Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
A Tedious Truism
Friday, January 12, 2024 | Luther Konadu
Scapegoat: a word, with meaning that carries within it, the colossal weight of misfortune. It is an impossible weight that buckles and immobilizes the unfortunate carrier. Sedimented inside that misfortune is an engrossing defeat and helplessness. You become an island. You are on shaky ground. The weather above is grating and the surrounding waters threaten to consume the island you’ve been made to become. A corrosive light has exposed and cornered you. Now, you are without any defense. For each person who carries this unbearable weight, there is another out there relieved of that very weight. Or at least they live in the illusion of this same knowledge: a knowledge that obscures those seen as undoubtedly good or those deserving of punishment (often unmerited) and all its precipitous attachments. In its biblical roots, ancient Israelites used a goat as a sacrificial stand-in for transferring the sins they wished to keep at bay and look past. By doing so, they absolved themselves from any associated shame, guilt, and the task of confronting the origins of that very guilt.
In our very own hands
Monday, May 30, 2022 | Luther Konadu
The first impending signs of Saint-Pierre’s May 1902 cataclysmic event became visible weeks prior, in the latter half of April. Months earlier, however, there were faint intermittent rumbling sounds and steam coming from the direction of Mount Pelée. The steam persisted, travelling outward to the town adjacent to it, St. Pierre. The residue of the spewing gas left a foetid odour in the air and this kept on for weeks before worsening. This was followed by an increasingly loud banging like that of a thunderstruck or cannon fire, but negligent authorities continued to overlook the power of one of the deadliest volcanic eruptions in history that was to come. Prior to May 1902, St. Pierre was a small idyllic town northwest of the then French colonial island of Martinique. About 64 by 20 kilometres in size, the island is the result of millions of years of successive volcanic activity. Sprawling throughout the island are countless volcanic peaks and in 1902, Mt. Pelée was one of the youngest, constantly on the brink of erupting. Often shrouded in mist around its peak, it rises about 1500 metres above the ground. Roughly seven kilometres southward from the mountain, past valleys, a swamp, and stretches of open land, is where the town of St. Pierre was situated—right at the foot of Mt. Pelée, with its face towards the Caribbean Sea.
Big, Beautiful, Blue Sky
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 | Luther Konadu
The artist mish-mashes a kind of self-preservation shrine to cozy up to in an apocalyptic scenario not far from the one outside of our windows today. It is a surreal simulation that professes an oasis of sanity. It verges on absurdity, but that’s all we got in a world riddled with endless doubt. There’s an allure to somehow keep believing in the grand seduction of inspirational messaging, self-help literature, strength crystals, a rock that has “Peace” engraved on it, or just keep filling our shopping carts with scented humidifiers until a new sense of sanity emerges. In the face of an ever impending doom, the collection of work in 'Inspirational Stones', intimates with a deadpan wry voice that says: ‘sure, you do you, whatever gets you through the day’. For the artist, unsurprisingly, humour is a central part of this. Most of his new objects and spatial arrangements discursively uses the delirium of tragedy to tease out the many—often seemingly irrational—ways we cope, the new habits we develop, and how the grid of consumer culture makes this all the more complicated. Several of the objects gathered here are often advertised to consumers as “therapeutic” or meant to bring about a semblance of respite, however flaccid. Just like humour itself, they act as a comforting pill for navigating the dystopian reality we find ourselves in. But even as these readymades come with vacant promises, they continue to proliferate in the market giving their sheer ubiquity the power to sway. Although in some sense, the objects in the installation aren’t living the lives they were manufactured for, and as such, are hallowed and dead, he gives them a new critical successive life while reorienting our relationship with them in the real world.
