Filmmaker Travis Wilkerson (2015 Moving Image) has made a career out of creating works dedicated to anti-oppression causes, so when he learned that his own great-grandfather played a role in murdering a black man in rural Alabama, he was devastated. As he set out to unravel the story of the murder, he only encountered further obstacles. Using archival footage, documentary and a live performance, Wilkerson explores the way the past continues to haunt us today. His Creative Capital project around the tale, entitled Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?, premieres at Jan 20 & 22 at Sundance Film Festival as part of their New Frontier series. We spoke to Wilkerson about the project.
Alex Teplitzky: Can you tell us more about the film and how it unfolds? How does it relate to the performance you’re preparing for?
Travis Wilkerson: The story basically circles around an incident involving my family in the 1940s. My great grandfather, S.E. Branch, was charged with first degree murder of a black man. The charges disappeared somehow. It’s really just a family legend at this point. I wanted to try and sort out what actually happened all those years ago. What documents still existed, perhaps any living witnesses or relatives (of the victim or the perpetrator). It just seemed like a story of this time in this world and I wanted to find a way to make it live here and now.
Of course, it’s all so incredibly fraught. My family is the family of the murderer. My relative was a racist. A thug really. I’m a white male college professor. All these things are really troubling and complex to navigate. So, how to do it?
As cities grow more crowded, built environments are increasingly a dear commodity for all of us. For artists, their careers are also at stake in the never ending quest for space. On January 25, at San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI), Creative Capital will lead a conversation between artists who are addressing community, gentrification, and displacement through their art practice. These artists—Sharon Bridgforth, Ben Beres (from SuttonBeresCuller), Liz Glynn and Maria del Carmen Montoya (from Ghana ThinkTank)—are using architecture, community organizing and real estate to creatively push how we think about the built environment. The panel discussion, moderated by Moy Eng, Executive Director of Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST), is the second in our series of discussions called Creative Conversations, and is co-presented with SFAI.
We will livestream the conversation (RSVP here) from 7-9pm PST on Wednesday, January 25, and take questions from Twitter. Use the hashtag #CreativeConvos, #GutRehab or our handle @creativecap to follow along. In the meantime, read on to learn more about the presenting artists.
Medea is the Greek mythological character who kills her own children. Hers is a storyline that has so resonated with us that nearly every generation has had its own adaptation or interpretation of her. In her adaptation of the myth, Yara Travieso (2016 Performing Arts), does not provide the audience with one version, but a multiplicity of interpretations simultaneously. Her Creative Capital project, La Medea, premieres this weekend as part of PS122’s 2017 COIL Festival. True to the concept of multiplicity, there are a number of ways to experience the work: either live at BRIC on January 20-22, where the audience will watch and also take part in the making of the film; livestreamed online; or, eventually as a film produced by Dance Films Association. Amid preparing for the performance, Yara joined us at our offices to talk more about the project.
Alex Teplitzky: Ok, start with a run down of the project. What is La Medea?
Yara Travieso: La Medea is essentially a made-for-camera, Latin-disco, pop musical that is simultaneously a show, and a livestream feature film. It’s based on Euripides’ Greek tragedy of Medea. I’ve readapted, rewritten the work to fit inside a musical composed by Sam Crawford and to exist as a live-television special tell-all, all surrounding this one myth-character Medea. It’s a portrait of her more than anything else, and it takes on many forms: it’s a musical, it’s a dance-theater work, it’s a feature film, it’s a live-television special, it’s a concert. It takes on many lives.
Jeff Becker is a director, designer and sculptor based in New Orleans—a fact important to note before reading about his Creative Capital project Sea of Common Catastrophe. The performance follows four companions as they wander through a continually changing landscape of upscale living and chic restaurants built upon the fragments of their own displaced communities. It’s not inspired by fantasy, but by Jeff’s own experiences and observations as he lived through Hurricane Katrina. The performance premieres in New Orleans in January and in February at 7 Stages in Atlanta, Georgia. We caught up with Jeff just as he was preparing to launch the performance.
Alex Teplitzky: Setting seems to be a huge inspiration for Sea of Common Catastrophe. Can you describe the setting of New Orleans and the personal state of mind you were in when you began creating this work?
Jeff Becker: New Orleans after Katrina was surreal in the truest sense of the word. Parts of the city clearly showed the devastation caused by the storm: cars haphazardly deposited on top of houses that had floated off their foundations and butted up against other homes in a bizarre traffic jam; people’s belongings were hanging in trees deposited there by the flood waters. In other parts of town where the water rose slowly, the effects were less pronounced; houses seemed intact, only displaying this ominous brown line at the same height that marked the level the flood waters.
If you’re a fan of performing arts, January is an exciting month with tons of festivals, conferences and events planned all over the New York area. It can be overwhelming, so we put together a list of suggestions of events to check out. Below are some events and performances by a few of the artists Creative Capital has supported.
So, you have your artist statement, your website, and you’ve signed up for every social media platform under the sun; but if you see Wikipedia as the final frontier in gaining online recognition for your career, you’re not alone. In conversations with the artists Creative Capital supports, I have heard from a lot of people who have tried in vain to publish a Wikipedia article. And though the online-based encyclopedia is not without its own complications, it is undoubtedly a way to gain credibility.
In the past few months, I have endeavored to help Creative Capital artists write and publish Wikipedia articles. It’s been a learning process for me and them, and I am by no means an expert on Wikipedia. However, I’ve put together a few quick tips to help you get started!
The Creative Capital | Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant Program is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2016 grants. Designed to support writing about contemporary art, as well as to create a broader audience for arts writing, the program aims to strengthen the field as a whole and to ensure that critical writing remains a valued mode of engaging the visual arts.
In its 2016 cycle, the Arts Writers Grant Program has awarded a total of $695,000 to twenty writers. Ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 in four categories—articles, blogs, books and short-form writing—these grants support projects addressing both general and specialized art audiences, from scholarly studies to self-published blogs.
It’s an exciting bunch of writers and scholars! Check it out below, as well as a closer look at one project from each category.
It’s that time of year again when artists head to Miami for the numerous art fairs. If you’re in town, be sure to check out these Creative Capital artists around town. The fairs are open Dec 1-4.
Art Basel Miami Fair
Edgar Arceneaux, Galerie Nathalle Obadia
Sanford Biggers, David Castillo Gallery
Nick Cave, Jack Shainman Gallery
Jennie C. Jones, Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
Simone Leigh, Luhring Augustine
Jillian Mayer, Film Program
Carlos Motta, P.P.O.W.
Pat O’Neill, Cherry and Martin
Pope.L, Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Nancy Davidson, Lord Ludd Gallery
Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Galería Agustina Ferreyra
Chemi Rosado-Seijo, Proyectos Ultravioleta
Untitled Art Fair
Ken Gonzales-Day, Luis de Jesus Los Angeles
Sandford Biggers, Monique Meloche
Pulse Miami Beach
Ann Hamilton, Elizabeth Leach Gallery
Lowe Art Museum at University of Florida
Titus Kaphar, The Vesper Project