An Urgency to Speak our Truth: Artists, Archives, & Activism

An Urgency to Speak our Truth: Artists, Archives, & Activism

(Credit Emily Boghossian)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28 | By Jocelyn Arem of Arbo Radiko

Times are getting worse and more and more ignorant… which for me creates an urgency to speak our truth.– Martha Redbone

There was this moment, sitting in the small cozy recording studio at BRIC Arts Media in Brooklyn with visionary artist/activists Martha Redbone and Jaishri Abichandani and my co-collaborator, mastering engineer/archivist Jessica Thompson, when all things felt possible. This moment of synergy between four women of various backgrounds, when Martha spoke to the urgency of our time, and you could feel the air shift. You could feel the power and importance of storytelling to awaken minds, activate hearts, transform and heal. That is why I started Arbo Radiko (meaning “tree root”) and why we do this work to connect artists, archives, and activism – because of the urgent, connective, poetic, transformative power we have as artists to bring hidden histories to light, hold each other thoughtfully in our precious shared humanity and make social change.

The BRIC Arts-Arbo Radiko collaborative Podcast “Radiko Radio” (out in December) is one root of that tree. After working for over fifteen years to unearth produce, and share archival stories about artistic spaces like Caffè Lena and pioneering artists like Erroll Garner, it felt important to start a dialogue with fellow creative artists and producers about why archives are an important tool to access the past; and how we can teach, inspire and use this material as valuable transmedia content to address today’s pressing social issues.

This is a deep and complex space. As media arts organizations, producers, activists and artists in the Alliance well know, we operate in waters that can often seem vast and insurmountable – so often the world thinks in binaries, divisions, “your side” and “my side”. But we know most walls are really invisible, and that the greatest artistic work and social movements that draw us together have always been intersectional and polyvocal, just like our histories.

Our mantra has always been “the story is in the archive.” Another way of saying that is, the answer lies in the question. Our pasts, presents and futures are woven and interconnected. We are living archives, and the story is in us.

For more information on Arbo Radiko & the Radiko Radio Podcast visit:

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