Boogie on the Boulevard

After two years of hard work from a diverse range of Bronx community members, I’m happy to report that Boogie on the Boulevard (formerly known as Car Free Sundays) is coming back to the Grand Concourse! Please join us and help spread the word about these great events!
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Make Things (Happen)

Make Things (Happen) is a participatory project organized by Christine Wong Yap featuring 29 artist-created activity sheets to make things or make things happen.

 

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Artists: Lauren F. Adams, Oliver Braid, Maurice Carlin, Kevin B. Chen, Torreya Cummings, Helen de Main, double zero, Bean Gilsdorf, Galeria Rusz, Sarrita Hunn, Maria Hupfield, Nick Lally, Justin Langlois, Justin Limoges, Jessica Longmore, Mail Order Brides/M.O.B., Meta Local Collaborative, Roy Meuwissen, Dionis Ortiz, Kristina Paabus, Piero Passacantando, Julie Perini, Risa Puno, Genevieve Quick, Pallavi Sen, Elisabeth Smolarz, Emilio Vavarella, David Gregory Wallace, Lexa Walsh.

Visit

Social in Practice: The Art of Collaboration

Curated by Deb Willis and Hank Willis Thomas

March 27–October 2, 2014
Nathan Cummings Foundation
475 Tenth Avenue, 14th floor (between W. 36th & 37th Streets), New York, NY 10018
Opening Reception: Thursday, March 27, 6-8 pm
Reservations required; email exhibits@nathancummings.org.

Mid-October to November 28, 2014
NYU Tisch School of the Arts Department of Photography and Imaging galleries
721 Broadway, 8th Floor (between Washington Place and Waverly Place), New York, NY 10003
Opening Reception: TBA

Project Statement

Make Things (Happen) is intended to multiply creative activity. I started by asking 29 artists to create activity sheets; these are downloadable here and freely available in Social in Practice: The Art of Collaboration. Anyone and everyone are invited to use them to make things or make things happen, then share their results (#mkthngs or #mkthngshppn) to encourage further participation.

ACTIVITIES. I was inspired by enjoyable, memorable, shared experiences—from showing my niece how to sew her own holiday decorations, to initiating a book club via video chat with distant peers. The invited artists branched out, enriching the project with their diverse artistic and didactic pursuits. Their contributions reflect their optimism and ambivalence towards how-to directives, and thus offer concrete objectives as well as space for open-ended interpretation. The activities range from drawing worksheets to elaborate constructions; community exchanges to gallows humor; and studio instructions to discussion prompts.

Activities fall into two categories. Make Things entails hands-on, tangible art activities. Through drawing worksheets, participants can encounter the techniques and social concepts in the work ofKevin B. ChenDionis Ortiz, and Lauren F. Adams, or potentially increase positive sentiment (Galleria RuszPallavi Sen). Participants can also create hands-on 3-D projects, such as a shadow puppet show (David Gregory Wallace) or multi-person swing (Kristina Paabus). The projects also intersect with the virtual; one could modify the code in digital images (Emilio Vavarella), or hand draw algorithmic patterns (Nick Lally).

Make Things Happen encompasses manifold approaches. Projects from Helen de MainMaria Hupfield, and Lexa Walsh catalyze or facilitate interpersonal exchanges. double zero has programmed a telephone menu as a public, interactive, and collaborative experience. Individuals can also improve bad days (Elisabeth Smolarz), meditate (Piero Passacantando), take a tongue-in-cheek personality quiz (Risa Puno), or explore looking as a form of time-travel (Genevieve Quick).

Other artists’ projects instantiate the expanded boundaries of contemporary art practice. The studio itself is re-thought with alternatives for creating and inhabiting spaces, both individually (Jessica Longmore) and collaboratively (Maurice Carlin). Meta Local Collaborative describes the extra-studio art practice of bicycling. Bean Gilsdorf’s kooky, illustrated handout, How to Use It, never identifies what “It” is, calling upon users’ interpretation and open-ended application.

Four artists riff on (im)possibilities, referencing feature films (Torreya CummingsRoy Meuwissen) and texts (Oliver BraidJustin Limoges). They alternately employ poetics, darkness, and ambivalence.

