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Creative Time and FotoFocus Unite for The Convening in Cincinnati

Posted on July 25, 2023

Weekend of Talks and Performances (October 20 & 21, 2023), Anticipating Charles Gaines’ 2024 The American Manifest Exhibition

Creative Time and FotoFocus are pleased to announce their partnership for The Convening, a special series of public talks and performances in Cincinnati, featuring artists, critics, curators, and other distinguished guest speakers. A welcome event and performance will take place at Mecca OTR on Friday, October 20, 2023, followed by a full day of discussions held at two venues: the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Contemporary Arts Center, on Saturday, October 21, 2023.

Structured loosely around three earth-based thematics—land, waterways, and trees—The Convening will bring together national and local artists, activists, and thinkers whose work considers histories of land, particularly American histories that coalesce in the Cincinnati region. Through discussions, workshops, and performances, participants will explore issues of land sovereignty, access, and stewardship as well as the histories and enduring legacies of forced migration in the United States.

The Convening is the culmination of both organizations’ groundbreaking efforts to lead urgent discussions around art and politics. Since 2009, Creative Time has organized gatherings that address the most pressing issues of our times, from the Summit and In Situ, to the recent symposium, Moving Chains: Toward Abolition, which served as a platform to consider how freedom can be defined beyond the confines of property and ultimately questioned the compatibility of abolition and the law. Since 2015, FotoFocus has held annual symposiums addressing photography’s centrality to critical issues, such as culture wars, feminism, and the spread of disinformation through digital technologies. The Convening is a significant collaborative effort designed to discuss thinking about land-use and self-determination through contemporary art practices, including photography.

“For nearly 10 years, FotoFocus has organized impactful discussions in Cincinnati highlighting photography’s relevancy to the pressing issues of our time. We are excited to combine curatorial forces with Creative Time, expanding these conversations to include different perspectives. Through this partnership, we aim to inspire critical conversation and create a platform for perspective-changing ideas,” said Katherine Ryckman Siegwarth, FotoFocus Executive Director.

“Creative Time is thrilled to partner with FotoFocus to engender transformational conversations deeply rooted in the Cincinnati region that resonate across the country. This program draws from histories of the land and envisions possible futures through the work of creative visionaries both locally and far afield,”  said Justine Ludwig, Creative Time Executive Director.

The Convening is a prelude to the forthcoming Charles Gaines’ multi-city public art project, The American Manifest, culminating in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2024. Commissioned by New York-based Creative Time with support from Cincinnati-based FotoFocus, The American Manifest is a series of monumentally-scaled works spanning multiple sites in New York City and Cincinnati, from 2022 through 2024. The American Manifest offers a multifaceted engagement with history, implicating northern “free” states in their dual roles of both maintaining and abolishing slavery.

Divided into three chapters, the project launched in New York in summer 2022 with a sculptural installation in Times Square, Roots, evoking the area’s pre-colonial landscape, and performance of Manifestos 4: The Dred and Harriet Scott Decision. The second chapter, Moving Chains, is currently on view on New York’s Governors Island through the fall of 2023. The 110 foot-long kinetic sculpture evokes the hull of a ship, reverberating with the low rumble of nine colossal chains rotating overhead. Moving Chains, which illuminates the exchange of people, capital, and goods cycling between the north and south that made up the slave trade, will debut in Cincinnati on the banks of the Ohio River in 2024.

The event is free and open to the public, in line with Creative Time and FotoFocus’ missions. The Convening’s full speaker lineup and details will be announced later this summer. For the latest information, please visit the event website at FotoFocus.org/Symposium.

Creative Time and FotoFocus are grateful to The Convening’s supporting partners:
Contemporary Arts Center
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Terra Foundation for American Art
Wave Pool

Press Release originally published on July 25, 2023.