OBA I: First Personal // 2009 to present
In the first phase of the OBA project, Laster took a group of young rappers from their hometown of La Courneuve in France to Harlem, New York, a neighborhood known for its social complexity and musical heritage. The exchange between the French and Harlem rappers produced a number of exciting connections that eventually led all the way to the White House and the production of a series of films, photos and other materials destined for the construction of a large-scale exhibition.
NEW YORK, 20 FEB – 4 MAR, 2010 – Eight rappers and two bloggers from La Courneuve spent two weeks in New York City and Washington D.C. as part of a special exchange program organized by artist Monte Laster, the F.A.C.E. Association and the Harlem Biennale of Contemporary Art. While in the U.S. these young men explored topics that included contemporary art, the influences of American music: jazz & hip-hop, urban planning, the economic crisis, immigration and the Obama presidency. They also performed and recorded their music and participated in various workshops, collaborating with several non-profit organizations, schools and universities. This work led to a visit to the White House and a film created by the rappers entitled First Personal.