Issue 58 | www.fokus.org
Atiba T. Edwards // Founder & Chief Curator
Atiba is an engineer focused on making and connecting creative people through moments so that they can impact their own world.
Jozi Zwerdling // Curator
Jozi is an artist enabler, educator and organizer who loves the INSIGHT project as a means of re-imagining, linking and documenting selves, stories and worlds.
Shani Cohen // Curator
Shani is a Brooklyn based writer who believes in uniting our diverse communities through art and the power of words.
Jordan Kifer // Curator
Jordan is a writer focused on creating art that invites conversation and inspires larger cultural impact.
INSIGHT Magazine showcases and archives emerging contemporary artists from all art disciplines. FOKUS produces this magazine to provide insight into people who are creating art, traditional and non-traditional, in their own way.
Cover: Pause by Megan Mulholland
Zoe Black • Atiba T. Edwards • FGR • Kristina Filler • Abdul Fattah Ismail • Ellen Griffin • Nicholas Galanin • Keith Landrum • Michelle Marie • Megan Mulholland • Maya Iman Smith • Kofi Thomas • Megan White
Questions, comments and contributions can be sent to email@example.com. To view past issues of INSIGHT, visit www.fokus.org/insight. Copyright © 2019. INSIGHT (ISSN 2164-7771) is a publication of FOKUS, Inc. All rights reserved on entire contents. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.
INSIGHT: RESISTANCE 4 6 8 9 12 14 16 17 18 19
Atiba T. Edwards & FGR Intersectionality Megan White MANSPREADING Ellen Griffin You Are Not My Sun Michelle Marie Floral Bundles Maya Iman Smith Boldness Nâ€™ Softness Atiba T. Edwards A Garden Grows Keith Landrum Today Abdyul Fattah Ismail Labor + KKKaptil = System Zoe Black Girls Just Want to Take Up Space Kristina Filler Hold Your Fire
Interview by Atiba T. Edwards and FGR Nicholas Galanin - an artist featured in the Whitneyâ€™s 2019 Biennial - works in a space of investigating the intersection of cultures, thoughts and trauma. AE: How did the selection to Whitneyâ€™s Biennial come about? What was your reaction when you got the call?
NG: I had several conversations with Ru and Jane about my practice, my work and future projects. I was thrilled to get the call but also concerned about the institutions ability to care for our ideas, our community, our work in regards to Warren Kanders and Safariland.
AE: Where did the catalyst for creating American Prayer Rug come from?
NG: From the constant oppressive amnesia in America, amnesia that purposefully chooses not to acknowledge our histories, the violence that continues from building and following through with these histories. The devouring of culture while ignoring communities that create said culture. The continual drumming of violence through media, separating and dehumanizing our communities, which comfortably sets the scene for violence, violence we see taking place in form of white terrorism. America is the catalyst.
How does showing in spaces that may not always feel safe fit into your art path? All institutions are problematic. Indigenous erasure is real all the way down to the land that many of these institutions are built upon. If we do not engage and stand ground with presence to share our experiences, works, dreams and ideas to the world then this genocide swallows our community. 4 | www.fokus.org
What do you see as your role in Our connection to place, to culture and participating and showing your work in community is resistance. Given the these institutions? white washing of history often softened My work has so much capacity to do jobs of necessity, while allowing for viewers to feel as if they have challenged something in there own perspectives, this is more effective than shoving knowledge or experience down a throat. If you feel accused in these conversations surrounding the work that is telling of your position in the political or social conversation.
and fed through school books and settler myth, why would one trust our important histories and stories to be told with such abuse and negligence?
How does your work right or eradicate the settlers gaze?
I don’t have a map or playbook for the deeply rooted counterfeit belief of white supremacy, though it’s experienced in major and micro forms within our Most museums have problematic ties to communities and institutions, this is Indigenous communities based on not generational, it is embedded in the only how objects in the collections have fabric that built this nation, these been acquired via theft etc. but also borders. on the damaging belief deeply rooted in western thought that everything Offering work in safe spaces which Indigenous, land, body, knowledge and allow for one to see their own positions visual language is something that can in the conversation with more clarity be appropriated, consumed and fed is one form of engagement. Equally upon. The myth that anthropology and important in this conversation is the western gaze is supreme, this falls continued work I do in my community inline with Manifest Destiny. This also with apprentices, building up our happens in anthropology where our community with connection to our elders’ knowledge is homogenized, only cultural richness of subsistence living, considered valid after anthropologic art etc. process. We have agency. I have no conflicts bringing a perspective that has been purposefully ignored or skewed to these spaces, it is necessity.
