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On this episode of the Fashion League podcast I’ll discuss highlights from my very first Art Basel Miami experience and chat with Nadir Jackson who is a multi-hyphenated creative entrepreneur. Nadir is a model, music producer, tech entrepreneur, and designer behind the fashion brand Foreign Exchange.
Nadir and I met this summer while doing tech entrepreneur things where we traveled from New York to New Orleans on a bus building companies on the JPMorgan StartupBus with 30 other strangers.
Nadir debuted the first Foreign Exchange collection during Paris Fashion Week. And he’s recently produced a pop-up activation for his brand during New York Fashion Week.
What I discovered on this trip is that Art Basel Miami happens during Miami Art Week which means there were things to do all across Miami. I went to the Patricia Field fashion show in Wynwood. I attended the Thom Browne conversation in the Design District and all popped into the Miu Miu activation which was right next door.
Also, apologies for the New York City ambiance you’ll here in this episode, you’ll here a bit or sirens in the background. Also, a photographer clicking in the background but I’m certain you’ll enjoy this episode all the same.
Personally, one of the great experiences from this trip was randomly popping a squat at a panel discussion on the beach at the Faena Hotel. I had just finished grabbing lunch with an acquaintance nearby, and I needed a moment to recharge my introvert batteries, and decided to sit in an outdoor space, that at the moment was empty besides me and the 15-foot dinosaur skeleton behind me.
Gradually people started filling the area and I discovered what was about to take place.
I decided to stay since I could still sit, and not have to talk to anyone for a while.
The panel was titled “Unlocking Freedom” and featured photographer and visual artist Nona Faustine, artist, educator and choreographer Octavia Yearwood and performance based, revolutionary artist Dread Scott in a conversation on art as a tool for social liberation. Each of these people are individually amazing and I encourage you all to look them up and take a look at their work for a second.
What I found really profound was Nona Faustine’s explanation of her self-portrait series titled “White Shoes”. In the photo-series, she documents herself at locations that are part of the largely unknown 300 year old history of slavery in New York City—locations like City Hall which is built on an African Burial Ground, and also Wall Street, the site of the original slave market.
Nona Faustine explained that the white shoes she’s wearing in the photos represents the impact whiteness has on the black body. Which is remarkable considering that she’s mostly naked throughout the series.
The next day I ran into one of the panelists Dread Scott and he gave me really great recommendations of things to see during Art Week.
And thankfully I listened to him and went to the Rubell Museum where I got to see more of Hank Willis Thomas' artwork.
I actually have a picture of me and my daughter standing in front of the Hank Willis Thomas' Afro pick sculpture that was here on 5th avenue in Manhattan.
At the Rubell Museum, I viewed a photo from his series titled ‘Branded’. In the ‘Branded’ series Hank Willis Thomas connects slave ownership and consumerism. The photos feature Nike logos but formed by keloid scars on athletic black bodies.
On my last night in Miami, I ran into another one of the panelists, Octavia Yearwood. She and I were at the Cocktails and Curators event, honoring Franklin Sirmans, who is the Director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM).
And I had a moment with Dapper Dan, he said my outfit was fly, so besides being voted best dress in middle-school and high-school, I’m now best-dressed in life.
Faena Festival “Unlocking Freedom” Panelists
Nadir Jackson’s Art Basel Miami:
SCOPE Art Show - https://scope-art.com/show/miami-beach-2019/visitor/
LÁOLÚ 🇳🇬- https://www.instagram.com/laolunyc
Kanye West Opera - https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2019/12/kanye-west-mary-opera
La Sandwicherie - http://www.lasandwicherie.com
Art Basel Banana Explained - https://www.vogue.com/article/the-120000-art-basel-banana-explained-maurizio-cattelan
Nadir’s brand Foreign Exchange: