Dinner Without An Agenda with Rujeko Hockley

Prompted by the question “How does space/place impact your work?,” fourteen strangers from the art world met together on April 28 at a small restaurant in Queens. Connected in this time/place, La Flor restaurant, where Rujeko Huckley (Associate Curator, Brooklyn Museum) and Patricia Gonzalez-Ramirez (Public Programs Fellow, Queens Museum) hosted a delectable Mexican dinner complete with a zillion appetizers, we each shared our answers to the question.

Answers varied. For some, it was about being at a residency, or living in NYC, or being “in a good mental space.” Still others shared tales of making art in the Arctic and while completely isolated in the mountains. For me, the answer was very much about a metaphysical space, and thinking about how no time/place combination in particular could be duplicated. I am interested in exploring the spiritual and emotional spaces of interpersonal relationships, and that’s the place that really impacts my work the most– what kind of chemicals in my brain are my thoughts passing through? Did I have an encounter with a person that upset me on my way to the studio today? All these things are what I consider space/place. Engaging with history, research, and one’s physical location are all ways of considering space and place. In my current work, I think about emotion and vulnerability of materials and the human condition, and space/time is always a part of that. I think about relativity, time travel, dissociating, and escaping. I think about the time it takes to take a subway to the studio, or how time passes slowly when you’re at a residency in the woods then warps up when you get back to the City. I think about the time I spend having to position myself as a black woman, the time it takes for me to earn a dollar vs. the time it takes for a white man, and the extra charge I have to pay for the extra time it takes to do my hair. In other words, Space/Place is everything.

With our busy schedules and solitudinous practices, artists cherish those rare times and spaces in which we are afforded the chance to engage with each other. Exhibition openings sometimes feel like passing moments, and deeper conversations are seldom.

I found Dinner Without an Agenda to be a great opportunity to share ideas, experiences, and have a conversation that introduced me to other people in the arts community at a deeper level. It was nice to meet people outside of my small circle who were also interested in a contextualized conversation. But it wasn’t a colloquium; one of the best parts of the dinner was how casual it was! By the middle of the first course, conversations, jokes, and wine were flowing as perspectives were shared.

To knit this all together, I must say that this experience was a unique time that I will cherish. Thank you for including me.

— Pamela Council

Image: A view from Pamela Council’s studio at Catwalk residency in Catskill, NY photo by Pamela Council

This post is part of our series on Dinners Without an Agenda where guests authors react to the events they attend. Read on at this link for the rest.