While how-to instructions typically describe concrete actions, four contributors ambitiously invite participants to engage in efforts and radical re-imaginations towards social change. Julie Perinidescribes how white people can challenge white supremacy. Mail Order Brides/M.O.B. parodies corporate handbooks to tackle gender and power. Sarrita Hunn contributes a well-researched How to… Make An Alternative Institution, and Justin Langlois’ list of provocations encourages collaborative visions for a self-determined future.

ARTISTS. I invited these particular artists, duos, and collaboratives because their practices are a mix of hands-on, participatory, and engaged with the world. They work across social practice, drawing, sculpture, video, and performance. About one-third of the artists are international—from the UK, Canada, Poland, Italy, and India; one-third are from California; and the rest are from New York or other parts of the US. A few actively create new conditions for art and engagement by founding organizations and initiatives. All excite me with how their lives and art-making are interconnected with the world at large. I am particularly interested in highlighting practices unconcerned with, despite, and agitating against the demands of the art market. Profiles and links to their sites are included so you can learn more.

BACKGROUND. About a year ago, I wrote an essay and created a diagram to explore “What Artists Make (Happen).” I wanted to think through how artists who create art objects make things in their studios, also make things happen with others beyond the studio walls—events, dialogues, possibilities. The point was that artists also involve and affect other people, and therefore manipulate social realities.

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Make Things (Happen) continues to explore these ideas. In this case, making things is still defined as hands-on fabrication, while making things happen includes social, conceptual and performance actions. By participating, the public can sample activities that manipulate objects, forms, and social realities, and experientially encounter artists’ practices and thoughts. These activities are intended for participation—so it’s your move.

—Christine Wong Yap, 2014

THANKS to curators Deb Willis and Hank Willis ThomasNYU Tisch Department of Photo and ImagingKarl Peterson and Sonia Louise Davis; and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. My sincerest gratitude to all the artists for their time, enthusiasm, and thoughtful contributions; and to Sarrita Hunn for exploring the potential of the initial concepts. And thanks in advance to participants!

LINKS. For more participatory contemporary art projects, see Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher’s Learning to Love You More, Hans Ulrich Obrist’s Do It, and Paper Monument’s Draw It With Your Eyes Closed.

Caption: Various Artists, Make Things (Happen), 2014, 29 activity sheets, 8.5 x 11 inches / 216 x 279 mm

 

The Sixth Borough Bike Tour at Marfa Dialogues

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Project Description

It is often said that water is New York City’s “sixth borough.” Historically, the working waterfront was a site for commerce and development that shaped the character of the city forever. Today, much of New York City has shifted away from shipping and manufacturing on the waters edge as the city grapples with the tension between economic development and the pressing issues of climate change and rising sea levels. The waterfront has become a site for dialogue and debate. How is the waterfront used? Who has access to it? Who doesn’t?

The Sixth Borough Bike Tour is a bike ride presented by Boogie Down Rides, a Bronx-based bicycling and art project produced by Meta Local Collaborative. The ride will explore New York City’s waterfronts, discuss the ways that they are used (or unused) and consider how these spaces might shape the future city.

Participants will visit contested spaces along the shoreline including the site of a proposed Marine Transfer Station on the Upper East Side, 96 acres along the Bronx Kill where Fresh Direct has met with community opposition over it’s proposal to build a warehouse and distribution center, and the Bronx River, the city’s only fresh water river, which has been reclaimed by its surrounding community. The ride will follow a meandering route, tracing the shoreline and the paths of hidden streams that flow just beneath the city’s surface.

The Sixth Borough Bike Tour is a participatory performance. Cyclists will be both performers and audience in the project, articulating the relationship between the city and the waterfront. The tour will use bicycles as a tool for engagement, and a vehicle for traveling through the spaces in between the city’s past, present, and future.

The tour will take place on Saturday, November 9, 2013. It  will start at 10:00 AM at the East 180th Street train station (2, 5 trains) and will travel from the Bronx to Manhattan. The ride will end in Manhattan, at the 86th Street station (4, 5, and 6 trains), approximately 4 hours later. The ride will be moderately paced, and accessible to cyclists with some experience riding in a group, in traffic. Cyclists are encouraged to wear helmets, and must wear closed-toed shoes, as well as appropriate clothing for the weather.

