BRIC Announces 2nd Annual BRIC OPEN, an Arts & Ideas Festival Celebrating the Power of Inclusivity—This Year Taking Borders as its Theme

Mar 21, 2018 • 10:30 AM

BRIC OPEN: BORDERS

An Arts & Ideas Festival

April 26 – 29, 2018

BRIC House


This Year’s Highlights Include:

 

  • Paola Mendoza in an Opening Night Talk About the Role of Intersectionality in Art and Politics
  • An Eclectic Triple-Bill Concert with The Chamanas, Lido Pimienta, and Blitz the Ambassador
  • A Screening of Short Films Addressing This Year’s Theme of Borders
  • An Immigrant Action Fair Led By Several Local Immigrant Rights Organizations
  • An Immersive Portal Connecting Participants to People Across the Globe, from Shared_Studios™
  • Under the Same Sky…We Dream, an Installation by Interdisciplinary Artist Erika Harrsch
  • Jess Thom in a Closing Day Conversation About the Hidden Barriers that Exclude Disabled People

BRIC, the leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn, announces its 2nd Annual BRIC OPEN festival of arts and ideas, this year themed around Borders (April 26-29). The BRIC OPEN was borne in 2017 out of BRIC’s core values of creativity, inclusion, and community, bringing people together to imagine a more equitable future through four days and nights of art, music, film, and performance; readings and conversations; and neighborhood tours and shared meals. This year’s festival theme, Borders, reveals complex experiences of moving across geo-political and ideological borders, illuminates the way real and imagined borders intersect, and celebrates our capacity to create connection across boundaries. To maximize accessibility of the BRIC OPEN, all events are free and open to the public, subject to space availability.

Leslie G. Schultz, President of BRIC, said, “BRIC is known for its expansive and highly inclusive arts and media programs, ranging from the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival to #BHeard Town Hall meetings.  The BRIC OPEN reflects the essence of BRIC, with bold programs across performing arts, contemporary art, and media that are amplified and enriched through community participation. It’s a unique twist on a festival, and adds a larger slate of diverse voices to the rich landscape of New York City festivals.”

Emily Harney, Deputy Director for Programming Initiatives of BRIC, said, “With this year’s BRIC OPEN, we’re exploring a broad notion of borders—geopolitical, ideological, personal—with the idea that creating fluidity in or resistance to one kind of barrier can inspire greater empathy and creative action against other types of borders.”

From acting in and making films like the acclaimed Entre Nos—inspired by her own mother, about a recently-single Colombian immigrant woman’s struggle to keep her family afloat in New York—to her novel The Ones that Don’t Stay, to her artistic directorship of the Women’s March, the multitude of forms Paola Mendoza’s artistry and ideas have taken have consistently honored the work, struggles, and dreams of those marginalized by borders of various kinds. Mendoza will kick off BRIC Open: Borders on April 26 with a talk on intersectionality in art and politics.  

The festival’s discussion of borders continues to bring together a variety of perspectives through its invigorating and probing talks. On April 28, AfroDominican New York artist and community organizer Suhaly Batista-Carolina, Dividing Hispaniola author Edward Paulino, Black Alliance for Just Immigration organizer Albert Saint Jean, and Haitian-born New York young adult author Ibi Zoboi (American Street and the upcoming novels Pride and Black Enough: Stories of Black Teenhood in America) will convene to discuss essays they wrote on the Haitian and Dominican diaspora, commissioned by BRIC. On April 27 and 28, Black Gotham Experience founder Kamau Ware will lead a more interactive form of talk—a walking tour through Downtown Brooklyn that draws on the surroundings to open a discussion on the borders we carry within our minds and bodies. On April 29, UK artist, performer, and co-founder of Touretteshero Jess Thom will discuss the borders of inclusion that society imposes on people with disabilities.

Musical programming will bring a festive and artistically dynamic spirit to the BRIC OPEN. On April 27, a triple-bill concert brings together The Chamanas—who “paint lovely dreamscapes where smooth, romantic ballads redolent of '70s Mexican pop are touched by psychedelic desert vibes with hues of both Michael Jackson and Juan Gabriel” (NPR)—Lido Pimienta—the first recipient of Canada’s esteemed Polaris Prize for a Spanish-language album, La Papessa, in which her “soprano voice anchors technicolor basslines, baroque strings, and militaristic snares, as she comes to realize that self-efficacy is the armor needed to combat tribulations both public and private” (Pitchfork)—and Blitz the Ambassador—the “socially conscious rapper…[for whom] the job means history, funk from Africa and America, rapping,  [and] singing” (The New York Times). The concert puts three artists who thrillingly defy classification together in an evening demonstrating and celebrating the power of border blurring within art. On April 28, BRIC will go all out with a dance party in the spacious BRIC House Ballroom. 