What role does art have in resisting wrongs and communicating rights?
With trauma, you address and move past it but not let it hold you back. How do you continue with that mentality in a world where trauma feels never ending as more of ones past is surfaced and even attempted to be rewritten?
This is a real important conversation, working with heavy conversations My experience and connection to art in a way that allows for growth has many layers, from healing and and engagement, progress is part strength in my Indigenous community of the power in being an artist. We to connection to land and place. In can create works which hold space my Indigenous culture art was not in history, presence and future. We a word, though we lived amongst so can create dialogue that allows for many important objects created by our engagement while not bearing the communities. Art documents and leads load of this conversation daily. We are conversation to new understandings, often demanded to explain ourselves, it expands and offers the viewer our ideas, knowledge, work, emotional space to grow and change. Art is a work, to teach and give or prove. All of tool of sovereignty which offers many that demand is tiring and taxing, mental politically powerless people a higher health is important, it is also important power, one that connects generations. for me to focus on other aspects of my practice that build and uplift, that Do you feel you have a responsibility to connect to land, to love and to future see that through? generations. Yes, we come from strong cultural histories that have been met with Complete the phrase “art is...” literal genocide written into this nations Everything, everywhere. constitution. Our existence is resistance, our health, knowledge and love is Art connects us to each other, to the resistance. unknown. www.fokus.org |
MANSPREADING Megan White
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This piece was created to encourage women of color to stop toning themselves down out of the fear of others perceptions. Daisy was born are raised in Detroit, MI but now currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work focuses of highlighting women of color with a touch of daily struggles, nostalgia, and social commentary. www.fokus.org |
You Are Not My Sun Ellen Griffin
Trepinning is an artist in the St.Paul, MN that portrays the floating world of fantasy in her body of works. Her art also reflects her affinity for video games, comics, and the Art Nouveau aesthetic. www.ellengriffinillustration.com 8 | www.fokus.org
You Are Not My Sun
The act of receiving tattoos can be a radical form of resistance in and of itself. It has the ability to heal and the potential to express a sense of body ownership. It has a history of identity affirmation whether it be outward and symbolic within the community it represents or a source of internal exploration. There has since been a movement toward safe spaces that hold accountability and ensure inclusivity within the tattoo community. 10 | www.fokus.org
Michelle Marie is an artist and tattooer specializing in the fluidity of flora and fauna. She collaborates with others in the hopes of personalizing botanicall illustrations as a means of self-expression. www.mich-marie.com www.fokus.org |
Boldness N’ Softness Maya Iman Smith
I decided to go with this depiction of resistance because sometimes resistance may seem subtle, but yet it can be so powerful. I was inspired by the ballerina Michaela Deprince. She went through many obstacles to be a high rank ballerina, all while facing harsh prejudice for being a dark skinned person entering the professional world of ballet. You’ll hear a lot of stories and instances where black girls at a very young age will give up on the dream of become a ballerina because they don’t fit their mold. What do we subconsciously think about when we think Ballerina? 12 | www.fokus.org
We think whiteness, blush pink, sleek buns, softness, femininity, beauty, poise, and grace. I was moved by Michaela because in order to push through the ranks, she had to endure people commenting on her skin tone, being denied and capability. I think it was a huge act of resistance to chose that path as a Black women in a world where she often times has to stand alone. This piece is for all of the Black girls who have unique interests, and chose to stand in it, even if they have to stand alone. Maya Smith is a digital artists who aspires to create work for young people of color to see themselves in. www.salmoninyourrice.com www.fokus.org |
Living the Good Life
Interview by Atiba T. Edwards Imagine a street that only exists for a tenth of a mile sandwich two busy Brooklyn throuhways of Bushwick and Broadway. This street couldn’t have a more fitting name. 50 Goodwin Place is the home of The Good Life Garden a 13,000 square foot personification of resistance and persistance. Below is an interview with Kofi Thomas, the Executive Director of “The Good Life Garden. It was a plot of land that was neglected over the years and forgotten by the city post Hurricane Sandy. Kofi with a group of volunteers decided to plant positivity. AE: What was this plot of land before the garden?
