Residency at Flux Factory, New York

Rose Kallal live audio/visual work presented at Video Jam at the Knockdown Centre, Brooklyn.

In order to meet and research artists for our Basquiat project at the Barbican in January 2018, we embarked on a 2 month curatorial residency during summer 2017 at Flux Factory (Queens, New York City).

Having an extended period of time in New York enabled us to meet with relevant individuals and organisations, and to visit some of the most important sites of Basquiat's life in New York City; an artist famous for his connection with the city's art scene in the 1980s. The residency in New York enabled us to explore how the contexts within which Basquiat was working have continued to influence current generations of artists both in the UK and the US.

We developed working relationships with our commissioned filmmakers, some of whom are shooting on location in New York, others in the UK. We have sought out a variety of artists at all stages in their career, working between hand drawn animation, video, narrative, essay film, live streaming and more. Their films will be scored by musicians who we feel relate closely to Basquiat’s musical influences which ranged from bebop jazz, afrobeat, hip hop and experimental noise. Artists include Young Fathers, Ibibio Sound Machine and more.

Viewing a Basquiat print at the Soho Contemporary Gallery in Manhattan. image: Scout Stuart

Basquiat was an artist famous for his involvement with the Downtown New York art scene in the 80s and we felt it important to work with contemporary NYC artists to explore Basquiat’s current artistic influence. We visited some of the most important sites of Basquiat's life such as the Mudd Club, Washington Square Park, St Marks Place, MoMA PS1 where he took part in his first ever group show and 57 Great Jones Street - where he spent the last years of his life.

It’s clear that Basquiat’s work has left a distinctive legacy in New York; on a street level, his presence is everywhere: on walls, inspired graffiti and clothing - yet the majority of his pantings are in the hands of private collectors. That’s why the Barbican’s exhibition offers a unique opportunity to see his original works on a large scale. MOMA, for example, is currently the only gallery exhibiting Basquiat’s work in New York City. Although some prints of his work are also on display in various contemporary galleries (as seen above).

As a public and community space, our residency host Flux Factory has a longstanding history of supporting international curators and artists. Through Flux Factory’s networks and our own we met and collaborated with local musicians and filmmakers based in New York and organised an informal Video Jam at Knockdown Centre (Brooklyn, NY) (link to http://videojam.co.uk/new-york-event), delivered Video Jam workshops with Flux Factory residents and had studio visits with a range of cultural organisations based in NYC.

Our residency was kindly supported by the Arts Council International Artist Development Fund and a Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Grant.