The artistic and discursive exploration of borders necessarily looks towards the people most impacted and oppressed by a world fragmented by invisible lines. On April 27, BRIC will host an Immigration Action Fair, where attendees can learn how to best take action from a number of local organizers. Mexican contemporary artist Erika Harrsch and Mexican jazz singer-songwriter Magos Herrera will fill BRIC House Artist Studio with an immersive installation, Under the Same Sky…We Dream, reflecting on immigrant rights, and the inherently dream-confining nature of borders (April 26-May 6). The work is dedicated to parents who hope for a better life for their children, and the children and parents who risk confronting the dehumanizing nature of immigration politics in an attempt to actualize their dreams. In Border Shorts, on April 28, a genre-crossing series of short films will speak to the immediate necessity for neighborliness in a time where empathy and understanding across difference are in peril.

The BRIC OPEN embraces interdisciplinary programming to create a panoramic look at its theme, stretching into realms of culture like technology and even food. Multidisciplinary art, design, and technology collective Shared_Studios™ present BRIC_Portal—part of a global public art initiative using immersive audiovisual technology—in the BRIC House Swing Space (April 26-29). The Portal project employs virtual portals that allow participants to come face-to-face, as though in the same room, with someone across the globe. Alicia Grullón, meanwhile, brings Empanar!, a mobile art project that serves both knowledge and empanadas, to the BRIC House Lobby (April 27).

At once a cultural living room for its multifaceted and diverse borough and a year-round destination for must-see arts programming, BRIC’s all-too-rare emphasis on providing Arts for All is actualized through their commitment to strictly free and low-cost events. As Brooklyn Vegan wrote in a review of David Byrne’s “Reasons to Be Cheerful” presentation at last year’s BRIC OPEN, “There are those who believe that art and culture is the province of the few, the elite—i.e., those who can afford it. Then there’s BRIC. The organization advocates that culture is everyone’s right and, as one of the city’s largest presenters of free cultural programming, it backs up that advocacy big time.”

BRIC Open: Borders is sponsored by Alloy.

 

A list of programs and scheduling follows and is available at bricartsmedia.org/bricopen. Additional programs to be announced. BRIC House is located at 647 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn and is open weekdays and Saturdays at 8am and Sundays at 10am.

BRIC OPEN: BORDERS SCHEDULE  

Thursday, April 26

Paola Mendoza: Art Intersecting Politics
7PM │ BRIC House Ballroom

The second annual BRIC OPEN kicks off with writer, filmmaker and activist Paola Mendoza (former artistic director of The Women’s March) as she shares ideas on the role of intersectionality in art and politics, the barriers encountered when building a movement, and her own stories of breaking down personal and physical borders.

Paola Mendoza is a film director, activist and author. She was a national organizer and the Artistic Director for the Women's March on Washington, the largest protest in recorded history. For her day job, Paola is a critically acclaimed film director. Her films have continually tackled the effects of poverty and immigration on women and children in the United States. Her award-winning movies have premiered at the most prestigious film festivals around the world. She was named one of Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces of Independent Film and she is a Tribeca All Access, Film Independent, and Independent Film Week fellow. She is a co-founder of The Soze Agency and has been the creative director for campaigns fighting for immigration reform, criminal justice reform, incarcerated mother's and women's rights. She is a co-founder and member of the critically acclaimed Resistance Revival Chorus. Most recently she co-authored The New York Times best seller Together We Rise.

 

Friday, April 27

Borders We Carry – Walking Tour
6PM │ Meet at BRIC House Gallery

Join Kamau Ware, founder of the Black Gotham Experience, on a walking tour that explores the borders we carry within our minds and bodies. Ware will lead participants on a 90-minute journey through Downtown Brooklyn, traversing the neighborhood while reflecting together on the intangible boundaries that define our movements through private, public, and urban spaces.

Kamau Ware is a multidimensional creative blending complementary yet disparate disciplines as an Artist/ Historian. He is best known for his flagship storytelling project, Black Gotham Experience (BGX), a visual storytelling project founded in 2010 that celebrates the impact of the African Diaspora on New York City through a series of walking tours and graphic novels. Ware’s Black Gotham Experience has been recognized by The Atlantic and The New York Times, Columbia University’s History in Action Project Award, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Ware has also received prominent commissions, including a public art display in New York City’s Financial District. Recent engagements include the American Association for State and Local History Annual Meeting in Austin, TX, and the New Museum’s Ideas City in New York, NY.

