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On x MoMA PS1: Nova Class Ep. 1 – The Return of Energy

MoMA PS1 has championed the newest art trends and provided emerging artists with a stage since 1971. Today, the non-profit NYC-based art center is widely recognized as one of the most important of its kind. On partners with the influential minds of MoMA PS1 to discover how NYC’s contemporary artists and creatives find new strength after months of isolation. In this year’s Nova Class Ep. 1, we tell their stories and cherish their personal return of energy.

 

“Starting something is really daunting. It's like a leap of faith that you take for and with yourself. It's kind of like running or walking, like a series of controlled falls.”

 

Energy. It’s everywhere. It drives everything. Every person, every face, every city, every street. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not. It can light a fire in us and it can beat us into submission. It’s impossible to quantify and equally difficult to fake. But it can be channeled. 

 

For NYC’s community of creatives and artists, MoMA PS1 represents a way of doing exactly that: channeling energy into something new and experimental. 

 

And as the world has been locked away, pent up energy has built and built. Waiting to be unleashed, to be ignited. It’s time for the return of energy.

 

Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste / Photo by: Alice Plati
Ana Roxanne / Photo by: Alice Plati

 

Meet MoMA PS1

 

It all started in 1976 when the art center PS1 was founded in the halls of the former ‘Public School 1’ and the PS1 acronym remained after the art center was renamed into ‘Project Space 1’. Originally, the idea was to repurpose urban spaces without a designated use into exhibition spaces for contemporary art. Focusing on up-and-coming artists as well as the latest trends in art, the PS1 community never ceases to explore the crossing of music, theatre, video-art and various other art forms.

 

A new millennium also brought a big step for PS1, as the Museum of Modern Art commenced its affiliation with the New York art center in 2001. The union resulted in a new name that stands to this day: MoMA PS1. Since then, temporary exhibitions, performances, lectures and countless other formats have allowed emerging and under-recognized artists to share their work.

 

Among the many contributing artists and creatives are musician Ana Roxanne as well as composer and performer Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste. Both of them have graced MoMA PS1 visitors with their soulful craft at the Warm Up concert series and various other exhibitions. In Nova Class, we sat down with them and listened to their takes on how they keep pushing through adversity. They also opened up about how movement and energy influence their every step. Figuratively speaking.

 

Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste / Photo by: Alice Plati
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“It’s about trying to find the good things in your world…”

 

While listeners find ample space to get lost in her ambient soundscapes, Ana Roxanne is about exploring new ways to express creativity by starting off with a clean slate. “Leaving everything behind and just starting completely fresh. I feel like that's helped me enter into new things that I'm working on.” Citing the unparalleled Björk as one of her influences, the trained jazz musician always seems to find what she needs to nourish her own growth.

 

As the challenges presented by the global pandemic have laid a roadblock in the path of some creatives, Ana continues to draw strength and inspiration from channeling the positivity around and within her. The moment she feels the influx of creative energy, maintaining her own pace is paramount. It might be slow at times, but that’s just how her artistry prospers. “I think things take time,” Ana elaborates, “Rushing unnecessarily can be just hard on your body, your health or your mind.”

 

For her, movement is all about steadiness and simply embracing the slowness in life. How having a steady flow of energy into oneself will result in returned energy – ready to energize others through her music.

 

                        

“Stillness isn't something that comes to me really naturally.”

 

Whenever Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste isn’t breaking artistic boundaries between music, ambient and experimental sound design, he is probably moving in some capacity. “Motion is a second nature thing to me,” the MoMA PS1 contributor explains, while mentioning traveling the world as well as living with his fast, moving thoughts. Especially in a fast-moving environment like New York City.

 

Despite his active mindset, Jeremy respects the difficulty of starting new projects and adventures: “It's like a leap of faith that you take for and with yourself.” And these leaps of faith follow him, whether he is creating, performing, or running around the neighborhood. To create something special, Jeremy believes in keeping a certain sense of control over the little risks he’s taking every day – without losing his creative freedom.

 

As lockdowns limited his exposure to the usual sources for inspiration, he decided to slow down and absorb the energy his surroundings laid out on a silver platter. There even were times when he held the microphone out of the window. The reason: “Just letting the community that was already always there fill the space that I would normally fill with sound.” But the community didn’t just give him material for his next project. It injected him with newfound energy when there wasn’t much else to do but to be outside, observe the surroundings and enjoy the simple pleasures.

 

 

Just like the countless other influential artists collaborating with MoMA PS1, Ana and Jeremy feel how the received energy flowing through them needs to be returned. Because this return of energy is what turns art from an idea into a craft that everybody can embrace and profit from. Just like each step is only the end of a movement until the next step kicks off a new beginning. Energy is taken, and with the right channeling, energy is then given back. 

 

Ana Roxanne / Photo by: Alice Plati

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