Tag Archives: Brooklyn

Modern Griots Reviews: Notes from #FunkGodJazzMedicine Conversations


Below are some notes from two of the three conversations from Funk, God, Jazz and Medicine:

Conversation on Self-Determination: Black Radical Brooklyn: Past, Present, and Future

*The history of Weeksville (James Weeks bought land in order to vote) and the four projects of Funk, God, Jazz and Medicine pointed out the intersections between race and space, that part of self-determination is the ability to claim and preserve safe spaces and refuges.

*Weeksville’s history and the protects also stressed sustainability, creating sustainable projects that benefit the community and environment. Instead of looking at the community as having deficits, we look at it as having a richness of resources and assets.

*Art should not be for just for art’s sake, but should encourage political action and involve the community and community organizations to build solutions together. For example, MacArthur Fellow Rick Lowe has a community revitalization project in Houston where he transforms a block and half of houses in poor condition into Project Row Houses (PRH).

*We need to support more of our own institutions before they disappear. Several of the institutions and organizations in the Weeksville neighborhood struggled to stay open, including the three places involved in the exhibition — Stuyvesant Mansion, AME Church and Weeksville Heritage Center. As gentrification creeps in, it is more and more difficult to keep these institutions here.

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Modern Griot Reviews: #FunkGodJazzMedicine at Weeksville


IMG_3676Our society often focuses more on representation and showing images of oppressed people as proof we have “progressed,” but the other side of true moving forward for people who live in oppressive societies is self-determination, something that often gets ignored for the more superficial representation only politics. Self-determination is the freedom and ability to control your own life, taking full responsibility in making decisions for yourself that will impact your future. That is something often not celebrated or promoted when it comes to those of us who are not at the top; we are expected to remain dependent on the dominant powers.

The recent month-long exhibition at Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn, set out to highlight ways black communities in Brooklyn have in the past and today are doing actions of self-determination. Funk, God, Jazz and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn honored the history of the neighborhood of Weeksville in Brooklyn, founded by James Weeks, who bought land in 1838 in that area in order to receive the right to vote and convinced other black people to do the same. New Weeksville executive director Tia Powell Harris listed a few words that represents the history of Weeksville and the projects: empowerment, equity, sustainability, self empowerment and self actualization. Placing four different art and community projects throughout the neighborhood as well as having different conversations focused on the different aspects of the exhibition, Funk, God, Jazz and Medicine revealed interconnections between self-determination, community, politics, art, spirituality and health that often are disregarded in the individualistic mainstream culture.

The four parts of the title were attributed to each project:

Continue reading Modern Griot Reviews: #FunkGodJazzMedicine at Weeksville

Otherworldly Videos: Juice Aleem + Sharon Jones and the Dap KIngs


Juice Aleem‘s “Anumals”

From Juice Aleem’s press: “After the soaring heights of the MoorKaBa LightBikes… the journey is continued with AnuMal: the dominion of the Flesh. A dance between the sacred and the profane. Watch out for the AnuMals!”

Keep in mind the woman with the wolf/fox mask at the end while watching the next video.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings‘ “Retreat”

Directed by Lizzi Akana, the animated video looks like it takes influence from tales that included the wolf, like “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Three Little Pigs.” Although this was released two months ago, I only recently saw it and coincidentally at the same time I was doing research on Little Red Riding Hood and the whole video gives a vibe of one mythic interpretation behind the tale, the ritual confrontation between the divine goddess and the beast or as the previous video, the sacred and profane.

Moving on the Wires: Colored Girls Hustle Hard Mixtape and Afro Aliens Video Premiere


After watching their Colored Girls Hustle videos, I wanted to give special highlight to these two women and artists, Taja Lindley and Jessica Valoris  and their Colored Girls Hustle artistic creations, including jewelry, poetry and music. I am definitely attracted to their positive message and mission of self-affirmation and self-expression for women of color, whether through physical adornment of jewelry, through their creative and world-building passions or uplifting other women.

Currently they are fundraising on Indiegogo for their Colored Girls Hustle Hard mixtape. Also, on Wednesday at the Caribbean (yay!) restaurant, Dee and Ricky’s, in Brooklyn, they will premiere the first single video for “Afro Aliens” (some of the behind the scenes you can see at the end of the campaign video). Here is their headline for the event:

“Afro Aliens call us weird. Traveled through the galaxy and we landed here. Xigga.

Brooklyn is a planet and we’ve landed.

