August 24, 2010 Arts » Cover story

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Artist Fahamu Pecou brings creativity and controversy to the Harvey Gantt Center 

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Pecou will also showcase a more performance-based project during his Charlotte residency, the 15 Project. Created in collaboration with the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, the 15 Project is an "outrageous talk show" with Pecou as the host, "irreverent" guests from a variety of backgrounds, a house band and "The Strumming Mummy" sidekick.

"The show is called the 15 Project based on Andy Warhol's quote that in the future, everybody will be famous for 15 minutes," he says. "Well, the tagline for the 15 Project is: 'Your 15 minutes begins on my couch.'"

Pecou hopes to use this opportunity to continue to "blur the lines" between art and life. He hopes to be a "catalyst for change" in our perception of self and others. He hopes, always, to be "part of the conversation." And he hopes, in the near future — absolutely — to be "that guy" in visual arts.

"During [President Obama's] inauguration, when they had the concert on the Mall the day before, they had all of these different representatives from America's cultural community presenting on stage," says Pecou. "They had actors and dancers and writers, rappers — everybody was there. But in that whole group of presenters, not a single person was a visual artist. Every facet of American culture was represented except visual art.

"I didn't see the lack, I saw the potential. And I said to myself that I want to be that guy. The next time they come calling, I want to have positioned myself, that they can't have that without, one: the visual arts represented, and two: without it being Fahamu Pecou." C

For more information on programming during Fahamu Pecou's residency, visit www.mccollcenter.org and www.ganttcenter.org. For more information on the artist, visit http://fahamupecouart.com.

FAHAMU-RELATED EVENTS

Something Like a Fahamenon: '90s Jam

Date: Sept. 11

Location: Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, 551 S. Tryon St. 704-547-3700. www.ganttcenter.org.

Time: 9 p.m.-1 a.m.

21 and older

Admission: Advanced tickets are available for $10 online or at the Center prior to Sept. 11. Gantt Center Members: $8 (before Sept. 11); tickets will be available for purchase at the door for $15 unless the event is sold out. Limited tickets available.

Passage of Right: Call & Response

Date: Sept. 18

Location: McColl Center for Visual Art, 721 N. Tryon St. 704-332-5535.

www.mccollcenter.org.

Time: 1 p.m.-2 p.m.

Admission: Free

15 Project with Fahamu Pecou

Date/time/location: Oct. 9, 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Gantt Center.

Date/time/location: Oct. 28, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. McColl Center.

Admission: Free

10 "FAHAMENISMS" ON LIFE AND ART (According to Fahamu Pecou)

1. On his fantasy: "One of my current fantasies — and maybe if I continue to fantasize it will materialize — is to host Saturday Night Live. I would really love that."

2. On his worst job: "I was a porter in a nursing home in Newark, N.J. (What does a porter in a nursing home do?) Exactly what you think, clean up behind a bunch of sick, old people — and it was in Newark, which sweetened the deal."

3. On his playlist when he's creating: "I recently got put on to a great group called Little Dragon ... my music collection is really all over the map. I'm a big house music head, definitely the Golden Era hip-hop classics — as evidenced from my haircut, I'm perpetually stuck in 1991. A lot of world beat stuff, Afrobeat music. [When I'm in the studio], I just put it on shuffle and let it ride."

4. On where he was when Obama got elected: "I was about a quarter inch through a bottle of rum, in front of my TV, surrounded by friends. And we would take shots every time Obama won a state. By the time 9:30/10:00 rolled around, we were all completely trashed."

5. On conversations with his children about art: "The largest conversation is, ‘You'll enjoy it, just c'mon!’ I really don't try to force anything with them; I really try to  just try to encourage them to be creative and not be afraid to express themselves. "

6. On the title of his unauthorized autobiography: "Fahamenon."

7. On what it takes to create and consistently create work: "It takes commitment, it takes discipline, it takes faith ... The people who make it are those who are unafraid or are much more willing to go the extra step, to go the extra mile, to hustle just a little bit harder. It's a balance of creativity and ethic, and you can't have one more than the other or one without the other."

8. On the purpose of art, and the role art should  play in a society: "I've heard once, that in the future, historians will tell what happened, artists will tell how it felt. And that's how I look at art. Artists have a unique ability to not only capture the significant moments in time, but the significant emotions of those times. Art should be about holding up that sort of emotional/mental mirror up to society, in truth-telling. Such that, a thousand years from now, people who want to get a sense of what happened a thousand years before, are able to do that.”

9. On artists he collects in his home: “I like to collect a lot of young artists, mostly friends of mine who I consider myself rising with. Pamela Sunstrum is in my collection, another young artist named Cosmo White — I'm trying to think of my man's name, this dude is so dope — Lawrence Lee. And I do a lot of exchanges for art. That's another buddy-passion of mine, art collecting.”

10. On the future: "Years from now, I would like to be painting, traveling the world experiencing different things and really seeing or feeling at least, that the work that I'm doing is making a difference. I don't know if it's a contradiction to say this, but even though it's my face on these paintings, the work is not about me. It's about my community, it's about all of us — not just the black community, but all of us."
 

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