On February 19, the Aspen Institute Arts Program and Park Avenue Armory co-hosted the 2017 Interrogations of Form Series: Culture in a Changing America summit. Activating rooms throughout the historic Armory building, the groundbreaking event was attended by more than 300 guests and served as a critical platform for artists, civic leaders, journalists, and academics from across the country to convene and examine the role of arts and culture in our nations future.
Multidisciplinary discussions investigated cultures response to issues surrounding citizenship, gender, race and identity. Mira Nair, Jose Antonio Vargas, Eric Liu, Sarah Lewis, Tania Bruguera, Deborah Willis Thomas, Lil Buck, Toshi Reagon, Cristela Alonzo, and New York City Commissioners Tom Finkelpearl and Nisa Agrawal were among the dynamic voices commenting on what it means to create as an American, and the impact of the new political landscape on developing work and reaching audiences. Additional participants included Carrie Mae Weems, Deborah Willis, Jason Moran, Devóne Tines, Sonia Sanchez and Ta-Nehisi Coates with featured music by members of the Ebony Hillbillies.
Two standout sessions included the panel/dance demonstration Movement in Movement with Lil Buck, Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray and Damian Woetzel and Randy Cohen’s live recorded radio interview show Person Place Thing with guests Ta-Nehisi Coates and Sonia Sanchez.
Movement in Movement highlighted Memphis Jookin’ innovator Lil Buck and flex pioneer Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray as they discussed and showcased their dance styles and how they are working for social progress through movement. The energizing panel/demonstration was hosted by Damian Woetzel, former Principal Dancer of the New York City Ballet and Director of the Aspen Institute Arts Program, Vail Dance Festival, and DEMO at the Kennedy Center. Watch the video here:
The day closed with a lively, intergenerational conversation between author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates and scholar, poet and activist Sonia Sanchez hosted by Randy Cohen on his interview show Person Place Thing. Person Place Thing is based on the idea that people are particularly engaging when they speak not directly about themselves but about something they care about. Guests talk about one person, one place, and one thing that are important to them to reveal surprising stories from great talkers. Members of The Ebony Hillbillies were musical guests. Watch the video here:
To watch the entire day’s activities, click here.