Stops will include: Starlight Park, Bronx; Concrete Plant Park, Bronx; Brook Park, Bronx; Randall’s Island; Harlem Creek; and East 91st Street, as well as others to be determined.

INFO:

Saturday, November 9, 2013
beginning at 10am at the East 180th Street train station (2,5 trains).

The tour will travel from the Bronx to Manhattan and end in Manhattan, at the 86th Street station (4,5, and 6 trains).

The ride is approximately 4 hours long.

Get the Boogie Down Rides T-shirt

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Show your Boogie Love and support bicycling in the Bronx with the BDR t-shirt! GET IT HERE

Unisex

This is an Anvil Organic T-shirt

5 oz. 100% certified pre-shrunk organic cotton
Soft, comfortable fabric
Double-needle stitched for durability

This shirt complies with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act

More info about Anvil compliance policies here.

Artists are the People in Your Neighborhood

By Elizabeth Hamby for NAMAC

The narrative of artists in neighborhoods often follows an arc that goes something like this: artists, in search of space to live and work cheaply, move to an industrial/low-income/out-of-the-way neighborhood. Real estate values rise, and all of a sudden the industry/low-income housing that made the area affordable, disappear, people are displaced from neighborhoods where they’ve lived for generations, and national chain coffee shops open up on every corner.

Meta Local disrupts this narrative by using community engagement as a vital strategy to develop projects collaboratively with our neighbors. We use our artistic practice to amplify the work that is already taking place in our community, bridging the gap between art, activism, everyday people, and the environment.

Meta Local is the collective practice of Hatuey Ramos-Fermín and myself. Hatuey and I are partners in both life and art, and Meta Local contains our work, which is grounded in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx, where we live. Together, we investigate the dynamics of urban spaces; exploring the histories of buildings and neighborhoods, and tracing the flows of people, ideas and products. We combine documentary strategies with performance and fine art, in order to articulate concepts of origin, and the sense of place.

Often, artists whose work deals with community engagement grapple with the challenges of working outside their own community. Urban Bush Women, creators of dance and community talk elegantly about the work of “Entering, Building, and Exiting Community.” This is important work. But I also wonder about the day-to-day life of being an artist in our own communities.

I’d like to share two of our ongoing Meta Local projects as examples of how we define and create engagement in our own community.

Boogie Down Rides is a bicycling and art project that started in 2012. The goal of the project is to create a culture of bicycling, and build a diverse community of cyclists in the Bronx. By creating and celebrating active transportation, Boogie Down Rides increases awareness of bicycles as a mode of transportation and recreation, promoting safe cycling and bridging existing efforts to expand cycling in the Bronx.

“Bicycling is Art,” is the tagline of Boogie Down Rides, highlighting the aesthetic, as well as political function of creating a visible bicycle culture in a borough that struggles with disparities in health, infrastructure, and income. The project brings together artists, activists, public health workers, advocates for safe streets, and everyday folks who like to ride their bikes. It has also sparked a local conversation about who rides bikes in the Bronx, and the barriers that keep others from joining in. This dialogue, which often takes place at stop lights and street corners, is the link between art-making and place-making that is the crux of our practice.

Mind the Gap/La Brecha considers the relationship between the neighborhoods of the South Bronx, and the surrounding waterfront. As part of the Laundromat Project’s Create Change Public Artist Residency, this project was stationed at the Blue and White Laundromat on East 140th Street in the South Bronx. Collaborators included James Rojas, an artist and urban planner who helped us design an interactive 3D model, local community groups, such as South Bronx Unite, who are advocating for more South Bronx waterfront access, and the everyday people of the neighborhood who shared their visions, fears, and aspirations for the waterfront.

Hosting this project at a laundromat helped to broaden the constituency of the conversation about the future of the neighborhood’s waterfront access beyond those activists and organizers, including children, parents, elderly people, and others who are not typically able to attend community meetings. By facilitating storytelling, working with interactive models, and creating an “Ideal Waterfront” photo booth, our project created a space where art-making was a living thing — contingent on the relationship between people and place that constitute the neighborhood.

It is not strange that community engagement in the arts is becoming more visible in the broader art world. In a moment characterized by startling inequality, global crises, and threats to civil liberty, artists are compelled to respond to complex problems with projects that seek to not only articulate the conditions of everyday life, but to engage them head-on. Art-making requires sustained attention, both stubbornness and willingness to change,professional amateurism, and deep engagement. It requires collaboration across disciplines, and a long-term perspective that pays close attention to the present. In short, the practice of art-making is well-suited to the task of confronting social and political climate that is more and more often characterised by fear and fraction.

