Episode 44: Being There There Being (w/ Devin Kenny)

Photo credit: Troy Montes

Hey everyone. I hope everyone is doing okay. These are really sad and frustrating times with the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and the many others that did not get the coverage they deserved. And then there are all the Beckys and Karens out in the world perpetuating white supremacy at Central Park and beyond. This is the time for white allies to speak up and where being neutral is being part of the problem. The prioritization of the destruction of property over black lives is part of the problem. And forcing the celebration of our differences onto the shoulders of a select few is part of the problem. I just hope everyone including me can find it in our heart to have empathy for the situation and create meaningful change, from donating to organizations working to change the situation to joining those very organizations. I’ve added links in the show notes and on the website to a few resources.

Of course, these recent events are simply a few in what is a long history of racist actions in a racist country that refuses to look at itself clearly. There is time to honor these lost lives, but there’s also needs to go past that and call out all the complacency. I am not saying this to make it about this podcast and I don’t even pretend that my podcast is helping in any real meaningful way. I am often at a loss for words at the immensity of the problems we face. In these moments, I try to just keep taking one step at a time, in hopes it is in the right direction.

Anyway, for today, I am speaking with Devin Kenny, an interdisciplinary artist, writer, musician, and independent curator. Devin takes an experimental, multidisciplinary approach to analyzing the contemporary black experience. Exploring surveillance, abuses of institutional power, and gentrification, Devin balances abstract concepts with material traces of once subcultural but now quite ubiquitous forms of expression such as manga, hip-hop, and internet memes. Devin got his BFA from Cooper Union and received his MFA from the New Genres department at UCLA. Devin is also an alum of the Whitney Independent Study Program and the MFAH Core Program Houston.

I first met Devin while I was in Berlin and Devin skyped in for a studio visit. We have continued our conversations online since then and I had the chance to have Devin on this podcast recently. We chat about envision ourselves in new ways, thinking about power dynamics through subcultures, and how subcultures can help guide one through the internet. As always, stay safe and stay healthy and I hope you enjoy this.

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