 

Immigration Action Fair
6-9PM │ BRIC House Ballroom

Join several local immigrant rights organizations to take immediate and creative actions to push for justice for Brooklyn’s diverse immigrant communities. Organizations include Black Alliance for Just Immigration, New York Immigration Coalition, and Make the Road New York.  

 

Alicia Grullón: Empanar!
6:30-8:30PM │ BRIC House

Empanar! is a mobile art project responding to immigrant street food culture, serving up empanadas and knowledge.

Alicia Grullón creates work that transforms how community and history are experienced. She uses true narratives and situations where power relations or identity are in question. Grullón is interested in exploring encounters between people as locations where issues of race, class, gender, and activism open. Inspired by citizen action movements, her response to current events or social issues comes from an impulse to use art as chronicle and witness. Grullón pays particular attention to the intersections of photography, video, and performance and how the work borders between reality and theatricality, the staged and the documented. She has exhibited at El Museo del Barrio, Bronx Museum of the Arts, Socrates Sculpture Park, Marccone, and BRIC. She’s participated in Performa 11, Art in Odd Places, and in the Artist’s Files with A Blade of Grass Foundation. Her work has been funded by Franklin Furnace Archives, The Puffin Foundation, Department of Cultural Affairs, Bronx Council of the Arts, and the Crompton Foundation. Residencies include: Bronx Museum, Korea Arts Council, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, and Migrating Academies in Kassel, Germany.

 

Blitz the Ambassador / Lido Pimienta / The Chamanas
7:30PM (6PM Doors) │ BRIC House Ballroom

This eclectic triple bill celebrates musical artists who defy conventional notions of nationality and genre, whose innovative sounds and perspectives represent a more global culture made possible by those of us who occupy the spaces between borders.

With members from Ciudad Juarez and El Paso and their Fronterizo indie pop fusion, the The Chamanas highlight the uniqueness of what the border has to offer. “The" in English and "Chamanas" in Spanish is a compound name that celebrates people who can fluently go back and forth between two languages. The name also comes from the idea of music as a “shaman”; music can change the way people think and feel, can heal with energy. It is a priority for the group to celebrate this distinct culture, heal from past stereotypes and positively influence young generations. The group has been invited to perform their border music all over the United States and Latin America, and have collaborated with artists as varied as Portugal. The Man, Enjambre, and Beach House. Their debut album, Once Once was nominated for a Latin Grammy for Best New Artist and won the Independent Music Awards of Mexico (IMAS). http://thechamanas.com/

Lido Pimienta, known as “Colombian darling” and “Soundsister,” and winner of the 2017 Polaris Music Prize, jumps back and forth from electronic beats, analog synths, and Afro-Colombian rhythms to out-of-this-world chanting. The release of her first album Color LP opened the gate for several collaborations with artists in Canada and around the world, making her one of the most prolific song-writers, lyricists, and an improvisation virtuoso of her generation. https://lidopimienta.bandcamp.com/

International hip-hop artist and filmmaker Blitz the Ambassador embodies what it means to be a global artist in viewpoint and in sound style. His signature blend of classic hip hop break beats with West African highlife and global rhythms of the diaspora has gained him fans from his native Ghana and around the world. His latest release, Diasporadical, offers itself as a study of intersections between the modern global African experience and struggle, and explores themes common in Blitz’s past work: immigration, spirituality, nostalgia, and love. To reinforce these themes, Blitz directed a 15-minute short film called Diasporadical Trilogiahttps://blitzambassador.bandcamp.com/

 

Diasporadical Trilogia
6-9PM │ BRIC House Stoop

Diasporadical Trilogia, a short film made by Blitz the Ambassador, will play on the Stoop at various times throughout the evening.

 

SATURDAY, APRIL 28

Greenlight Bookstore Pop-up
11AM – 6PM │ BRIC House Lobby

Our friends and neighbors from Greenlight Bookstore will be at BRIC OPEN: Borders with titles for sale relating to the theme of borders.

 

Drawn Together
12:00-1:30PM │ BRIC House Gallery

Bring your pencils and sketch book for a community portrait-drawing session where participants are both the artist and the subject of one another’s drawings. 