Break the boxes of normalcy. Embrace your quirky, weird, queer, alien, extraterrestrial selves and come through to our “Afro Aliens” video premiere event. Peep the event on Facebook.”

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Art of This World: Joshua Mays + Caitlin Cherry


Denver born painter, muralist and illustrator, Joshua Mays is a self-taught, visionary artist who has featured his murals all over the world. He draws inspiration from “science-fiction, dreamscape exploration and futuristic visions.” In his interviews, he says often of the importance of the arts on STEM fiields; for example, he said “creative ideas that are presented by the artists end up inspiring the explorers, the scientists, the future…Leonardo Da Vinci would draw a picture or plan of flying machines because he had these dreams of human beings taking flight.” Tomorrow, he is opening his exhibition, Beyonder in Oakland, California’s SoleSpace, Take a look at more of his work on Graffuturism.

Shades of Tomorrow Interview

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Moving on the Wires: ‘Re-Introducing Oshun’ Exhibition + Afrofuturist Affair Ball + Art Lov[H]er + Top Of The Heap + Alien Encounters


Re-Introducing Oshun LR*If you are in London, next month will have the opening of Re-introducing Oshun, which will be an interdisciplinary exhibition “discussing black women’s bodies, gender and sexual expression through the lens of the Orisha, Oshun” and re-imagining “black women’s bodies as sacred of places of, beauty, intimacy and love.” Featuring the work of an all female collective, the exhibition “demystifies the omnipresent gaze placed on black women’s bodies by creating images of black women that look, talk, feel and love like us and in doing so presenting our own truths.”
The exhibition is set to open on October 7 and hosted by Yinka Shinobare, MBE at his Guest Project Space in Hackney, London before culminating into an evening of live performances at Lyric Hammersmith on October 17. “It will be a participatory project moving away from ‘pretty-pictures-on-the-wall’ type exhibition by printing on organza thus allowing the ability of touch for our audience. More so, we wanted our audience to emerge themselves in to another time, space and reality where black women’s bodies are worshiped as the deacon of beauty.”
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*The Afrofuturist Affair having their third annual charity and costume ball on November 9 in Philadelphia. This year’s theme is Dark Phase Space. They are currently raising funds for it on Indiegogo. For more events from The Afrofuturist Affair, check out their tumblr and facebook, including the Afrofuturist Affair and Black Tribbles hosting their Return to Octavia City radio broadcast featuring speculative fiction stories two days before the ball.

Behind the Mask Interview: Butch Diva


Tiffany and Patra

Since I am doing a Caribbean focus, here is my interview with Tiffany Rhodes, designer of Butch Diva, whose first major patron model for her fashion line (and one of my favorite artists, too) was dancehall queen, Patra. Rhodes’ designs are vibrant and colorful, and look as much fun to be in as it is to look at them. They look like extensions of skin making whoever is in them moving artwork or like Diana turning into Wonder Woman. Take a look at her interview as well as the photos and promo video for her upcoming lookbook. Enjoy!

1) Growing up in Brooklyn, how did fashion in Brooklyn inspire your clothing line? What other experiences influenced your fashion?

I think growing up in Brooklyn influenced my fashion sense because the rawness of it. I was always kind of attracted to the real, raw, DIY sense of style—standing out in a crowd. This came from people in the streets. Trends start in the streets and work themselves up, even in high fashion when you see trends go from street to the runway. I was also influenced by TV, film, music–90s music, and the 80s and 90s in general. I was drawn to films where the female roles were sassy and bold, and empowering. Basically, growing up in that whole era and the fashion trends that came with it.

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2) Why did you choose spandex as an important fabric in your fashion?

I was drawn to working with spandex ever since high school. It’s flexible, comfortable, and makes women feel RLD_6686like super heroines.

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3) You also use the phrase “spandex and chaos” to describe your line.
What does it mean?

The story behind it is that a peer designer had dismissed it as “spandex and chaos.” At first I was offended because I didn’t want my work to be categorized in a box. But then, I embraced it because it really did embody what I was doing at that time in terms of specializing in spandex and using bold and colorful prints.

4) Why did you want to incorporate a sense of androgyny yet femininity
in your clothes?

Because I think that realistically that’s what today’s female is composed of. Also, what society considers as masculine tendencies, such as being in charge or having particular roles of power are things you see women doing more of these days. I wanted to represent the change in times by expressing the modern day female.

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