Conversations like artsENGAGE are important in the midst of this practice because this work is not easy, but also because we are the constituents of the community of practitioners, working to articulate the terms of our engagement. We are storytellers, visual artists, media makers, and administrators, and we are also the people in our neighborhoods. This salon has presented powerful examples, and raised important questions. I hope that it is the beginning of a longer conversation that can sustain the work of the participants, and support the creation of new, powerful work.

 

WADE IN THE WATER AT BRONX RIVER ART CENTER

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Hautey Ramos from Bronx River Art Center is back to discuss the Waterfront event happening at Bronx River Art Center.

Elizabeth Hamby, Performing Public Space

First published at Performing Public Space

Elizabeth Hamby is an artist and an educator working between the studio, the classroom, and the city. She is a member of Meta Local, an art collective that investigates the dynamics of urban space, and is one of the founders of Boogie Down Rides, a bicycling and art project in the Bronx. Recent projects include Urban Layers, a web-based collaborative platform for urban writing, mapping and media; Process and Progress: Drew Manahan, Meta Local Collaborative, and the Bronx River Alliance, at the Bronx River Art Center; and Mind the Gap-La Brecha as part of the Create Change Artist Residency at the Laundromat Project. Ms. Hamby is currently participating in the Artists as Arts Workers Residency program at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, as well as an unofficial residency at the Museum of the City of New York, where she coordinates the Neighborhood Explorers afterschool program. Elizabeth Hamby holds a BA in Cultural Studies and Philosophy from Eugene Lang College and a BFA in Fine Art from Parsons School of Design. She lives and works in the Bronx.

Underwater New York, The Bronx River

 

Friday February 22, 2013

7:00pm-9:00pm

At BRAC’s temporary space 305 East 140th St. #1A, Bronx, NY 10454

This event is FREE and open to the public!

Underwater New York is a digital journal of writing, art and music inspired by real-life objects found in the waterways of NYC. In conjunction with “Process and Progress,” UNY has invited three writers with strong ties to the Bronx to write original fiction or poetry around surprising once-submerged Bronx River finds like a piano, a human skull, a horse trailer and more.

Featuring:

Allison Amend

Rich Villar

Carolyn Ferrell

Wade in the water

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Friday February 15, 2013

7:00pm-9:00pm

At BRAC’s temporary space 305 East 140th St. #1A, Bronx, NY 10454

This event is FREE and open to the public!

Join Meta Local Collaborative and BRAC for a special panel discussion about the different efforts to improve the Bronx waterfronts, with

Damian Griffin the Bronx River Alliance’s Education Director,

Kellie Terry-Sepulveda Executive Director of The POINT CDC,

Chauncy Young, Community Organizer from the Harlem River Working Group,

Mychal Johnson from South Bronx Unite as well as other Bronx activists.

Take me to the river

 

Tuesday February 12, 2013

7:00pm-9:00pm

At BRAC’s temporary space 305 East 140th St. #1A, Bronx, NY 10454

Join Meta Local Collaborative and BRAC for  “Take me to the River”,  connecting the Bronx River’s past and future histories with presentations and conversations with:

Morgan Powell, Editor, Bronx River Sankofa

Anthony Thomas the Environmental Justice Coordinator from Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice.

Amanda Schachter and Alexander Levi, SLO Architecture

Event is  FREE and open to the public.

Process and Progress: Drew Manahan, Meta Local Collaborative & The Bronx River Alliance

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On View from February 01 – February 23

Gallery Location: 305 E. 140th Street, #1A, Bronx, NY 10454
Reception: Friday, February 1, 2013, 6-9pm

GALLERY HOURS: Wednesday–Friday, 3pm–6:30pm / Saturday, 12pm–5pm FREE ADMISSION

Bronx, NY, January, 2013—Bronx River Art Center (BRAC) is proud to announce Process and Progress: Drew Manahan, Meta Local Collaborative & The Bronx River Alliance. This is the third in the series of five exhibitions that invites artists and architects to engage with systems of urban development in the Bronx and beyond. Process and Progress is presented in BRAC’s temporary gallery space in Mott Haven while our permanent facility in West Farms is undergoing renovation.