 

Borders We Carry – Walking Tour
2PM & 6PM │ Meet at BRIC House Gallery

Join Kamau Ware, founder of the Black Gotham Experience, on a walking tour that explores the borders we carry within our minds and bodies. Ware will lead participants on a 90-minute journey through Downtown Brooklyn, traversing the neighborhood while reflecting together on the intangible boundaries that define our movements through private, public, and urban spaces.

Kamau Ware is a multidimensional creative blending complementary yet disparate disciplines as an Artist/ Historian. He is best known for his flagship storytelling project, Black Gotham Experience (BGX), a visual storytelling project founded in 2010 that celebrates the impact of the African Diaspora on New York City through a series of walking tours and graphic novels. Ware’s Black Gotham Experience has been recognized by The Atlantic and The New York Times, Columbia University’s History in Action Project Award, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Ware has also received prominent commissions, including a public art display in New York City’s Financial District. Recent engagements include the American Association for State and Local History Annual Meeting in Austin, TX, and the New Museum’s Ideas City in New York, NY.

 

Border Shorts
2:30PM │ BRIC House Ballroom

Created by a diverse slate of filmmakers employing varied forms and styles—from animation to documentary to experimental and those that blend and cross genres—this eclectic series of short films speaks to the need for empathy and neighborliness in this time of division.

 

Haiti-NYC-DR: Reflections from the Diaspora
4PM │ BRIC House Stoop

This discussion brings to life a series of commissioned essays from four leading voices of the Haitian and Dominican diaspora as they reflect on their personal experiences of the relationship between the countries, the legacy of their intertwined histories, and the unique character of Haitian and Dominican life in NYC. Speakers include Suhaly Batista-Carolina, Edward Paulino, Albert Saint Jean, Ibi Zoboi, and moderator Carolle Charles, PhD, Associate Professor of Sociology at Baruch College. Commissioned essays available at bricartsmedia.org/Haiti-NYC-DR

This program is presented in partnership with the Haiti Cultural Exchange.

 

Sunday, April 29

Jess Thom: Biscuits Without Borders
1PM│ BRIC House Ballroom

For this festival-closing talk, UK-based artist, writer, performer, and part-time superhero Jess Thom (aka Touretteshero) makes visible the hidden barriers that exclude disabled people, and others, from public spaces. Thom blurs the boundaries of her lived experience, the arts, and play practice to disrupt assumptions about normative privilege. Referencing the social model of disability, her provocation challenges ideas about whose responsibility it is to adapt to our culture, calling out our collective failure to consider difference.

Jess Thom is a theatre-maker and comedian best known for Touretteshero, an alter-ego and project aimed at increasing awareness of Tourette's syndrome, the neurological condition which she was diagnosed with in her early twenties. The first Touretteshero production, Backstage in Biscuit Land, debuted at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2014. The show won critical acclaim and has since toured across the UK and internationally, including various performances across North America and Australia. Following the social model of disability, Thom sees most of the challenges she faces not as a result of her unique neurology and physical impairment, but as a result of the 'disabling barriers' created by society, telling BBC News in 2014: "My wheelchair and my tics are not the thing that disables me; the thing that disables me is the inaccessible environment."

 

Multi-Day Programs & Exhibitions

Bordering the Imaginary: Art from the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and their Diasporas
Thursday, April 26 6-10PM
Friday, April 27 – Saturday, April 28 10AM – 10PM
Sunday, April 29 10AM – 6PM
BRIC House Gallery

Bordering the Imaginary investigates the complicated relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti—two nations that share a single island. The exhibition features work in a wide array of media by 19 Dominican and Haitian artists, based in both their native countries and in the United States. The artists draw on their experiences of difference, movement, and immigration to create a collective visual narrative that exposes inequalities and stereotypes of race, gender, and sexuality, which have plagued the island since the 15th century. Their work also displays the vitality of the visual arts in their communities. Through the exhibition, exhibition catalog, and public programs, Bordering the Imaginary will reveal the complexities of a historically shifting transnational border space and the formation of distinct but intertwined nations.

 

Under the Same Sky… We Dream
Erika Harrsch
Thursday, April 26 6-10PM
Friday, April 27 – Saturday, April 28 10AM – 10PM
Sunday, April 29 10AM – 6PM
Tuesday, May 1 – Sunday May 6 10AM – 6PM
BRIC House Artist Studio

This immersive, multimedia installation by Erika Harrsch, in collaboration with internationally acclaimed Mexican singer Magos Herrera, is an homage to the children who cross borders to start a new life with or without their parents, and to parents who dream of a better life for their kids. The piece reflects on the right to move freely across borders, the consequences of migration, the dehumanizing experience of detention, and the DREAM Act legislation of the United States that was never adopted. Participants are invited to rest in the room as an act of reflection and solidarity with the Dreamers, over 20,000 of whom live in Brooklyn.

