Thimali Kodikara, Guest Curator 2017
Photo / Craig Barritt
Thimali Kodikara is a multi-disciplinary creative strategist & ethnographer.
A graduate of London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, she exploited her degree in advertising to explore visual, verbal, emotional and musical linguistics, by studying the narcissistic traits and propagandist nature of consumer media.
She moved to Bushwick, Brooklyn in 2004, and founded OneLoudBellow five years later, as a one-woman creative brand consultancy for community-centric small businesses and charitable institutions.
Clients have included MacArthur scholar and host of WNYC’s RadioLab, Jad Abumrad; winners of Sundance award-winning documentary “American Promise”, Rada Film Group; and the JetBlue Foundation, the US airline’s non-profit specializing in STEM education for children from socially underrepresented groups.
Thimali is also a field producer for Getty Images New York, having conducted interviews with notables from Michael Shannon and Darren Aronofsky, to Isabel Allende and Meryl Streep, to Ludacris and Ciara.
She is currently developing an independent study that seeks to outline a new, post-colonial economic system, by utilizing creative ideas and innovation as a more potent and globally-inclusive form of currency.
Photo / Craig Barritt
Spain Fresh - What do you think about the current Spanish cultural panorama?
Thimali Kodikara - I have watched Paris, London, and now Berlin, become the poster children of contemporary European culture. But the diversity of Spanish culture from coast to coast has allowed it to remain a preserved gem for me. By far the most unique, dynamic and unpretentious culture Europe has to offer.
SF - Tell us about any projects for the externalization of culture that you find interesting
TK - With the arrival of fascism in the US, and similar tensions boiling under the surface in Europe and Australia, the most innovative and intellectually-progressive music, art, poetry, literature, dance, fashion and journalistic writing is without question emerging from marginalized communities who gather and share for solace, resistance and empowerment.
I’m looking forward to using the Fresh Curators blog to share my 17 years of life in New York City with you through the eyes of my terrifyingly brown-skinned, genderbending, femme fatales and sexually borderless friends and adopted family. Whose brave, spiritual work, and subsequent creative ventures in art, literature, poetry, dance and music, made me feel like I never needed to lie to myself about anything ever again.
Marginalized artists create truth work that will never align with the mainstream.
SF - Tell us about the cultural scene in your city/ community
TK - The cultural scenes I have seen and been a part of have changed a lot. It wouldn’t be New York if it didn’t. A harsh reality we all have to accept when we move here.
I arrived in New York for the first time on January 2nd 2000, still hungover from Y2K parties. I was 19 years old. I stayed on 143rd & Broadway in Harlem with members of the FreeStyle Arts Association- a collaborative, interactive art collective, who vehemently believed that art didn’t belong to the elite. It belonged to everyone.
I have incredible memories listening to bachata blasting out of giant soundsystems propped up on window sills during those incredibly sticky, Summer nights. But New York’s contemporary art and music scenes were almost exclusively at venues in the East Village and the Lower East Side. I didn't really go to any of them. I was mostly getting drunk, making art and singing songs in friends apartments on Saturday nights. I do remember a lot of house parties hanging off of fire escapes and arguing with kids from NYU though.
Some of my most fun years in New York were on the brink of mass overflow from Manhattan into Brooklyn. Countless would agree that Williamsburg’s art and music scene was pioneered by Brooke Baxter's blood, sweat, tears and commitment to community when she built the GlassHouse Gallery on S2nd St. No human has ever worked as hard as Brookie. She eventually moved it around the corner on to Kent Ave, and expanded it into “GlassLands”, where it became one of the most pivotal venues to grace the neighborhood. We would rip up the space and put it back together again in some different iteration often. All our friends bands played there. Making out with some beautiful hero of the night was imperative. Late night jam sessions with the instruments that were always left out on the stage for anyone to play. Zebulon, one of the best live music venues in the entire city was right down the street. The empanada guy would always arrive with his cooler box just on time. Life was extra good.
I always wanted to live in one of those bougie brownstones near Prospect Park, and I did. The only brown girl in the neighborhood for many Park Slope blocks around, I made Flatbush Farm my local, which as it turned out, was a near institution for creative folks of all backgrounds and ethnicities. The owner, Damon Gorton, had a profound ability to bring the most magical people from the community into its belly. It was from there that I was taught about the old Brooklyn house clubs - neighborhood gems that will not be named - where the same folks have been spinning vinyl and baby powdering the floor since the 1980’s. After more than a decade, it sadly closed forever last weekend but not without the greatest party I’ve ever attended.
For all the tacky, tea towel branding that Brooklyn has had to suffer as we watched it gentrify - as accidental contributors to both its renaissance and demise - if what you’re looking for is to make a story to remember, it truly is the most magnificent place on Earth.