Examine Atlanta with 'Microcosm'

Local artists explore relationship between community and world

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There’s much to love about Atlanta. There’s the thriving arts scene, the city’s unique history, and the distinct cultural identity embodied in our beloved Southern gem. But despite all the ways Atlanta shines, we can’t overlook and ignore our problems: inequity, gentrification, issues of race and sexuality, and so on. Atlanta’s got them all, and those issues can’t be addressed unless we, as a city, make the time and build the space to talk about them.

With that goal in mind, the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs organized Elevate: Microcosm, the latest event to come from the Elevate art and culture programming series. Following July’s one-day event Elevate: Summer, which kicked off an initiative to make Elevate a year-long experience with seasonal programming, Microcosm returns to standard form as a week-long festival in the middle of October.

Where past Elevate events have been either purely celebratory (like last year’s Forever I Love Atlanta) or examined the mechanisms and flow of the city (as in 2013’s Time, People, Transit), Elevate: Microcosm shines a spotlight on Atlanta as a whole — good and bad. Over 200 artists will explore through art, performance, and dialogue how Atlanta reflects the rest of our world and how we deal with social, racial, sexual, and economic issues.

Curated by an artistic hive-mind composed of Allie Bashuk (Brutal Studio, The Goat Farm Arts Center), Monica Campana (Living Walls), Mark DiNatale (The Goat Farm Arts Center), and Pastiche Lumumba (the late The Low Museum), Microcosm provides a chance to unpack and discuss where we stand and as we approach a crucial turning point in our history — as communities, as a city, and as part of a country. The four curators bring their unique backgrounds and artistic specializations to the table, gathering a selection of art and programming that is as diverse in form and style as Atlanta itself.

Centered around Broad Street in the South Downtown area, Microcosm will include interactive wordplay performances organized by Soul Food Cypher; a Meptik light installation on Broad Street, utilizing awnings built during the 1996 Olympics; a large-scale Yoyo Ferro mural; and Removing, a dance performance created by choreographer Noé Soulier. Other participating artists for this year’s festival include musician Abdu Ali, instrumental ensemble Bent Frequency, the Chroma dance troupe, artist FRKO, musician Elysia Crampton, and more.

In addition to art installations and performances, Microcosm will host a variety of informative and interactive panels, discussing the Atlanta community and its relationship to the city’s past, present, and possible futures. Panel programming includes a C4 Atlanta workshop discussing gentrification in Atlanta, as well as Flux Projects’ community-created For Freedoms installation. In addition, as part of Elevate's mission to inspire future art and community developments, attendees will have the opportunity to learn skills from experts and fellow community members. For example, Pedro Alonzo, Anne Dennington, Ryan Gravel, Camille Love, and Victoria Camblin will lead a discussion on how to utilize public space to communicate stories and information.

“I hope that Elevate helps highlight Atlanta’s identities and histories, but also pushes us as artists and curators to be more responsible with our artistic practice,” curator Monica Campana told CL via email statement.

Whether you’re looking for new ways to help improve your community or just looking for thought-provoking art, Elevate: Microcosm has you covered. The week-long festival will give attendees a chance to engage with artists, historians, and fellow residents and community members. It’s a celebration of Atlanta, built for Atlanta and the people who love it. Don’t miss your own party.

Additional information and scheduling information can be found on Elevate’s website.

Elevate: Microcosm. Free. Thurs.-Fri., Oct. 13-21. Various locations. 404-546-6815. elevateatlart.com.

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