Over the weekend, Swizz Beatz headed back to his hometown of The Bronx for his art show, “No Commission.” Teaming up with Bacardi, No Commission brought an adult carnival vibe to an empty lot on East 138th with its huge ferris wheel—overlooking the projects Swizz grew up in–food trucks, and of course free drinks.
According to the site, No Commission is an art fair curated by Swizz’s The Dean Collection to connect a direct link between artists and patronage. All of the sales from the artwork go directly back to the artists— something that’s unfortunately missing in the art industry.
Because the event was held in the birthplace of hip-hop, it was only right that Swizz tapped a few of his famous friends to perform. A$AP Rocky, DMX, Young Thug, Desiigner, Q-Tip, Mellie Mel, and many more hit the stage.
While the event was beautiful and fun, I noticed one thing was missing— the heart. Upon entering Saturday’s viewing, I was checked on four separate occasions to see if I was really supposed to be there. There was an elitist “I know art and you don’t” vibe that a few people reeked of. Though it was held in the South Bronx, No Commission felt completely disconnected from the area. I noticed that there weren’t many people or even artists of The Bronx community in or a part of the event. On its second day, artists protested the entire event claiming Swizz was playing a part in the erasure of The Bronx.
No Commission was promoted as an event that was “bringing” art to The Bronx as if the people of the borough haven’t been using art as an outlet to flourish through the struggle for decades. As if The Bronx had no art at all.
On my walk from the train station to the waterfront location, I saw so much beautiful graffiti and artwork including the wall of the Misadventures of Wepa Woman— a Boricua superherione who fights misogyny and street harassment. I even noticed artists setting up shop outside of the event, showcasing their art on the corners of the newly named “Piano District.”
On paper and probably to a few hypebeasts, No Commission was perfect. But, it’s time for artists/celebrities to start actually searching and highlighting the beauty of our community instead of pretending as if it isn’t there.