Episode 32
Philly Takes Flight with Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

This episode, co-host Li Sumpter, caught up with multidisciplinary artist, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh at the onset of her mural project, Flight. Tatyana sees flying as a metaphor for liberation, escape, and transformation. She informs and illuminates this vision through the experiences, hopes, and dreams of everyday people who dare to look up. Li and Tatyana dig into the layered meaning of flying and share some of the literary and pop culture inspirations for Flight. From Toni Morrison to Kendrick Lamar, this conversation connects the souls of black folx and airborne archetypes across history, myth, and the radical black imagination that knows no bounds. 

Paul Farber (Co-Host): You are listening to Monument Lab Future Memory, where we discuss the future of monuments in the state of public memory in the US and across the globe. You can support the work of Monument Lab by visiting monumentlab.com, following us on social@monument_lab, or subscribing to this podcast anywhere you listen to podcasts. This episode, my co-host Li Sumpter, caught up with multidisciplinary artist, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, about her mural project, Flight. She sees flying as a metaphor for liberation, escape, and transformation. And she expresses that through the experiences, hopes, and dreams of everyday people who dare to look up. Li and Tatyana dig into the layered meaning of flying and share some of the literary and pop culture inspirations for Flight. They spoke at the onset of this project. Let's listen.

Li Sumpter (Co-Host): So, Tatyana, we are thinking about the origin stories of your new project, Flight, and how you came to realize this project and even dream it up.

Can you talk a little bit about how you're connecting the dots between your growing multidisciplinary practice and public art projects as well as your personal experiences and what brought you to Flight?

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh: Yeah. So, Flight is an interesting project for me, because it's something that is not really in line necessarily with the work that I've been doing for the past few years, it feels like an experiment for me.

I would say that it is in line in my practice, in my previous work in that I'm thinking about Black folks, I'm thinking about Black folks and how we inhabit particular environments and physical spaces, and I'm thinking about our movements within this world and how we navigate space.

So, it's similar to my previous work in that sense. I think the difference here, for me, is that this project is something that I'm asking myself and I'm asking other people to like use our imaginations in a way that we might not normally do. So much of my previous work has been about how Black folks, women, how we experience very real on the ground every day experiences of life of like being a Black person, being a woman, moving throughout the world, how people experience here and now.

And this project is sort of like asking us to consider those things, but to consider it in a way that allows us to move beyond the physical space, to move beyond the ground, to move beyond our houses, our homes, our workspaces, and into this other physical space that we don't actually navigate, but what if we could, and what has it been like for our elders, our ancestors to also think about like navigating that space and what that meant for them.

And what the idea of being able to fly has just sort of meant for Black folks culturally throughout history and how, whatever that meant for us culturally throughout history, how that applies today. And so, the project really came about, honestly, I was envisioning myself floating in the air. I just had this image of myself sort of like laid out my arms behind me, my body almost in an arch pose as if I'm sort of like ascending, and it's been just something that I've been thinking about for a few years.

And so, in thinking about this, I was just wondering like, why am I imagining myself in this way? So, I started to think about flying, and I started to research and I started to remember like, oh, yeah, like Toni Morrison talked about flying and referenced it in like Song of Solomon.

Li: Right.

Tatyana: And so, I just started to research and think about it a little more deeply. And then, as most of my projects come about in the process where most of my work involves talking with other people, interviewing people, having conversations with them and shooting their photographs and using that as a starting point for a project.

And so, as I was thinking about myself flying and just like sort of thinking about it playing around and researching with this idea of Black people flying, I knew I wanted to bring in this conversation with other folks. So, I started having conversations with other people about their ideas of flying. And as I started to do that, it started to just open up and expand even more so.

And so, those are sort of like the beginnings of it. It's just these thoughts and these conversations. And then, I approached Mural Arts, the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia about helping me produce it. And they were on board. They were excited about it. And so, yeah, I thought, if I'm thinking about flying and I'm thinking about Black folks flying, and I'm thinking about this, and the same way artists and writers have thought about it for years, how would I want to express this? How would I want to see this?

And as a person who works in public art, a mural is just the best expression of this for me. Like, can you just imagine looking up at a building and seeing someone floating in the air, and a mural just seemed like the obvious best expression of this idea for me as an artist. And so, that's how it came about.