Book Launch: 'Yours To Discover' by Zinnia Naqvi
Thursday, July 23, 2020 | Luther Konadu
It started with a found photograph, then another, and another. This discovery would later give way to a would-be thesis paper. But the confines of a single essay just didn't do it. Instead, curiosity and ambition grew to allow the initial inquiry to spider out, creating this new labyrinthine collection of writing. It precedes a work of visual art, and although this textual work does not necessarily speak for the artwork in any direct way, it enriches it. Together the written and visual works culminate in the still-evolving project titled Yours to Discover. The title of this project, which centers around the province of Ontario, aptly takes its name from the former Ontario license plate slogan. The found photographs in question are from the author and artist Zinnia Naqvi's family album. They depict the touristic moments from the late 80s when Naqvi's family first visited Canada from Pakistan with the possibility of migrating permanently from...
Haptic suppositions: some ruminations with Brandon Ndife
Wednesday, May 20, 2020 | Luther Konadu
At least for now, the Jersey City artist Brandon Ndife seems to suggest that we take a few steps forward with him towards the future. Or maybe more likely, shuffle across an alternate space/time that mirrors the one we currently occupy. Keeping in touch with history, this hypothetical in-between terrain is murkier, more eerie. It is dystopian like the one we know, and perhaps it is nearing a threshold of something hopeful; but I won’t say it is optimistic. This is where his budding practice in sculpture thrives. It is a place to imagine, think, and speculate alongside felt realities. Even though what we encounter in Ndife’s work is grounded in sculptural thought, it is just as wrapped up in painting, makeup effects, and meticulous preparatory drawing. Over the last six years or so, Ndife has been burrowing progressively through object-making: wandering, feeling out, and retooling. In the show Just Passin’ Thru held at Interstate Projects the bricolage in his work looked...
3rd Kamias Triennial: in conversation with the curators/organizers
Friday, February 21, 2020 | Luther Konadu
With beginnings dating back to 2014 , Kamias Triennial (Quezon City, Philippines) has steadily created a formidable alternative to the flashy blockbuster art exhibition event. Though grown out of an independent mentality, it continues to thrive with the retained relations the organizers have fostered over the years with local artists and organizations in the host city. In its third iteration, the Triennial is a picture of what arises out of sustained collaboration and community interdependence within the limits of available resources. Hosted across several venues, this year's offering gathers over twenty different artists and collectives with connections to over ten countries many of which will be in attendance for the Triennial. And in lieu of the added costs of shipping finished works, the participating artists' presence there will be used...
Jerusalem In My Heart // Radwan Ghazi Moumneh
Monday, August 12, 2019 | Luther Konadu
Look up any image of Radwan Ghazi Moumneh and you’d likely see him donning some form of shades. I ready my phone call with Moumneh, I’m curious what he looks like so I search up for his photo online. As the phone rings and he eventually picks up, I thought about sharing my observation with him. I wondered if he had shades on as we spoke. I couldn’t picture him without it. I don’t ask, instead, I’m caught in his voice and in our conversation.  Something he said later in our chat about cracking open a proverbial door for his audiences during performances and allowing them to make up their own experience resonates with the shades’ visual obstruction. With his now ten-plus years project Jerusalem In My Heart (JIMH), what...
Spacious utterances: in conversation with Cudelice Brazelton
Thursday, June 27, 2019 | Luther Konadu
Its weeks before the opening of his one-person exhibition at the Frankfurt am Main upstart gallery HUSSLEHOF and I’m in correspondence with Cudelice Brazelton over email. He tells me things are coming together, it’s been a bit confusing but productive nevertheless. This sounds familiar. Brazelton has told me this before. The part about things being confusing. Reading his email, I try picturing him in this setting of confusion. As if I could somehow redirect this momentary fog toward some reassuring clarity. Months prior, in another conversation, Brazelton earnestly reflected on the tonal shifts in his material selection. Where he once seemed fervent to let the viewer into some part of his world, to render bare his vulnerabilities and worries without hesitation or varnish, he describes his current outlook on his...
