Jodi Hays, Tennessee State University
Gallery Director – Hiram Van Gordon Memorial Gallery
Founding Director – Space for New Media
exhibition launched Sept 2, 2008
The web, as evidenced in file sharing and Wikipedia’s ever-edited content leverages collaboration. Most social connections made on the web are digital based on logins and terminals. A major mark of social connections of the past (even seven years ago- pre Friendster, Myspace, etc) was the corporal- whether gathering on porches, in churches, at lunch.
One mammoth social/political effort was the Freedom Rider crusades in 1961. The Freedom Riders boarded buses that criss-crossed the south, riding in protest of segregated bus terminals – a symbol of the pervasive system of segregation. These community-driven acts leveraged the power of the collective body.
How, then, can the legacy of the Freedom Riders, marked by the physical courage of it’s members, be honored through an on-line community, a space that connects us in many ways, excepting the physical? Is it even possible? How can use of the contemporary “information superhighway” in some way honor the highway-spanning riders of the 1960’s?
In the interest of honoring tangible community through intangible, I chose to curate this exhibition by asking friends for input. Many are projects in which I have participated and I encourage you to do the same- as many are collaborative in scope and intent. We’re all in this thing together is/was a joint venture, born from conversations at coffee shops in East Nashville, TN and phone calls to friends moving cross-country. We’re all in this thing (this project, this life, this city, this online effort) together and we’ve come up with some projects that connect in intent, and can live in the same web space.
This project for Terminal explores the legacy of the Freedom Riders through commemorating collective practices. Some of the projects could seem lighthearted and almost flippant compared to the physical courage one must have had to be a Freedom Rider. However, the focus and intent of many of the collaborative projects is to retrieve a spirit of connection and shared experience—a spirit that the Freedom Riders embodied in the most literal and poetic senses.
Continued commemoration and honoring of the Freedom Riders will continue on Tennessee State University’s campus beginning September, 18, 2008.
Only visual is a project envisioned by Prem Makig, a colleague from a Cooper Union residency. It asks you to submit your photos as comments on previously uploaded, a visual group scrapbook of sorts. This project underscores the anonymity of a project, negating the modern notion of the artist as sole author.
Learning to Love You More is a digital house for projects. You can choose any number of projects to complete, following the provided directions.
This project by a Nashville artist, Karl Kronin, points to importance of site relative to identity. Similar to, and possible inspired by, the collaborative nature of Learning to Love You More, the artist acts as project manager and participant rather than autonomous author. I value it’s preoccupation to connect “real” geography, where we love, with cyberspace, where we live.
Ms. Brooks, a Whitney Museum curatorial fellow, uses e-racial as an articulation of race on the internet.
The Rope Swing Manifesto is a project initiated by Derek Stroup as a physical phamplet project, but has “nested” in the virtual world. Its intent is to leverage word-of-mouth information, using hand-drawn maps and continually changing information pools.