Li: Yes. Even just looking at some of the early images that you've rendered is just so powerful, even just to see, like you said, a figure just of an everyday person in flight, an everyday person of color, a Black person in the air, in the places where we walk every day, you know, but never really look up in that kind of way. And I think that, like, as you said, murals, particularly in the city of Philadelphia have been known to do that. And I'm so excited to see this project realized.

You talked a little bit about your creative research, and you mentioned images, for example, or visions through the work of author Toni Morrison. But I remember when I attended the talk at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. You hosted such a lovely, intimate, but yet, so profound dialogue between community members that came to hear you speak about this project, but also, to share their own feelings about flight, about their visions and dreams around it.

And you started showing some images that I think were really resonant with folks. But the one in particular, the one of Kendrick Lamar which really sticks out in my mind from his black and white video, "Alright", and it's been kind of like this anthem for Black folks and it has been for years.

But I think that looking at this in the context of your project makes a lot of sense. And it really did spark some interesting conversation around these different images of flight where I think we even mentioned how, with Kendrick’s video, and for those who haven't seen it, he’s traveling through a city, I'm imagining, he's in LA, and he is only a few feet from the ground. Right?

And we talked a little bit about what it might mean to soar through the air high above the clouds, but then, what that image might mean and how it might be interpreted to be a little bit closer to the ground. I'm wondering if you're thinking about that for these figures that you're imagining for these walls in Philadelphia, will there be different interpretations of Flight? Because we also talked about how Flight could mean different things and be associated with different feelings, of transcendence and freedom, but also, of escape, and trying to flee out of that whole fight, flight or freeze.

So what are your thoughts on that as far as how you imagine these images being expressed in different ways?

Tatyana: Yeah. That's such a good point. And I do want to see these figures in different positions of flying. You know, I don't want it to just be one position. I want to see these bodies and these figures and these people in all types of different movements and expressions of just being in the air.

I think the Kendrick Lamar video that you brought up is such a good point, because, yeah, he's just sort of like hovering over the ground. In some points in the video, he's higher up, and at some points in the video, he's really just a few feet from the ground, but he's moving very quickly and he's using this ability to fly in a very specific context, because he is in this city, he is in this community, there are people around him, there's people looking at him, you know, how is he using this ability to fly, and why is it important in this video and in this song?

The song, "Alright", Kendrick Lamar's song is, I think, such an important song for culture.

Li: Right.

Tatyana: Over the past few weeks since it came out, I've sort of been studying the song in some ways. Like I'm using the song in another project of mine that I'm interested in like just looking at how and why this song has become such like an anthem for Black people, and putting it into the context of this project, just the idea of like, we are going to be right. You know?

That, coupled with the imagery and the idea of being able to float into the air, for me, I think it also speaks to the themes of the mythology of Black people over the years. There is escapism there, but I think there's also some joy there. I think there's also some magic there. I think there's also resiliency there. And I think that those are all descriptions of this song, Alright. You know? Like we are going to be alright, as if we can fly up into the air.

That's just how our right were going to be, because we have been, historically, we know that we are going to survive, we know that we have survived, and perhaps, our ability to survive, all of the things that we have been through can be akin to this sort supernatural thing, because we've been through so many hearts things, right? It's been so difficult for us to still be here and to be so beautiful is akin to, I think, being able to fly.

And so, to see regular everyday Black folks, regular everyday gear just looking fly, looking the way that we are, floating in these different, beautiful positions in the air, I hope that evokes the same sort of feeling the same sort of ideas as that song does, as that video does, and as he does in that video.

A friend of mine sent me a photograph recently, and I'm not sure who the photographer was, but they were at a photo exhibit, and they were of these kids who were like... I guess they were jumping on trampolines. I'm not sure how they were in the air, but the photographer had shot them from the ground looking up.

So, you just see them suspended in the air, and they're just really beautiful. And they didn't look like they were... like, some of them, one of their legs were like straight down and they looked stiff in a way, but they were in the air and felt very light. They felt like they didn't weigh anything.

And so, I saw that, and I was just very inspired by that as well. I think it's a good point that you bring up that how I position people and how their bodies are formed in the air, I think, to not have them looking so explicitly like they're flying, but to just see them in the air, I think gives even more of the impression that it's just this ability that we have.

