Li-Ming Hu is an interdisciplinary artist who employs a carnivalesque sensibility, to explore the relationships between cultural production and the construction of subjectivities.
I am totally different today—on my last day as Flux Factory’s Executive Director—from 4 years ago, when I started as a volunteer. Back in 2010, I came prepared with a ton of book smarts about nonprofit management from a top tier university, and a slew of curatorial experiments, that immediately meant nothing when I got to Flux. I was saddled with assumptions about organizational hierarchies, institutionalization, audience engagement, and collaboration. And, I had basically zero real-life experience in raising money to help make the nearly impossible happen every day here.
Now, it’s time to hand over the reigns after guiding three exhibition seasons full of moments of insane cuteness (Kitty City), radical reclamation (Sea Worthy), institutional critique (Public Trust), and cultural accountability (Flux Death Match); overseeing the construction of what we affectionately refer to as the “NEA bathroom,” in order to receive our first federal funding in Flux’s history; expanding our residency program to accept cultural producers of all kinds, including emerging American curators, community organizers, and political refugees; organizing the best art party in town for three years straight; and helping Flux respond to hyperlocal issues (The Future of Your Neighborhood: Who Decides?), as well as participate in global discussions (Congress of Collectives).
As my last public Flux responsibility, I gave a speech during our Not-So-Silent Auction that was based on 20 things the Flux community loves about Flux, which I’m posting here because it better explains the full spectrum of wonderfulness that makes up 20 years of Flux Factory than I ever could (in no particular order):
20. the almost perverse just-do-it aesthetic and aura that embraces all things flux.
19. twinkle fingers at dinner meetings.
18. the communal love of bubbles, picnics, glitter and root vegetables.
17. bringing students to flux because they can’t believe that there are adults who actually live like this.
16. artistic liberation amidst all the neurotically perfected lines of our digified culture.
15. the bathroom hook-and-eye installation that induces “did I lock the door” paranoia.
14. we have a lot of stuff, and once you’ve been here a while you either figure out what it’s for, or turn it into something else.
13. access to MFTA.
12. there’s always a drawer (or garlic press, or relationship, or bottle of jalepeno infused vodka) that you haven’t found yet.
11. knowing that there will always be someone hanging out in the kitchen.
10. we’ve created our own culture, complete with a language, set of gestures, and cuisine, to the point where we need a wiki to figure it out.
9. conversations through studio windows.
8. the opportunity to be a donkey for a frenchman at fluxmas.
7. coming home to already-prepared food in the communal fridge.
6. teaching little kids how to use power tools.
5. anywhere you go in the world you’ll probably meet someone who has a wild flux story.
4. the fact that if everyone agrees it means that no one understands.
3. flooding our gallery with kittens, some of whom pooped in the silkscreen shop or got lost in the rafters.
2. the orphans, the carbunkly hobo who’s pegleg turns into a fluxmas tree, and the double donkey.
1. knowing that there’s always at least one person in the room who can jimmy-rig whatever you need out of scrap wood, twine, and googly eyes.
Flux Factory, you are a very special place in a city that is supersaturated with awesome things, and I’m looking forward to being involved from afar. Even though I’m leaving NYC, I know the chances are high that I’ll bump into somebody who has a wild Flux story, in my new life in Cleveland.
Thank you to everyone for everything during my time here!