Miami’s cultural community reinvented itself in the event of a pandemic


Written by Abraham Galvan on May 25, 2021


Miami's cultural community reinvented itself in the event of a pandemic

As one of the major industries disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the cultural arts community has had to find new ways to reinvent itself and find unique ways to bring the arts back.

After more than a year of reinventing the way to connect artists with audiences, Live Arts Miami at Miami Dade College presents and produces groundbreaking interactive experiences with the help of interdisciplinary artists like Fereshteh Toosi and their work on Ancestors of Petroleum: Metaphysical Hotline, a one-of-a-kind immersive telephone theater experience designed for a one-person audience.

“I have always been very impressed with the care they take in all of their work and a lot of their work is about personal experiences and personal encounters,” said Kathryn Garcia, Executive Director of Live Arts Miami. “And after working with them during the pandemic, I was really impressed with how they translated that into these very intimate, one-on-one phone conversations.”

The global initiative of Toosi’s oil ancestors was inspired by their experiences as first generation immigrants of Iranian and Azeri heritage, and by how they believe oil imperialism defined the contemporary relationship between their ancestral homeland and the United States, particularly conflict and resource extraction impacting many Caribbean. , the countries of South America and Central America which are represented among the immigrant diaspora in Miami.

The Metaphysical Hotline Immersive Telephone Theater Experience, which begins June 9, will seek 24 curious and open-minded volunteer participants for a research study on power and responsibility in an era of rapid global change, while being in the comfort of their home.

“In the play for Live Arts Miami, he takes a broader look at the responsibilities of people, and in the midst of this ecological crisis that we find ourselves in right now. The idea is that it’s an interactive, time-traveling audio experience, ”Toosi said. “I based it on the practice of the sessions. In this case, it’s a bit more like the psychic hotlines that were happening in the 80s and 90s. The call will then take the form of making contact with other generations by telephone.

Thinking about ecological and environmental issues and the climate crisis, people should be aware of the precedents that were set before and the actions that led to the ongoing crisis, Toosi said. “And also, what legacy do we want to leave to future generations? “

The founder and director of the O ‘Miami Poetry Festival, Scott Cunningham, said the work done at Delivery staff library improved access to books throughout Miami-Dade, with a variety of free programs featuring local authors, artists, and performing arts professionals. “There is no one in Miami with a distance program like theirs,” he said.

Bookleggers Library is a non-profit mobile library that expands access to free books to build community. Headquartered at the Bakehouse Art Complex at 561 NE 32nd St., the Mobile Community Library offers “Storytime for Grownups,” a weekly program in which writers and artists read short stories on Instagram, monthly pop-up events, “New Bookbike”, a library on wheels driven by local artists stopping at various locations and offering street performances and free books; and the recent opening of its first store, called Beach Reads, at 1600 Washington Ave. in Miami Beach.

“We’re a library that operates outside of the (Miami-Dade County) public library system,” said Nathaniel Sandler, Founder and CEO of Bookleggers. “We go out into the streets and into the community and hand out free books, and we run the gamut from bars and galleries to homeless shelters and prisons with a mix of artistic and creative work.”

Creating new lineups like the Three-Wheeled Bookbike and weekly artist reads on Instagram, Sandler said Beach Books, which is open Sundays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., is another extension the library will use. to reach more people.

“It’s a mix of a tourist shop and a free bookstore,” he said. “We have towels, sunscreen and shot glasses on one side and free books on the other. This is how we pivoted and were able to bring books directly to people during the pandemic. “

Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami (MOCA) executive director Chana Budgazad Sheldon said she was excited about Marginal projects‘works in downtown Miami.

“Fringe Projects is an experimental public art initiative that offers artists the opportunity to carry out site-determined projects and often explore less conventional spaces with context-specific interventions, installations and performances,” he said. she declared. “They recently unveiled a wonderful new work by Miami-based Dominican artist Charo Oquet called Points of Joy. The vibrant sculpture celebrates the Afro-Caribbean roots of Miami’s Latinx diasporic culture.

Sculptures by artist Charo Oquet are part of “PUBLIC COLOR” by Fringe Projects, an open-air exhibition of eight newly commissioned public art projects by seven contemporary artists of Caribbean descent, including April Bey, Morel Doucet, Mark Fleuridor, GeoVanna Gonzalez, Johanne Rahaman and Kathia St Hilaire.

Using Miami as a context, the art installations have created site-specific works of art that explore themes and experiences that inform collective urban life seen through their diasporic lenses, said Deborah Lehman Di Capua, executive director and curator. by Fringe Projects.

Organized with María Elena Ortiz of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, the exhibition tackles topics ranging from cultural mythologies, personal stories and historical realities. Taking place across downtown Miami and the Miami Design District, PUBLIC COLOR exemplifies the importance of having diverse voices present in public art, Ms. Di Capua said.

“Initially, we were looking to work with artists who lived and worked in the Caribbean,” she said. “But with the pandemic, we have shifted gears and six of the seven artists are local and tackle all kinds of issues that are not necessarily related to Caribbean or postcolonial criticism, but very much linked to their cultural roots.”

Fringe Projects has always worked in the public domain, but this new exhibition of public spaces is one of the biggest projects the art institution has undertaken, Ms. Di Capua said, “in the sense that we were doing eight projects in three months as opposed to three projects in a month and a half.

Before the pandemic, Fringe used public spaces like storefronts or commercial spaces indoors, she said. “This year, we wanted everything to be visible and to be able to be experienced from the outside.


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