Performance by Jonothon Lyons (photo credit: Kidzrevil)
What has 2020 and 2021 shown us about the nature of the United States as a society? A society divided by race and by economic class, America appears to function no longer, with a broken criminal justice system that gives profits to prisons and the bailing out of large corporations that are too big to fail. While Donald Trump caused the deaths of many Americans to COVID by refusing to swiftly enact policies guided by science, Trump was not the cause but rather the result of a failed political system plagued by xenophobia, racism, and greed.
"The ‘Great American Dream’– championed as the right of every citizen– is a sham, and has always been a sham. Hard work does not guarantee success for all... The American Normal is a culture steeped in severe inequities and greed."
Art in Odd Places (AiOP) seeks "to critique and dissect the American Mythos" with its annual event involving happenings, installations, and performance events, organized by artists in New York City. The 2021 version of the AiOP, titled "Normal," will take place along 14th Street in Manhattan from May 14 to May 16, 2021. The event is curated by Furusho von Puttkammer, who is a multi-disciplinary artist assuming the cartoon-like and alienated persona of "Anchovy." The event features a roster of artists, including Evan Dawson, Tootsie Warhol, Xiao Yang, Jonothon Lyons, Al Diaz, Shasha Dothan, Tasha Douge, and others.
A Bust article about the Art in Odd Places (AiOP) 2021: NORMAL
Art in Odd Places has a 16 year-long history, and it originally began as a group of artists led by Ed Woodham to encourage local participation in the Cultural Olympiad of the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The movement came to New York City in 2005, where it was re-imagined as a grassroots project responding to "the dwindling of public space and personal civil liberties."
Tasha Douge, one of the participating artists in AiOP 2021: Normal, was recently featured on the AiOP blog, in which she discusses launching her Instagram account titled "convHERsations," which "redefines how women feel and see their bodies and has progressed to empower entrepreneurial women of color and their creative journeys." She talks about the "harm reduction" model in which people of color and women achieve small goals rather than being unable to achieve big goals, as well as the need for communities of color and women to move away from a model of scarcity to a model of abundance in order to invest in themselves and take initiatives.
Tootsie Warhol is another artist who is participating in AiOP. He will be doing a performance as a "satirical Donald Trump character publicly lamenting the fact that the otherwise marvelous Kehinde Wiley official presidential portrait of Barack Obama was made in China."
Jonothon Lyons performs "Buddy the Rat," a centerpiece of the art project titled, "Commensal Mischief." Lyons hopes that Buddy the Rat performance will elicit a sense of community and shared humanity among the audiences who will be able to recognize the animal inside themselves.
Al Diaz paints text-based art, which consists of "WET PAINT sign characters and NYC Subway System Icons," to give messages of hope in times of distress. "The work is installed on the Bowery for the street’s historic significance and reference to NYC’s skidrow."
The homepage of the Art in Odd Places (AiOP)
All in all, Art in Odd Places will comprise an extensive 3-day showcase of performances by the artists of New York City, made all the more meaningful by the current viral and racial pandemic and the failing of the American Dream. As America wakes up from the nightmare of the COVID pandemic, Art in Odd Places will give new meanings and directions for the audiences to arrive at new, more fixed and functioning America.