A cue for continuity: in conversation with Ashley Holmes
Tuesday, April 9, 2019 | Luther Konadu
Listen to any of Sheffield’s Ashley Holmes’ mixes on NTS Radio and it can feel like getting a warm welcome into the mind of a mixer who is every bit as delicate about his choices as he is with their successive arrangements. You can picture Holmes spending hours sifting through record after record, lining them up, seamlessly placing disparate textures together before broadcasting it for us to hear. But he also manages to make the results flow intuitively and casual.  Each time, he takes us on a meandering journey into the decades and then brings us forward and then back again. This back and forth maneuvering is done to a point where you start to lose any geographic or historic orientation you may align the tracks towards. Instead, we are...
Activities of looking : in conversation Linda Tegg
Friday, January 4, 2019 | Luther Konadu
An unassuming lone sheep attempts to comfort and empathize with an actress directed to sob. A choir ensemble sings in unison but they make no sound, only mouth movements suggesting a performance of sorts. Assembled trays of grass and seedlings sit and lounge on gallery floors. They are mingled and illuminated by Flavin-esque florescent tubes playfully hung yet serving as a source of photosynthesis for the green living organisms below them. A herd of goats peruse a blindingly illuminated white-walled gallery. There’s a trapezoid plinth in the middle of the gallery, a member of the herd hops on the plinth as if to proclaim and display its presence for an audience. All of the above are Linda Tegg’s inquisitive inquiries into the natural world around us or nonhuman kinds as...
"I don’t know how to put words to it" : in conversation with Tosha Stimage
Thursday, November 22, 2018 | Luther Konadu
Tosha Stimage is driven to stop language in its tracks at all turns. To wring it out, distress it, place it where it has no guarantee, and disclaim until it just feels strange. Speaking with the artist, educator, organizer, and attentive thinker, Stimage, you get her necessity to make language an elusive entity. “There’s a kind of freedom in not having to be a definition, to allow oneself to be connected to other things, other ideas in a very infinite way”, Stimage illuminates in thinking about the black body in relation to the authority of language and willfully turning towards obscurantism. Stimage is never immune to the gravity of history; how it governs the way we see, whether we choose to remain impaired by it or rather empathize with others...
Shifting Accounts: in conversation with Diego Camposeco
Thursday, October 25, 2018 | Luther Konadu
Hailing from Burgaw, North Carolina to Mexican parents, the once aspiring international diplomat, teen court defense attorney, and all-around high achieving Diego Camposeco turned down his undergrad acceptance letter to Harvard and instead opt to stay close to home where he would later attune his pull towards photography in relation to his community of Latin Americans who continue to shape the social, economic and cultural landscape in the south. Photography work that set out to account the places and experiences of demographics in a truthful and objective manner often overlooked the impossibility of this task and the sure fact of the image maker’s subjectivity. Camposeco’s take on documentary photography gazes more inward than most but it is very much rooted in his connections with others. Particularly the Latin community not...
Play: In conversation with Molly Colleen O'Connell
Wednesday, August 8, 2018 | Luther Konadu
From seemingly nonsensical dadaist objects, frenetic performances, lyrically debaucherous monologues, Molly Colleen O’Connell’s oeuvre is a wonky jungle chock full of unpredictable detours. As far as interdisciplinary artists go, O’Connell is a chameleon if there ever was one. She meanders her way through comics, installations, ceramics, paintings, video performance, stand-up poetry/comedy, clowning; the list keeps going. This is all achieved in a sensibility akin to that of an inquisitive active child with a measured logic. An undergirding strength to anything she outputs is a comedy, but it will be beside the point to limit her as a comedic act. Through idiosyncratic humor and cartoonish affect lies her own vulnerability and self-analysis. Her clown characters like Dr. Cherish Love are garments for mutating through identities as much as they are sites...
