bfreshproductions throws an epic party this weekend
Over the past 10 years, Rebecca McDonald has made a career for herself under the name of Bfresh. As a photographer, she has captured moments from the B-Girl Be women in hip-hop festival, traveled along the 2008 campaign trail for Rock the Vote, and explored the Twin Cities bondage scene for City Pages. As a filmmaker, she has worked with MTV on its Rebel Music series, and is currently working on a documentary on Native women. Throw in some producing credits, multimedia work, and writing, and you have the general idea of what she does: a little bit of everything.
This Saturday, McDonald will be celebrating the relaunch and re-branding of bfreshproductions, as well as her 30th birthday. The shindig, which is part of Public Functionary's Prelude Series, will feature her work spanning the years, her new look-book, and performances from folks she has worked with through the years, including I Self Devine, Desdamona, Mayda, Red Bone, and BunnyMob.
We took a moment to chat with McDonald to reflect on her career, which includes projects with City Pages, before the big party.
Eco furniture by Rehm Design Team in process
So, tell us a little bit behind the idea of re-branding Bfresh. Why now?
People in the Twin Cities know me as a photographer. That's where I got started, and have been most visible. But I've been doing more film -- I did a documentary this summer -- and I was like, "You know, I need to re-brand myself." So I put together a new logo and a new website. I was looking to bring people together and relaunch myself. I thought, "Why not throw a party?"
So that was the main motivator behind the relaunch?
I've been doing photography for about 10 years, and I felt it was it was time for a show. I have never done a solo gallery show; I've only been a part of group shows. But my stuff is so multimedia rich that it is hard to find a platform to show my work. It's not something I can just hang up on a wall, it's a mix of film and journalism and photography.
The show won't just be a bunch of photography hung on walls. For example, my photos will be a part of the furniture at the party. I have a designer who is creating furniture for the event, and the photos will be a transfer on the fabric.
Tell us a little about what people can expect from the party on Saturday night, and how the Public Functionary space will be used.
I was really drawn to the space because they like to do a lot of experimental shows. I was working with Tricia [Khutoretsky, gallery director], who made the relaunch part of the Prelude Series, which is a three-part series leading up to their regular schedule of curation. These are one-night-only experimental evenings.
For the show, we're aiming for all of the sensory touch points. We'll have food and cocktail pairings. The menu was created by Nick Kosevich at Eat Street Social, and the Surdyk's Bar is by Scenergy Events and Eat Street Social, with the menu by Bittercube. The gallery will be lit up by projections, creating sort of a panoramic experience with media screenings and furniture you can sit on. We'll have pop-up performances by local artists I have worked with through the years. They'll also talk about their experiences working on the different projects.
There will also be dancers between the media screenings and performances, so it's not everything as once. We'll have a B-girl and a burlesque dancer. Also, b.resale will be doing sustainable fashion. It's a zero-waste event. It's so great that we can do these really engaging events without a ton of money.
So, it's been 10 years for you professionally. Tell us a bit about how you got started.
In high school, I had a video camera. I used to do a day in the life type of stuff. I was always taking pictures. In college, I really started doing photography as a hobby, taking my camera to shows and theater productions. That's when I really started to figure out what it means to be a photographer.
But I really got my start photographing shows at B-Girl Be, a performance festival and visual exhibition at Intermedia Arts. I got into the gallery show [for the event], which made me realize that this was something I could really do. It gave me some confidence.
Around that time, I had been shooting shows and posting it up on my MySpace blog. So I reached out and did more official stuff, like getting photo passes. My first official photo pass was in 2006, and my first publication was in Peter S. Scholtes's "Where the Ladies At?" in 2007. That's been a thread that really runs throughout my work. I love hip-hop shows and women artists.
Which projects taken over the years have been your favorites?
I would say the first time that I realized I was a producer. I was working for Rock the Vote, and documenting the election across the country in 2008. People were really excited about the political process. I ended up meeting one of the candidates, Rosa Clemente. She was running for VP of the Green Party with Cynthia McKinney. I met her on the trail, and was following her, and I got really inspired. I was photographing, I was filming, I was writing, and I was traveling around the country. That was the first time where I was like, "I love doing this."
Train in the Bronx
You've mentioned that your work has bled into film and multimedia over the years. How do you feel this informs or conflicts with your photography work?
I feel like they compliment each another. When I am doing film work, I make sure I have photos, too, because they capture something different than film can. And they're also different mediums, so if people decide that they would rather look at photos, I can still tell my story. The "Bound for Love" story, the City Pages V-Day issue three years ago, was a project where I was able to use photography, writing, documentary, and slideshow work, for example.
Another future projects that should be on our radar?
I have a documentary that I worked on all summer coming up. I'm either going to premiere it in April, which is sexual assault awareness month, or for American Indian History month. It's called Women are Sacred. It's about American Indian women survivors of sexual assault of domestic abuse. They have disabilities, so it's telling their story of what its like to live on a reservation, and going through some history. It was nice to work on, because my family is from White Earth. So I spent a lot of time on my home reservation. I had historical pictures from my family, so I use some of my pictures to tell the story.
IF YOU GO:
Prelude Series No. 1.3: bfreshproductions relaunchPARTY
The celebration is free, but RSVP is required. Send a confirmation to firstname.lastname@example.org
7 p.m. to 11 p.m.; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. afterparty.
Food will be provided by Cheo Smith Catering, craft cocktails at the cash bar will be by Surdyk's
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