Monday, June 21, 2010

From Holly to Alice

A friend and I went to see the film "Homegrown: Hip Life in Ghana" created by Brooklyn based artist and documentarian, Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi. The film documents Eli's travels with a local hip hop troupe V.I.P (Vision in Progress) in Ghana over a 10 year time span. After the film Eli spoke about his experiences and invited some local musicians from Ghana to speak about their experiences in living and working in Oakland.

It was an interesting film that doesn't necessarily speak about the political impacts of American hip hop on places like Ghana, though instead tells a story of three men's journey from ambitious teenagers to celebrated international musicians.

Eli also directed a film "Inventos - Hip Hop Cubano". Inventos follows hip hop musicians through their journey of creating something out of nothing. It really goes into Cuba's current political landscape as well as the indestructible nature of creativity, of what creativity means to those that explore it's possibilities. There were many in the audience that night who were greatly influenced by Eli's first film.

Eli studied at Berkeley and received his masters in film from NYU. Check out this interview from 2007 of Eli talking about his first film.

I find it interesting people's need to tell other people's stories. Not fiction writing (because that is the writer's story) or political writing (because that is mostly the corporations story), but the documenting of artists on why and how they create. People's need to document artists journeys mixed with artists', often, inability to tell their own stories seems to create a cycle of miscommunication. Even when artists are capable of telling their own story, they aren't often given the space to do so in as large a breadth as those who are simply documenting the artist story.

There are several anthropologists and journalists who are around the art collective trying to understand the people and their roles juxtaposed against the at large Oakland community and its moving boundaries. With so much work needed to be done, it's odd to know that there are people around who are writing a masters paper on other people's dreams. This is something that I've noticed more in the Bay area than in any other area that I've lived. Art can feel very academic and less primal at times near Berkeley. Of course, I've only just arrived.

The art collective is pretty close to a long time dream of mine for an art community center. I'm still pretty shocked that I found it. It's this seed that I can see becoming a larger community organization that pushes the boundaries of creativity and community space while nurturing young people. One of the major differences is that most art produced is done illegally though the mission and quality of art is often enough to pursued any business owner to allow it to stay.

On Sunday, the Washington Post published an article about Cesar Maxit, an Argentinian-born artist living in DC, Graham Boyle, and Faviana Rodriguez. Cesar has created many many many pieces of art for environmental organizations in the DC area as well as national and international organizations like RisingTide North America and Greenpeace US. Faviana is one of the coordinators for Trail of Dreams, a walking protest of 4 undocumented students raising awareness for the need for immigration reform.

It's an interesting article that details how artists like Cesar are mixing the lines of art and activism. Maybe there are people out there that didn't know most artists are also activists. Not sure. The article discusses the artist collectives that are popping up with renewed strategy and enthusiasm.

Ok. I'm starting to ramble, which is normal, but I'm noticing it at the moment. I watched the new Alice in Wonderland. It was incredible! I watched it twice in one day. Tim Burton is . . . I don't know a word that can capture how I feel about his work. Maybe you have a suggestion. In any case, you should watch it. It's beautiful, stunning.

Renee Claire

No comments: