A Sense of Place
March 12-14, 2020
In September 2019, our group of twelve graduate students in the Department of Art & Art History at Hunter College traveled to Dakar, Senegal to study with curator Koyo Kouoh and her team at RAW Material Company, a non-profit art center offering research and residency programs for artists and curators alongside seasonal exhibitions, publications, and lectures. The focus of our time in Dakar with Kouoh was how curatorial practice can make the presence of a place visible, or in her words: “How have actors, active in our local contexts and from across the creative disciplines, responded to and shaped their – our – environment? How do they collaborate? How do they tell stories and recall history? How do they create sites of possibility?” We returned to New York with these questions in mind, and, in partnership with Kouoh, have organized three days of programming in response. Gentrification and displacement, infrastructures of surveillance, and sustainability are among the topics we will consider. We’ve gathered artists, technologists, an auteur NYC tour guide, cultural critics, and chefs to guide us through the city, hoping to see how they shape, and are shaped by, the place of New York.
Curated by Christina Barrera, Simon Benjamin, Chris Berntsen, D’Arcy Blake, Alison Dillulio, Malanya Graham, Beatrice Johnson, Leonardo Madriz, Daniela Mayer, Sarah McCaffery, Renāte Prancāne, and Sydney Shavers with Koyo Kouoh, Foundation To-Life, Inc. Arthur and Carol Kaufman Goldberg Visiting Curator at Hunter College.
Unless otherwise noted, events are free and open to the public. To RSVP, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Day 1: Thursday, March 12
Visit to Project EATS with Linda Goode Bryant
300 Chester Street, Brooklyn, NY
Space is limited; RSVP required.
For this event, we will visit the Project EATS location at the Marcus Garvey Apartments in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Linda Goode Bryant will speak with us about the genesis and mission of Project EATS and her own journey as an artist and activist.
Projects EATS farm at Marcus Garvey Apartments is a community-based urban farm that grows food organically and sustainably for the local community. It provides learning and economic opportunity, and aims to strengthen the bonds among local residents through art and education. Twice a week, the farm opens for business, inviting the local community to purchase produce at affordable prices. To keep the farm financially self-sustaining, Project EATS also sells its goods to local restaurants and at farmers markets at slightly higher prices to subsidize the lower charges in their neighborhoods.
Surveillance City: Examining the Urban Panopticon
205 Hudson Street (Hudson and Canal), Second Floor Gallery
Free and open to the public; ID required for building entry. Wheelchair accessible.
This panel discussion will focus on the local infrastructure of surveillance, tracking, and data collection in New York City. We will consider what it means to live under ever-present surveillance, how such an infrastructure infringes on basic human rights, and strategies for public resistance. Real-time facial recognition, location tracking, and biometric data collection in post-9/11 New York are among the topics we will discuss.
Panelists include Ingrid Burrington (artist and author of Networks of New York: An Illustrated Field Guide to Urban Internet Infrastructure); Allison Burtch (strategist and researcher); Albert Fox Cahn (Founder and Executive Director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project); and Diamond Stingily (artist and poet). Janus Rose (Senior Editor at Motherboard) will moderate.
Day 2: Friday, March 13
Speed Levitch Tour of Central Park
Space is limited, students only; RSVP required ($25)
“A flâneur’s stroll and savoring of this Average Joe’s Walden Pond that spotlights big things and small as we visit with this bold and bucolic interruption that is interrupting not only the city’s grid plan but also the city day.”
– Speed Levitch
Timothy “Speed” Levitch is an actor, speaker, author, and tour guide, originally from the Bronx. Levitch received his tour license from the Central Park Conservancy in 1992, and went to work for Apple Tours and Gray Line Tours (NYC bus tours). He gradually developed a cult following, not only to his fast talking style, but also for his obvious love of portraying his native city in psychedelic terms and with passionate philosophical ideas. He later gained fame as the subject of the 1998 documentary The Cruise, by award-winning director Bennett Miller. He currently lives in Kansas City, MO, and does seasonal commissioned work in New York.
Roosevelt House, 47-49 E 65th Street
Free and open to the public. Wheelchair accessible.
This event will consider the role of place, or belonging, in how individuals and communities experience and resist structural violence and systemic erasure. The program is inspired by the resilience and creativity of the independent, community-driven artist initiatives we encountered in Dakar, Senegal.
Refreshments in the Roosevelt House Four Freedoms Room.
7:00–7:30 Films by Tourmaline and Howardena Pindell
The evening begins with a screening of two films by artist, filmmaker, and activist Tourmaline: Salacia (2019), a fictional narrative built around Mary Jones, a Black transgender sex worker and outlaw in New York City in 1836, and Atlantic is a Sea of Bones (2017), a short starring Egyptt LaBeija and Fatima Jamal, who offer performance and self-expression as a form of resistance to the systematic violence perpetrated against Black queer and trans people. These will be followed by Howardena Pindell‘s pivotal work Free, White and 21 (1980), a performance video in which Pindell speaks directly to the camera describing the racism she experiences in professional, educational, and personal settings.
7:30–8:30 Conversation with Tourmaline, Howardena Pindell, and Ayesha Williams; moderated by Siona Wilson
Following the screening, art historian Siona Wilson, whose research probes issues of sexual difference, race and sexuality at the intersection of art and politics in the twentieth century, will moderate a discussion with Tourmaline, Howardena Pindell, and Ayesha Williams, Deputy Director of The Laundromat Project. The conversation will reflect on the films’ treatment of structural power and self-determination, as well as how multigenerational, multiracial community networks –– like The Laundromat Project –– can be effective agents of social change.
Day 3: Saturday, March 14
An Evening with African Chop House
The Artist’s Institute, 132 E. 65th Street
Space is limited; RSVP required. Not wheelchair accessible.
In this closing event for A Sense of Place, curator Koyo Kouoh and Hunter College graduate student curators will gather to reflect on their time with RAW Material Company in Dakar, Senegal over a meal created by African Chop House. African Chop House founder Stanley Lumax will talk about the role of food in building a supportive community.
African Chop House is a platform dedicated to celebrating African culture through food, music and people. Stanley Lumax created African Chop House in order to reconnect with the sense memories of his Ghanian-American home, or as he describes it: “My parents inspired African Chop House. Growing up watching the women in my Ghanaian household cooking all day, against the backdrop of high-life music in a house overflowing with guests is a childhood memory I hold dearly in my heart.”
This symposium is part of the Foundation To-Life, Inc. Arthur and Carol Kaufman Goldberg Curatorial Workshop program at Hunter College.