Photo documentation by: Barbara Sullivan
Text by Curator Christine Licata
“EAsT Harlem,” a collaborative multimedia, curatorial-art-project that investigates alternative solutions to the on-going problem of fresh food access in East Harlem, NYC. One of the main issues in healthy eating is accessibility – knowing where to find alternatives and having choices and options. In response to this challenge, Ramos Fermín constructed a multi-faceted exhibition and participatory action-work space. The main component being a photo archive and a map of all the available healthy food and fresh produce options in East Harlem with a concentration on bodegas, delis, farmers’ markets, green carts, local gardens, supermarkets and community-supported agriculture. The “EAsT Harlem” map is available in an online-mobile version as well as in the gallery for free in paper format.
On the night of the opening the map was also printed on shopping tote bags during a silk screening workshop in collaboration with The Laundromat Project and artist Shani Peters.
Another aspect of the project includes researching and collaborating with non-profits and community-based organizations in El Barrio and beyond that offer innovative solutions for fresh food access and related issues. All information and support materials collected are incorporated into “EAsT Harlem,” and associated programming. These include Union Settlement, Urban Layers, Concrete Safaris, the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP), MAPP International Productions/The People’s Potlucks, East Harlem Community Supported Agriculture and East Harlem’s Community Supported Kitchen – The People’s Kitchen/The Kitchen Table, Go Green! Initiative, Freegans and Neighborhood Explorers from the Museum of the City of New York. The gallery space will also be used as an on-going repository for Ramos Fermín’s investigations as well as documenting the process of the project throughout the exhibition.
“EAsT Harlem” also incorporates individual artist collaborators Emcee C.M., Master of None and Marna Chester as part of the project. Emcee C.M., Master of None is participating through his “MOBILIZE: The Portable Pantry” project, offering a “foraging tour” throughout El Barrio that focuses on identifying and gathering edible plants in local parks. He has also constructed an interactive “EAsT Harlem Seed and Recipe Library” both in the gallery and outside of the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center. Marna Chester has created a woodcut print poster for visitors to take home with them that encourages and promotes healthy choices.
This project was part of the group exhibition “Barri-o-rama” at Taller Boricua featuring artists Nayda Collazo-Llorens, Rosalinda González, Johnny Ramos, Hatuey Ramos Fermín, Emcee C.M., Master of None and Marna Chester. Incorporating interactive, site-specific multimedia projects, the show both celebrates East Harlem and its community and addresses the different perspectives and challenging issues of the neighborhood. Curated by Fernando Salicrup and Christine Licata.