MUSEUM MIXTAPE VOL. 1
(DIRTY SOUTH EDITION)
Museum Mixtape is an album and a series of videos in which amateur rappers perform freestyle rhymes as guided tours for museums in the southeast United States.
Cultural institutions around the world are going through interesting and tense times. Large, influential art spaces struggle to connect with their local communities and to find financial and governmental support. In Naples, Italy, museum director Antonio Manfredi is currently burning pieces from the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum collection, in protest against the lack of spending on culture. In the newfound U.S. economic instability, the National Endowment for the Arts has become a continual target of budget cuts and political warfare, while art institutions struggle to attract public attention and stay relevant. Yet, culture keeps happening. Flourishing inside the tween-curated micro-textual new web, transmitted through file-sharing networks and engaging live audiences in ways that museums and galleries could only dream of. This situation represents a disconnect between institutionalized culture and emerging cultural forms that are self-sufficient, sustainable, and exciting.
In the last 30 years, the U.S. has seen the rise of southern hip-hop, a strong subculture that has influenced the social landscape of the American mainstream. Its collaborative, hard-working, and prolific digital network brings memories of the early-’80s American punk rock explosion (with a spread of multiple fanzines, venues, and artist-run record labels), but unlike punk rock, hip-hop has not yet penetrated “high culture” in an influential way, especially within its own geographical context: The South. While SuperJam (a hip-hop festival in Greensboro, NC) draws more than 20,000 fans from all over the southeastern states every year, cultural centers like SECCA in Winston Salem, NC, and museums like The Weatherspoon (Greensboro, NC) and The Ackland (Chapel Hill, NC) remain mainly empty during regular hours. Here, the disconnection between contemporary audiences and cultural institutions is visible. The open white space feels void of life while the Internet bursts with the forms of a new aesthetic.
Is the museum space obsolete? Can its architecture host different uses and inspire alternative narratives? Are cultural institutions completely out of tune with culturally active local demographics? What kind of new forms can this apparent disconnection create?
Composed of a series of videos, limited edition cassette copies, a website, and a downloadable album, Museum Mixtape aims to create a playful connection between hip-hop narratives and institutional art spaces. By inviting local rap artists to comment (via performance) on contemporary collections in their respective locations and presenting these collaborations as an audiovisual series, a new space is offered to reflect on the current state of cultural economies, institutional community engagement and emerging subcultural forms and their intersections.
Timeline and Budget
Planning and research: Fall 2012
Production (museum visits, instrumental compositions, musical arrangements, and video shoots): Fall 2012 - Spring 2013
Post-production and promotion: Spring 2013
Travel costs for trips around the southeast U.S.: $1,000.00
Promotion and calls for participants artists: $500.00
Artists’ fees and video shoots: $4,000.00
Track production, mixing, and mastering (for approximately 10 tracks): $1,000.00
Production of cassette tapes (transfers and cover printing): $500.00
Juan Obando started working in his native Bogotá in 2003, where he received a BA in Industrial Design with a minor in Architecture and Urbanism from Universidad de los Andes. In 2005 he started the ongoing BZC Media Corporation Project (an international art unit based in Bogotá, with cells in Venezuela, The U.S., and The Netherlands) and has subsequently been exhibiting throughout The U.S., Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, Colombia and Venezuela. His work has been selected twice for Colombia’s “Salon Nacional de Artistas” (2008, 2010) and reviewed by different international publications, including the Madrid-based journal Artecontexto and the South African magazine Itch. In 2011, his work was included in the Narco-Nations exhibitions at Duke University. In 2012 he developed an editorial piracy project as part of his residency at Casa Tres Patios, in Medellín, Colombia.
Obando currently works between Colombia and The U.S. and holds a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Elon University in North Carolina. He is also a co-founder of AUDO, a festival of alternative practices in sound, and a co-producer of Low Lives, the largest Internet performance festival in the world.