On the Politics of Partying: a conversation with Harold Offeh
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 | Luther Konadu
As with most cultural corners, politics has found its way into nightlife. In a world that presses its dominance upon those who’s self-hood runs contrary to the norm, a life of compromise and constriction becomes the known reality. Since the onset of the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s, the night time became a release, shield, and celebration of self without bounds. As much as nightlife culture in the eighties provided an escape, it also became a forum for education on safer sex practices and forming a community. This was especially true for marginalized queer and identity-agnostic individuals. Dances parties and off-grid gathering centers became spaces for advocacy and combatting stigma around HIV/AIDS. These spaces continue to have an intergenerational significance and influence as sites for fostering one’s subjectivity and freedom....
Gestures in resistance: a conversation Cameron Granger
Tuesday, February 27, 2018 | Luther Konadu
Traversing a dynamic poly-directional practice ranging from films, photos, and installations; Columbus, Ohio’s Cameron Granger is steadily amplifying his voice as an emerging artist. He discloses his own vulnerability, agency as an artist, and knack for close observation in his varying works. And speaking with him it’s easy to see why. Granger fluently blends the social-political with personal knowledge and fictional with lived experiences to create a generative space for his stories and images. In our candid conversation with Granger, he shares with us his relationship with homogenous spaces like the white cube, how his personal creative pursuits are linked to his community, and how he continues to discover moving images as a means of asserting his authority as a creator. Granger recently completed ACRE residency and the celebrated Skowhegan...
Choreographic Displays: In conversation with Dalia Amara
Wednesday, January 31, 2018 | Luther Konadu
A photograph will always be a point of view of the photographer hence making it subjective and not objective. American-Jordanian artist Dalia Amara is well-attuned to this logic and it serves as a guide for which she directs the on looking viewer's attention. As subjective as photographic images inherently are, they deceptively present undeniable parallels to reality often convincing us of its objectivity. Amara recognizes this divide between her own impulses for crafting an image and how the camera and audiences receive them. “I’m invested in our attempts to represent so-called truth in photographs when the medium is subjective”, she states in our conversation. Her work accentuates the illusory and manipulative role of the camera in mediating our views of self as it relates to the dominant commercial environs. Looking...
The Perpetual Protest: a conversation with Jelsen Lee Innocent
Tuesday, October 3, 2017 | Luther Konadu
We engaged in a conversation with New York-born Haitian American artist Jelsen Lee Innocent. Coming from a background in the communication arts—advertising and graphic design—Innocent has been hesitant to call himself an artist. He has always been communicating creatively and learning how to use objects to speak for different purposes outside of his own interests or curiosity. Now, he’s been steadily redirecting some of what he knows about object-making into a more nuanced personal and intimate conversation that isn’t necessarily pointed towards a consumer but an audience.   All through our exchange with Innocent, he is every much earnest and fluid with what he shares and how he shares it. When it comes to making artwork, he is very much the same way. Innocent is very much trafficked by, and hypersensitive...
Ad Hoc Structuring : in conversation with Ryan Scails
Thursday, September 7, 2017 | Luther Konadu
Our conversation with Ryan Scails traveled in multiple directions steering us beyond his mere creative output. In the end, we get somewhat of a sustained portrait. So much so we are splitting our conversation with Scails into a two-part post. Above all, we learn how most of  Scails' experiences outside of his creative work implicitly weaves itself into his object making. Throughout our exchange, Scails remains casual and candid as he shares bits of his upbringing in Bethel, Connecticut with a social justice activist mother, a father brought up during Jim Crow and how their individual influences continue to be windows through which he interacts with his surroundings. As you read through our chat Scails is cunningly self-aware as he highlights his views on the inescapable race relations he finds...
Reality Games: in conversation with Zeesy Powers
Thursday, August 24, 2017 | Luther Konadu
For some time now, Zeesy Power’s performance centered inquiries on our tacit social and cultural fabric has progressed further into what she is presently at task with—our engagement with digital technologies. To a great extent, Powers accentuates for us again and again, what may appear inevident or rather latent in our quotidian interrelations. Powers is painstakingly working along the ever-gaping learning curve to understand code and the technical complexities behind the mobile screens and gadgets that continue to entangle significant parts of our everyday experiences. “It’s so critical to how we are experiencing the world and will continue to experience the world but it is so abstract” Powers describes. For digital devices that are ever so ubiquitous and accessible they continue to remain foreign to the average individual user as...
