Talking With Nato Thompson, Chief Curator of Creative Time

Though Creative Time is based in the East Village and has commissioned impressive public arts projects all over the world, the nonprofit arts organization has been at the helm of some seriously influential exhibitions in Brooklyn including Kara Walker’s massive sugar sphinx installation, “A Subtlety,” which marked the end of an era in Brooklyn—namely, the Domino Sugar Factory as an abandoned relic of Williamsburg’s manufacturing and industrial past. In what’s become a sleek, sugar-coated neighborhood dominated by happy-go-lucky, apolitical neon “street art” and cutesy yarn bombs, Walker made a weighty statement by highlighting the complicated and often dark history of sugar production and the history of capitalism in the United States, not incidentally built on the backs of black slaves.

Creative Time also sponsored a several weeks-long exhibition Black Radical Brooklyn an interactive initiative to explore the history of Weeksville—a community established by freed slaves, that’s inside what is now Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy—and radical civil rights activism in the neighborhood from the 60s right up until the present. The public arts event brought together local artists and invited them to explore several key themes: funk, jazz, medicine, and God.

CT’s Chief Curator Nato Thompson co-curated Black Radical Brooklyn along with Rashida Bumbray and offered his take on the future of Brooklyn culture:

“The future of Brooklyn depends on the city’s capacity to actually plan toward what has historically made the city interesting: a mixed class and race environment capable of playing home to the immigrants and migrants of the world over. If the rapid development of Bedford-Stuyvesant is any indicator, many of the city’s historic African American neighborhoods could be erased and in the end, that is bad for the future of Brooklyn.”


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