And I think it gives them more of the futurism, it gives them more of the surrealism that I think will just make this project even better, you know? Just the art of it. I think the art of it has to be very, very good. And so, I'm still figuring out like, what is the art of it exactly that makes us really good, along with the context and the idea of it, you know?

Li: Yeah, sure. And it's also about that nuance. I think which it sounds like you're aiming to capture, because it feels like... I mean, in theory, sure, flying would be amazing. I think a lot of people wish for that superpower or that ability, but then, it could also be very disorienting. Like I said earlier, when we were talking about heights, like that can be extremely disorienting for people. Like, physically, your whole body responds to it, and it can really catch you off guard.

We're talking about flying and scenes of flying in literature or film, and I can't help but think of the opening scene in Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, and the lead protagonist, Lauren Olamina is having a dream and she is kind of floating or flying, but uncontrollably into flames and fire. And there can be that sense of lack of control when you're in flight, or maybe just getting your wings, so to speak.

And I remember at the African American Museum, there was a conversation with you, part of it leant towards this idea of flying in your dreams and how that represents a sense of control or lack thereof. I remember sharing a comment with a group that, I really did mourn the loss of the ability to fly in my dreams. I feel like I haven't had a flying dream in decades. And it's really kind of sad because when I did have those, I mean, it felt like a truly lucid dream. It felt like it was real.

I could see the ground below me. I could feel the wind in my hair. And there were times where I was feeling out of control. And then, little by little, because this was a recurring dream, I felt like, ultimately, I mastered it. And I don't know where that's gone, but people do have theories that the ability to fly in our dreams is something that we lose when we lose our innocence. You know?

When you think about flight and angels and other archetypes of flight, sometimes, this idea of purity and innocence comes with that. And are there any other archetypes that are coming to mind for you when you think of how you're creating your portraits of folks here in Philadelphia?

Tatyana: A part of the process of creating the portraits is to interview people. So, the folks that I'm going to photograph, or that I already have photographed or people that I've had conversations with first. And so, a lot of these questions are questions that I'm posing to them as well. And I feel like how they see themselves, or how they experience flight is how I want to picture them.

And so, for a lot of people, ideas came up around freedom, came up around escapism. Healing came up a lot. The idea that if I were able to fly, if I had this ability, that it would be healing for me emotionally, mentally, spiritually. And I think that also the disorientation that you mentioned is a part of that. If I'm able to float up into the air, first of all, I think it would be terrifying in some ways.

Li: Right. Yeah.

Tatyana: It'd be very scary. How do I control my body? How does it feel the idea that I might fall down, but wait, what if I don't fall down? Like all of those things.

And I think in a lot of these conversations that I was having, we talked about that. And we talked about how, if you do come to be able to control that, just how empowering that is.

Li: Right.

Tatyana: If I have the power to control my body in a way in the air, mentally, spiritually be able to control myself in the air, how healing is that? And what does that mean that I would be able to do on the ground if I can do that in the air. Right?

And so, I think that's why for a lot of people, it was like this would be healing for me. This would be actual freedom for me. And so, what I want to do is show people how they say that they would feel, right?

Li: Right. Because that's one of your questions, right? In the survey.

Tatyana: Yeah.

Li: I saw that on the website that you actually asked people, what do you imagine it would be like for you to be able to fly?

Tatyana: Right. Absolutely. And I also ask myself this question, right? Like I think whenever I go through a process, through any art project where I'm going to be interviewing people, I also have to answer the questions myself.

Li: Right.

Tatyana: And so, I think, for myself, how would it feel to fly? And I think, yes, first, it would feel very strange. It would feel scary. I talk, sometimes, about how I imagine it would feel like, what it feel like to be in love. You'd have to be trusting, I'd have to trust myself. I'd have to allow myself to feel the joy and the exhilaration. I'd also have to allow myself to let go.

It feels like you'd have to control your body, but you also have to release some control as well and let the air sort of carry you in some ways.

Li: That’s beautiful.

Tatyana: You know? Because I think about flying, and I also imagine it to feel like floating in the water. When you're floating in water, you really just have to relax and let go and let the water just carry you.

Li: Right.

Tatyana: And that also requires trust. That also requires a bit of letting go of control of your body in some ways. And so, I want to see people, Black people in the air looking like that, and what does that look like? You know? Like what does it look like for a Black person to be empowered, but also, healed, and also, free. And also, having control of their body, but also, just completely letting go of everything at the same time in the air. And I think that that could be really incredible to see and really powerful to see.