The exhibition series, Process and Progress: Engaging in Community Change, highlights the Bronx River Art Center’s development during a time of significant structural and cultural change in the borough. BRAC’s major building renovation project, now underway, is leading the way for more environmentally sustainable and technologically advanced designs within our local West Farms Community. At the same time, the surrounding area has become home to new and imminent urban development projects that will dramatically impact the built environment, social fabric, and cultural composition of our local community.

Process and Progress: Drew Manahan, Meta Local Collaborative & The Bronx River Alliance focuses on the past, the present and the future of the Bronx River. Architect Drew Manahan explores how the wilderness around the river has resurfaced within the South Bronx’s urban environment through renderings and drawings and how this evolving ecology and the river is creating new ephemeral or transcendental experiences for the borough’s dwellers.

In partnership with the Bronx River Alliance, Meta Local Collaborative has curated a selection of photos, plans, maps, ephemera from the Alliance’s archives. They trace how spaces along the river has changed throughout the years, revisit past restoration and recreation plans, and consider the river’s present state and plans for its future. In addition, Meta Local is showcasing work they are developing focused on public access to the Bronx River Greenway.

Artists and Partners:

Andrew Manahan is an Eagle Scout from Northwest Ohio who received his Bachelors of Science in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati and his Masters of Architecture from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. His vision is to create architectural and cultural policy through an opportunistic and proactive practice. He completed his first building just this past year through a mixture of contemporary and digital fabrication techniques and traditional woodwork and handcraft, featured in Metropolis magazine. Andrew has become increasingly interested in the reemergence of wilderness and nature in highly populated or recently vacated urban areas, and is interested in crafting a relationship between culture architecture and wilderness.

Meta Local Collaborative is the practice of Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos Fermin. Their work investigates the dynamics of urban spaces, exploring the histories of buildings and neighborhoods, and tracing the flows of people, ideas and products. Combining documentary strategies with performance and fine art, they articulate concepts of origin, and the sense of place. Meta Local develops site-specific, participatory works that refer to the complexity of their community in the South Bronx and beyond. The artists observe, analyze, and dissect the social, cultural and economic structures of their neighborhood, as well as the design and organization of buildings and spaces, and use the information gathered to develop questions that serve as a foundation for their projects.

The Bronx River Alliance serves as a coordinated voice for the river and works in harmonious partnership to protect, improve and restore the Bronx River corridor so that it can be a healthy ecological, recreational, educational and economic resource for the communities through which the river flows.

Creative Conversations

Creative Conversations: Nontsikelelo Mutiti, Elizabeth Hamby, and Hatuey Ramos-Fermin

Reposted from the Laundromat Project.

Each year, The Laundromat Project commissions 5-7 Create Change Public Artists-in-Residence to create socially engaged art in their own neighborhood coinops. Over the course of six months, they join our Create Change Professional Development Fellows in a series of workshops meant to strengthen their creative practice. Over the next few weeks, we will share a series of conversations between pairs of our most recent Residents and Fellows.

Nontsi: Social practice implies collaboration between artists and community members. Elizabeth and Hatuey, you chose to build a project together before bringing other people into the equation. What was this experience like?

Elizabeth: Our collaborative work is both arduous and incredibly rewarding. I think that the constant work that is required in order to collaborate with each other is a big influence on the way that we work with other people. Hatuey and I hold each other to very high standards, and the accountability that we demand from one another frames our work in our neighborhood. I really related to Urban Bush Women’s presentation about mutual support through collaboration, and the work that is required to achieve that support–their presentation really articulated things that Hatuey and I have been working on and talking about but had not really been able to make clear for ourselves at that point. Thinking specifically about neighbors, and neighborhood engagement, can you talk a little about your hair braiding project in Detroit? You were new to that community, but you used the vernacular of hair and braiding as a bridge between a lot of different social, ethnic, and geographic communities.

