Arts & culture, Film, Visual arts

Watch: Stephanie Syjuco on art, culture and politics

By Public Affairs

Stephanie Syjuco
Stephanie Syjuco

What’s behind Stephanie Syjuco ’s “Counterfeit Crochet Project,” in which she invites people around the world to hand-make the designer handbags they covet but can’t afford?

In a new episode of the Peabody Award-winning TV series “ Art in the Twenty-First Century ,” the UC Berkeley assistant professor of art practice, invites viewers into her studio to see firsthand how she embeds politics in her work, and hear her talk about her interest in “how objects reflect cultural moments.”

In its ninth season, the PBS (Public Broadcasting System) series allow viewers to see artists at work and hear them talk about what inspires their art and how they bring it to life. The Syjuco segment shows an artist whose “work explores the tension between the authentic and the counterfeit, challenging deep-seated assumptions about history, race, and labor,” as the series website puts it.

In the film, Syjuco gives viewers a glimpse of other work, including CITIZENS, in which she considers the aesthetics of protest in the digital age. The work includes an installation of fabric banners she’s created with distorted, Internet-era images and a series of anonymous portraits of recently graduated college students whose identities make them vulnerable.

Syjuco is internationally known for her large-scale sculptures and installations, which combine handcrafting methods with digital technologies and social engagement. She teaches classes in sculpture, social practice, photography and experimental media in Berkeley’s Department of Art Practice .

She was featured in a Berkeley News Q&A in July about The Visible Invisible , an exhibit of American historical garments she has recreated and the histories hidden within them. It opens next month at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.

“Art in the Twenty-First Century” is produced by the nonprofit Art21 , which creates content on contemporary art and artists. The TV series is in its ninth season and said to be the longest-running contemporary art series in existence.

A screening of Season 9 highlights — including Syjuco’s profile — will be held Monday, Nov. 26, at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive from 6:30-8:30 p.m., as part of the popular Arts+Design Mondays@BAMPFA , a series of free Berkeley faculty lectures that explore cutting-edge thinking and making. Syjuco will join a panel discussion following the screening.

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