We're two episodes into the Situational Junta and it's clear that the original mission is starting to come true, but maybe not in the way the creators fully intended (though will no doubt embrace with enthusiasm). Two months ago the folks behind the Junta asked: what happens when artists are empowered on a large enough scale to disrupt the status quo?
As noted previously, the United States Department of Culture (USDAC) and the Associação Espaço Cultural Lanchonette (aka Lanchonete) are taking over the Bowery Poetry Club for a series of evening encounters and exchanges. The Situational Junta, as the multi-part event is called, is equal parts happy hour, radio talk show, creative mixer, and ideas incubator.
In my first post on this series, I hazarded a couple of guesses as to what the Junta might bring. In the second dispatch, I asked Lawman Lynch, the series' emcee, what he saw from the vantage point of the stage. For this one, I phoned Lynch just to see what was on his mind.
"I need to hit 2014 running," Lynch volunteered. He has been in New York City for a couple of years now, working for a non-profit while moonlighting as a journalist, but it's time to take things up a notch. Or two.
Here's the problem: in NYC, the media market for the Caribbean diaspora is saturated. When media types move up from the Islands, "We all get involved in the same thing, are interested in the same topics, and target the same 2.5 million-member audience," says Lynch, who is from Jamaica. The effect is an echo chamber, familiar across many media landscapes. The risk is to end up living in a box.
“I don’t want to confine myself,” Lynch asserts.
Lynch has to figure out a better way to deliver his messages on any number of subjects: female heads of households, bullying at school, the impact place has on an individual's image, and how that image leads to stereotyping. His interests are as varied as the characters he chats up on the subway ride home.
It's time to get out of the box, though, and so for Lynch the Junta has been disruptive to his thinking. The artistic experience has exposed him to a new and different target market, unique from the audience on the listening side of Jamaican and Island radio programs that he favors. "The Situational Junta is a training ground," he confides.
Lynch continues: "Performance art requires an intersection. It strikes a balance. To arrive at the Situational Junta for a theoretical display of art after a long day of work is not going to cut it. We must walk the line between performance, theory, and education. In my mind it’s all about 'edutainment.' There must be equal levels of education and entertainment."
Turns out that next year, Lynch wants to figure out a way to have a regular interview program, likely hosted online. It could be radio, where he is has much experience, but video also has appeal. He's looking for a host ... and this is where the original mission of the Situational Junta—to disrupt the status quo—starts to come into play. At least as far as Lynch, The Mantle, and I are concerned. I'll add a twist to the question originally posted by the Situational Junta, then: what happens when a couple of motivated doers are empowered on a large enough scale to disrupt the status quo?
It just so happens that we at The Mantle are considering a video program for next year, and we're looking for interested parties. Earlier this year we partnered with the folks at Sulphurbath Productions, appearing on their weekly program "Inside the Sulphurbath" or sending some of our writers and friends over as guests. As a result we were able to curate many fascinating conversations with emerging voices in art, philosophy, poetry, politics, and other subjects. It's a project worth pursuing.
So here I am considering the idea for this website, and Lynch comes along looking for a home for the same thing. Will we do something together? Maybe. Maybe not. We both agree, though, that the opportunity would not have presented itself without the Situational Junta.
Radio archive, presented by Mikey Appuhn of Radio al Cabira
Follow Shaun on Twitter @shaunrandol
Journalism, Situational Junta