Li: Definitely.

Tatyana: I hope that answers your question.

Li: No, it does.

Tatyana: Okay.

Li: And it brings me to a question I’ve been wanting to ask you, just for fun. There's so many different ways to fly, right? I mean, because the imagination knows no bounds, and when we think of mythologies of flight, there's so many different ways it can be done. And I feel that connecting these mythic archetypes to how we actually feel about ourselves, how we feel about how we engage with the world, it can be revealing in terms of those archetypes that we gravitate towards.

So, I wanted to ask you a question, this is multiple choice. So, I was curious, what would be your preferred method of flight, and why. There's mythic animals of all kinds, from Pegasus to dragons, even the Phoenix and Falkor from like "The Neverending Story", But then, there's the superhero who can just lift themselves off the ground, like Storm or a Superman or even Neo from the Matrix, right? I mean, no wings required.

And then, there's this idea of the mind and the imagination and ritual and traveling through spirit. So, of those choices, which one do you resonate with?

Tatyana: I mean, I love the idea of spiritually flying. That and I guess, maybe Neo from the Matrix. I imagine myself just jumping and being able to ride in the air in that way.

Li: That seems easy. No craft, no plane, nothing required, just yourself.

Tatyana: Nothing required, just myself. Yeah, exactly. I don't want anything. I don't want wings. You know? Yeah. I just want to be able to like fly as I am. I mean, you said one thing that made me think of this in a more metaphysical way. I think that I've been thinking about it in a very physical way, right? Just like my body as it is floating up into the air. But I've also been thinking lately about time, about multiple universes. I've been thinking about the past.

Li: The multiverse? You've been thinking about multiverse?

Tatyana: The multiverse. I've been thinking about the multiverse. I have. And I've been thinking about the past and the present and the future, and thinking about how the future is unknown, but also, the past is kind of unknown too, right? Like we weren't in the past, like we're here today. And so, everything that we know about the past are things that have been told to us.

And so, it's possible to also create it in that way, which is why I think that this mythology about people flying has been around for so long, because how do we know that that wasn't true? You know?

Li: Right.

Tatyana: Like we weren't there in the past. And I think we can create a past that we want. I think so much of our past, historically, has been told to us through this lens of white patriarchy and supremacy. And so, to think of our past in a way where Black people are actually free and these big, huge, expansive, amazing beings, why wouldn't we necessarily be able to fly?

Not that we have to, right? Not that we need to, not that it's like a submission into surrealism in order to escape our reality, that can be a part of it, but I also think that it's just a very interesting idea for us to be able to say, what could our past have been? How can I imagine our past, being in order to imagine our future? And I think that us being able to fly is just a beautiful example of being able to imagine our past the way that we want to imagine it in order to imagine our futures the way that we want to imagine it as well.

So, I think one of your multiple choice answers was spiritually, like thinking about the ancestors and what allowed them to give me this ability to fly. And I love that...

Li: Oh, I love that.

Tatyana: ... as like a possibility that feels like the truest, that feels like the most real ability to fly.

Li: Realistic. Like a rights of passage.

Tatyana: Yeah.

Li: Like being gifted that ability from the ancestors.

Tatyana: Exactly.

Li: Once your work is done, they give you the green light to come aboard, take flight, you know?

Tatyana: Exactly. Yeah.

Li: So, you were talking about history and futures and Black history. So, I wanted to ask you a question in the broader discussion of the state of public and art history, but more specifically, in the context of future monuments, who we remember and why. Thinking about how it intersects with the Afrofuture and the future memory of Black peoples, right, how do you feel Flight enters and contributes to this powerful and timely conversation?

You've kind of already touched on that, but because this is Monument Lab and thinking about how Flight could be a new monument, and what that means in the re-imagining of the past, the re-imagining of the future and telling our stories?

Tatyana: Yeah. You know, idea of monuments and who gets one and when they're needed and why they're needed, or if they're needed and for who has been like a conversation, I think, in our society and culture over the past few years, especially with the taking down of monuments of these racist figures from history, it's been a big conversation. And I have thought about the idea of monuments. And I thought about who is honored in public spaces like this. Because a monument is usually like a public thing, right? It's a public sculpture piece that is in recognition and honor of a person or an event.