Chandra Melting Tallow | Mourning Coup
Tuesday, August 8, 2017 | Luther Konadu
Chandra Melting Tallow is an artist whose output can be described as poly-directional. And this has come to include their sound work under the moniker Mourning Coup. A project which progressed out of their former work in conceptual performance art. Their work has been presented in Istanbul, Toronto, Calgary, and Montreal among other places. The Vancouver based, Blackfoot and mixed ancestry from Siksika Nation has been steadily creating work whenever able amid disabilities beyond their control. The visceral reverb-laden incantation wails that bookend Tallow's full-length debut is the result of five years of crafting and chipping away at Mourning Coup's Baby Blue album. An eeriness and propulsive energy are rather discernible over structure through the course of the album where at times the vocals are seemingly wordless and sound like...
Thursday, July 13, 2017 | Luther Konadu
We connected with Baltimore native :3lON a few months ago after serendipitously coming across is work on SoundCloud.  :3lON uses his music and sounds to construct atmospheres that feel as though they occur in zero gravity. And his soft languid warm voice orbit and interweave loosely with the pulsing backing production. His work almost serves as a refuge outside tangible reality. It is vulnerable but carried with control. It is effortlessly harmonious yet dissident. In our conversation, :3lON shares with us how music-making came into fruition for him tracing back his earliest memories of creating and finding interest in sounds. He also shares a little on the creative environment in his current Baltimore base, an environment that continually favours the same overrepresented creatives Baltimore gets known for and how this...
Portfolio: Gabriela Jolowicz
Tuesday, July 11, 2017 | Luther Konadu
Dutch artist and fellow printmaker MC Escher comes to mind when viewing woodcut printmaker, Gabriela Jolowicz’s at times winding, and playful perspectives that take us in multiple directions all at once. Albrecht Dürer is another early woodcutter and fellow German whose work parallels Jolowicz’s overcrowded and skewed pictorial spaces that are easy to get lost in. Jolowicz, like Albrecht, has a way of playing with a false perspective, and with the size of forms and objects in relation to one another.  Below is a sample of Jolowicz. Check out more on her work Here.           Installation View   Installation View
Parking Lot : Gabi Dao
Tuesday, June 13, 2017 | Luther Konadu
Parking Lot is our lax interview series where we get to really know a creative. We get to learn about what they've been up to creatively, some random facts about them, some telling ones, and just about anything else that comes up.  On this episode, we speak to the exquisite Gabi Dao.  Preface: our chat happened a few bits ago so some of the talking points are from our initial point of exchange but nonetheless, it was rather a delight getting to be in conversation with the Vancouverite as she details a little about her life as an up-and-comer in the arts. Dao seems to have her hands in a lot aside from her opulent articulations of nuanced thinking processes through object making and sound work. She's currently embarking on...
Portfolio: Kieta Morimoto
Tuesday, June 6, 2017 | Luther Konadu
Japanese Canadian Kieta Morimoto’s meticulous and ambitious paintings appear to be situated within the same space as European Old Masters and in a way, creates an intriguing subversion that keeps you staring in contemplation. His paintings draw on a learned interest in premeditated compositions, modeling, and refined surfaces. We asked Morimoto share with us a few words he might freely associate with his paintings and below is what he came up with: extraordinary, Ordinary, Magic, Light , City , Common People , Fantasy, Ambivalence, Memory Lane , Nostalgia, Melancholy , Peaceful   You can check out a sample of his work below:
"I can’t even make a gay video about water without it being about some ship full of psychotic white people": in conversation with Joshua Vettivelu
Wednesday, May 24, 2017 | Luther Konadu
Our conversation with Joshua Vettivelu first took place during one of the last few days before this past new year. We got in touch with Vettivelu weeks prior and after sorting out scheduling conflicts, we finally made it happen. And after months of putting our chat into transcript in collaboration with Vettivelu, we are happy to share what we conversed about that crispy morning when we gave them a wake-up call. "I just got home a few hours ago and so I might sound groggy" Vettivelu advises us. Groggy or not, we had many laughs throughout and learned quite a lot from Vettivelu. There are a lot of quotable moments throughout our chat. They don’t give themselves enough credit for how well-spoken they are even if they feel language tend...
