HYPNOCRAFT, the official booker of the Manhattan Inn in Greenpoint, bring musicians together for live, never-before-seen collaborations. The brain behind this model is one person, Rachael Pazdan. A Purchase alumni from the suburbs of Chicago, Rachael grew up dancing, later suffering a traumatic injury. Deciding to still be very involved in the arts, she studied arts management and immediately began curating special events that have led her to recent endeavors at the inn, producing an all women’s music collaboration series called The HUM, among a variety of all-inclusive and experimental projects.
The Creators Project spoke to Rachael Pazdan to learn more about her creative curation process:
The Creators Project: Rachael, how did your interest in curating collaborations begin?
Rachael Pazdan: As soon as I got out of school I did this huge, ambitious, interdisciplinary 3-day arts festival in Bushwick, by myself. I just did it. I’ve never felt inhibitions. Everyone that went to Purchase also moved to Brooklyn.
I crowdsourced funding and assembled a team of curators. The first day there was a panel discussion, second day half-panel and half-performance, third day, huge clusterfuck with performance, dance, films, spoken word, a la Sleep No More. It was called the Vis-A-Vis Project.
Is this when it clicked that you would start your own business?
I didn’t realize that I could make that my job. I went and worked for Columbia Artists Management, but it was so removed from anything artistic. Then I got a job at BRIC in Fort Greene. Later I worked on this project called 3-to-1 with THE CREATORS COLLECTIVE. We stuck three different artists in a hotel room for 24 hours to collaborate on an installation; a choreographer, a video artist and musician that never worked together before. That inspired The HUM alongside Gloria Steinem. I saw her documentary and went through an intense awakening. In my late teens the way that the media painted a picture of feminists was as these “angry lesbians” but then I saw Gloria and said “This is me.”
You’ve done two installations of The HUM, one in April, and one in October. Has anything changed?
In April, I did the HUM, and did things differently this time around. I included video artists but it didn’t match. So I just focused on the musical aspect of it.
I also made it my mission to create a more diverse line-up for the October series, and in doing so, I realized including women of color meant representing everyone in our promotional materials. Latasha Alcindor (participant of The HUM) called out the fact that the original design only pictured two white women, who were from an era when black women were NEVER portrayed in the media, and I thought “she’s right” so, we changed it. I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t even considered this in the first place, and admire Latasha for having the audacity and courage to bring it up.
What are future plans for your projects?
I would love to expand the series internationally, presenting it in LA, London and beyond, thus creating an international community of HUM performers who can spread the message that women are not a ‘theme’ or ‘genre’ of music. I want HYPNOCRAFT to be everywhere, all of the time.
How do you get so many well known collaborators to participate in the HUM?
These women who are involved really want to do it, they know it's not a well paid gig, like Kaki King or Kiran Gandhi. It’s women that really align their artistic values with the mission of The HUM, that’s how it happens.
The HUM. October 2015. Photo by David Andrako.
Click here to learn more about HYPNOCRAFT.