This week Dana Bassett and Duncan Mackenzie catch up with the artist Ben Stone. We are joined thanks to Artadia by special guest host (whose name Duncan has been mispronouncing for years and to his shame this continues here) Elysia Borowy-Reeder Executive Director of MOCAD ( Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit).
We catch up with Ben during the intense run up to his solo show at Western exhibitions which is up now through September 16, 2016. In a rich conversation we chat about things work, humor and contemporary art, violence, sports, and the magic of therapy.
Geoffrey Todd Smith,
The Score Sports Talk,
Untitled Art Fair,
Belle and Sebastian,
In the wake of the recently announced Detroit bankruptcy, and amid the uncertain fate of the Detroit Institute of the Artsâ€™ collection, the Knight Foundation revealed the winners of Knight Arts Challenge: Detroit last week. 56 winners — from individuals, collectives and established organizations and institutions — were awarded grant money ranging from $5,000 to $120,000, given the chance for art to lift a community in the way an emergency manager and bankruptcy cannot: spiritually, mentally, passionately; with love and tenderness. While the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings will be fat cats and brass tacks, pushing elected officials and community members further out of the decision making, the Knight Challenge grant recipients will aim to return power to the people, on micro levels, yet with respect and agency given to the very people in the communities these artists and groups will work with. Thus, the award winners, in total given $2.1 million, represent a ray of hope in the cityâ€™s immediate future and may quickly change the landscape of the city if they are successful.
The Knight Arts Challenge: Detroit is an initiative of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and is a $9 million dollar campaign to draw from the talent of the city, to keep creative people in the city, as an investment in the arts of Detroit. It follows from the adage â€œWhere culture can breed, people will breedâ€ (I just made that up), but its a lot like â€œIf you build it, they will comeâ€ in that it is the arts that build a city or community, that the vitality of the culture sustains the soul and makes people want to live somewhere, that they need to live there, even if thereâ€™s no public transportation, lack of basic services like trash removal or functioning street lamps; even if the rest of the country has given up on the place, it still has potential that can be seen and felt. Because art and music has a deep history in Detroit, as does innovation and invention.
The winning entries are diverse, and as all were required to take place in or affect Detroit directly, most of them are geared towards working with the communities of the city to instill positive change, empowerment and growth. They ranged from creating a lending library of contemporary Detroit artwork for residents to live with and potentially buy, creative writing workshops, hyperlocal radio broadcasts to create a sound collage while driving through the city, a residency program for musicians outside of Detroit to collaborate with the local musicians, a competition to foster more talent in contemporary Jazz, production of guitars made from reclaimed wood from demolished homes in the city, an artist residency program in city elementary school, seed money to expand an established film fest into a larger event with national status, a nationwide tour of an interactive project geared at engaging viewers with ground roots change, and many many more. One that I find compelling just from its blurb on the website is a video project conceived by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History:
â€œTo illuminate some of Detroitâ€™s dark neighborhood streets physically and spiritually, the museum will commission a series of video art installations showcasing the faces and wisdom of the cityâ€™s elders.Â In conjunction with a team of Detroit media artists, distinguished filmmaker Julie Dash will create the works. Each will seek to bring light to the legacy, vitality and fabric of Detroit, while providing safe passage for residents in a city in which a recent survey said some 40 percent of streetlights were in disrepair.â€
The phrase â€œ40% of streetlights were in disrepairâ€ is not an exaggeration, but should say â€œare not working at allâ€. So many streets in the city are completely dark at night, inviting all sorts of violent crime, not to mention further lowering the quality of life experienced by residents in those areas. The temporary lighting of these streets, with proud images and text of the cityâ€™s past will no doubt be a jolt to the senses. What is needed, of course, is for working streetlights to once again be installed. Ultimately, this will be more powerful than an artwork in terms of transformation. One hopes that this project acts as a catalyst for that to happen, by literally shining a light on a huge problem in the city.
I sincerely hope Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is devising some way to get the street lamps, as well as other crucial needs of the city taken care of. Obviously, he isnâ€™t interested in the arts, as he wants to strip the city of its culture for quick cash. Which art institution will be next on the chopping block? It seems important that now someone is trying to invest in the arts of Detroit. Along with Kresge, a more established arts grant in the Detroit region, a big push is being made to not only keep talent in the city and to nurture the arts, but together they breed an outlook on the art of Detroit as a whole: within five years time (or hell, right now) if someone wanted to quickly distinguish the art of Detroit, they would probably throw out words like â€œcommunity engagedâ€, â€œguerrillaâ€, â€œactivistâ€, or the foul phrase â€œsocial practiceâ€. Not to poop in the punchbowl, but as a narcissistic artist bent on only furthering my own artistic hopes and dreams, I find this potentially disturbing, that a cityâ€™s identity could be considered along terms of social practice, as aesthetics are so often ignored with work that is community engaged. For now, though, I am more than happy to content to leave this issue for the future, a future where we can afford to consider beauty alone, and not pragmatism and politics. Knight Arts Challenge is opening doors that seemed demolished long ago. Hell, its national news that we just got a grocery store in downtown for christsakes.
