I am an artist who works in process-based, research-intensive ways, and it is rare to find an organization that can adequately support me. The standard residency model is geared towards work that’s developed in a studio. This is ideal for artists who need moments of cloistering that allow them to escape the concerns and distractions of the everyday world. My work requires the opposite. My best material and practices come from the world around me, and I need to work with organizations that give me the time and support to engage more deeply with the everyday. Culture Push’s Fellowship for Utopian Practice offered me a unique opportunity for intellectual support that promoted, rather than stifled, my public practice.
As with many of my favorite art-making experiences, Culture Push is very dialogic. When working with living human beings, whether in the context of performance or within social practice, conversation is not just inevitable; it’s crucial. My practice is often pedagogical--like a good classroom, The Department of Local Affairs, the project I was developing during my Fellowship, requires the guided participation of others in order to succeed. I asked local residents in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn to make a map, design a pamphlet, write a (non-commercial) review, or leave advice about the neighborhood, using pre-existing templates as guides. Projects like The Department of Local Affairs can easily fail if an artist is in dialogue with some existing or imagined “community” but no one is in that community is actively in dialogue with the artist. With Culture Push, I found that both staff and other Fellows were eager to talk to me about my process, asking helpful questions and expecting engaging results.
I’m most interested in work that remains true to its conceptual core in all of its phases. Everything, from the initial idea-formulation to funding and execution can be considered an aspect of craft. Having the space to strengthen this idea as a form of practice – or to put it more basically, to practice what I preach – was invaluable for my work, and for me.