Young Paris Talks Art, America, and the African Diaspora
This past Wednesday, one of our favorite artists, Young Paris, took over Spring Studios to present his first art exhibit of his new experience series, “Impermanence”. Bringing together a multitude of handpicked African and African American artists, the exhibit was a collection of incredible visual arts, music, and discussion which celebrated the beauty and strength of the black experience. The night was kicked off by a panel
Milk had the opportunity to speak with Young Paris before the event, and pick his brain about topics like his new music, his heritage, and his ideas behind the new series. Check it out below.
So tonight’s the opening of your curated exhibition, “Impermanence”. Tell me a little bit about the artworks, what motivated you to take on this project?
We’re just trying to activate conversation here. We’re trying to showcase the beauty of African and African-American contemporary art and music and fashion, and really take some dominators that have been shaking the industry and making a name for themselves and who are honest about their works. And honest about their culture and belief and background, but who are also creating great social impact around conversation about their works, and just who they are. As artists, we naturally speak to impermanence because we’re creating, we’re creatives. A lot of times when you think about art, it falls in the conversation of photography or paintings, or sculpture, but if you’re a musician you’re creating art, or through fashion, you’re creating art. These are all forms of expression. So this particular event is really about taking a theme, which is built around “Impermanence”, and we really want to dabble with impermanence because we’re in a time where everything is permanent. Owning and buying, and taking pictures and capturing, although there’s nothing wrong with that. But that’s not the topic of the event — nothing is for sale, it’s all about the experience. We really just want our viewers to be in the space where they come with nothing, but can create a conversation about the experience. Really, what inspires me is people just being honest, and just using their time that they have on this planet to express what they believe in. A lot of the time when I look at African and African-American contemporaries, there is a lot of struggle that we relate to when we’re trying to share a level of taste and prestige that we find in our peers, or in the conversations around this, but we don’t have the same level of representation. So this event was to create the representation — to make it about us, and about the conversation. Not to say that it always has to be a conversation about African and African-American art, but this particular launch is to embellish and highlight the beauty of what we’re doing as contemporaries. Bringing in the conversation about how we’re also creating the conversation in these forms of our work. Bringing in a fashion designer, and a musician, and a sculptural artist and creating the conversation, these just become the strength of expression when we think about dialect that we want to explore here. And again, when we think about impermanence, that follows an incredible theme, because it’s just about us being in the now. We can only be where we are, we’re right here, and it doesn’t have to be captured, or owned, it’s just about it being explored. Going deeper into my dialect as an African, and thinking about how Africans cultivate artifacts of nature, we create beautiful things, and then they die, or are destroyed. The tradition of nature is not permanence, or to be in a museum, or owned, it’s about creating a dialect about that particular time. Also, taking that lineage in the way that I was brought up by my family, and creating an experience where now that I’ve created incredible content in music, art, and fashion, I wanted to bring them all together and showcase what they do.
Like you said, that the theme of tonight is “Impermanence”. What about all of these artists drew you to them, is there a connected thread between all of the artists that made you decide that were perfect for this event?
Yeah, well there’s a lot of artists. Most of the artists are here, who ended up being in the show, but again, I think it’s the honesty of their form of expression. They’re being honest. They’re also battling an industry where they’re underrepresented. These worlds also get very clique-y, and I feel like these artists speak to my language. I made myself who I am, I have a certain pride and strength to how I walk into a space, and I think when I look at these artists, they are speaking to that dialogue. These are proud, contemporaries from wherever they’re from. They care about their culture and their background, but they’re very passionate about their works. So all the works that you see are very tasteful pieces, that also hold quite a bit of value, but nothing is for sale. There’s something beautiful about that.
How would you describe yourself as an artist? A lot of people might know you from your music and your music videos, but you’re obviously into art as well, seeing as you created this curated showing tonight. Do you define yourself in any way, as an artist?
I’m here to experience. I’m on this planet to experience and share experiences. I don’t take myself too seriously — I think once you reach a certain level of understanding of how the world is flawed, you can either help people, or take advantage of people. I’m just using my information to create change, to bring people together. I like to think of myself as an artist, I like to explore in all mediums. I think you only know an artist from their works based on what they’ve chosen to actually, physically, create. But, you can have incredible ideas in your mind that you’ve just never expressed, so essentially we’re all artists. In history, we’ve just been captivated with people who express these art forms. I like to think of myself more of a creative, cultural ambassador. I like to bring cultures together, I’m very open, I grew up around all races, I grew up in Paris, New York, Africa, and having that lens of what the world has to offer is pretty impactful. And now, I’m also getting to an age where I can also get into these collaborations and create a stronger impact when I think about what I should really be offering to the world. Being in the music business, particularly as a rapper, there’s a lot of dumbing down and perspective changes that you are forced to think you have to support, and it actually just wastes time. I’m not 21 anymore, I’m becoming a grown man, so how do I create grown man conversation? And how do I allow people to have a good time? We’re exploring the beauty, it’s not about pain or struggle. My gift and passion is to showcase the beauty of Africa, and shed the light on a perspective you don’t see. And all cultures have their beauty and their darkness, and America has done an incredible job at showing how strong it is, despite all the deficits here. I think when Africa understands that same language, which we’re also doing, which is to show strength, and the world respects.
What would you say are some of the concurrent themes or messages throughout all of your work that you’d most want your fans or viewers to take away from it?
I think the fact that I care. I care about this shit. I really care about this shit. I’m not making money off of this, this is just because I care about these artists and this platform and this conversation. This is out of my pocket to make this event happen, there’s no big sponsors or collaborators to make this happen. I care.
Could you talk about your performance tonight?
I might do a few songs, a couple good vibe songs. I’m not really thinking too much about my own performance, this is for them. I just want to pull it together, and it’s just fun to perform and be in the conversation too. I’m going to do some feel-good vibes and end the night before everyone leaves, we’ll all celebrate.
Lastly, are there any exciting plans for 2018 that you could tell me about? Maybe new music or something? I know that you’ve collaborated with Milk in the past to premiere some of your music, is there anything that you’ve got planned?
Tell Milk that I gotta work with Milk Makeup.
Really? You’d be interested in doing that?
Yeah! [Laughs] We gotta do something! You know I do my traditional paint. But in terms of this year, we’re going to have this series consecutively throughout the year at Spring Studios, and I want to say how much I appreciate Spring’s platform. More music, I’ve been shooting a lot of visuals, we’ll be doing a lot of videos. I’m just having fun with life man, just so much time to create out here. I’ll spend some time here, Morocco, Dubai, and Belgium, but you can always find me dabbling in music, dabbling in art, dabbling in fashion.
Stay tuned to Milk for more artist projects to watch.