working at the center and fringe of our world's cultural communities.
A Persian Garden in Manhattan—with Bahar Behbahani
“This Persian Garden Project will be providing visitors with a private, yet public environment in which to engage important social and cultural issues by gathering and gardening through conversations, screenings, readings, and communal performances. I’m imagining it as a hub for activism and healing—a home for all marginalized, mediated, untold, and less celebrated stories.”
Bahar Behbahani, 2021
The art of Brooklyn-based artist Bahar Behbahani responds to the history and character of the complex landscapes that surround her—reflecting on her cultural origins and immigrant experience. Conversations with the artist across time reveal how she has immersed herself in the form, poetry, and politics of the Persian garden. Now, her vision extends to designing and programming a public environment for activism and healing where she aims to engender a communal sense of hospitality, resistance, and resilience. When Behbahani reaches her goal, a new Persian garden will flourish in Manhattan—cultivated by the hands and minds of artists and historians, thinkers and doers from cultures around the world that call New York City home.
Sound Design: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio: Bahar Behbahani, Suspended (2007) and All Water Has a Perfect Memory (2019), courtesy the artist
Related Episodes: The Awakening, Bahar Behbahani on Politics and Persian Gardens
Related Links: Bahar Behbahani, Ispahan Flowers Only Once (2019-ongoing), All Water Has a Perfect Memory/Wave Hill Public Garden, 9/11 Memorial
The State of Blackness—with Andrea Fatona
“In a way, I've always been working on the edge of both a larger dominant society engagement and a deep engagement with my communities. My focus is really digging deep into blackness.”
Andrea Fatona, 2021
Toronto-based curator and scholar Andrea Fatona has been addressing institutionalized racism on her own terms since the 1990s. Our conversations across time reveal the depth of her commitment to making visible the full spectrum of Black culture in Canada. Engaging with Black communities to build an online repository while addressing algorithmic injustice, she and her collaborators are illuminating the work of Black Canadian cultural producers on the global stage.
Sound Design: Anamnesis Audio
Special Audio: Hogan’s Alley (1994), courtesy Vivo Media Arts, Andrea Fatona and Cornelia Wyngaarden and Whitewash (2016), Nadine Valcin, courtesy the artist
Related Episodes: The Awakening, New Point of View at the Venice Art Biennale
Related Links: The State of Blackness, Andrea Fatona/OCADU, Vivo Media Arts, Okui Enwezor, All the World’s Futures/56th Venice Art Biennale, Cornelia Wyngaarden
What is The State of Blackness?
The State of Blackness website shares digital documentation of a 2014 conference that took place in Toronto, Canada. The State of Blackness: From Production to Presentation was a two-day, interdisciplinary event held at the Ontario College of Art and Design University and Harbourfront Centre for the Arts. Artists, curators, academics, students, and public participants gathered to engage in a dialogue that problematized the histories, current situation, and future state of Black diasporic artistic practice and representation in Canada. The site is now expanding to serve as a repository for information about ongoing research geared toward making visible the creative practice and dissemination of works by Black Canadian cultural producers from 1987 to present.
What is Algorithmic Injustice?
Algorithms come into play when you do a search on the internet, taking keywords as input, searching related databases and returning results. Bias can enter into algorithmic systems as a result of pre-existing cultural, social, or institutional expectations; because of technical limitations of their design; or by being used in unanticipated contexts or by audiences who are not considered in the software's initial design.
Public Water—with Mary Mattingly
Emblematic of water issues that challenge public health the world over, the New York City story Mattingly explores, reminds us that clean water is a shared responsibility—a basic human right that we must invest in and protect.
I Wish to Say—with Sheryl Oring
Today’s story takes place at the intersection of art and the First Amendment. This vital element of the United States Constitution protects our right to freedom of expression, by prohibiting lawmakers from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak freely.
Artist Sheryl Oring took up this cause célèbre in 2004. In conversations across time, we trace her synthesis of art and free speech in a public performance project that quite naturally, has no end in sight. As long as there is democracy in the United States, there will be opportunities to voice opinions about the U.S. presidency, about social justice, the economy, public health, globalization, climate change, education, and more.
What would YOU wish to say to the U.S. President?
Let us know on Instagram: @freshartintl #iwishtosay
Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio: Sheryl Oring on ABC World News Tonight, 2004; Sheryl Oring at Washington and Lee University, 2018; I Wish to Say with University of Michigan and Wayne State University students, 2020; Lisa Bielawa, Voters’ Broadcast, 2020
Related Episodes: Where Art Meets Activism, Topical Playlist: Art and Politics, Charles Gaines on Philosophy and Politics in Conceptual Art, Bahar Behbahani on Politics and Persian Gardens
Related Links: Sheryl Oring, I Wish to Say, Activating Democracy (the book), The First Amendment Project, Oakland, CA, Creative Capital Foundation, W&L Quick Hit: Sheryl Oring Performs I Wish to Say, Sheryl Oring on ABC World News Tonight, I Wish to Say Archive, University of Michigan, Democracy & Debate Theme Semester, Stamps Gallery, Lisa Bielawa, Voters’ Broadcast, Mauer Broadcast with Lisa Bielawa, The Berlin Wall
Aesthetics of Excess—with Jillian Hernandez
Jillian Hernandez gives voice to girls and women of color in her 2020 book Aesthetics of Excess: The Art and Politics of Black and Latina Embodiment. In this episode, you’ll hear how she has been delving into the “aesthetic hierarchies” of femme culture for more than a decade. Research, critical writing, and personal experience come together to enrich this vividly illustrated book. Hernandez shares a few stories of her own fraught adolescence, along with those of Women on the Rise!, a community of teenage girls for whom she and local artists created opportunities to collide with art, through the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami.
Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio: Chonga Girls, “Chongalicious,” Crystal Pearl Molinary, “Off the Chain”
Related Episodes: Puerto Rico Rising—Resisting Paradise, The Awakening, Topical Playlist—Art and Feminism
Related Links, Jillian Hernandez, University of Florida, Duke University Press, Women on the Rise!, Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami
Jillian Hernandez, a Miami native, is currently Assistant Professor in the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research at the University of Florida. She is a transdisciplinary scholar interested in the stakes of embodiment, aesthetics, and performance for Black and Latinx women and girls, gender-nonconformists, and queers. In 2020, Hernandez completed her first book, Aesthetics of Excess: The Art and Politics of Black and Latina Embodiment, through Duke University Press. She is developing other book-length projects on the radical politics of femme of color art and performance and Latinx creative erotics, ontologies, and relationalities. Hernandez received her Ph.D. in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University and teaches courses on racialized girlhoods, Latinx sexualities, theories of the body, social justice praxis, and cultural studies. Her scholarship is based on and inspired by over a decade of community arts work with Black and Latinx girls in Miami, Florida, through the Women on the Rise! program she established at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, in addition to her practice as an artist and curator. via University of Florida
Aesthetics of Excess: Heavy makeup, gaudy jewelry, dramatic hairstyles, and clothes that are considered cheap, fake, too short, too tight, or too masculine: working-class Black and Latina girls and women are often framed as embodying "excessive" styles that are presumed to indicate sexual deviance. In Aesthetics of Excess Jillian Hernandez examines how middle-class discourses of aesthetic value racialize the bodies of women and girls of color. At the same time, their style can be a source of cultural capital when appropriated by the contemporary art scene. Drawing on her community arts work with Black and Latina girls in Miami, Hernandez analyzes the art and self-image of these girls alongside works produced by contemporary artists and pop musicians such as Wangechi Mutu, Kara Walker, and Nicki Minaj. Through these relational readings, Hernandez shows how notions of high and low culture are complicated when women and girls of color engage in cultural production and how they challenge the policing of their bodies and sexualities through artistic authorship. via Duke University Press
Art in Miami, Then and Now—with FeCuOp
In 2019, we recorded the first part of this story about the history of Miami's contemporary art scene inside Locust Projects, the longest running alternative art space in the city. Locust Projects director Lorie Mertes and artists from a collaborative known as FeCuOp—Jason Ferguson, Christian Curiel, Brandon Opalka, and Victor Villafañe, remember the raw energy of the 1990s. When we meet, the collective is in the midst of building out an immersive environment for Antenna, their first major project in Miami since 2003. The performative and interactive installation aimed to create a social experiment around communication.
In early 2021, we reach out to FeCuOp to talk about how much has changed since they collaborated on the highly interactive, live, and in-person experience at Locust Projects. Only months after they realized Antenna, the global coronavirus pandemic shut down the world for most of a year, profoundly altering how we encounter art.
Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Sound featured with permission of FeCuOp
Related Episodes: Where Art Meets Sand and Social Behavior, The BLCK Family of Miami on Collective Creativity
Related Links: Locust Projects, FeCuOp, Christian Curiel, Jason Ferguson, Brandon Opalka, Victor Villafañe, Miami Light Project
FeCuOp is a contemporary art collaborative established in Miami in 1997, by Jason Ferguson, born in Trinidad and Tobago, lives in South Carolina; Christian Curiel, born in Puerto Rico to Cuban parents, lives in New Haven, CT; Brandon Opalka, born in Virginia, lives in Colorado. The name constitutes an amalgam of the three founding artist’s names. FeCuOp along with new Miami-based member Victor Villafañe, are like the periodic table of elements; each member’s unique characteristics bring a unique variable property to every collaboration.
Locust Projects is an alternative art space founded by artists for artists in 1998. The arts incubator produces, presents, and nurtures ambitious and experimental new art and the exchange of ideas through commissioned exhibitions and projects, artist residencies, summer art intensives for teens, and public programs on contemporary art and curatorial practice.
This is one to follow
Cathy does a fantastic job. This podcast is on spot with the arts around the globe. Great conversations pop up everywhere - so interesting to tune in.
Easy to follow and extremely interesting!
So nice to have an easy to understand, down to Earth podcast! Extremely interesting and diverse topics in an engagement and easy to follow format. I am so stimulated hearing about all the unique art practices she encounters with so many inter artists. There is very little pretentious ‘art speak’ here and I love that! This podcast gets down to the real stuff - artists as people doing art about the real world! My new favorite podcast!!
I love hearing about these artists creative process. Cathy Byrd is a great at getting these creatives talking!