In this episode of Forms of Life, host Nato Thompson speaks with Michael Premo, an artist and activist who has long been fighting for housing rights throughout the United States. Premo has used community storytelling to address housing issues including home foreclosures, hurricane relief efforts and the complexities of gentrification, most notably with the project Housing is a Human Right. As an Occupy Wall Street activist, Premo used his experience to bolster Occupy Homes, a collective that organizes communities to resist evictions and fight the wave of foreclosures created by predatory lending, and Occupy Sandy, a grassroots relief effort supporting those most affected by Hurricane Sandy.
In a Forms of Life first, Premo briefly performs a song written to stall home foreclosures as part of Sing Down the Auctions, an Occupy Homes-led protest that blocked auctions in New York state courtrooms. Music often serves as a means for Premo to amplify voices that go unheard; in this conversation, he also cites a housing-themed hip-hop mixtape to which he contributed audio testimonials, Home.
Premo is a regular contributor to Creative Time Reports with Sandy Storyline, a participatory documentary project that covers the impact and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. He is also a presenter at the 2013 Creative Time Summit: Art, Place & Dislocation in the 21st Century City.
Forms of Life is a monthly podcast hosted by Creative Time’s chief curator, Nato Thompson. Guests are culture makers whose work posits new ways of looking at political realities. By addressing a wide variety of issues—such as alternative economies, calcified political structures and new forms of collective living—or simply by being a thorn in the side of normality, Forms of Life interviews provide an opportunity to think counterintuitively about social conditions faced by people around the world.
Special thanks to The Clocktower Gallery and ARTonAIR.org for their support.