Meet Petrushka Bazin Larsen, Program Director. We discussed her background as an image-maker, how she got connected with The Laundromat Project, and her favorite cupcake flavor.
How did you get connected with The LP?
I was thinking about starting my own non-profit organization when I didn’t see anything on the job market that really interested me. I contacted Risë, who I’ve known since 2002, to hear about how she started The LP. Fast forward ten months, and I started working with her to develop our Create Change Residency program.
Has your work as Program Manager with The LP changed the way you think about art?
I am way more drawn to work that does something more than just look pretty. Art is most successful when it is both visually compelling and charged with social impact.
Can you tell me a little bit about your own history as a photographer / visual artist?
It all started with a Polaroid camera in 8th grade. I ended up going to Tisch School of the Arts’ Photography department where I studied under Dr. Deborah Willis. I really was drawn to shooting a lot of documentary-based work. My thesis show focused on the roles women play in Jamaican Dancehalls in New York. I’ve been thinking about dusting off the old camera to document the dirt bike scene in Harlem, but I haven’t figured out how to manage shooting with my baby daughter strapped to the front of me.
Tell us about an artist, curator, or activist that has inspired you.
Whenever someone asks me this question, I blank. Currently, I’m being inspired by the Occupy Wall Street Arts & Labor sub-committee’s work.
What are your dreams / ambitions for The LP?
I can’t wait for the day that The LP is able to own, operate, and program laundromats in other cities. Of course, owning and operating laundromats in New York comes first. We’ve got the programming down though.
What is your favorite…
That’s hard, man. Hmmm…can I say all flavors? Cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, and Reese’s cups are some of my favorite treats. This message should self-destruct when my daughter comes of reading age.
Also hard…oddly, the first thing that comes to mind is Inside Man by Spike Lee, which brings to mind other Spike Lee classics. I like them all… for the most part.
I’ve become a bit of an HBO and Showtime junkie. I watched all of The Wire recently. I didn’t understand what all of the hype was about until I got to episode 2. My mother made small appearances in two episodes of the series, which was also cool to see when I finally started watching. I also enjoy Game of Thrones and House of Lies. No judgment.
…book about art / social practice?
I’ve started reading Tom Finkelpearl’s new book What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation.
I don’t have one at the moment, but I currently enjoy following Thomas Lax, Hank Willis Thomas, Mary Pryor and other folks on Spotify!
…web-based series or radio show?
Leonard Lopate (from NPR) is the man. Before our staff team grew, I used to tune in to him everyday with headphones from my computer.
…thing about working in Hunts Point? [ed. note – at the time of this interview, The LP’s office was located in Hunts Point, Bronx.]
It’s been really great working in the HP. The office used to be located on the east precipice of Manhattan. Though we were in an artist studio community, we were quite removed from everything else. It’s great to have so many culturally-rich organizations a stone’s throw from our office door. We especially heart Rocking the Boat, The Point, BAAD! and Casita Maria.
I’ve heard you are curating a show that’s coming up soon. Please tell us about it!
It’s a show at NURTUREart called Cashing Out. Here’s the blurb that’s included in the press release:
NURTUREart is pleased to present Cashing Out, curated by Petrushka Bazin Larsen—the first exhibition to use NURTUREart’s new Online Registry as a curatorial platform. Cashing Out features artists’ musings on our current financial system and their creative proposals for establishing alternative economies. The exhibition is informed by economic inequities, excessive production of goods, unfair wages, discord between nations and an overall desire to become a more sustainable society where we rely on each other and our natural abilities to make ends meet. Looking to the artist as an author of innovation and creative problem solving, Cashing Out also considers how our current economy can be destabilized using community networks, cooperative economics, bartering, and other exchanges.
By bringing together video, sculpture, participatory prompts and ephemera by Shinsuke Aso, Nicky Enright, Heather Hart, Mary Jeys, Michelle Kaufman, Carolyn Lambert, and Scott Massey, the gallery becomes a space for conversation about these circumstances and hopefully a catalytic platform for new solutions.