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Common Field Covening Miami

Art Making Under Accelerated Capitalism is a reality for most artists in the search for space to create and program nationally. The tone of the four-day convening is the attitude that practitioners is one of shared responsibility to create, educate, and work with neighborhoods to produce informed statements surrounding daily practice. Another local message is clear: South Florida is on the map for producing global culture through contemporary discussion. 

Artists in South Florida are spearheading an alternative scene to commercial fair culture by self-organizing to bring year-long discourse. So if you find that your tropical dreams are limited to South Beach, Miami Basel, or the Keys, pay attention to the organizations and artists run spaces who pioneer positive initiative in South Florida by keeping Miami weird such as Bas Fisher Invitational, Dimensions Variable, Cannonball, and Locust Projects.

Common Field brings artists, organizers, and producers together to explore ways to navigate art markets, shifting economic systems, and supportive | unsupportive systems. The schedule pairs larger panels for the entire group and intimate breakout sessions to examine pertinent topics with ample time to mingle.

Questions that arose at the keynote remarks and panel discussions are, How do artists both align with and challenge the media? Zika, Hurricane Matthew, and talk of the receding coastline have been hyped up in summer | fall headlines, not all for entirely bad reasons, but living in fear is never good for anybody. Opening remarks were full of jubilation. Performances by Dream Defenders and Tatooed Ballerinas captivated our attention while savoring local eats and craft beer at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. The relationship between art & culture in Miami is a harmonious marriage.

During the first panel, Art Making Under Accelerated Capitalism, Naomi Fisher, Gean Moreno, Christopher Kulendran Thomas, Annika Kulmann, and Marco Russo, each spoke about the interplay between capitalist and grassroots systems. Each speaker owned the reality that artists partake in the larger commercial sphere with agency to critique those very same structures in the name of community building. We were most struck by the discussion surrounding the need for adaptability and flex space. Fisher describes nomadic spaces and the rental of Airbnbs as alternative exhibition solutions to year-long leases. Thomas and Kulmann described their startup, New Eelam, as a new Eden of global housing and approach to worldly citizenship based on a monthly subscription fee. Sign us up!

Saturday's panelists: Rosie Gordon Wallace, Germane Barnes, Imani Jacqueline Brown, Martina Dodd, and Bryan Brooks reflected on Gentrification and Sustaining Neighborhoods. As the moderator, Rosie opened warmly with a welcome to, "sexy" Miami and asked that the audience, " not to put fire with gasoline on the issues;" rather, " leave the gasoline outside." One of the most impressive things to us was that Bryan Brooks represented the rural perspective of Green River, Utah (pop. 952). Diversity during this discussion combined race with class and geography, successfully tackling complexities and disallowing oversimplification.

Germane spoke about his personal frontier in rebuilding the impoverished neighborhood of Opa Locka in Miami by first relocating along with his proposal submitted from LA and giving his new community ownership, learning about what individuals need, and investing in people. One of his most riveting statements to take away is, " Gentrification is not a black people issue, but a poor people issue!" YES!  It's an, "all people issue." Germane, we need more folks like you.

Martina raises the point that it's one's responsibility to speak with city officials, get involved in community organizations, hold people accountable for cultural policy, and ask one's self, " Is my voice being heard so that I don't have to leave?" We wish that we yelled louder in New Haven long ago after we were booted from our first studio.  It's interesting how a 40-year artist narrative can be completely skipped over and re-imagined into $40 million development.

Imani uttered the language of spoken word and urges us to, " share privilege and re-infuse the streets with the energy of resistance." If only more of us were willing to say the uncomfortable while encouraging youth along the way.

In response to the running theme of,  How can you engage in a community that you're not from among folks who don't look like you and still engage?, Bryan suggests regarding one's self as one who, "has a skill set to build new platforms." He challenges the preconception that rural places are devoid of culture by "celebrating what has value."

Rosie brought the ideological back down to earth at the suggestion to no worry about self preservation and noted that folks are tired, have families, and are experiencing, "cultural and citizenship fatigue."  The conversation went full circle, thank you all!    

Breakout sessions to gather in intimate groups followed every panel with overlapping themes aimed at analyzing and re-evaluating pressing themes. We attended, How Many Hats Do You Wear, Handling Controversy and Working With Difficult Situations, Then and Now: History of Artist-runs and Defunct Spaces; Reflections on Power, Privilege, and Justice in Arts Organizing

During How Many Hats Do You Wear, Naomi and Marco actively listened to stories of artists working multiple jobs and re-imagining their lives. One of the panelists, Michael Anthony Farley, who would later speak on Saturday during ,
Critical Programs, Critical Ideas,

After being booted out of a live/work space, moving four times within two years and starting a new venue...No Pop is participating in the important conversations that artist peers need to share to be able to work effectively in support if thriving practices.   

Watch the CFM panels!

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