Ferment is a year-long collective exploration of creative and business models by cultural entrepreneurs
The 2019 cohort is exploring urban development, national borders, artificial intelligence, and financial instruments.
Fermentation takes patience and there are few quick fixes.
We won’t know what we’ve got until adequate time has been given. Ours is a slow and immersive process.
Since launching Ferment, over $55,000 has been paid out to creators, often from non-traditional supporters of arts and culture.
Ferment is not about scale or efficiency.
Fermentation is a practice known in most cultures. Ultimately, fermentation serves five basic purposes: to provide greater diversity of flavors, aromas, and textures; to preserve food for later use; to increase the health benefits of a food or drink; to get rid of anti-nutrients, and to reduce the need for cooking and the associated need for fuel.
Ferment therefore becomes a useful metaphor for the work we are trying to do:
To increase the diversity of stories available to us to make sense of the world.
To preserve stories and ways of knowing so that they are not lost to future generations.
To offset the trend toward algorithmic optimization of culture at the expense of the hard work and education required to develop personal taste.
To offer time and support to approaches that the market might not currently support
To accelerate projects that disrupt how we deal with massive problems affecting us and subsequent generations.
Our first cohort of cultural producers look to sustain themselves creatively and financially while drawing on different ways of understanding the world. Projects centre on leveraging the tools of capitalism toward different ends.
elle alconcel is committed to the diversification of Toronto’s art and culture scene. As a programmer, producer and curator, her principal areas of interest is in championing the work of culturally diverse artists. She facilitates programs and spaces that are designed for creative practitioners. As the former Curator of Exhibitions & Programs at Artscape, she was integral to establishing Daniels Spectrum as a cultural hub and breeding ground for promising artists. Her past curatorial projects include Ekow Nimako’s Building Black (2013), Meera Sethi’s Upping the Aunty (2016), and Yasin Osman’s Dear Ayeeyo (2018)..
Althea Balmes is a multidisciplinary visual storyteller, artist- educator and UX researcher. Her art practice stems from community building and decolonization, exploring decolonial aesthetics of the Filipinx diasporic experience. She teaches comics in the community. Her visual narratives explores themes and stories of migration, labour, personhood and healing. Her interest in tech is to deconstruct it for a more consensual, accessible and ethical experience.
Aphiraa Gowry is a multi-faceted artist; she makes paintings, digital drawings, photography, garments, and a fusion of these mediums. She has a fundamental instinct, throughout her artistic initiatives, to explore and integrate eco consciousness— as a set of practical principles, but also as an overall worldview framed by certain values. She feels that young artists have a special power to contribute solutions to the daunting environment-related challenges of our time, from climate change to refugee crises, by using tools of artistic expression to expand understanding of these issues.
Sha creates to remember the miraculous within the mundane, the innovative brilliance of the ancient, and the freedom within the oppression, understanding land as the core ecology of art, technology, and revolution. Her creations embrace freedom and justness as rooted in practising life as art, the body as earth, the earth as mother, spirit as innate within all beings, and reciprocal relationships as the root of healing.
Borelson is a multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary artist. Based in Toronto, he has before lived in Paris, France and was born and raised in Congo and Gabon, Central Africa. His international background and experience widely opened his vision of the world and plays a huge role in his creativity. Mainly known as a rapper-musician and spoken word artist, Borelson brings an afro-futurism vibe to it, in his way.
Alexandra Lord is an artist-educator. She discovered theatre as a facilitator of community-based arts workshops and a participant in collective creation projects during her studies in English Literature and Cultural Studies at Trent University and Community-Based Arts Education at Queen’s University. This is where she first encountered the transformative power of storytelling through costume-based character development and exploration of narrative space through performative objects.
Heran Genene is an explorer, thinker, content creator, community mobilizer and vlogger. She is interested in exploring the future of remote work and freelancer work. She is looking at the future of digital “nomad-ing” and for ways to bridge opportunity gaps for equally talented creative youths outside of North America – specifically, youth who face disproportionately more barriers to paid opportunities and networks.
Having grown up in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, and now calling Canada home, Raad works to trace the common thread that runs through technology, society, spirituality, and the visceral human experience. He founded and plays guitar in NOVAYA, a psychedelic rock band that weaves Western, Middle Eastern, and South Asian sounds.
KyViTa (aka Kyle) is a Toronto-based producer and multi-media artist. He was born in Manila, Philippines and moved to Canada at 8 years old. His skills in English and Tagalog were both underdeveloped at the time. Not having fully grown in either culture, he faced challenges with self-identity and connecting with others through language. He has made it a goal for himself to find ways to connect without using language.