Erika Harrsch was born in Mexico City and has lived in several cities throughout the United States, as well as Italy, Germany, and Brazil; for the past fourteen years she has lived and worked in New York City. She creates experiences that reflect the body, identity, sexuality, desire, the space that defines us and the one we wish for, the limits and vertiginous freedom that lead to a continuous corporeal and ideological migration. She has established a fertile and captivating language, using tools such as painting, photography, video, animation, installation, interactive projects, and the production and direction of multimedia shows. For the past eight years her interdisciplinary practices have led to collaborations with well-known musicians and composers, including Philip Glass, cellist Jeffrey Zeigler, Claire Chase, Paola Prestini, and Maya Beiser, among others. Her work has been shown in galleries, festivals, and international artistic residencies, as well as the Whitney Museum of American Art and El Museo del Barrio (New York City), Nevada Museum of Art (Reno, Nevada), Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, Connecticut), Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase, NY), Bellevue Arts Museum (Bellevue, Washington), in the United States; Göteborg Konstmuseum, Sweden; Musée de la Photographie, Charleroi, Belgium; Seoul Museum of Art, South Korea; and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey (Nuevo León) and Museo de la Ciudad (Querétaro), in Mexico. Her work is included in numerous international public and private collections, including the Musée de la Photographie in Belgium, and the Eaton Corporation and the Fidelity Corporation in the United States.

 

BRIC_Portal
Thursday, April 26 6-10PM
Friday, April 27 – Saturday, April 28 10AM – 10PM
Sunday, April 29 10AM – 6PM
BRIC House Swing Space

In a fractured world, human beings too often see themselves and their tribes in isolation and competition. Portals, a global public art initiative, is about harnessing the incredible technology we have at our fingertips to forge connections between communities that might otherwise never meet. Portals are gold spaces equipped with immersive audiovisual technology. When you enter a Portal, you come face-to-face with someone in a Portal somewhere else on Earth live and full-body, as if in the same room. As walls are going up across the world and borders are hardening, the BRIC_Portal carves wormholes throughout the planet, connecting individuals to create unexpected dialogues that engage questions of borders in many ways.

Shared_Studios™ is a multidisciplinary art, design, and technology collective building an Internet you can walk through. With patented and patent-pending innovations in hardware, software, and design, Shared_Studios creates interconnected environments around the world that feel spatially continuous and through which participants can engage naturally, life-size, making eye contact. Our spaces include Shared_Portals, Shared_Playgrounds and Shared_Stages. Shared_Studios is creating a Shared_World, where we all talk, work, collaborate, debate, and play across all forms of distance as if sharing the same space.

 

Katie Shima: What time is it there?
Thursday, April 26 6-10PM
Friday, April 27 – Saturday, April 28 10AM – 10PM
Sunday, April 29 10AM – 6PM
BRIC House Hallway

Katie Shima’s intricately constructed wall relief sculptures weave together digital and traditional techniques as a means to explore how societies shape their environments by building in, over, and through the landscape. Comprised of natural materials such as stained wood and fiber, What time is it there? will appear as if an archipelago of disparate locals.

 

About BRIC

BRIC is the leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn, and one of the largest in New York City. The organization presents and incubates work by artists and media-makers that reflects the diversity of New York. BRIC programs reach hundreds of thousands of people each year.

BRIC’s main venue, BRIC House, offers a public media center, a major contemporary art exhibition space, two performance spaces, a glass-walled TV studio and artist work spaces.

Some of BRIC’s most acclaimed programs include the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park; groundbreaking media initiatives, including BRIC TV, BRIC Radio, and Brooklyn Free Speech; and renowned contemporary art exhibitions. BRIC also offers education and community-building programs at BRIC House and throughout Brooklyn.

In addition to making cultural programming genuinely accessible, BRIC is dedicated to providing substantial support to artists and media makers in their efforts to develop work and reach new audiences. BRIC is unusual in both presenting exceptional cultural experiences and nurturing individual expression. This dual commitment enables BRIC to most effectively reflect New York City’s innate cultural richness and diversity.    

Learn more at BRICartsmedia.org.

Press contact: Blake Zidell or Ron Gaskill at Blake Zidell & Associates: blake@blakezidell.com, rachael@blakezidell.com, ron@blakezidell.com 718.643.9052