Radio Juxtapoz ep 049: How to Still Globetrot in 2020 with Curator Larry Ossei-Mensah
Just one look at curator and cultural visionary Larry Ossei-Mensah's "LinkTree" on his Instagram, and you can see the breadth of what the man is working on. And this was supposed to be the year for the "collective pause"! A break! As the co-founder of ARTNOIR and curator of various exhibitions, fundraisers and projects, the Ghanaian-American Mensah is an example of how independent curators and arts organizers can garner their talents and resources in a year that has stymied an art world wondering how to proceed. From the pandemic to the immense spark created by the George Floyd murder, the contemporary art world needs new voices and relentless visionaries, and in many ways, individuals who can break down the almost "fantasy narrative" that is affixed to a curator. You know, that conversation in countless gallery settings when someone refers to themselves as a curator, and you wonder what that means, but “sign me up!”. Mensah is the perfect art world navigator for these uncertain times.
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In this wide-ranging interview, the Bronx-based Mensah talks to Radio Juxtapoz about how he got started in curation, his early forays into organizing art shows in Brooklyn and the ambitious projects he has on display seemingly everywhere, from the web pages of Artsy to the halls of MOCAD in Detroit with the recent Peter Williams exhibition. His story is not just about what it means to be an art lover with a good idea, but how to tell vibrant stories through curation, how to better equip the art world with new vision and voices from artists around the world, as well as how to still be a constructive force as the art world itself goes through a transition. Mensah also talks about his recent foray into making art himself, and how cooking helped him through the earliest months of the pandemic. The conversation is both a blueprint for a younger generation’s involvement in the arts, but also a guide to navigating the contemporary artworld on every level. If you can't travel the world in 2020, you can still globetrot through the cultural scene with Mensah as your guide.
The Radio Juxtapoz podcast is hosted by FIFTH WALL TV's Doug Gillen and Juxtapoz editor, Evan Pricco. Episode 049 was recorded via Skype from San Francisco/London/Bronx, July 2, 2020. Follow Larry Ossei-Mensah at @youngglobal
Portrait by Aaron Ramney