February 11, 2014
What’s your name?
What’s your position with The LP?
So, what made you decide to intern with The LP? How does the internship relate to your studies?
As soon as I heard about the Laundromat Project through the Creative Time summit I became incredibly excited. I’m studying how to use art for for social change in the Gallatin School of Individualized study at NYU, so The LP is a pretty perfect organization to be working with. I believe that art can provide anyone with both joy and a sense of agency, and that power can enable anyone to make the change they would like to see in their own lives.
Do you have your own creative practice? If so, tell us more!
I have been involved in theater for as long as I can remember. Last semester I had the good fortune to direct a reading of a play about the Bosnian War when I studied away in Abu Dhabi and I hope to continue doing theater this semester in New York. I also have recently begun to dabble in writing and performing spoken word poetry.
Can you tell us about an artist or project that has inspired you?
Studying away in Abu Dhabi, I was exposed to Arab art for the first time. Contemporary art in the Middle East is fascinating because it takes elements from ancient Islamic art and places it in a context of a modern and increasingly globalized world.
There is a contest called the Jameel Prize, which looks for the best and most innovative artists and designers whose work derives from the Islamic tradition. The top ten winners of the contest are all incredible, but I was particularly interested in the idea that three of the winners, Mounir Fatmi, Nasser Al Salem, and Pascal Zoghbi, explored: Arabic calligraphy. Calligraphy is one of the oldest traditions in Islamic art, and these artists play with it, reinventing it for a modern Arab world. Mounir Fatmi, for example, places Arabic calligraphy in a moving graphic installation made up of circular calligraphic patterns rotating as if gears. In this way he illustrates the relationship between the old tradition and modern technology and industrialization.
I admire the idea of challenging the definitions of Islamic art, or any category of art for that matter, and seeing how artists are taking what exists and molding it into what they believe is relevant today.
What is your favorite… film?
My favorite film is Hamlet 2. It is hilarious and a pretty excellent depiction of high school drama and how budget-cuts affect it. Also Steve Coogan is brilliant.
Favorite album is trickier. Off the top of my head I guess I would say Far by Regina Spektor because she is pretty much perfect.
Food is also hard. I love Thai food. It’s my mom’s and my go-to when I am back home and we are too lazy to cook. A movie is also usually involved.
Where do you do your laundry?
Currently, wherever I can. I am still in the process of finding an apartment in New York. When I was in Abu Dhabi, I did it in my dorm. I can honestly say that I do not know where I will be doing my next load of laundry.
In your opinion, why does art matter?
Art is important because it is a way in which we explore the connection between ourselves, our community, and the greater world. I feel that the act of creating art indicates a not being satisfied with merely accepting things as they are. Art is pushing for more answers and in that push comes progression, or at least change. That change can be as small as a greater sense of agency within one’s own life or as large as an artwork inspiring others to act differently. I like the analogy of art being a rock dropped in a pond, creating ripples of change from the participants, to the viewers, to the viewers’ families, to society.
Serena Adlerstein is from Portland, Maine. She is currently a junior at Gallatin, NYU’s school of individualized study where she is exploring how to use art for social change.