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Brooklyn, NY | Curator’s Tour of “1-800 Happy Birthday” with Klaudia Ofwona Draber
December 17, 2022 | 12:00 pm
Please join us for a tour of 1-800 Happy Birthday with ArtTable members Klaudia Ofwona Draber, the exhibition’s curator, and Marcia Santoni, executive director of WORTHLESSSTUDIOS.
1-800 Happy Birthday is an exhibition honoring Black and Brown lives killed by police. Originally a voicemail project, now transformed into a large-scale exhibition in a 10,000 square-foot warehouse, 1-800 Happy Birthday is created by artist Mohammad Gorjestani and Even/Odd, curated by Klaudia Ofwona Draber, with artistic direction by Neil Hamamoto, and presented by arts nonprofit WORTHLESSSTUDIOS with the aim of honoring the lives of those lost too soon. The families of Dujuan Armstrong, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Fred Cox, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Xzavier Hill, Donovon Lynch, Sean Monterrosa, Tony Robinson, and Mario Woods are participating in the exhibition.
1-800 Happy Birthday was originally created in 2020 by Even/Odd founder, filmmaker, and artist Mohammad Gorjestani as an ongoing voicemail project to honor Black and Brown victims of police killings and systemic racism. The project exists online at 1800HappyBirthday.com and allows loved ones and the public to leave and listen to voicemails left on the birthdays of ‘celebrants’ – those unjustly killed. Gorjestani teamed up with WORTHLESSSTUDIOS’ Founder and Artistic Director Neil Hamamoto and Curator Klaudia Ofwona Draber, along with family members of the twelve celebrants, to bring the digital project into the physical realm in a community-accessible, large-scale exhibition. The show utilizes audio and video components, a large mural created by Art1, and personal ephemera to tell their stories.
Twelve upcycled NYC pay phones are arranged on a few patches of lawn, a concrete wall with a dedicated area for flowers hosts a large mural and balloons, and birthday cards are available for purchase at a newsstand. Towards the back of this city landscape is a translucent building facade with an opening that leads to an interior setting – a family living room. This room acts as a resource center: filled with photos, ephemera from the celebrants, and educational resources. It is also meant as a space of refuge, to rest and recharge. The exhibition design imagines a world that is just, where streets are safe for Black and Brown people to just be.
Each repurposed phone booth, designed in collaboration with the families of the celebrants, is dedicated to one person and features portraits of the celebrant and their family and friends. The visuals and ephemera included in the exhibition – such as Philando Castile’s favorite book and Xzavier Hill’s graduation cap – allow visitors a glimpse into the personal milestones, interests and personalities of those being honored. These objects, chosen by celebrant family members, illustrate the divide between private conversation and public space. In a large-scale mural, each celebrant is represented by their likeness. The tableau serves as a collective memory for the many individuals killed by the police, and is designed to receive flowers, birthday cards, balloons, and any other memorial offerings. The interactive and educational nature of the exhibition seeks to connect participants to each celebrant and to expand on the pervasive impact of policing and systemic racism in America.
This program is free to attend and open to ArtTable members and guests only.
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Health & Safety
Face masks are optional at this location.
Please note that by registering for this event you consent to have your contact information shared with ArtTable to be used in the event that contact tracing is needed.
The venue is wheelchair accessible. Seating is available if needed.
If you would like information about accessibility or need particular accommodations for this program, please email Haley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WORTHLESS STUDIOS is located at 7 Knickerbocker Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11237. Click here for directions from any location.
This program is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
About Klaudia Ofwona Draber
Klaudia Ofwona Draber is the founder and president of KODA—a social practice residency for mid-career artists. She is also the curator of 1-800 Happy Birthday, an exhibition at WORTHLESSSTUDIOS honoring lives and legacies of Black and Brown people killed by the police. Klaudia has lived and led arts, technology and strategy projects in Europe, Africa and the United States. She also works as Head of Public Relations at Polish Cultural Institute New York. Previously she served as a consultant to the British Council Arts, and worked at UBS, managing arts CSR projects. Klaudia is the 2021-2022 Helena Rubinstein Fellow at the Whitney ISP Curatorial Studies Program. She is a member of ArtTable, mentors at New Museum’s NEW INC, and is a member of For(bes) The Culture. Klaudia holds MA in Art Business from the Sotheby‘s Institute of Art New York. She also holds MA in Economics from the Warsaw School of Economics.
Marcia Santoni is the Executive Director of WORTHLESSSTUDIOS where she is leading efforts to provide arts access to the Bushwick/East Williamsburg community, build capacity, and renovate its 10,000 square foot warehouse into a state-of-the-art fabrication facility. Marcia came to WORTHLESSSTUDIOS after spending two years as the Executive Director of Riverdale Neighborhood House, a historic multi-service organization in the Bronx where she launched the Riverdale Food&Farm Hub. Prior to joining RNH, she was Managing Director and COO for Pioneer Works, the Brooklyn-based cultural center dedicated to building community through the arts and sciences. At Pioneer Works she led expansion from $3.5mm to $7mm over three years, helping the artist founders build systems, structure and leadership to match mission. Marcia has a BA from Wesleyan University and an MBA from Columbia School of Business. She has been a member of ArtTable since 2017.
Image: Installation view of the 1-800 Happy Birthday Newsstand. Courtesy WORTHLESSSTUDIOS; Curator headshot provided by Klaudia Ofwona Draber, photo by Hidemi Takagi
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