What is your most memorable museum experience? Ever been to a disco party at a museum or a gallery? Well, if you have not then you might want to read this feature! In 2013-14 visitors of the Hammer Museum, UCLA were offered to listen and dance during the lunchtime.
For this feature Museeum interviewed the KCHUNG radio collective. KCHUNG is an independent radio station based in LA. They host artists, writers and musicians. KCHUNG did the residency at the Hammer museum, UCLA, and we find their approach to public programs to be amazing and very unconventional. Museeum talked to Christina Gubala (KCHUNG) to discuss their vision, residency, audio tours and their most memorable art experiences.
Could you please talk about your residency at the Hammer Museum. What programs did you develop for the residency? What was guiding your curatorial choices?
Prior to the residency, a committee of KCHUNG artists brainstormed multiple ideas and proposed them to the museum, who ultimately selected those they found most interesting and/or feasible. Within the structure of blanket descriptions, KCHUNG artists were then able to propose their different takes on the original ideas. For example, we curated “Whispered Reports” for the museum, the only blanket requirement being that the broadcast had to be whispered. I used my time to create ASMR sounds in the main gallery, and poll people about their individual ASMR experiences. We also created content like guided tours, and stationed transmitters to broadcast a mystery narrative through the museum that museum-goers could follow using our program map. KCHUNG DJs were also able to broadcast their radio shows live from the mobile broadcast cart that we created for the residency, and some nights, we’d just DJ music into the museum quad.
Why Hammer museum? Is there anything particular you’d be willing to highlight about this collaboration?
We had collaborated by broadcasting and DJing during an event with artist Fritz Haeg in the Hammer lobby in March 2013, and due to the success of the event and our unique targeted broadcasting capabilities, we developed a relationship with curators Allison Agsten and January Parkos Arnall at the Hammer. They were really encouraging and excited about us, and that led to the explosion of creativity that characterized our residency. On a personal note, as a UCLA alum, performing at the Hammer was particularly fulfilling.
Yes we can imagine! How about we talk about the audio tours for Hammer residency? How did you come up with this idea?
It really lent itself to guided tours, which are a staple of the classic museum experience, but of course, steeped in our trademark weirdness.
"KCHUNG is a radio station that functions by employing and exploiting the limits of what one can do with just voice and sound."
Is it challenging to engage with the community? How does the audience respond to the themes you touch upon in your radio shows? Was it more responsive throughout this residency?
Well, the residency kind of came and went and definitely garnered a lot of attention that ultimately led to KCHUNG being invited to participate in the Hammer Biennial, Made In LA in the summer of 2014.We’ve never had trouble engaging the community; KCHUNG was born in an art studio between 3 artists and ballooned to include well over 100 members in a span of about 2 years. As for the topics on the shows, the results are all very individual. My show is a basketball talk show where I discuss hoops as well as racism and other cultural hot-button issues, all while I DJ vinyl in the background. Other shows are straight music shows, while others feature phone sex, relationship advice, feminist theory – you name it. If you’re looking, you can find it in the KCHUNG archives, and with something for everyone, we cast a very wide net by way of welcome audience.
"KCHUNG will always be a bastion of creative freedom for me. There is no programming director, no censorship, no president, no pressure," - Christina Gubala.
Have you changed your vision on KCHUNG’s programming throughout this artist residency at Hammer Museum?
The residency challenged us to work on a much larger and more collaborative scale with an institution that, while wonderful, represented the opposite in many ways. Many of our artists and DJs flourished and took full advantage of the spotlight that was cast very brightly upon us during Made in LA 2014, while others withdrew, waiting for the dust to settle. KCHUNG is very individual – it is what you make it. No matter how many rules we agree to abide by in the context of collaborations, the essence of KCHUNG is the station, the live stream, and the unbridled freedom it promises.