Internal Processes: a conversation with Tau Lewis
Tuesday, May 16, 2017 | Luther Konadu
There's a lot to think about. There's a lot I'm thinking about. There's a lot I thought about. I'm still thinking about them. There’s a lot I am yet to think about. I am visualizing it. I’m telling you stories. I'm showing you. You are seeing it. But you are only interpreting what you see.       More than anything, Tau Lewis is primarily focused on the self as her starting point in grounding the work she does as an artist. Her concerns are more interior than ever. She is at task with examining the self. She is preoccupied with sifting through her own personal history and putting her unflinching vulnerability to the fore. This puts her in a long diverging line of artists and creators using the self as their subject....
Fiction as proof: a conversation with Benjamin Freedman
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 | Luther Konadu
American modern era photographer Berenice Abbott once said: "photography helps us to see." And yes, in a lot of ways it can access things that can’t otherwise be accessed or things that aren’t necessarily tangible. Thus, photography seems to always present a proof of the actual or evidence to what is unidentified.  Yet, artists after artists have philosophized against the objectivity of visual documentation and its inherent confines in representation. Benjamin Freedman’s works tends to be preoccupied with photography’s characteristic parameters and juxtaposes it with indexical ideas of the unknown and intangible such as the cosmos and the moon etc. “[The] collision between mystery and the language of objectivity is what interests me,” Freedman describes. He makes formally rich images and forms that tethers between what supposedly is versus can...
Portrait: a conversation with Azza El Siddique
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 | Luther Konadu
I think it is fair to say portraits by the portraiture maker of themselves has long been a convention for how ever long any art form has existed. This tradition can be seen in any part of painting or any other image-making’s history and has typically sought to render the artist or the portrait maker’s likeness in some way or the other. We also see this play out in some of the earliest bronze, marble, or ceramic sculptures and even now the artist being the subject of the work is very much within that continuum. However, this idea has over time been expanded upon and broaden to present more complicated and gradated textures that constantly shuns any previous conventional depiction of the self. More than anything else, Azza El Siddique’s...
Studio Visit: Jillian Groening
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 | Luther Konadu
To the uninitiated eye, the wide-ranging and ever expanding genre (if it can be called that) of western contemporary dance can be a fiddly entity to find a point of access to. Having amalgamated itself with what seems like an infinite possibility of facets including ties to jazz, theatre, ballet, performance art, as well as African and Japanese dance, it’s a shapeshifting thing to even try to pinpoint. When you get choreographers like Anne Teresa Baroness De Keersmaeker making pieces that elevate the simple vocabulary of running, sitting, walking, and hopping into passages of whimsy, /or when you watch a mainstay like Pina Bausch fluently morphing mental and emotional states into physical ones, /or you get Bill T. Jones visualizing sound and poetry through his body, /or the free flowing...
Aggregating Sentience: in conversation with TJ McLachlan
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 | Luther Konadu
Whiteness is a default. Whiteness is normal. It’s so normal it is trivial to most who identify as white and even those who don’t. I am still unsure to what extent artist TJ McLachlan sincerely knows this even after our conversation. But unlike most who roll their eyes or get hot and bothered at the hint of a ‘check your privilege’ assertion, McLachlan has set his art practice to have dialogues about this same contentious thing called privilege as it relates to whiteness and patriarchy. And to that, there’s a clear awareness of self in a place like the Canadian landscape—to a certain degree.   It seems as though the hot thing to do in our zeitgeist is flailing around picket signs, and  joining the ever-expanding band of social justice warriors...