Broken Boxes features the art and ideas of over 40 visual artists, filmmakers, sound artists, activists, performance artists and community organizers from around the world who are effecting change through their work.
The show is co-curated by Ginger Dunnill and Cannupa Hanska Luger, and all invited artists have participated in an interview on Dunnill’s Broken Boxes Podcast over the past 2 years.
“I am interested in creating content that honors the intersections where our stories overlap, and which refuses to box us out of each other’s narratives,” says sound and performance artist Ginger Dunnill. “We need each other as accomplices to promote safe space, healing and solidarity.” This ethos inspired her podcast Broken Boxes, which has featured interviews with more than 60 artists from diverse backgrounds for over two years. This summer, Dunnill teams up with artist Cannupa Hanska Luger to bring together artwork by more than 40 of the podcast’s guests. The Broken Boxes exhibition opens at form & concept on Friday, August 18 from 5-8 pm. The curatorial team will literally break boxes as they prepare for the exhibition: many of the artists will send their creations in Flat Rate Priority Mail boxes.
Dunnill started the Broken Boxes podcast in 2014, and her vision for it was clear from the beginning. “I’d come to find that there aren’t many media outlets that are producing open-ended narratives for artists to express themselves and share their ideas on their terms,” she says. “I reached out to many artists in my communities to participate, with the main goal to center Indigenous artists, activist focused artists, Queer artists, women identifying artists, artists of color and mixed/lost/stolen heritage artists. This project focuses on artists whose stories are complex, nonlinear and multifaceted, who have narratives that challenge a society’s predetermination of them.” Word quickly spread about the project, and she received messages from listeners across the globe. “A lot of young people from rural communities have written me to say things like, ‘This is inspiring me to keep going,’” Dunnill says. “When suicide is a real threat to young people in our communities, having these narratives where youth can hear the stories of artists who they may identify with, as a point of human connection, is really important.”
The podcast’s aim is to hold safe space for artists to archive their stories, providing a platform for them to speak about their work and lives without an imposed narrative or proposed approach to format. Broken Boxes Podcast offers insight and inspiration to those engaging in the project as a listener/viewer, creating community and combating isolation. Each episode presents inspiring examples of creatives who are working to deconstruct oppressive, patriarchal society on a daily basis.
Broken Boxes Podcast has recently received micro-grant funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and 516 Art’s Fulcrum Fund to create an extension of the podcast project culminating in the Broken Boxes exhibition. Dunnill contacted all of the podcast’s previous guests with an invitation to ‘break the box’. “I asked the artists to do something different,” she says. “To move outside of their own box as an artist, through material or content, or by creating work that speaks on how their existing practice challenges the imposed narratives of our society.”
Because the artists come from every corner of the world, she also asked that they ship the artwork in Flat Rate Priority Mail boxes as a cost-cutting measure. If the artist so desired, they could alter their container to become the artwork itself or display their opened shipping box alongside their artwork to further interpret the theme, Broken Boxes. “‘The Box’ can be considered as the limitations of conventionality,” says Dunnill. “‘Breaking the Box’ or to think outside the box, is to explore ideas that challenge the prevailing current thought within a society and which are not limited or controlled by rules, tradition or an imposed narrative.”
Dunnill continues, “I hope to give space for the artists to move outside of their usual approach to working. I have invited the participating artists to explore new materials and approaches to their process.’” Over 40 of the artists she contacted will participate in the show. Their artwork (and box sculptures) will appear in the exhibition, along with a special audio presentation of the Broken Boxes podcast. “We’re creating a space that’s whole-system. This project does not support or promote any one human experience above or instead of any other, and the approach is to engage in alliance through sharing experience of the artist’s process, unfolding all the layers it takes to make each artist a unique creative force,” says Dunnill. Artist lectures, workshops, film screenings and performance programming will extend throughout the run of the exhibition.
This exhibition was made possible in part by the Fulcrum Fund, a grant program of 516 ARTS in partnership with The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. This exhibition was also made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit arts.gov.
Broken Boxes Podcast would like to thank Blue Rain Gallery, who represents exhibiting artists Cannupa Hanska Luger, Chris Pappan, Thomas ‘Breeze’ Marcus, and Yatika Starr Fields.