Discussion "The Hub: Revisiting FASHION MODA"
Sunday, April 29 2012
2:30 am - 5:00 am
FASHION MODA was founded in 1978 at 2803 Third Avenue near 147th Street in "The Hub," a commercial district in the South Bronx. Despite its physical distance from the Downtown art scene, FASHION MODA, as a cultural concept and physical location, became a rich and fertile ground for collaborative creativity and high-low aesthetic exploration. Artists from the local community, as well as others from all over the city, collaborated, exchanged ideas, and explored the freedoms that were promoted and celebrated within the space, on the walls of the building, and around the neighborhood. Its South Bronx location allowed it to explore the question, "What is art?" and "Who defines it?"
FASHION MODA's success lay in its community of artists, which was proactively inclusive of all race, gender, class, and educational background. During the first five years, Founder Stefan Eins and Director Joe Lewis created a communal node that engaged this cross-cultural community of artists from all backgrounds and boroughs. Artists such as Jane Dickson, John Ahearn, Rigoberto Torres, Crash, Daze, John Fekner, David Wells, Christie Rupp, A One, Koor, Lady Pink, and many, many more were all integral to the fabric of FASHION MODA.
The desperate economic conditions during those years in New York City, which particularly devastated the South Bronx, allowed the unmonitored and unregulated citizens to create their own DIY cultures in the streets and in spaces such as "Moda." Citywide, individual creative energies combined and fueled each other to form the subcultures that would influence the rest of the world over the next 36 years: artists' collaboratives, such as Colab; graffiti crews, such as The Fabulous Five; break-dancing crews, such as Rock Steady; and the Hip-Hop, Punk, and No-Wave musical movements. As part of this cultural zeitgeist, Moda also reveled in the prevailing cultural freedoms. There was nothing to lose or gain, only unfettered individuals banding together to explore what was important in their cultures, inspiring to themselves, and, above all, fun and exciting.
Within those first five years, FASHION MODA organized pivotal exhibitions, such as Graffiti Art: Success for America, (October 1980); Events at The New Museum (December 1980); and the "FASHION MODA Store" at Dokumenta 7 in Kassel, Germany (1982). John Ahearn's Documentary Sculpture (1979) brought residents from the neighborhood into the space by offering to create life casts of them and teaching them the art form; and Jane Dickson's City Maze (September 1980) connected Crash to FASHION MODA, where he then curated the first show of graffiti art in the space.
Over the years, FASHION MODA's cultural concept and the space itself transcended its locale and has become a template for many other organizations, as well as being historically and institutionally recognized. Although its doors closed in 1993, its legacy lives on.
Artists who affected and were affected by FASHION MODA will get together to discuss the relevance of its concept in today's art context and the role of art in communities. Special screenings will take place before and after the discussion that will present artists' projects and a view into youth, environment and the subculture of that time.
Panelists include Stefan Eins (Artist, Founder of FASHION MODA), Lisa Kahane (Photographer), CRASH (Artist and Curator), and LEE (Artist), and moderator Joyce Manalo (Co-Author of PANTHEON: A History of Arts from the Street of New York City).
Filmmakers include Jane Dickson (Filmmaker and Mixed Media Artist), Charlie Ahearn (Director and Filmmaker), Tony Silver & Henry Chalfant (Director and Filmmaker).
2:30 p.m.: Film Screening - Jane Dickson, City Maze, 1980, 7 minutes and 32 seconds
2:45 p.m.: Film Screening - Charlie Ahearn, Juanito: Walton Avenue 1984, 1991, 7 minutes
3:00 p.m.: Panel - Panelists include Stefan Eins, Lisa Kahane, CRASH, LEE, and moderator Joyce Manalo
3:55 p.m.: Panel - Q & A, 20 minutes
4:30 p.m.: Film Screening - Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant, a 9-minute clip from Style Wars, 1984, 69 minutes
Daniel Ferals´s Diagram on Graffitti and Street Art will be available for purchase.
This Side of Paradise
Image Credit: Lisa Kahane