Follow a young art lover as she crosses the globe and asks, what can art tell us about a country? Click the logos above to read the articles.
Premiering in March, season one of Where Art Thou ventures into South Africa, looking for dope shit that doesn’t repeat the well worn narratives of Mandela, safaris, and wine. Terhys interviews artists and uses their work as an introduction to specific parts of South African culture, society, or history.
The show lives online and each season has six episodes, released one a month. Direct inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I was 26, I fulfilled my wildest dream: I quit my job and spent months traveling around Asia and New Zealand. I love art as much as I love travel. Before I left for my epic adventure, I had a fleeting thought that it would be cool to have a travel show focused on a country’s contemporary art.
One day, I wandered into a gallery in Bangkok that was displaying the work of Pornprasert Yamakazi, which included wood carvings he had done while in residency in Northern Thailand.
The carvings were sinister – warped wood carved in the shape of body parts, punctuated with black grains of rice – and they were inspired by the struggle between traditional and commercialized rice farming, the latter of which was responsible for poisoning people, flora and fauna with pesticides and for forcing small farmers out of business and into cities for work. The wood was taken from abandoned homes.
This information wasn’t in my guidebook, and I’d never heard it in any tours. What happened in Thailand kept happening in other countries I visited; through contemporary art, I learned very specific and compelling stories about every day life; and what’s more, the stories weren’t exoticized because they were being told by people from said country.
I took my idea a step further: why not use art as an entry point to learn about a country?
A year and half later I returned to America, where I enrolled in film classes and started researching how to create, direct, and produce a show.
I decided to go to South Africa to shoot a pilot episode. South Africa’s contemporary art scene is captivating and growing, the cost of production there would be comparatively cheap, and because the art scene is still relatively new, I thought the barrier to access the artists would be low.
A month passed, and I didn’t get one artist to agree to an interview.
I desperately went to art shows and galleries and chatted up everyone. I found artists on social media and messaged them. I made friends, and implored them to ask friends of friends (of friends) to make introductions. Two months later I’d interviewed nine artists.
I hired local videographers to film interviews, and I filmed b-roll and edited the footage myself. It’s important to me to engage local talent for this project, because I want a reciprocal relationship with the community I’m working in. I also seek out women, gender non conforming people and people of color on both sides of the camera, as these groups are underrepresented in media and art.