Nontsi: When I got to Detroit I realised that I had a very short amount of time to meet people in the community, conduct research, make some artwork and organise an event. I started with the people I had connected with on a previous visit and then met others through their network. I collaborated with a barber, ZooNine Bey and former hairstylist Dina Peace. We spent time together before the event talking in depth about our respective work, cultural differences and similarity. Our interactions culminated in a wonderful event where they demonstrated and spoke to me and everyone that came out about their craft. I really acted as a facilitator and allowed talented knowledgeable people to share with others in their community. I stepped into a place that has a rich history and a strong African-American community committed to presentation, culture and craft. It was a great learning opportunity for me. It was wonderful seeing people coming around to share and be involved with leading and listening.

 

Elizabeth & Hatuey: Could you share a specific story from your experience doing this project that really captures that sense of people coming together?
Nontsi: Actually, the best part of the project was when it was all over. People stayed for a long time after we were done, continuing conversations, swapping information asking how and when something similar could be organised again. I am happy that people felt invested.

 

Elizabeth & Hatuey: On the website “Brainpickings,” there was recently a quote from Bruno Munari (from 1966) that we think is relevant to this discussion. Munari said:

 

“Today it has become necessary to demolish the myth of the ‘star’ artist who only produces masterpieces for a small group of ultra-intelligent people. It must be understood that as long as art stands aside from the problems of life it will only interest a very few people. Culture today is becoming a mass affair, and the artist must step down from his pedestal and be prepared to make a sign for a butcher’s shop (if he knows how to do it). The artist must cast off the last rags of romanticism and become active as a man among men, well up in present-day techniques, materials and working methods. Without losing his innate aesthetic sense he must be able to respond with humility and competence to the demands his neighbors may make of him. The designer of today re-establishes the long-lost contact between art and the public, between living people and art as a living thing. … There should be no such thing as art divorced from life, with beautiful things to look at and hideous things to use. If what we use every day is made with art, and not thrown together by chance or caprice, then we shall have nothing to hide.”Both your practice and ours vacillates between art and design. How do you navigate the differences between those two practices? Does thinking like a designer (rather than an artist) change your perception of “the public” and the way that you participate in public life?

 

Nontsi: I want to make work that has a space in the world and that can speak to or capture the imagination of people within the space of the museum but more importantly meeting people where they are at. Making things that people can hold in their hands, or focusing on ways of making that borrow from vernacular design and craft has been a way for me to move my work towards people. Sometimes the audience is specific, I aim to create dialog at street level or on the shop floor between my neighbours and peers. One of the parameters of the Laundromat Project residency is that you produce a project in your very own neighborhood. How long have you been living in the Bronx?

Elizabeth: I have only lived in our neighborhood for about a year. But I don’t see myself going anywhere any time soon.

Hatuey: I’ve been living in the Bronx for 5 years total, 2 years near Yankee Stadium and in Mott Haven 3 years.

Elizabeth & Hatuey: Nontsi, you’re new to New York. How did The Laundromat Project Professional Development Fellowship affect your perception of the city–both as an artist and as an everyday person?

Nontsi: The workshops for the fellowship were held in different Boroughs. Commuting to and from sessions taught me my first lesson about New York – THE PLACE IS HUGE! The population density is incredible and even more so the diversity represented throughout the city. This has really made me reconsider my definition of community. What is a neighbour? What vocabulary, visual or otherwise, do I use to engage them?

Do you feel you had a connection to your community before the Laundromat Project residency?

Elizabeth: Absolutely. We are very lucky to live in a neighborhood with a lot of people who are very committed to achieving social justice through coalition and community-building. We have a lot of neighbors who are organizers and activists, as well as artists, which creates a really amazing space for the kind of work that we do. There are a lot of people who really want to work together.
Hatuey: Yes, we’ve been involved directly and indirectly with this project and other projects as well with our neighbors and organizations. So, we are present.

 

Nontsi: How did you decide on the issue to tackle for your project? Have you been doing other work around this theme?

Elizabeth: Last spring we did a project called Boogie Down Rides dealing with bicycling as a form of transportation, recreation, and art in the Bronx. We built relationships with a lot of organizations who were dealing with different aspects of the built environment in the Bronx, and we wanted to build on that. But we didn’t feel like bicycling was the right project for The LP.

Hatuey: Also, since we have to be in one place to do the residency (at the laundromat, as opposed to biking around) we chose the waterfront that is within our neighborhood to focus on. So, when we talked about the waterfront with our neighbors they could relate to it or not, but it was something tangible, a specific place that they could go to (even though with difficulty). It is the first time we tackled the idea of the waterfront, but we are interested in places and how they can tells us or give us clues about how they are, the way they are and how they affect, influence and in a way define neighborhoods, boroughs, cities etc.

