Kofi Forson is a writer, poet and playwright living in NYC. His current blog is Black Cocteau, a mixture of philosophy and art on modern culture. His previously written articles include “Artistry and Celebrity: An Interview with Harry Goaz” among many others for White Hot Magazine. Dr Samita Nandy’s (Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies) latest interview with Kofi Forson sheds light on his inspirations and advice for artistic and scholarly treatments of cultural figures and artifacts in popular culture. Read his insightful words below.
Samita Nandy: You blend cinematic art, poetry, and philosophy in ways that are rarely found in tabloid journalism. Why is it significant for you?
Kofi Forson: Primarily that is what drives me, hunger for art and intellect.
My video/film Cushion Pill premiered at curator Jo Derbyshire’s loft space in Liverpool back in 2005. It was originally staged as a theatrical play at The Riant Theater, NYC. The film was a production between me and model and actress Carolyn Day.
Given the interview process I was interviewed for two films, Noah Becker and Steven Lane’s New York is Now and The Secret History of Contemporary Art.
Along with artist Daiva Gauryte, I participated in the Liverpool cultural initiative Transvoyeur’s video/film project, Gender, Space, Art and architecture.
Poetry and philosophy have been the basis for my dialogue and involvement with Transvoyeur and has resulted in projects both online and in art galleries, primarily Eickholt Gallery and Media Noche, NYC.
The relevance of tabloid journalism is that I’ve always felt being a pop star was the original idea, from my early experiences watching Michael Jackson, Leif Garrett, Shaun Cassidy and Donny Osmond.
The intervention I do now on commercialism with respect to art and journalism is to express intellectualism as thinker, “cultural worker” and curator of dialogue between me and the celebrity through the interview format which is a manifestation of my ability to ingratiate the celebrity into familiarizing themselves with me, bringing about justified and favorable answers.
Samita Nandy: Do you think it is important for scholars to become critics in the media?
Kofi Forson: I definitely think so. I remember my first introduction to Roland Barthes. I read his book S/Z in a humanities class at the School of Visual Arts. It changed my life and to this day I draw on my experiences of having read books by Barthes.
The key here is language. The scholar bases his or her language on theory and philosophy and importantly research. Knowing how to cultivate use of language for merit of communicating makes the scholar overwhelmingly pertinent to how information is acquired, how it is expressed and importance with which it is articulated, showing responsibility and respect given relationship between news source and worldwide public.
Samita Nandy: Would you recommend scholars to use interview in their creative and media work? If so, why?
Kofi Forson: The interview is singularly the most important way of acquiring information
from a subject, be it on the spot in a harried atmosphere and conducted in a hurried circumstance. This is relevant to the beat reporter at a scene of a crime or even in war scenarios. There’s also the planned interview between journalist and subject. And what has become the everyday talk show where a celebrity host interviews an invited celebrity as guest.
The circumstance of an interview is a remark on love and respect. Love as in human love, accepting another person as they are given race, gender and identity. The result then is an overvaluing of a need to get information. When both parties; the interviewer and subject accept their roles, the interviewer is at an advantage to use what he or she values as the best way to get answers from the source. It takes on parameters of psychology, emotiveness and cunningness.
The scholar’s purpose therefore would suggest getting information and sharing it. Interviewing someone as a whole is a productive way of showing interconnectivity between two people, the very thing a scholar is known for.
Samita Nandy: How can scholars approach the media so that journalists can implement research further?
Kofi Forson: The basis for research is to add credibility to how information is acquired and how it is revealed. Best way for scholars to approach the media so that journalists implement research further is through the book format or conducting seminars. The act of writing and publishing a book is singularly the most revered and important thing expected of any writer.
The advantage the scholar has is an ability to express how information is acquired. This can be achieved by publications as in a journal or book.
Furthermore the scholar can articulate thought on the importance of research through coordinated classes or conventions. The journalist has a lot to gain from the scholar.
By making use of modern technology and social media, the scholar can interject a system by which the journalist can achieve a more admirable way of sharing information.
Dr Samita Nandy
Director, Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS) & Co-Producer, Celebrity Chat
Author, Fame in Hollywood North. Toronto: WaterHill Publishing
PhD Curtin University, Australia (Media / Celebrity)
MA and BA York University, Canada (Communication)