Over the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of micro-interviews with our 2014 Create change artists!
Chloe Bass, 2014 Resident: Bedford-Stuyvesant
Please tell us of an artist, curator, activist, or project that has influenced you or inspired you?
I’m deeply inspired by Rick Lowe’s Project Row Houses, which I think a lot of people in my immediate community can cite as an ongoing positive force for socially engaged art.
Smaller things that have been inspiring me on a day to day basis include: Ben Patterson, the Fluxus artist, and particularly his work on PETs (Perception Education Tools), which teach us new ways of looking at and relating to our everyday experiences; the ongoing power of a Tribe Called Quest (they’re having a new moment somehow, even in this changed New York); and Clifford Owens’ Anthology project, which changes notions of both the Black body and Performance in ways that are immediately both valuable and valued.
Please tell us about a place in your neighborhood that is personally meaningful to you, and why?
I love the walk along Greene Avenue from Marcus Garvey (where I live) to Nostrand or Bedford Avenues (where I catch the G train). Along that route, you pass some really interesting and challenging community spaces, both official and unofficial: the police precinct, an unofficial community garden that’s occupying a really skinny lot (they have rabbits there, and therefore there are often kids out playing with the rabbits), an empty lot where a house was recently torn down but the bulbs from the garden are now sprouting, Von King Park (culture center, baseball diamond, playground, dog park, benches, folks of all ages and, more recently, of all colors), and then, as you get towards Nostrand, newer businesses that tell another story of neighborhood change. I’m also a crazy cat lady, and Greene is an excellent cat path: many friendly strays, bodega cats, and outdoor domestic cats to say hello to. You can learn a lot about neighborhoods by following the cat paths.
This walk pretty much captures my contemporary moment in Bed-Stuy. It’s definitely changing, and has changed in the time that I’ve lived here. These changes — and the things that stay the same, and the history still in that particular stretch of street — are my little Bed-Stuy synecdoche.
What is your favorite book, film or song about NYC?
I’m a native New Yorker, and sometimes I feel like my body is a book about the city. Not just my body, of course, but my body and the bodies of everyone around me, collecting a kind of urban archive as we move through our days here.
But for a less conceptual answer, I’m also a fan of Do the Right Thing and its particular relationship to NYC’s sticky summers, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (the book, not the film) for its ability to capture a post 9/11 moment that’s both super specific and very relatable, and Regina Spektor’s song That Time, which references high school era NYC for me.
If you have an idea of a blog post or topic you’d like to contribute to our blog, please share below!
I’m always interested to write about stuff, and consider writing to be an important part of my practice. Here are two potential topics:
1. Articulating steps for doing our own “creative placemaking” (i.e. not controlled by outside/corporate/economic interests). A how-to guide!
2. The things we learn through repetitive action. I’m thinking about not only the laundromat as a place, but laundry as a practice. What builds over time from very regular activities?
Do you have a blog of your own or a blog portion of your website that you’d like to share with us? If so, what is the web address for your blog?
My website’s blog is http://chloebass.com/blog
I also have a project-specific Tumblr for the Department of Local Affairs at departmentoflocalaffairs.tumblr.com
Read about Chloë’s residency project, the Department of Local Affairs.
See a full list of 2014 artist projects here.