UNCONSTRUCTED: conversations with creative innovators
#1 Ali Rosa-Salas
Crown Heights resident Ali Rosa-Salas is a MoCADA curatorial fellow and along with Amanda Reid, she co-curated the Re: purpose exhibit currently up at FiveMyles gallery. Ali took some time to chat with us about the process of curating the show, how she’s encouraging “regular folk” to crash the contemporary art scene, and change in Crown Heights.
As with all MoCADA fellows program exhibits, Ali and Amanda were given the directive to focus on emerging artists, and a theme: women’s rights. They thought about what that theme meant and potential approaches, and then decided that the topic was already so important to both of them that it would come through in their choices of artists. Ali described how a common thread lead to the name of the exhibit: “We came up with a short list of artists that we were interested in… we noticed that all of them in some way, their practice involved taking an object - either a domestic or cosmetic object - and questioning its form and function, and then completely turning it on its head, to give it a totally new meaning that was very specific to them and their own experience…”
Re: purpose began with an opening event that had the hip vibe of a Brooklyn house party. A performance art piece called Sondra Perry And Associates Make Pancakes involved a complex pulley system which digitally masked women used to make pancakes. In presenting such a provocative piece in a party setting, the co-curators wanted to subvert the typical art gallery performance art presentation. “We didn’t want it to be this sort of sterile, you’re in a gallery space experiencing art, we wanted it to be more along the lines of, you’re in this space experiencing this experience,” Ali explained. Presenting contemporary art in a way that makes it accessible to anyone is at the heart of how Ali and Amanda approach curation. “A lot of the concepts in our show - race, identity, class, gender, the body - all of these sort of large complex subjects… our challenge was, well how do we address these really complex issues without drowning ourselves and drowning the viewers in this really complicated language that makes sense to perhaps an academic crowd or an art theoretical crowd… that’s really alienating. I think not only in these kinds of community art spaces but in contemporary art spaces in general, that really serves to keep certain people away from accessing the work.”
Re: purpose is up at FiveMyles through May 4th. On Saturday May 3rd at 5pm movement artists from the artist-driven initiative Dancing While Black will perform a series of solos in response to the pieces in Re: purpose. Visit http://mocada.org/re-purpose-exhibition/ for more information.