And in my own work, I am always thinking about the everyday person, particularly, Black folks and women and femmes, and honoring people exactly as they are right here and right now. So, many of my pieces when I draw folks, when I paint them, when I create these portrait pieces and I'm interviewing people, I'm having conversations with them, it's because I'm really interested in the lives that we lead every single day, like the normal, just everyday lives that we lead, and how they are experienced through being racialized and being sexualized every day.

I'm interested in honoring and celebrating everyday folks. And I think, so many times, we think about monuments, we think about people who have passed. We think about people who have died, whether it was what we have historically considered in a triumphant way, or people who have passed tragically. But what about the people who are alive right here and right now, and celebrating them and creating a monument for them right here right now as they live? And if we do that, then, who are we honoring?

And I think that if we think about the people who we see every day when we walk down the street, our family members, our friends, and think about how incredible they are just for existing and just for being and just for being able to navigate this world that we are in, and to honor that, I think, is what I am trying to do in my work, is why I draw the people that I draw and why I paint the people that I paint.

And so, this project, Flight, is sort of the same thing. It's similar to that, it's creating paintings of people that are going to live on a wall. You know? Like hopefully, these pieces last for a long time. I think they're going to be long term pieces.

And if so, then, I'm creating, essentially, these like monuments of everyday people in a way that we don't normally see them. But because we're seeing them in this really fantastical way, and it is an everyday person, I think, that in and of itself, is making the piece a special and particular monument to this person, as opposed to just a regular portrait of them on the wall.

And I think them being an everyday person, right, is so crucial and so important to this, you know?

Li: Yeah.

Tatyana: It allows people to imagine themselves and to imagine their lives and imagine their capabilities in a way that I think monuments should, you know? You see a monument of MLK, you think this person was an inspiration, he represents, and this monument is here because it's supposed to represent the full capabilities of human love and compassion and work and ability.

And I want these to be similar in that. I want folks to look at them, and recognize the possibilities, the abilities, the magic, and the history of Black folks. And to see themselves in this way, and to imagine themselves and be inspired by seeing themselves in this way.

Li: That’s beautiful, because you're talking about a celebration of life while we're still living it, and I really love that. When we think about flight it’s often associated with death, metaphorically, symbolically, spiritually. And connecting to cultural and even universal human experiences in various ways. Right? We think about transcendence and ascendance, and I know you recently did a project on mourning and grief.

And I'm wondering if there's any connection, or maybe this project in some way has emerged from your past work with communities around mourning and grief taking this different perspective, a more luminous perspective, aspirational even.

Tatyana: Yeah. I mean, I love the idea of this project having a connection to death and mourning and grief. I think that a lot of us are in a state of mourning and have been for a while. I think that Black people, in particular, are kind of constantly in a state of mourning.

Li: Yeah.

Tatyana: And I have actually been thinking about death a lot recently, and you know, I think that this project has a very strong connection to that. It has a very strong connection to death and to mourning. And to visualizing it, I think seeing people flying in the air, I think, will have a connotation to death. I don't necessarily want that to be a top point of the project.

I love the connection to it, but it's interesting taking another look at the Kendrick Lamar video, in that video, he it's like flying and floating up into the air, and then, at the very end, there's a moment where this police officer points at him.

Li: Right.

Tatyana: And you hear a gunshot.

Li: Well, he's on the street like... Yeah.

Tatyana: Right. And then, he falls down. So, it was like, it's sort of like the opposite, right? Like he had this ability to fly, he had this ability to be in the air, and then, in death, he falls back down to the ground. And so, sort of what this opposite of the idea of like floating into the air. And I think that's what I'm thinking about that we're flying in life. We have this life ability to fly. And that’s like the main topic that I'm thinking about when I think about flying in this context.

But the idea of transcending and ascending into the air and using flight to transcend all of the stuff that we experience on the ground, I think is beautiful. And I also want that to be a part of it. And it's something I want to explore more for myself, like in this work. It's not something that like, I really...

Outside of thinking about death and mourning, just sort of in general, that I haven't yet fully applied to this project, but I think it's great that you bring it up, because it is, it's there, it's very clear, I think, correlation to this project and this work, that I want to explore more.

Li: Yeah. I think people need it. Like you said...

Tatyana: Yeah.

