Let me ask you a question. Who can change the world?
In the year 2016 the odds are your answer to that question would be conflicted. Certainly not politicians. Definitely not corporations. But how do we really feel about individuals? About nonprofit groups? About the potential for artists to transform our broken systems?
That last question is the implicit and explicit sub-text of New Cities Future Ruins (NCFR), a four-year “curatorial initiative” which kicks off this weekend at SMU. The “convening,” as this weekend’s series of events is being called, is the brainchild of artistic director Gavin Kroeber, a curator, artist and recipient of the 2016 Meadows Prize.
The convening is bringing together artists, designers and thinkers from around the world to discuss issues of sustainability in sprawling cities of the American West and, ideally, posit some solutions.
So, what do you think? Can artists find solutions?
Argentinian artist Agustina Woodgate is one artist who’s been dancing around that question in her work for quite some time and SMU Pollock curatorial fellow Sofia Bastidas is curating a live broadcast and exhibition of Woodgate’s ongoing project, RadioEE.net, to coincide with the New Cities Future Ruins convening.
RadioEE.net is “a nomadic, online, event-based bilingual radio transmission addressing themes of mobility, migration and transportation.” Woodgate has “performed” or broadcast a site-specific show in cities across the country and from Nov. 11 to 13, Woodgate and her collaborators will be broadcasting live from SMU’s Pollock Gallery. Since RadioEE.net is an ongoing project, each “event-based” transmission is themed, and in keeping with NCFR and its location in Dallas, this broadcast will be centered around the sun; both its promise and its threat.
“We were triggered by the sun’s presence in this region,” Bastidas says, “and decided that it was important to explore the sun as the power that can evolve the region beyond an oil-based economy.”
How can the sun’s power be harnessed? How will it affect transportation, migration and the climate? These are just a few of the questions Woodgate and Bastidas intend to address in their online broadcasts.
“So many times conferences bring lots of outside voices but don’t bring the discussion to a local level.” Bastidas continues. “And at the same time these conferences don’t broadcast their content broadly, so it becomes a relatively inside conversation.”
Since Bastidas arrived at SMU earlier this year, her intention has been to find ways to “expand the audience reach that the Pollock Gallery has beyond the gallery space.”
“RadioEE.net seemed very appropriate to the ecology of Dallas, since its main focus is on infrastructural settings that challenge the dynamics currently shaping the city both locally and globally,” she says.
Woodgate’s concept is also inextricably wound up in issues of communication. Her broadcasts are bilingual and the heart of the concept is essentially that art is a mode of communication; in a world in which people increasingly move between “languages and across the planet,” how can we develop new ways and new tools for exchanging thought and information?
Bastidas and Woodgate have worked collaboratively with Woodgate’s production team — which includes Sebastian Bellver and Stephanie Sherman, as well as SMU students — to develop the theme of their broadcasts and assemble local guests for on-air conversation.
Local guests include artists/curators Karen Weiner and Carolyn Sortor, urban designer Patrick Kennedy, Jessie Zarazaga of the SMU Lyle School of Engineering and many more.
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On Sunday, RadioEE.net will also be live-streaming the main stage presentations at NCFR which include talks by bcWORKSHOP’s Brent Brown, curator Naima Keith, conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll, designers/educators Teddy Cruz and Fonna Forman and more.
Maybe “change” is the wrong word to use. None of the conversations that occur this weekend are going to literally change anything, but Woodgate and Bastidas will at the least ensure the conversations are available to more people while challenging the notions we have about who has the power to change things in the first place.
After the initial live broadcasts this weekend, the show will remain open at the Pollock Gallery through Nov. 23 and guests will be able to listen to recorded versions of this weekend’s show on headsets.
If you can’t make it to the gallery this weekend, you can also listen to the broadcasts online at RadioEE.net or follow along on Instagram (@radio.ee) or Facebook.