 

Nontsi: Can you highlight something that you felt was most effective at reaching your goals or fulfilling the needs of the participants?

 

Hatuey:  The goals of the project were to interact with our neighbors about their waterfront, to listen to what they have to say about it and the neighborhood, and to use all of that information for the future. It is hard to meet people’s needs, but at the very least we served as a “channel” for people to tell us things that they saw and wanted to improve and we learned a lot from active listening.

 

Elizabeth: It’s similar to what you were saying about your project in Detroit– the best moments of the project were when we were talking with our neighbors about the next steps, the future, in our own terms.

Nontsi: Your project seemed interactive on so many levels, could you tell me about the range of activities you set up at the Laundromat?

 

Hatuey: James Rojas, an artist/urban planner, helped us set up an interactive model making project where people came to our table and played with different toys and objects by placing them in different configurations that transformed them from their regular uses into buildings, trees, slides, parks, boardwalks etc… It was the most successful activity since it is very easy to interact with, it is totally non-threatening and can engage multi-generational participants.
We also had a backdrop of a photo of a place within our waterfront and asked people to write on a speech bubble what they wished the place could be and we took portraits of them, we also recorded audio interviews with neighbors about the neighborhood, their stories about the water, etc.

 

Nontsi: I like the combination of activities you folded into your bigger project. My own work seems to be moving in that direction. The recording of oral history is as important to my investigations as making interactive tools. You’ve mentioned how you worked with participants of all ages. I was very impressed by that. It is so important to harness the energy of all the people to whom a project is relevant.I also liked how your interactive model utilised everyday objects. This is a great way to get people to feel comfortable with touching and moving pieces around. Also it is a way of working that is not out of the reach for others, the children and adults that participated could easily use this format to extend the work you begun or build their own self-initiated projects.

 

Elizabeth & Hatuey: It’s similar with your braiding project. Hair braiding is certainly aesthetic and artful, but it is also an activity that takes place within people’s everyday lives. By framing it within an art context, you’re able to simultaneously amplify the “art” of braiding and hair and to (literally as well as metaphorically) weave together art and life.

Nontsi: My own practice as an artist is process-based. Iteration and labour are an important part of all my projects. Braiding embodies these aspects. For me it is very performative, both the learning and practising. It was interesting to see this played out in the space of a museum. I have also been collecting images and objects associated with this craft. It is important to take a close look at things that seem mundane. There is so much richness and variety around us, even in the things that are most familiar to us.

Calendar of Mind the Gap / La Brecha

For more information visit: here and here.

 

Soundview Park Summer Festival

 

Friends of Soundview Park annual celebration of the park and the Bronx waterfront!

All activities are FREE and open to the public. Performances for all ages, family friendly fun and educational activities, and fitness and recreational programming.

10:00 am – 6:00 pm – Street Cartography
This bicycle-based mobile exhibition of ideas about ways to make bicycling accessible, safe and sustainable in the Bronx. The artists Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín will share existing initiatives in the Bronx and generate new ideas with participants in the festival.

Laundromat Project 2012 Cycle

We are excited to be part of the Laundromat Project Create a Change Artist Residency!
Hatuey Ramos-Fermin and Elizabeth Hamby will turn their laundromat into a classroom environment in their project Mind the Gap/La Brecha to invite their neighbors to propose new ways of increasing their access to green spaces and the waterfront. Collaborating with locals, they will use 3D models, workshops, and other platforms to visualize the future development of the South Bronx. The interior and exterior space of the laundromat will be used to exhibit the culmination of ideas generated by locals.

Elizabeth Hamby and Hatuey Ramos-Fermín are artists and educators working between the studio, the classroom, and the city. Their collaborative practice explores the relationship between people and place through a variety of media, and relies heavily on community participation and engagement. Their recent projects, Boogie Down Rides in “This Side of Paradise,” organized by No Longer Empty, and When the Bronx was Burning, Casa Amadeo was Holding it Down produced with Action Club for “Shifting Communities” at the Bronx River Art Center combined installation with public programming and community engagement to create conversations about critical issues in the Bronx.