E.L. Guerrero is a programmer and media artist who thinks about the ways we can make reparations to the land as technologists and applying precolonial Filipino ancestral teachings to change how we engage with and use technology.
Padina uses fashion as a platform to confront critical gender-based violations of human rights with informative, credible, and engaging content that can create a network of impact, all while advocating sustainable/ethical practices in fashion, business, and social action.
Wesley Cabarios is a creative entrepreneur specializing in art and expression. He stands for helping POC’s, LGBT, marginalized, and minority artists find a positive voice. He does so by organizing events and providing resources that would normally be neglected for their specific group. In the past he has organized music festivals, film screenings, and many more communal activities in support of minorities and diversity. He has about 5 years of experience in this field and has worked with many community partners. With his work he hopes to bridge the gap between diversity and inclusion for minorities of underrepresented communities in the creative industries.
Ty obtained a full athletic-scholarship from Furman University in rural Greenville, South Carolina but sadly, during the spring of 2012 after his sophomore year, Ty was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy of the Left Ventricle meaning he could no longer play football. He was also diagnosed and treated for Depression and Anxiety Disorder following his diagnosis. Later that semester Ty dropped out of university and returned home. Back home, he underwent a procedure to have a pacemaker/ICD placed in his chest at the age of 24. In his deepest and darkest moments, Ty turned to the arts to help him express the turmoil he was going through.
Neil is a photographer who divides his time between Miami and Toronto. His need to push limits on concept, framing and style development has led him to a thoughtfully curated body of work; with attention to light, detail and texture.
As part of Nomadic Labs, Luisa helps newly formed organizations launch “minimum usable products” and prepare road-maps with respect to each organization’s constraints with project-based funding. This approach provides a solution to the limited resources allocated to foresight in the social impact sector. As a designer, Luisa looks into emerging practices in fields other than design, keeping an eye on forces shaping possible futures.
Nour Bishouty is a visual artist and designer based in Toronto. Her practice revolves around the making of conceptually-rooted multidisciplinary works which draw upon familial and material narratives to uncover a more nuanced understanding of history and the complex ways in which it informs the present. Bishouty has over 10 years of experience working in design, communication, and branding. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts, the University of Massachusetts Amherst (2014); Bachelor of Fine Arts in Design and Communication, The University of Jordan (2008).
Helen is an inter/transdisciplinary artist, researcher and consultant. She makes installations, interactions, and interventions. She designs environments, exhibitions, and performances (theatre, dance, digital, or live art). She writes research reports, and consults on projects for public and private funders, and really anyone with money, or not. She understands this as ‘institution-adjacent’ work, which is good or bad depending on how you feel about neighbours.
Julia Krolik is an information designer, data scientist, artist and entrepreneur.
Her diverse background enables a rare cross-disciplinary empathy and she continuously advocates for effective research communication with the public. Formally educated in the sciences, her work includes published research in microbiology, geospatial analytics, public health, and groundwater quality. As an award-winning artist, Julia fuses scientific methodology into her creative process.
Between December 6 and 9, 2019, UKAI Projects visited numerous organizations and individuals grappling with the question of how to translate analog practices, often drawing on different ways of being and seeing the world, into digital environments.
Between September 2018 and June 2019, ukai Projects has worked with Nagata Shachu Taiko Ensemble, Music Africa (music and culture festival) and Music in the Barns (classical installation concert and event producer) to identify and analyze opportunities to translate culturally-specific performance to digital environments, and to build three digital prototypes to advance organizational objectives and community knowledge for culturally-specific music organizations in Canada. The prototypes and research related to the process will be presented and disseminated through digital platforms and relevant arts events. Our aim is to explore the use of digital technologies in the development and creation of new works while strengthening social inclusion in audience communities.
The shift to digital has privileged commercially successful and Western disciplines. There is a need to translate hybrid, diasporic and non-Western traditions into digital business models. We believe that this project will advance our understanding of how.
thumbnail courtesy Music in the Barns
The Digital Arts Services Symposium in Toronto in 2018 was supported by facilitation from UKAI Projects and our Ferment team. The event brought together national and international digital arts service organizations to continue the evolution of a repository of collective skills and knowledge. The structure celebrated facilitated dialogues with like-minded individuals alongside unexpected, serendipitous exchanges between diverse, underserved communities and inspired digital champions.
This collaborative partnership includes 14 workshops across Canada to engage artists in the critical conversation about artificial intelligence. The project will not only equip artists to understand the implications and opportunities of artificial intelligence but also imagine the appropriate artistic and political responses to world that will be significantly altered by the introduction of these technologies. We will see artists not only using these tools, but informing the conversation about how these tools will be deployed, and to whose benefit.