Li: ... I mean, we're all going through so much loss and mourning on a daily basis. And there's something I felt immediately very healing upon seeing the images just from the website.  I know that's just the start of it. But to be able to identify with an everyday figure like yourself and someone in flight in your neighborhood, on the streets where you walk every day, there's like this transference that happens, and you feel like, oh, could that be possible for me? And then, if not for me, then, at least, for someone, right?

And that's what I think when those folks were looking at Kendrick as he was hovering in the air through the streets, it was like wow, one us got away or some of us are having the ability to be untethered from the stress and oppression that is life on the ground, as you said. So, it's really powerful.

Tatyana: Yeah.

Li: And I think that you're achieving this without the weight, because like you said, you don’t want to necessarily lead with death, but it's almost inseparable from that archetype of flight, particularly, when you're talking about black and brown bodies and the souls of black folk.

So, in thinking about that, I feel that the Flight kind of gives you that light and alleviates the weight of these conversations around death that we've been having.

Tatyana: Yeah.

Li: And I'm excited to see what your project can do to provide an entry point for folks to really explore death and mourning, and maybe even connecting to some of the communities that you were engaging with for your past projects around those topics.

Tatyana: Yeah. I love that.

Li: Yeah.

Tatyana: I love that. I think that's a great point, and I'm glad that you bring that up. Because I'm imagining, now, like someone looking up and seeing one of these pieces, and if their connection to it is this idea of death, like, is this a person that has passed and is transcending?

I think that that is just beautiful on its own, because that is, in a way, that we normally see people a memorial to somebody who has passed. You know, usually, it's more straightforward, it's sad, but to see someone sort of transcending into a different space, because death is a part of life, right?

Li: It's a part of life.

Tatyana: We know that we're going to die. And to visualize this natural part of life which is death in a way of a person transcending into like another space, another dimension, another, just into the air, I think it's very gorgeous, and I think that definitely could be healing for people. So, yeah, thank you for bringing this up. I knew that connection was there, but it wasn't something that I was being so specific on. But I think, now, that I'm thinking more about it, I love the idea of that being a part of and a connection to it and something that people will see and can potentially be healing for them. So…

Li: Yeah, it's that birth, death, and rebirth moment.

Tatyana: Yeah.

Li: And I feel that you're capturing that rebirth, and I’m thinking about that image, we also think about what comes before that. What comes before that moment of transcendence and ascendance. That moment of flight in the rebirth. Before that, comes the death. It's that idea of the Phoenix rising.

And it's really powerful. And this is the time I think for artists to really be grappling with these tough issues that we're dealing with on the everyday, and we don't all have the resources to go to therapy.

Tatyana: Yeah.

Li: We don't all have that kind of community. So, this is where images and these ideas and visions can really help on a large scale.

One of my last questions is really just a fun one, I love asking folks about music because music connects to everything just like all the arts, there's so many songs about flight, right? I mean, just so many. I feel like the ones that first come to our mind suggest a little bit about where we are, or even maybe how we think about flight. So, you already mentioned “Window Seat”.  I was thinking about Erykah Badu when you mentioned your window seat preference. And unless you're not a Prince fan, you’ve got to think about International Lover. You know that song, right?

Tatyana: Uh-huh.

Li: Where he just... I mean, that's classic. Another one that I heard while I was actually preparing these questions for you last night was Phyllis Hyman's “Fly Me to the Moon”. Do you know that song?

Tatyana: I know “Fly Me to the Moon”, but I don't think I know Phyllis Hyman.

Li: It's not... No, no, no. Okay. No, no. I'm sorry. “Meet Me on the Moon”. I was thinking... No, that's…

Tatyana: Oh, “Meet Me on the Moon”. Okay.

Li: ... that's Frank Sinatra.

Tatyana: Okay. I was thinking... Yeah. I was thinking of the... that's like a standard, right?

Li: Well, that's another one.

Tatyana: Like “Fly Me to the Moon”, or maybe that's Frank Sinatra's...

Li: No. That's definitely Frank Sinatra.

Tatyana: ... but I know that song. Okay. Okay.

Li: No. It's Meet Me, “Meet Me on the Moon”.

Tatyana: I don't think I know this one.

Li: Okay. This one. I'm going to have to send you that track because...

Tatyana: I will have to listen to that.

Li: ... it's just so magical and it's kind of bittersweet. It's a little sad. She's talking to her lover. She wants him to meet her on the moon. Them to meet her on the moon.

