A makeshift radio station housed in the trunk of a hot pink Cadillac rolled into the Utica Avenue A/C plaza in Bed-Stuy this past weekend and will stay parked there until mid-October as part of a new, collaborative art project.
Settled on the corner of Malcolm X Boulevard and Fulton Street, the FM hub is part of Creative Time's Funk, God, Jazz and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn, a larger public project that asks contemporary artists to make artworks based on the ideas of the historic Weeksville settlement, which was founded by emancipated slaves in the 1830s.
In an effort to raise community awareness about the history surrounding the neighborhood, Houston-based collective Otabenga Jones & Associations (OJA) created the sound sculpture, which is housed in a completely refurbished Pepto-Bismol pink 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville. According to Creative Time Communications Associate Yisa Fermin, the project has been a slow process as it's already been in the works for two years since the artists really wanted to get a sense of what exactly the community partners wanted.
Partnering up with the Central Brooklyn Jazz Consortium, there are 8 programs spread out between noon and 6 p.m. every weekend afternoon. Each segment, which includes topics like a public art talk, community dialogue hours and informational programming on black political history, pays tribute to Bed-Stuy's cultural klout as a hub of Black Nationalism and pan-Africanist movements in the '70s and '80s. A hot-bed of political and accompanying musical innovation, "the East" will be fully represented by OJBK FM's mix of political hip-hop, experimental jazz, shop talk and more.
Meant to act as an in-your-face aesthetic fixture accompanied by an important activist statement, it's a refreshing, interactive way of engaging with Bed-Stuy's black radical past.
"It was really stunning," Fermin said. "We had people coming off the train and buses and stopping. It was another level of interaction."
Livestream OJBK FM on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12-6 p.m. or listen to WBAI 99.5 FM from 8 p.m.-midnight during Tuesday evening's "World of Jazz" show for program highlights.