Episode 60: Reparations as Failure (w/ Ilana Harris-Babou)

Hi everyone. I hope you are doing ok this winter season wherever you are. The Corona virus keeps mutating and vaccines are coming in too slowly so I wish you the best in whatever situation you are in. I am currently on winter break from teaching until after the Chinese Spring Festival, which I am spending staying at home and working on some new projects.

It is also Black History Month, although hopefully you are celebrating Black History Month year round and not just the month of February. It is important to remember and acknowledge our painful histories as opposed to keeping them hidden from view. This is not a one month sort of thing but a constant work against the forces of racism. I hope that is something we all keep in mind.

But for today, I have a really special episode with Ilana Harris-Babou, an artist who uses music videos, cooking shows, and home improvement television as a starting point for her work. Ilana’s sculptures and video installations are, in a sense, an abject exploration of the American Dream. Ilana got her BA in art from Yale University followed by an MFA from Columbia University. Afterwards, Ilana taught at Williams College while doing a string of residencies and shows. She has been featured in places such as The New Yorker, Vice, and Art in America and exhibited at Anton Kern Gallery, Jacob Lawrence Gallery, and the 2019 Whitney Biennial. Most recently, Ilana moved back to New York City and is a resident artist of Pioneer Works. I talk with Ilana about her working process in the studio, getting into the Whitney Biennial, and the troubled history of labor through reparations. Again, please stay safe both physically and mentally and I hope you enjoy this.

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