KT: The Space was six houses in a row which were knocked down in the mid 1980s and left vacant for a while before being built as a park in the mid 1990s.
Why did the Good Life Garden come into existence? How did the good life garden come about?
I was volunteering at a garden in the neighborhood when some elders told me about the abused space. I went to check it out and was excited about its potential and intrigued by its history.
You provide seeds and soil to people looking to get a start. Why is that? How is it sustained? We want people to know they can grow food. Give people an entry point to reconnecting with the land. Giving them some power in their diet and health.
What has been the reception to the garden? The reception has been astounding. A few people have cried at the transformation. Countless neighbors have rolled their sleeves up to help.
What are some of the early memories you have with getting the garden started?
The early days were wild. We were displacing drug dealers so there was a lot a few standoffs. Nothing ever came to blows but I remember thinking ‘I’m about to have to fight over some flowers.’
What have you learned about yourself through the creation of this garden?
Learned about my persistence. I have an ability to stay focused despite how many obstacles seem to arise. I have learned how to listen better. Have an ability to mobilize people.
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What do you hope this garden provides for those who come to it?
This garden will be a lot of different things to a lot of different people. But I hope that we educate and empower. People leave here having learned something about the land and about themselves. We provide a space for people to grow together as a community.
Keith Landrum paints, draws, writes, works, and drinks in Chattanooga, TN. His work can be found in various print and online small press publications. 16 | www.fokus.org
Labor + KKKaptial = System
Abdul Fattah Ismail
The labor of many peoplesâ€™ times over the past four hundred years and change The slaves functioning with whips to turn the cranks, then tapped for green poison to flow from the bile Float, float, float on Float, float, float on Float on, float on Actions glide near and far for without the wind for sails on Miami Beach Beach combing after your two-month workout plan of racial slurs, from your funky tongue: unbrushed Float, float, float on Float, float, float on Float on, float on The tongues of your bloated male figures switch from forks to knives, forth and back when a ring of little queens stand around them Stealing their innocence fuels your recessed cerebral cortex with the dopamine needed to throw the hags around in a pile tall enough to cover the spread Float, float, float on Float, float, float on Float on, float on Your allegiance to an alternative discourse pushed by an illusion of a paradise located in a dark hinterland is admirable, but easily defeated with simple, rational logic Float, float, float on Float, float, float on Float on, float on B-Real knows like us to stop the illusions since some people tell me that I need help Some others can fuck off and go to hell Float, float, float on Float, float, float on Float on, float on No shock, no time to stop the stroke who thinks that a capital method of production Labors the love lost because of overextension Since less is more than the least of your basic principles Whom nothing is something, but very little Float, float, float on Float on, float on Float, float, float on Float on, float on Abdul Fattah Ismail is the author of Extended Syllables, a rock-and-soul collection of poetry. This book will make you laugh, smile and think globally while acting locally. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. www.extendedsyllabels.com www.fokus.org |
Girls Just Want to Take Up Space Zoe Black
Resist the urge to take up only as much space as someone else allotted for you. Girl, take up space with your ideas, exuberance, passion, and body. Take up the space that was given to someone else without your consent. Claim the right to be heard as well as seen. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said, “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller.” But imagine how vibrant the world could be if women took up the space they deserve. Zoe is a Brooklyn-based videographer and illustrator. Her work focuses on women’s stories and performances of femininity. www.zoenicoleblack.com 18 | www.fokus.org
Hold Your Fire
Kristina Filler (@kstar810) is an artist based in NYC. She is a gun violence survivor and activist and also co-hosts the feminist podcast Women Crush Weekly. She loves supporting great causes and eating dark chocolate. www.kristinafiller.com www.fokus.org |
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Thank You for reading INSIGHT: RESISTANCE Read more issues @ www.fokus.org/insight
The theme for the next issue is: PARADISE