living room art (LRA) productions
"A diverse big city needs art and language that reflects culture back onto its population, and it's smart of Sarwar to use a single house or neighborhood as a microcosm of global issues. It...allows passersby, residents, and others who may feel intimidated by a white-cube gallery setting, a chance to roam in and out, socialize, and encounter art forms and political issues that they may not otherwise get a chance to engage with very often.”
–Betsy Huete, Glasstire
In 2009-10, VBB's living room art productions expanded into a thematic neighborhood-based series researched and developed by VBB's Artistic Director/Founder Sehba Sarwar. The shows focus on creating parallels between struggles, joys, and cultures in cities and neighborhoods in Houston, and to connect them to similar issues in South Asia. All living room art productions are multidisciplinary and create space for spoken word artists, writers, performance artists, musicians, and speakers.
The productions first began in 2006 and were guided by then-VBB employee artist Oskar Sonnen. As the productions evolved, they have maintained several key components: the transforming of residential spaces around Houston; remaining open and free to the public; bringing together disparate neighborhoods and communities; connecting diverse populations who may not ordinarily go to galleries/museums; and tackliing social justice through art. The specific goal of the project is to uncover histories that are lost and to explore the stories and individuals that have served as catalysts to change. Additionally, thanks to support from the NEA, VBB has created and producted several interactive websites + documentaries based on past living room art productions. And in October 2013, VBB -with the help of our past Interim Executive Director Joshua Turner- launched our first publications about Women Under Siege and Homes and Histories. Copies are available for purchase here!
In 2013-16, thanks to funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, VBB has been developing Borderlines, an ongoing living room art (LRA) project that explores cross-cultural connections between North American (Canada-Mexico-US) and South Asian (Afghanistan-Bangladesh-India-Pakistan) border regions. Borderlines is grounded in Houston's Near Northside and Gulfton communities, while VBB simultaneously works to create local connections bewteen the two seemingly disparate geographical spaces. For more information about Borderlines, and to see images from Part I, please visit our Borderlines interactive website.