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Watch This Space: What do artists know?

May 13, 2021

Ways of coping with the past, present, and future, this month on Medium

This month’s featured articles, collected here as the May edition of Watch This Space, all seem to ask: what do artists know? The modes of questioning vary but the spirits of inquiry — and the strongly held belief in those outcomes — are kindred. After a year and then some of hardship, uncertainty, and unrest, and on the precipice of the oft-alluded to “return to normal”, what do we turn to artists for? Our politics, our palliation, our pleasure?

At the risk of oversimplifying (and of too much alliteration!), the intersection of performance, protest, and pedagogy serves in some way all four of the artists featured here— Freya Powell, Pablo Helguera, Greg Sholette, and Andrew Freiband —as they attempt to answer, for us and for themselves, how to cope, how to laugh, how to act out, how to connect, right here, right now.

Watch This Space is More Art’s bimonthly collection of interviews, excerpts, updates, and essays, all curated and collated for you on our Medium publication page. At the beginning of each month, we’ll gather a handful of recently published pieces to share and spark conversation, framing our current work as well as our archival material for the present moment.

Join the conversation — follow More Art on Medium and Instagram as we share updates on current projects and revisit past work to better understand our present moment and what’s to come.

Header image: NYsferatu (2017) — Focused on representations and perceptions of “the other,” NYsferatu is Andrea Mastrovito’s retelling of Friedrich W. Murnau’s 1922 film Nosferatu. Mastrovito used rotoscoping, an animation technique that traces over motion-picture footage frame by frame, to appropriate the film, recontextualizing the classic vampire story for twenty-first-century audiences. New backgrounds include iconic New York landmarks, as well as scenes set amid the current war in Syria, bringing images of conflict, destruction, and displacement to post-9/11 America. To create the script of the film, Mastrovito and community leaders and educators led a series of writing workshops with English-as-a-second-language learners in Corona, Queens, and Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The participants and their experiences are present in the film via the interstitial title cards, left in the original language of each contributor. Screenings of NYsferatu were held at eight public venues throughout New York City over the summer of 2017. Photo by Kate Levy.