Tatyana: That’s interesting, because like, honestly, the first piece for the project, the big one that we're doing, which we're starting now is of myself. So, it's my portrait first.

Li: Right.

Tatyana: And I'm floating and flying in the air. And doing this has made me think about my death...

Li: Yeah. Yeah.

Tatyana: ... in the future, when that happens. To paint yourself in a position of transcendence, or to write a song about going to the moon and flying in this way, it does make you think about your own mortality and sort of like thinking about an extension beyond this room and beyond this time period.

So anyway, yes, like back to the death thing, but also, how like, yes...

Li: But yes...

Tatyana: ... I've been thinking that as well.

Li: ... and thinking about becoming one with The All, one with everything, right?

Tatyana: Yeah.

Li: There's this other song... If you're familiar with the Nuyorican Soul album I mean, it's old but it's a classic. And there's this track, it's called "I Am the Black Gold of the Sun.” When you think about your soundtrack to flight, like if you were going to put on your headphones and just take off like Neo in the Matrix, that song would definitely be on my flight playlist. You know?

Tatyana: Ooh, that sounds good. I have to put together one.

Li: "I Am the Black Gold of the Sun". I'm going to make you a playlist, Tatyana.

Tatyana: You're going to have to make me a playlist, you really are. Because like these songs sound really great, and I hadn't put together a playlist yet for this project.

Li: What about “Fly Away”?

Tatyana: But I think it's-

Li: Lenny Kravitz?

Tatyana: Yeah.

Li: You know that?

Tatyana: Yes.

Li: Come on.

Tatyana: There you go. Absolutely. That's actually the perfect one.

Li: Yeah, that's a good one. What other one? Oh, “Feather” by Little Dragon. Do you know that one?

Tatyana: Yeah, I do. I do know that.

Li: That's a good one. Right? That song.

Tatyana: That's a good one too. These are good. This is good.

Li: “Day Dreaming”, Aretha Franklin.

Tatyana: Yes.

Li: I thought about this. Because-

Tatyana: Well, “Day Dreaming”, I don't really... Does she mention flying?

Li: No, but that's a thing. She doesn't... I even looked it up, she doesn't exactly.

Tatyana: But it gives you differences in life.

Li: But it gives you that vibe.

Tatyana: Yeah.

Li: It gives you that... It definitely gives you that vibe. And then, a classic, I like “Ground Control to Major Tom”, you know, “Space Oddity”? That would be David Bowie. There's so many. There's so many. But those are just the ones that come to mind. Before you go, you got to give me a song from your collection in your mind.

Tatyana: Oh my goodness. See.. Because I’ve just been thinking about like Negro spirituals, to be honest...

Li: That works too though.

Tatyana: ... like “I'll Fly Away”.

Li: Right.

Tatyana: You know? So many spirituals and gospel songs mentioned flying. Literally, there's one called “I'll Fly Away”, and it's in this Hymnal book that I have that I was using for a different project.

Li: Did Bob Marley do a cover of that? It's like one bright morning when my work is over, I'm going to fly away home.

Tatyana: Yes.

Li: Yes.

Tatyana: Exactly.

Li: That's the one. That's a beautiful song.

Tatyana: That's it.

Li: And you want that. You want that playing at your funeral. You want that playing... That's definitely on my playlist for ascension as well.

Tatyana: Absolutely. So, I think of songs like that, but I love your playlist. Your playlist is great.

Li: Thank you so much for spending time with me today and sharing all about Flight with Monument Lab Future Memory. I really appreciate it. And we can't wait to see these images on the walls in Philadelphia coming soon.

Tatyana: Thank you so much for having me. It's been great talking to you about this and this work. I'm really excited about it.

Li: Yes. Good luck with everything.

 Paul Farber: Thank you to our guest, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh and my co-host Li Sumpter, and to the Monument Lab FM team. To learn more about Flight, you can look up Tatyana's website, tlynnfaz.com, or muralarts.org. Monument Lab Future Memory is produced by Monument Lab Studio, Paul Farber, Li Sumpter, Aubrey Penny, Nico Rodriguez, and Justin Geller. And also with Radio Kismet, with special thanks to Emily Cherish and the Christopher Plant. This season was supported with generous funding provided by the Stuart Weitzman School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania.