Museum Mixtape is an album and a series of videos in which up-and-coming rappers perform  freestyle rhymes as guided tours for museums in the southeast United  States.

Cultural institutions around the world are going through interesting and tense times. Large, influential art spaces struggle to connect with their local communities and to find financial and governmental support. InNaples, Italy, museum director Antonio Manfredi is currently burning pieces from the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum collection, in protest against the lack of spending on culture. In the newfound U.S. economic instability, the National Endowment for the Arts has become a continual target of budget cuts and political warfare, while art institutions struggle to attract public attention and stay relevant. Yet, culture keeps happening. Flourishing inside the tween-curated micro-textual social web, transmitted through file-sharing networks and engaging live audiences in ways that museums and galleries could only dream of. This situation represents a disconnect between institutionalized culture and emerging cultural forms that are self-sufficient,  sustainable, and exciting.

Int he last 30 years, the U.S. has seen the rise of southern hip-hop, a strong subculture that has influenced the aesthetic landscape of the American mainstream. Its collaborative, hard-working, and prolific ethos brings memories of the early-’80s American punk rock explosion (with a spread of multiple fanzines, venues, and artist-run record labels), but unlike punk rock, hip-hop has not yet penetrated “high culture” in an influential way, especially within its own geographical context: The South. While SuperJam (a hip-hop festival in Greensboro, NC) draws more than 20,000 fans from all over the southeastern states every year, cultural centers like SECCA in WinstonSalem, NC, and museums like The Weatherspoon (Greensboro, NC) and The Ackland (Chapel Hill, NC) remain mainly empty during regular hours. Here, the disconnection between contemporary audiences and cultural institutions is visible. The open white space feels void of life while the Internet bursts with the forms of a new aesthetic.

Is the museum space obsolete? Can its architecture host different uses and inspire alternative narratives? Are cultural institutions completely out of tune with culturally active local demographics? What kind of new forms can this apparent disconnection create?

Museum Mixtape aims to create a playful connection between hip-hop narratives and institutional art spaces. By inviting local rap artists to comment (via performance) on contemporary collections in their respective locations and presenting these collaborations as an audiovisual series, a new space is offered to reflect on the current state of cultural economies, institutional community engagement and emerging subcultural forms and their intersections.

Timeline and Budget
Planning and research: Fall 2012
Production (museum visits, instrumental compositions, musical arrangements, and video shoots): Fall 2012 - Spring 2013
Post-production and promotion: Spring 2013

Travel costs for trips around the southeast U.S.: $1,000.00
Promotion and calls for participants artists: $500.00
Artists’ fees and video shoots: $4,000.00
Track production, mixing, and mastering (for approximately 10 tracks): $1,000.00
Production of cassette tapes (transfers and cover printing): $500.00
Total: $7,000.00