It is important to note that ALL of the recipients of Knight Arts Challenge will only get funding if the recipients find matching funds within one year. For more information on the Knight Arts Challenge, visit their website:
This week: after some needless reference to THC containing plants (look up 420 if confused) we get down to business. First we check in with Edition the new fair coming to town.
This week Amanda Browder travels to Detroit MI to interview Christina Roos and Thomas Bell about their newly formed residency Spread Art. We talk about the art scene in Detroit, their residency and what it was like moving from New York to Detroit.
Spread Art is an artist run creative Incubator designed to foster new works and collaborations by artists from around the world.www.spreadart.org
Spread Art is an artist-run creative incubator designed to foster new works through collaborations with artists, curators, and organizations from around the world. Spread Art supports emerging artists through group and solo exhibitions, music events, and performance showcases, and also facilitates opportunities for youth and adults to explore their creativity and increase self-awareness through art. Spread Art supports the creation and evolution of art festivals and cultural collaborations locally, nationally, and internationally.
August 30, 2013 · Print This Article
Stephanie CristelloÂ published an interview with Richard Holland and Duncan MacKenzie onÂ The SeenÂ recently to talk about Bad at Sports’ plans for EXPO, including the upcoming print publication Dana Bassett is spearheading and the various interviews we will be conducting on site at the fair.Â
BAD AT SPORTS // INTERVIEW
Duncan MacKenzieÂ andÂ Richard HollandÂ ofÂ Bad at SportsÂ are two of the best in town to talk with about art. Known for their witty commentary and contemporary art talk platform Bad at Sports, they are most admired for their weekly podcasts and blog. The three of us sat down to discuss their involvement with EXPO/2013 â€“ the recent venture of a newspaper that will be distributed throughout the fair spearheaded byÂ Whatâ€™s the T?Â columnistÂ Dana BassettÂ entitledÂ The EXPO Register, and the live interviews they will be fielding from their booth next to the /Dialogues stage. The lineup for this yearâ€™s panel is impressive, titled â€œOne-on-One,â€ just one of many sports puns, MacKenzie and Holland will be in conversation with gallerists, directors, and curators, such as Solveig Ã˜vstebÃ¸ of the Renaissance Society, Elysia Borowy-Reeder of the MOCAD Detroit, and Director Charlie James, as well as artists William Powhida, JosÃ© Lerma, and Sanford Biggers. While the details of these interviews are kept secret (you will just have to see them in person to find out), our conversation breaches the extent of Bad at Sports coverage at the fair, their plans for the paper, and MacKenzie and Hollandâ€™s bucket list â€“ like an interview about interviews, or something along those lines.
Stephanie Cristello:Â Letâ€™s start off by talking about some of the things youâ€™re doing for the fair. Youâ€™re working with Dana Bassett to publish a newspaper reporting live?
Duncan MacKenzie:Â Yes, the newspaper is going to be called The EXPO Register and reflects our collective style â€“ slightly goofy, a touch irreverent, yet fairly straight ahead. The great thing about working with Dana is that she has the same wry sense of humor as us, which will definitely be a part of it, but it will also be a sincere tool for the fair goers.
Richard Holland:Â At Bad at Sports we are slightly irreverent, but not extensively. We are respectful of our guests â€“ we will make fun of them now and again, but at our core, we are the fan club newsletter. This newspaper will be a different side of that effort.
SC:Â So you will be reporting on trends, how much gossip is there going to be?
DM:Â 98% trash! No â€“ there will be a chunk of it thatâ€™s gossip, but itâ€™s light.
RH:Â Weâ€™re just trying not to get sued, thatâ€™s why we donâ€™t have comments on our site anymore. After the fourth time we got threatened with a lawsuitâ€¦
From Modern Art Notes…
In an effort to spotlight the collections at the Detroit Institute of Arts that would be lost if the threatened sale of art in collections at the DIA are sold, all day long Modern Art Notes and many other sites will be spotlight art at the DIA. Iâ€™ll be featuring roughly an artwork an hour for the next ten hours. I hope this will help Â spotlight both the collection at the DIA and the access we have to Detroitâ€™s art. I think that the more people think about whatâ€™s at the DIA, the more concerned theyâ€™ll be about what could happen there.
How can you help support the DIA? Share artwork here on MAN and at other sites with your friends. If you live in Michigan, tell your elected officials that the future of Detroit is important to you and that you donâ€™t support a fire sale of the cityâ€™s future.Â Best of all: Join meÂ in becoming a member of the Detroit Institute of Arts.